Black Cultural Archives resigns from Home Office group after race report - Museums Association

Black Cultural Archives resigns from Home Office group after race report

Government-backed report is a ‘step backward in the work towards an anti-racist society’, says museum
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Geraldine Kendall Adams
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Black Cultural Archives has been a member of the Windrush working group since June 2020
Black Cultural Archives has been a member of the Windrush working group since June 2020 Black Cultural Archives

Black Cultural Archives (BCA), the south London archive and museum dedicated to Black British history, has resigned from the Home Office’s Windrush working group following the publication of a government-backed report that claimed to find no evidence of structural racism in the UK.  

Released in March, the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report concluded that Britain is no longer “deliberately rigged” against minorities and that social disparities between groups “do not have their origins in racism”.

The report has been heavily criticised and several contributors have since disavowed its findings.

In a statement sent to the UK Government this week, BCA said: “Black Cultural Archives refutes the approach and findings of the report on the basis of its poor use of data, unsubstantiated conclusions and British history inaccuracies.” 

BCA accused the report of minimising “the historical context of both the lived experience of racism and the documented evidence of institutional racism”, as well as playing down the importance of independent research and the ongoing effects of the transatlantic slave trade.

It also said the report had a narrow focus on socio-economic inequality and “does not attempt to address other factors that give rise to disparities and seed inequality”.   

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BCA said the release of the report “represents a step backwards in the work towards an anti-racist society”. It questioned why the Windrush scandal, which saw the illegal forced deportation of hundreds of Black British citizens, was not examined as evidence by the commission.

BCA said it had hosted an in-person meeting of the commission at its Brixton venue last September but had not been asked to give evidence for the report. Commissioners did not ask to use or view the reference library or archives while at the venue, it said.

BCA said: “The chosen narrative of the commission’s March 2021 report, its selective and confused approach to data collection and analysis, and its inconclusive findings undermines its own recommendations.

“BCA will include the report in the library collections at 1 Windrush Square, but we still await action for positive change for all individuals, communities and wider society. This report is not it.”

BCA joined the cross-governmental Windrush working group in June 2020 in order to be an “active voice for positive change”. Since then, the group has advised the Home Office on its programme of internal culture change, as well as helping to restructure the payment system for Windrush compensation claimants and simplify claims forms.

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