In response to the murders of Black people by police across America and subsequent protests in support of Black Lives Matter around the world, discussions about race are, rightly, becoming more everyday. For many families, peers, colleagues, and friends here in the UK too, addressing our own issues of systemic racism is an equally pressing matter. Just three years ago, the Grenfell Tower disaster saw BAME communities disproportionately affected by government neglect, and more recently Syrian refugee Shukri Abdi’s death was treated as an accident, despite extensive evidence of racially motivated bullying suggesting otherwise. During the coronavirus pandemic, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) released figures showing that Black people were four times more likely to die from the disease than white people.
These examples are among the many instances of injustice that have prompted much-needed pressure online and in the media for real change from those with power in the UK. Despite this, the conversations we have at home can still feel difficult to approach, particularly when relatives or friends are quick to rebuff attempts at analysing white privilege, or express concern about protesters bringing down statues of slave traders.
Having a plan, and entering these conversations with informed, researched points can help create a constructive atmosphere for learning. Preparing yourself with statistics, for example, can be a good place to start.
Statistics are hard to disprove because, well, they’re statistics. They are, by definition, scientific, and offer a straightforward way of summarising the crux of a situation without getting too wordy. Putting the UK’s deep-rooted racial inequality into unambiguous terms like these can be helpful when discussing the extent to which systemic racism permeates our daily lives. They offer absolute evidence for how little has been done to support BAME groups in the UK up to this point, as well as spotlighting the dramatic changes that need to be made within the bigger systems that continue to unfairly oppress minorities across the country.
To provide some context for these conversations and statistics, according to the 2011 census, 87% of people in the UK are white and 13% belong to BAME groups – to simplify, that means 1.3 out of every 10 people are non-white. Visualising this figure when reading the below statistics can be a useful way of remembering just how vast the manifestations of racial inequality are in the UK.
It's important to remember that the below statistics should act as a starting point for your continued education on and action against racial inequality in the UK. That said, sharing and discussing them with your peers, relatives, and colleagues can be a powerful place to begin – change starts at home.
- Black school leavers with A-levels are on average paid 14.3% less than their white peers (Equality & Human Rights Commission, 2016)
- On average, Black workers with degrees earn 23.1% less than white workers (Equality & Human Rights Commission, 2016)
- Using identical CVs and cover letters, BAME job applicants had to send 60% more applications to receive the same number of callbacks as white applicants (Nuffield College Centre for Social Investigation, 2019)
- In the UK, BAME workers are paid around £3.2bn less than their white counterparts every year (Gender Pay Gap Campaign, 2018)
- Within the NHS, BAME staff are underrepresented in senior positions. In London, 43% of NHS staff are from BAME groups but only 23% work at a senior level. By comparison, white staff make up 51.8% of the NHS workforce in London, while 73.2% of these are in senior positions. (NHS Workforce Race Equality Standards, 2017)
- 6% of Black school leavers went on to attend a Russell Group university, compared with 12% of mixed race and Asian school leavers, and 11% of white school leavers (Equality & Human Rights Commission, 2016)
- In 2009, white students' predicted A-Level grades were 53% accurate, while Black students' grades were 39.1% accurate (Department For Innovations & Business Skills, 2011)
- In 2018, 14.1% of all teachers in state-funded schools in England were from BAME groups (Ethnicity Facts & Figures by gov.uk, 2018) – by contrast, 33.5% of primary school and 31.3% of secondary school pupils were from BAME groups (Department of Education, 2019)
- Exclusion rates for racism in primary schools have increased by 40% in just over a decade (BBC News analysis, 2020)
- 45% of children from BAME groups are living in poverty, compared with 26% of children in white British families (Department for Work & Pensions cited by Child Poverty Action Group, 2019)
- BAME families are between two and three times more likely to be in persistent poverty than white families. (Social Metrics Commission, 2020)
- 46% of people in families where the household head is Black are living in poverty, compared to 19% of those living in families where the head of household is white. (Social Metrics Commission, 2020)
