David Lammy has questioned why there is no “Black English” option in this year’s census – despite respondents being given the option of choosing “White English” as their ethnic group.
The Labour MP for Tottenham said it was indicative of the lack of racial equality in the UK, describing the census as a “muddle”, pointing out that “Black Welsh” and “Asian Welsh” options were available for people living in Wales.
In this week’s Radio Times, Lammy is quoted as saying: “Why can’t I describe myself or my children as English on our census form? Black British yes, English no. You can be White English but you can’t be Black English.”
After the release of the census in March, Lammy – the shadow justice secretary – tweeted: “In the ‘ethnic category’ why can’t I be both Black Caribbean & English when I was born in London? Why can’t my kids be both mixed Black & White and English (their mother was born in Northampton)? Since when do you need to be White to be English?”
A spokesperson for the ONS told The Times that it had “reviewed the wording of the high-level categories in the ethnicity question and, after testing different options in England and Wales, we recommended a change in the Welsh questionnaire to include Black Welsh and Asian Welsh, alongside Black British and Asian British. The evidence did not support a change to include Black English in England.”
It’s 10 yrs since the 2011 riots.— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) July 31, 2021
The government has failed to implement the measures called for in its review into what caused them. The panel found widespread alienation.
@BorisJohnson risks letting a spark set fire to the fuel all over again. https://t.co/HcgoSrRVd1
Elsewhere in the interview, Lammy was asked whether he felt optimistic about the country. “I’m afraid I don’t, no”, he replied, citing the Windrush scandal and the number of people from ethnic minorities killed in the Grenfell Tower fire.
He also hit out at Priti Patel, the home secretary, for her response to fans booing England’s footballers taking the knee.
“Let’s remember taking the knee is an act of prayer effectively — that’s why you take the knee as Martin Luther King did — to pray for a better future for black people in which they are no longer experiencing the racism they still are,” he said.
“To describe that as gesture politics and to condone booing was an extraordinary intervention by the home secretary.”
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