Reverend Jesse Jackson dismissed the results of a British study on diversity, saying the country has a “pattern of racism.”
Influential writer and civil rights advocate Reverend Jesse Jackson contested the findings of a study by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, created by Boris Johnson in response to the Black Lives Matter protests. The commission, led by Chairman Dr. Tony Sewell, found that though there was a “reluctance to acknowledge that the UK had become open and fairer,” Britain was not “deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities.”
Reverend Jackson disagrees. In an interview with Times Radio, Jackson called Britain the “mother of racism” and said the country “has a certain responsibility to face up to racism and change it.” The British Empire’s role in the slave trade, Jackson said, means the U.K. “owns racism and people know it.”
Asked whether he considered the royal family racist, the reverend said the marriage between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle suggested “change is in the air.” He said, “in a democracy, everybody has the chance to be everything,” and there is “no superior race and no inferior race. All of us have royal blood. We’re all God’s children. Everybody matters.”
While Britain certainly played a pivotal role in the spread of the slave trade, it was also among the first to abolish it in 1807. Most famous among these efforts might be the British Royal Navy’s “West Africa Squadron,” an initiative that sent mixed-race crews of sailors to free over 150,000 slaves from both domestic and international trade ships.
And while Sewell’s study acknowledged that the U.K. was far from a “post-racial” society free of “overt” displays of racism, it concluded the country has in recent years become a “model for other white-majority” nations.
Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister Boris Johnson deferred to openly endorse the study’s findings but did express interest in its conclusions. “Look, this is a very interesting piece of work,” he said. “I don’t say the Government is going to agree with absolutely everything in it, but it has some original and stimulating work in it that I think people need to read and to consider.”
“There are very serious issues that our society faces to do with racism that we need to address,” Johnson added. “We’ve got to do more to fix it, we need to understand the severity of the problem, and we’re going to be looking at all the ideas that they have put forward, and we’ll be making our response.”