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Windrush 75 years on — the racism remains

Majority of black and Asian people still face discrimination everyday, report finds

MORE than two-thirds of black and Asian people in Britain still face discrimination in their everyday lives, a major report marking the 75th Windrush anniversary has revealed today.

Ahead of the anniversary of the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush on June 22, the British Future think tank surveyed the “state of the nation” of public attitudes on race identity and prejudice.

It found that while the majority of ethnic minority respondents said Britain is a better place for them to live in comparison with other major Western nations, a huge 67 per said that people like them face discrimination daily.

One-fifth of respondents said it was worse and 17 per cent of white respondents and 10 per cent of ethnic minority respondents disagreed that everyday racism was rife for black and Asian people.

Almost half of white British respondents and 60 per cent of ethnic minorities said they believe it is easier to “get on” in Britain if you are white.

Looking at whether Britain has made significant progress on race over the last 25 years, 13 per cent of ethnic minority respondents said it has not, rising to 17 per cent of black respondents and a tenth of the white population.

A majority of all groups agreed that it needs to make “much more progress on race in the next 25 years.”

The report also focused on awareness of Windrush, finding that only 55 per cent were able to pick the ship’s name which “has become symbolic of Commonwealth migration to Britain” from a list of four.

More than 61 per cent felt the 75th anniversary of the Windrush arrival is an important moment for the country, rising to 71 per cent of ethnic minority Britons and 84 per cent of black Caribbeans.

And 74 per cent said they think children should be taught about Windrush in school.

Stand Up to Racism co-convener Weyman Bennett said he had heard from his parents, who were Windrush generation, of the daily struggles they faced including facing racist attacks when looking for housing.

He told the Star: “Recent reports indicate that structural racism is deeply embedded in British society, and the Tories’ attacks on asylum-seekers and [the government’s] anti-refugees language in Enoch Powell style, straight from the far right, legitimises racism.

“The rise of Islamophobia in the wake of imperialist wars has emboldened the far right internationally and locally.

“The UK is only a better place for black communities because we fought against the far right.”

Black Activists Rising Against Cuts co-founder Zita Holbourne said that racism is rife in Britain and that it affects every aspect of life.

She told the Star: “We have experienced in the past decade-and-a-half the disproportionate impacts of austerity and the pandemic, the Windrush scandal, racist immigration policies, institutionally racist police and criminal justice system, racist harassment and bullying at work and blocks and barriers in services, health, education and the labour market.

“We have to navigate racism every day, we have to fight it in order to survive.

“The Windrush generation suffered horrific racism when they arrived here.

“They worked hard, contributed to the economy and society, kept essential services running and strive for a better future for their children and grandchildren only to … be criminalised by virtue of Tory immigration status, treated like third-class citizens.”

On Britain’s comparison with other Western nations, Ms Holbourne said that “being the best of a bad bunch does not equal good.”

She said: “We give and give and give to this country and we deserve equity, equality, justice and rights.

“We cannot be expected to be grateful because it’s worse somewhere else.

“But that is also why global solidarity and working together to eradicate racism everywhere is essential.”

Windrush 75 network convener Patrick Vernon said the scandal must end this year.

He said: “This government has the power, right now, to give proper compensation; to recognise its failures; to right the wrongs done to the Windrush generation; and to give people proper citizenship status.

“It should not be forcing those Windrush pioneers still affected through the High Court and Court of Appeal in its defence of the failings of the compensation scheme.

“It should adopt the full recommendations of the Wendy Williams lessons learned review.”

The government has faced criticism for dropping three of the 30 recommendations Ms Williams made in her review.

The Home Office has previously said it is “committed to righting the wrongs of Windrush,” having paid or offered just over £72.5 million in compensation by the end of April this year.

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