Number Crunching (Crunch, Crunch, Crunch)

In Britain, we make boastful claims about our inclusive, multi-cultural society. However, if you break down the raw data it generates by (putative) race, there are some glaring inequities. According to the Equality and Human Rights commission[1], the unemployment rate for ethnic minorities is over twice that of white people; black graduates earn 23.1% less than white graduates, on average; black and mixed race Caribbean school students are three times more likely to be excluded from school; prosecution and sentencing rates are three times higher for black than white citizens; 35.7% of ethnic minority people live in poverty, compared with 17.2% of white people (figures up to 15 October 2020.)

The numbers are bad. Undeniable. How is this to be accounted for, in a country where everyone celebrates diversity and respect for difference?

Well, it can’t be. There is clearly a problem. 

However, all broad generalisations deserve to be qualified. statistics don’t explain the variety of different lives in our societies. Statistically, it’s perfectly possible for no-one at all to fit the average profile, and numbers can’t reflect the sheer plurality of experiences we each have every day (or had, pre-lockdown!), although threat is more memorable than kindness – probably another consequence of evolutionary caution – which can over-simplify the conclusions we draw. 

To assume that ethnic minority people will have led lives of prejudice and lack, and will respond with antipathy, is to perpetuate racial stereotypes. This is true even if you identify as a member of that group and have experienced the prejudice. You are lumping everyone together into an undifferentiated mass, a “Them”. That is surely a sort of racism, however kindly meant.

On the other hand, individual success stories can mask the statistics, and the scale of the problem. 


[1] equalityhumanrights.com

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