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Majority of Britons say racism is commonplace in the UK

A survey found out that most people see no progress on tackling discrimination in their lifetime in the UK

According to a poll carried out by Number Cruncher Politics for the ITV programme Stephen Lawrence: ‘Has Britain Changed’, a bleak picture of discrimination in the UK came out. People are more likely to say that racism has got worse or stayed the same, with no change taking place even if many were the protests and the movements inspired by the murder of George Floyd.

The analysis found that almost two-thirds of the population think there is a “fair amount” or “great deal” of racism in British society today, but black respondents are twice as likely as white respondents to say the problem is very extensive.

When asked about their personal experiences, large numbers of black, Asian and other minority-ethnic people reported incidents of racial abuse, both verbal and physical, with many experiencing daily or regular attacks.

Muslim men and women are thought to face the most discrimination, followed by black men and women. Other Asian groups appeared to fare better.

But most striking in the poll, even if not surprising, is the lack of perceived progress over the years.

A Black Lives Matter protest in London. Two-thirds of black respondents to the poll said racism had worsened or remained constant in their lifetime. Image credit: Ollie Millington/RMV/REX/Shutterstock

In total, 55% of ethnic minorities said racism had stayed the same or got worse during their lifetimes, compared with 29% who felt that it had reduced through campaigns, movements, and legislations.

That trend looks even more noticeable among black respondents: 34% think racism has worsened in Britain and 30% see no change. That means two-thirds of black people see no progress compared with just a quarter who do.

Sunder Katwala, an expert on race in British society who also runs the think tank ‘British Future’, denounced the fact that things had got better but people asked to see faster progress, which haven’t come.

Also asked about the Black Lives Matter protests across the world, Katwala responded: “It is clear that there have been significant social changes on race over the last quarter of a century – but what this poll captures is that expectations have risen considerably faster.”

He also explained how overt racism is less prevalent than in the 1980s and 1990s and that ethnic minorities had more voices in public life. On the other hand, the poll showed an evident frustration of young people hearing politicians focusing only on the “bad old days” of people being beaten up by National Front “thugs”, instead of focusing on the different forms of everyday racism in 2020.

Image credit Will Tanner/twitter

He said there was a reluctance to admit that things had got better -perhaps because they hadn’t? - in case it was seized upon as a way of diluting the urgency. He added that the hurdles were clearly higher for Muslim and black people.

The black Conservative candidate for London, Shaun Bailey, who is appearing on the programme screened on ITV at 8pm on Thursday, tweeted in advance that he had “been stopped and searched hundreds of times”.

Matt Singh, founder of Number Cruncher Politics, was able to look at the unique experiences of different ethnic groups because of the size of the BAME sample, which was half of the 3,000 respondents.

“The challenges in polling of ethnic minorities have meant that work of this nature has not been not often conducted on this scale. This research sheds new light on how people view racism in modern Britain, their lived experience, and what they think should and shouldn’t change,” he concluded.


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