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UK Commission responds to ‘misinterpretation’ of Racism Report

Critics say the report downplays the role Britain played in slavery.

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Britain Commission on Racism FILE - In this file photo dated Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020, Black Lives Matter protesters hold posters as they march through Notting Hill during the "Million People March" through central London. A government inquiry, by a panel of experts, has concluded Wednesday March 31, 2021, that there is racism in Britain, but it’s not a systematically racist country that is “rigged” against non-white people, although many ethnic-minority Britons greeted that claim with skepticism. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, FILE)
By: Norman Dotson Jr./BNC Digital

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities has defended itself against critics after releasing a report that concluded that Britain does not have a systemic problem with racism.

Critics have stated that the government-backed review downplays the role Britain played in slavery and places a positive spin on a harsh racial history.

In a statement on Friday, representatives from the commission said disagreement with the review had “tipped into misrepresentation.” There was particular offense taken to accusations that the organization would try to make light of slavery, according to the Associated Press.

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“This misrepresentation risks undermining the purpose of the report — understanding and addressing the causes of inequality in the U.K. and any of the positive work that results from it,” the statement said.

The report concluded through its own research that inequalities throughout the country have leaned away from race and more towards class and family background. However many critics took issue with the way the report declared race as a topic of “less importance”.

David Olusoga, professor of public history at Manchester University and one of Britain’s leading academics on slavery, claims the report clings to a national myth instead of expecting the truth-based history.

“Determined to privilege comforting national myths over hard historical truths, they (the panel) give the impression of being people who would prefer this history to be brushed back under the carpet,” he wrote in a piece for The Guardian.

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The commission said in a statement the idea it would downplay the atrocities of slavery was offensive to the members that worked on the report.

Britain has faced an uncomfortable reckoning with race since the death of so many Black people at the hands of law enforcement. Black Lives Matter protests sprang up across the U.K. last summer calling on the government and institutions to acknowledge the legacy of the British Empire and the country’s extensive profits from the slave trade.