section of a controversial study into racial disparities was accused of “glorifying” the slave trade today.
The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, formed after Black Lives Matter protests last year, released its 258-page report on Wednesday morning.
However, shadow women and equalities secretary Marsha de Cordova has criticised part of the report which argues there is a “new story” about the slave trade which highlights cultural transformation of African people.
The comment was made in a passage about the Making of Modern Britain teaching resource – which is recommended in its response to “negative calls for ‘decolonising’ the curriculum”.
The commission’s chairman Tony Sewell wrote: “There is a new story about the Caribbean experience which speaks to the slave period not only being about profit and suffering, but how culturally African people transformed themselves into a re-modelled African/Britain.”
However, the line has been accused of trying to shine a positive light on the abhorrent trade, with one MP calling for an “urgent explanation”.
Ms de Cordova said: “The government must urgently explain how they came to publish content which glorifies the slave trade and immediately disassociate themselves with these remarks.”
She said the report was an opportunity to “seriously engage” with the reality of “inequality and institutional racism” in the UK, but: “Instead we have a divisive polemic which cherry picks statistics.”
She added: “To downplay institutional racism in a pandemic where Black, Asian and ethnic minority people have died disproportionately and are now twice as likely to be unemployed is an insult.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Government will consider the report’s recommendations in detail and “assess the implications for future government policy”. He added: “The entirety of government remains fully committed to building a fairer Britain and taking the action needed to address disparities wherever they exist.“