AIM publishes urgent open letter to Boris Johnson and calls for change in wake of race report

The Association of Independent Music says the government has a "responsibility" to act after yesterday's report was widely criticised

The Association of Independent Music (AIM) has published an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the wake of yesterday’s report on race, commissioned by the UK government.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities claimed yesterday that factors such as social class and family structures were far bigger factors than race on people’s lives.

It was set up in the wake of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests across the UK last summer, but its report, which was published yesterday (March 31) has faced criticism from campaigners.

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In an open letter, the AIM called on the PM to “address the structural problems existing in our society” which the commission’s report failed to acknowledge.

“Over the last year, we have seen an incredible awakening of public consciousness on issues surrounding prejudice in society, and with particular focus on race in the wake of the appalling murder of George Floyd in the USA and other events, including in the UK,” they wrote.

They added: “It is our responsibility to take the energy and opportunity in this moment, not just to put a sticking plaster over the deep and systemic problems in society, but to engage in meaningful, albeit difficult, work to genuinely ‘build back better.’”

“The government’s report on race and ethnic disparities published yesterday is, at best, a massive missed opportunity and from our perspective, it is a gut-punch to many in our community and our society who experience the reality of systemic prejudice on a daily basis,” the report added.

“We need to recognise the problems in society and work together to fix them, rather than use carefully worded definitions and narrow lenses to deflect, diminish and dilute the issues.

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“As the UK’s independent music community, we accept our failings and we work together to improve the equity, diversity and inclusion in our world.”

Calling on the government to “do better and to do more”, the report added: ” The first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem.

“Let’s do that now and then urgently move forward together on a better path.”

Despite the government’s claims, the report has received widespread backlash – with Labour accusing the government of downplaying institutional racism.

Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy, who previously led a report on racial bias in the justice system, said on Twitter that Britain’s black community was being “gaslighted” and he was “tired of the endless debate about whether structural racism exists with little desire to actually address it”.

Simon Woolley, who was the head of the government’s race disparity unit until last year,  also criticised the commission for disregarding individual experiences.

Lord Woolley told The Guardian: “If you deny structural race inequality then you’ve got nothing to do and that in of itself is a huge problem. There was structural racism before Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter, in all areas and all levels of our society. There are shocking disparities and shocking outcomes in health, education and housing. That’s why we set up the race and disparity unit in the first place.

“Covid-19 laid bare these structural inequalities in such Technicolor and made them worse, where [BAME communities] are dying in greater numbers, becoming severely ill in greater numbers, and losing their jobs.

“Then to be not only in denial, but saying: ‘What are you complaining about? We live in a society that is much better than it was 100 years ago’ is monumental disrespect and disregard of people’s lived experiences, but above all a lost opportunity for systemic change.”

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