The race that matters: The UK Government's Race Report is a powerful tool for equality and dialogue

*A version of this blog has been published in Blasting News*

One of my favourite parables is that of the hummingbird (Yahgulanaas, 2008). In this story, which was inspired by the Quechan (an aboriginal American tribe), Dukdukdiya, a little hummingbird is watched by the burning forest’s animals flying back and forth, carrying one drop of water each time in an effort to put out the fire. When the animals ask Dukdukdiya what was the meaning of her efforts, warning her of the life-threatening dangers … the little hummingbird answered:

“I am doing what I can”

I have been working in the human rights field for almost 20 years. During this time, I have been inspired by a good handful of individuals who like Dukdukdiya did “what they can” to put out the fires that threaten our homes, communities and way of living. You will be surprised to hear, however, that what inspired me the most was not their intentions and good efforts to put out the fires, but their genuine sacrifice to put others first by stepping down from their high ivory towers of power and control, and by joining the communities they wanted to help. I’ve always believed that the process that leads to self-reflection and the overcoming of our own power abuse is the most difficult journey that we will ever take in our fight for equality.

Since the publishing of what many have called “the government’s race report” or more accurately the March 2021 Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities: The Report, I have witnessed in silence an increasing dispute, and the spending of considerable resources and time between its advocates and adversaries. Race and other equality and human rights champions and NGOs would appear on TV, radio, print and online media to condemn the report and its authors in a genuine hope that they can counter-balance its messages and “hidden agendas”. As the controversy and conflict were increasing, the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh distracted the media, but like most TV breaks, I am expecting this emotional, thriller series to continue shortly.

I therefore take the opportunity to watch myself and develop a self-critique in the hope that I can expose the race that really matters. And this is neither the race to win the race debate, nor the race that divides communities. But the race that racialises us all[1].

Personally and professionally, I have no issues with the Commission’s report. I