Today, the Government released its Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report.
Friends, Families and Travellers is completely disappointed, but not shocked, that the Government have once again opted to glaze over the experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities by drawing conclusions that are completely detached from reality.
The overarching conclusion of the report and comments from Chairman Tony Sewell state that there is no evidence of actual ‘institutional racism’.
This is nothing short of ignorance, gaslighting and scapegoating, placing the blame on individuals and communities who choose to speak out.
Just this month, Pontins were found to have engaged in blacklisting of ‘undesirable guests’ made up of mostly Irish surnames and specifically targeting Gypsies and Travellers. This is a direct example of the Commission’s own definition of ‘institutional racism’.
The report continues the pattern of ignoring the experience of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people. In the 258-page report, the terms ‘Gypsy’, ‘Roma’ and ‘Traveller’ are mentioned 15, 16 and 20 times respectively, with the majority of these appearing in footnotes and the appendices.
This perpetuates the long-established pattern of no visibility for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people in Government actions, reports and recommendations.
June will mark two years since the Government’s ‘commitment’ to establishing a “new national strategy to tackle Gypsy, Roma and Traveller inequalities”, which has yet to be seen.
The report identified Gypsy, Roma and Traveller students as having the lowest attainment up to and include A-Levels, and yet there is no recommendation for Government action to correct this.
The Commission denies the existence of ‘institutional racism’ and promotes instead the myth that ‘random acts’ of racism are truly to blame. Random acts of racism are not behind the systematic vilification of Gypsies and Travellers.
We know from our casework that racism against Gypsies and Travellers exists across all sectors – from the increased insurance premiums for Gypsies and Travellers, to the higher-than-average rejection of planning permissions, to the continuous exclusion and bullying of Gypsy and Traveller pupils within the education system as outlined in this Anti-Bullying Alliance report.
The Commission and the Government have opted to obfuscate the reality of race in the United Kingdom, choosing to pit communities against each other instead of promoting real change and to once again absolve this Government of any blame.
We are appalled at the level of victim-blaming that is present throughout the report, arguing that individual aspirations are what lie behind issues such as educational attainment and going as far as to suggest that the reasons for high-performing groups should simply be ‘replicated’ for low-performing groups.
The whitewashing of the lived experience of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people, as well as other Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority groups, cannot continue. The intentions behind the Commission and the way it was put together demonstrates the extent to which this report is simply another weapon in the Government’s arsenal of racial inequality denial.
Speaking about the report, Sarah Mann, Director at Friends, Families and Travellers:
“This report does not exonerate private and public institutions and the Government of any blame behind the racism and discrimination experienced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities across the length and breadth of our society. It is the Government’s duty to care for its citizens, not simply blame them for the Government’s own failures.
This will not discourage our collective struggle and we will continue to fight for equity and justice for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people.”
Notes for Editor
About Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT)
Friends, Families and Travellers is a leading national charity that works to end racism and discrimination against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people and to protect the right to pursue a nomadic way of life.
Sami McLaren, Communications Officer
Tel: 07436 228910 Email: [email protected]
‘Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities: The Report’. Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities. March 2021. View here.
‘FFT response to Pontins anti-Traveller blacklisting of Irish surnames’. Friends, Families and Travellers. March 2021. View here.
‘Bullied, Not Believed and Blamed – The Experiences of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Pupils: Recommendations for Schools and Other Settings’. Anti-Bullying Alliance and Friends, Families and Travellers. 2020. View here.