The mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence has said the Government-backed review of racial disparities in Britain gives “racists the green light”, and accused its authors of not being “in touch with reality”.
Baroness Doreen Lawrence’s comments come after the report said that geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture, and religion all affect life chances more than racism.
Its findings have been described as insulting and divisive, and the chairman of the review has been accused of putting a “positive spin on slavery and empire”.
Speaking at a public event organised by De Montfort University on 31 March, Lawrence – who was made a peer in 2013 after campaigning for justice for her son – said: “When I first heard about the report my first thought was it has pushed [the fight against] racism back 20 years or more."
‘The privileged do not have those experiences’
“I think if you were to speak to somebody whose employer speaks to them in a certain way, where do you go with that now?" she said.
"If a person is up for promotion and has been denied that, where does he go with that now? Those people who marched for Black Lives Matter? It’s denying all of that. The George Floyd stuff? It’s denied all of that.”
Lawrence said her son – who died in 1993 following a racially motivated attack in south-east London – was murdered “because of racism” and “you cannot forget that.”
“Those who sit behind this report (saying) that racism doesn’t exist or it no longer exists need to speak to the young boys who are stopped and searched constantly on the street,” she said. “They need to speak to those young people.
“They (the report authors) are not in touch with reality basically. That’s what it boils down to. When you are privileged you do not have those experiences.”
‘Removed from the everyday experiences ethnic minorities’
Ministers have been facing a backlash over the report – which has been branded culturally deaf, out of step with public opinion, and “steeped in denial” – since its publication.
The chairman of the report said it had found no evidence of “institutional racism”, and criticised the way the term has been applied, saying it should not be used as a “catch-all” phrase for any microaggression.
The Prime Minister thanked Samuel Kasumu, his most senior black adviser, after it emerged he had quit in the wake of the report’s publication – although Downing Street insists his departure was “absolutely nothing to do” with the report.
Kasumu resigned from his role as a special adviser to Mr Johnson on civil society but will stay in post until May to continue work on improving vaccine uptake in minority groups, Politico reported.
In his resignation letter, which was obtained by the BBC, Kasumu accused the Conservative Party of pursuing “a politics steeped in division”.
Asked on 1 April about Kasumu’s resignation, Johnson said: “I worked very closely with Samuel in the last year or so and he’s done some great stuff.
“I thank him very much, particularly on helping to encourage vaccine take-up amongst more hesitant groups and communities.”
Shadow women and equalities secretary, Marsha de Cordova, said: “To have your most senior adviser on ethnic minorities quit as you publish a so-called landmark report on race in the UK is telling of how far removed the Tories are from the everyday lived experiences of black, Asian and ethnic minority people.
“Their divisive report appears to glorify slavery and suggests that institutional racism does not exist, despite the evidence to the contrary. It is no wonder they are losing the expertise from their team.”