Boris Johnson has announced a new government commission to look into racism in Britain.
He’s been forced to act by a hugely inspiring revolt that has insisted that racism and police violence can no longer be ignored.
Johnson, who has a long history of racist outbursts and whose government policies are systematically racist, said the initiative was designed to end “the sense of victimisation”.
The problem, he disgracefully suggests, is that black people feel put down when really they should cheer up, stop moaning and celebrate their successes.
It’s not a surprise that he completely rejects the idea of institutional racism. He ignores how racist discrimination is about a great deal more than individual attitudes.
Johnson’s call for an inquiry was inserted into a much longer piece in the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
It criticised what he sees as a “growing campaign to edit or Photoshop the entire cultural landscape”.
He also claimed to “resist with every breath in my body” any attempt to topple Winston Churchill’s statue in central London.
This is the ground he wants to fight on. It can only encourage the far right who took to the streets of London last Saturday
Johnson’s commission will be set up by Munira Mirza, head of the government’s policy unit. Mirza attacked previous commissions and said they fostered a “culture of grievance”.
It will be flawed from the start, a useless sop that will persuade nobody.
But a “better” commission is not the answer. We have seen a parade of such investigations. The Lammy review of 2017 into black people and the justice system with 35 recommendations. The Angiolini review in the same year into deaths into police custody with 110 recommendations.
The Home Office review into the Windrush scandal this year with 30 recommendations—and there are many more such toothless task forces.
These have been routinely researched written, discussed—and then ignored. Such reports aren’t an attempt to tackle racism but an effort to sweep it under the rug.
The movement that began over the police killing of George Floyd has swollen in size and begun to raise concrete demands wider than the issue of police brutality.
More—and harder hitting—action is the way forward.
That means more people joining the Black Lives Matter movement in the coming weeks and months.
Rising up against the system will mean more direct action and more protest. If workers walked out to join protests, or organised anti-racist strikes, that would have a huge impact on the movement.
It would terrify those that rule over our racist system.
Our anger should not be diverted by manoeuvres from the top.