By donu kogbara
- Dr Elizabeth Pinneh is a Bayelsan post-doctoral research scientist and academic, based in the UK. She lectures at St George’s University in London and works with the Brilliant Club, teaching and mentoring pupils from under-represented backgrounds in schools.
Super-smart Elizabeth also happens to be my friend Andrew Pinneh’s daughter. Last week on this page, I published an introductory excerpt from her article titled “The Issue Of Race in Britain”. Here are more of her views on this interesting topic.
The criminal justice system which also covers policing, is a sector in which we can all agree that racism exist, but it is always best to go through the data, for those who don’t know much about it. Let’s start with the most obvious, the over-representation of Black and Minority Ethnic, BME, in UK prisons; 27 per cent of the prison population are represented by BME compared with their 13 per cent representation in the general population.
In Britain 51 per cent of those arrested in London in the year 2015/16 were ethnic minorities, when they make up 40 per cent of the population is the city. A closer look at the 2015/16 figures show that the highest rate of arrest per 1,000 was found to be against black men at just over 70 per cent, compared to their white counterparts, who had a rate of arrest just over 20 per cent ; a five-fold difference considering again that in the population of London, black men make up about seven per cent of the population compared to 35 per cent of white men.
What we are seeing here is the inverse of what we should find. There is a gross overrepresentation of black male in the rate of arrests per 1,000 in the population. The average custodial sentence for all ethnic minorities group have increased since 2009, with Black offenders reported to have an average custodial sentence of 28 months, and Asians having an average custodial sentence of 29 months, compared to 18 months for White offenders. Figures from 2016 show that these numbers have increased to 24 months for black offenders, and 25 months for Asian offenders, whilst remaining at the same figure of 18 months for White offenders.
To understand in totality, the landscape of inequality we also have to look at education. Eligibility for free school meals is used as an indication of low-income household in the UK; with twice the percentage of students from black African (22.1 per cent) and black Caribbean (28.1 per cent) background, found to be eligible for free school compared to white British (14.5 per cent) in primary and secondary education. Interestingly, 42.9 per cent of Asian students and 38.9 per cent of Black students achieved an average GCSE score compared to 31.6 per cent of white students; showing that in spite of the economic disadvantages ethnic minorities face, at GCSE level, they outperform their White counterparts which has been used as evidence of ‘resilience’.
This does not, however, carry over to A-levels, with 5.5 per cent of Black students shown to attain 3 A grades or better, compared to 11 per cent of white students, 11.5 per cent of White other and 11 per cent of Asian students. Students from ethnic minorities start struggling to keep up with their White peers as they go through A-levels and prepare for university, because they do not have the same support system in coping with the change from an instructive and heavily teacher dependent learning style at GCSE, to a university-like self-directed study with in-depth analysis, and a more sophisticated writing style at A-levels.
Having made it into university, it is found that attainment gaps are laid bare, with a racial discriminatory undertone. Correcting for the differences in A-level grades, it has been found that Black students are still 20 per cent less likely to achieve a first or 2:1 degree in comparison to White students (26 per cent difference for Black Africans, 22.5 per cent for Black Caribbean, 27.9 per cent for Black other). Following graduation, the unemployment gap is apparent between BME graduates and their white counterparts, with 7.8 per cent found to be unemployed six months after qualifying compared to 4.3 per cent of White graduates.
In this article, I have shown that even in the most progressive and ‘aware’ societies (U.K.), there is still racial discriminations, that are deeply embedded in the society which creates gaps in education, employment, income and wealth creation, thereby perpetuating the narrative of ethnic minorities always struggling to be on equal footing with their white counterparts.
There exists such deep socioeconomic differences between White and Non-White races, that it cannot be taken as mere coincidence. To start with there is the wealth gap; for every £1 of British wealth, Black Caribbean have 20p and Black African have 10p. This means that transfer of wealth from generation to generation is smallest in these populations. In addition, white British house ownership stands at 68 per cent compared to 40 per cent for Black Caribbean and 20 per cent for Black Africans, adjusting for population differences along ethnic lines. The higher rates of unemployment, income pay-gaps, educational attainment gaps and discrimination in the criminal justice system, creates an atmosphere of alienation, whereby these communities become more closed off, instead of integrating fully into British society.
This withdrawal results in a decrease in building employment and investment networks, that go on to impact future earnings potential; creating a cycle of stagnancy and in some cases regression in these communities, which go on from generation to generation. This is the narrative that racist people use to cement their ideology, which in itself is criminal. Habitual racial discrimination has never led to a good outcome.
Only through implementing a policy of zero-tolerance in every strata of society, can we dismantle this narrative of racism and racial discrimination. This would involve us asking the uncomfortable questions, looking past biases and actively ensuring that ethnic minorities are treated with respect, and the opportunities within the society equally shared with them, so that these gaps are closed as quickly as possible.