As an organisation focused on achieving equality and celebrating diversity in the context of improving health and wellbeing for all, METRO was awaiting the publication of the report from the Commission for Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED) on 31st March expectantly. We share the disappointment and distress felt by many other organisations about the missed opportunity for this Commission to build on the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement and to address the structural and systemic causes of the health inequities and broader inequalities exposed by COVID-19.
We do not concur with the Commission’s view that the voices amplified in Britain’s Black Lives Matter debates and the public critique of COVID-19's disproportionate impact to be ‘pessimistic narratives’ (p. 30). These are urgent debates about what is equitable and inequitable in terms of health and other issues of discrimination and racism relating to both institutional and systemic problems to be solved by working with both BAME-led organisations, the communities they represent, and their allies such as this charity.
Our CEO, Dr Greg Ussher, said:
“The exposure of these vital issues during 2020 to 2021 has led us to scrutinise our own race equity and equalities within our staff and services and we will continue to do so within the context of our Race Equality Action Plan. In these terms METRO recognises its own role in terms of specific recommendations in this Report such as to ‘advance fairness in the workplace’ and debating terminology such as BAME.
“Our rejection of the overarching framework for this report, regardless of the potential merits of specific recommendations, has prompted me to sign a letter from the Runnymede Trust to the Prime Minster requesting that he ‘repudiate the Commission’s findings immediately and withdraw its report’, and we concur with the Trust’s stance on this issue as well as many other aspects of the Report:
“‘Disingenuous claims, including the Commission’s assertion that its research found no evidence of institutional racism in the UK, have provoked public incredulity and national indignation. The danger is that a report so lacking in credibility will be left to circulate and take us back to the ‘colour bar’ of the 1960s.’”
Photo by James Eades