- Levels of persistent low income are higher where the head of the household is from a Black or Asian background (Poverty In The UK Report, 2020)
- Bangladeshi and Black families are more likely to receive income-related benefits than white families (Ethnicity Facts & Figures, 2019)
- The unemployment rate for BAME groups is 6.3%, versus 3.6% for people from a white background (Unemployment By Ethnic Background Report, 2020)
- Homelessness among BAME households rose 48% in the last five years versus 9% among white households. Within this, homelessness among Black households was up 42% and homelessness among Asian households, was up 71%. (Shelter, 2017)
- 16% of white British households rent social housing versus 44% of Black African and 40% of Black Caribbean households (Ethnicity Facts & Figures by gov.uk, 2018)
- Surveys found that 33% of private landlords were less likely to rent to someone that did not hold a British passport (Shelter, 2016)
Criminal Justice System
- BAME groups were almost 50% more likely to be arrested under coronavirus laws than white people (ONS, 2020)
- Black people account for 3% of the population, but 8% of deaths in custody (Statista Research Department, 2020)
- In the last five years, 38% of BAME people said they had been wrongly suspected of shoplifting compared with 14% of white people (ICM for Guardian, 2018)
- Black men are five times more likely than white men to be stopped and searched by police in England & Wales (Equality & Human Rights Commission, 2016)
- The prosecution and sentencing rate for Black people is three times higher than that of for white people: 18 per thousand population versus with six per thousand population (Equality & Human Rights Commission, 2016)
- Between 2009 and 2017, white offenders were given the shortest custodial sentences on average, Asian and Black offenders were given the longest. Within this, Black and Asian young adults between 18 and 20 were given the longest sentences on average. (Ethnicity Facts & Figures by gov.uk, 2018)
- In 2009-10 search rate for drugs across the population as a whole was 10 searches per 1000 people. For white people this was 7 per 1000, increasing to 14 per 1000 for those identifying as mixed race, 18 per 1000 for those identifying as Asian and to 45 per 1000 for those identifying as Black. Per these figures, Black people are 6.3 times more likely to be stopped and searched for drugs than white people. This is despite figures showing that half as many Black people use drugs than white people. (release.org, 2010)
- 2018-19 numbers in England and Wales show that one in five of those found guilty of cannabis possession was Black. As only 3% of the UK population is Black, campaigners have highlighted the disproportionate nature of these figures and raised concerns that the numbers reflect a link between police stop and search (Black men are five times more likely than white men to be stopped and searched in England and Wales), and convictions. (Ministry Of Justice, 2020)
- Black women are five times more likely to die in pregnancy than white women. Asian women are twice as likely as white women to die in pregnancy. (MBRRACE-UK, Nov 2018)
- Black women are twice as likely to have a stillborn baby than their white counterparts (Muglu et al., 2019)
- For mental health, Black adults have the lowest treatment rate of any ethnic group, at 6.2%. The treatment rate for white adults is 13.3% (National Statistics, 2014)
- Figures from March 2019 show that Black people were more than 4 times as likely as white people to be detained under the Mental Health Act in the previous year (Ethnicity Facts & Figures by gov.uk, 2018)
- Black men are 4.2 times more likely, and Black women are 4.3 times more likely to die from coronavirus than white men and women (ONS, 2020)
- 22% of Black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT people have experienced an eating disorder in the last year compared to 11% of white LGBT people (Stonewall, 2018)
- 8% of Black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT people made an attempt to take their own life in the last year (Stonewall, 2018)
- At 82%, race is the most commonly recorded motivation for hate crime in England and Wales (Equality & Human Rights Commission, 2016)
- Racially motivated hate crimes on railway networks across Great Britain rose by 37% between 2011 and 2015 (Equality & Human Rights Commission, 2016)
If you’d like to learn more, there are a number of Instagram accounts you that share helpful information on the state of racial inequality in the UK. Das Penman and Runnymede Trust are just two of these, and journalist Mona Chalabi shares infographics that highlight inequality on a global scale.
For further reading:
- Click here for a list of books about race in Britain to build an anti-racist reading list
- Click here for 56 articles about racism in Britain and the Black British experience
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