From the moment it was published, the UK’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities’ report was met with a media storm driven by both its supporters and detractors. Months later, amid continued division over the report’s position that racism isn’t pronounced in the UK, there’s still some confusion about what exactly some of the report’s buzzwords mean.
The terms “structural racism” and “institutional racism” are among many of the concepts that have been mentioned in relation to the report’s position on whether or not racism is ingrained in the UK.
But assessing the truth behind the Commission’s suggestion that these forms of racism aren’t factors in driving racial inequality first requires decoding these terms.
Structural and institutional racism
Defined initially by political activists Stokely Carmichael and Charles Vernon Hamilton in 1967, the concept of institutional racism came into the public sphere in 1999 through the Macpherson Inquiry into the racist murder of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence.
Institutional racism is defined as: “processes, attitudes and behaviour(s) which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people”.
As Sir William Macpherson, head of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, wrote at the time, it “persists because of the failure … to recognise and address its existence and causes by policy, example and leadership”.
Institutional and structural racism work hand in glove. Institutional racism relates to, for example, the institutions of education, criminal justice and health. Examples of institutional racism can include: actions (or inaction) within organisations such as the Home Office and the Windrush Scandal; a school’s hair policy; institutional processes such as stop and search, which discriminate against certain groups.
Structural racism refers to wider political and social disadvantages within society, such as higher rates of poverty for Black and Pakistani groups or high rates of death from COVID-19 among people of colour.
Read the complete article at: The Conversation