#Dig It Out

DigItOut Response to Government Race Report

Institutional Racism Is Still Engrained Despite Attempts to Whitewash Reality

The report will set race relations back 20 years

Gardeners Speak Out!

On 31 March 2021 the government revealed it’s The Report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities concluding that “we no longer see a Britain where the system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities” in other words racism no longer plays a role in hindering the prospects of minority communities in Britain.

The context of the report is that it was set up as a reactionary move to counteract the growing momentum generated by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and in light of the murder of George Floyd. For many activists the results of the BLM movement gave many people the hope that Britain was finally on the cusp of change, that Britain was finally willing to accept Black and Ethnic Minorites as equals but the reaction to the report from real experts in race relations suggest that it will set race relations back 20 years.

The current coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated the inequalities faced by minorities in Britain. 60% of doctors and nurses that have died are from minority backgrounds, Britons of African descent are at least 3 time more likely to die from Covid-19 as their white counterparts and Bangladeshi and Pakistani people almost twice as likely to die.

These are not the only institutional disparities, these differences range across the spectrum.

  • 30% of Bangladeshi households experience overcrowding compared to 2% of white households
  • Muslim men are up to 76% less likely to be in employment
  • Black Caribbean children are 5 times more likely to be excluded than white children
  • Those arrested for drug offences are 240% more likely to be sent to prison if they are from minority backgrounds
  • Black people are 9 times more likely to face stop and search
  • Less than 1% of those employed in Horticulture are from minority backgrounds

The report goes on to suggest that the teaching of British history regarding Slavery and Colonialism should change from a curriculum “which speaks to the slave period not only being about profit and suffering, but how culturally African people transformed themselves into a remodelled African/Britain” to one which is to be rebranded as the “Caribbean experience”. This is a clear attempt at whitewashing history. The transfer of Black slaves from Africa to the Americas for profit is an absolute undeniable fact, the brutal oppression faced by colonial ‘subjects’ is an absolute fact and any attempts at downplaying this extremely shameful part of our history is a clear attempt to change historical facts and plays into the racist narrative that Britain’s colonial past was one of ‘civilising the savage’.

As horticulturalists and as gardeners this should really resonate, the vast majority of food crops and ornamental plants we grow come from across the former empire, they didn’t just happen to arrive in Britain but rather they just like the people of their homelands invaded, colonised and were taken and exploited for profit. We see this in the creation of many of the gardens that were set up during colonial times and the botanical gardens around the world that were created as plants were stripped from their natural environment and sent to foreign lands to be put to work and put on display, a fitting metaphor for the history of colonial treatment of people of colour, exported and exploited for profit.

The report is nothing short of an attempt at colonisation all over again but instead of colonisation of lands and people physically this time it is of the people’s minds here in Britain.

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