The largest survey to date of the opinions and attitudes of Black people in Britain has revealed a central split on the question of British pride.

Around half of Black Britons consider themselves at least somewhat “proud to be British”, while almost half take little to no pride in Britishness.

The research also suggests that racial prejudice and insensitivity in UK workplaces remains entrenched, with a high percentage of respondents (88%) saying they have experienced racial discrimination at work.

In fact, almost all (98%) of those surveyed said they have compromised self-expression and identity to fit into the workplace – by adapting speech or hairstyles, for example – with appearance and cultural background cited as factors influencing lack of promotion or development.

The research has been conducted by the University of Cambridge’s Department of Sociology in collaboration with The Voice, Britain’s only national newspaper for Black communities, and London-based management consultancy I-Cubed, founded by two Black women.

Over 10,000 Black Britons from across the UK completed an extensive survey covering a range of social and cultural issues, from media and politics to mental health. Cambridge researchers also conducted dozens of in-depth interviews with a subset of participants.

The report reveals that extremely high levels of distrust and discrimination are still felt deeply across Black British communities when it comes to systems such as health, education and criminal justice.

On education, some 95% of respondents believe the UK’s curriculum neglects Black lives and experiences, while fewer than 2% think educational institutions take racism seriously.

Some 87% expect to receive substandard levels of healthcare because of their race, while 79% believe the police still use stop and search unfairly against Black people.

“This report needs to start a conversation into the unequal outcomes that members of Black communities face in Britain,” said Dr Kenny Monrose, lead researcher and Cambridge sociologist.

“A lot of nonsense is talked about Black communities being hard to reach. They’re not hard to reach, they’re easy to ignore. But if there’s 10,000 people speaking, attention needs to be paid. You might not want to agree, but you’ve got to listen to what’s being said.”

The findings should be a “wake-up call for Britain” argues Lester Holloway, Editor of The Voice. “We have many fourth-generation Black Brits and, as a community, we should be feeling part of this country. Yet the lived experience of racism in every area of life is leading many to not feel British.”

British identity is highly divisive among Black communities. A majority (81%) describe themselves as British (either ‘definitely’ or ‘somewhat’). The question of pride in Britain is split down the middle, with 49% of respondents proud to be British, while an almost equal number (45%) feel the opposite.

One participant described his British pride: “I’m born here. I work here. I pay my taxes here. I bought my house here. Why should I not embrace it?” Others identify pride more locally, such as being a Londoner or NHS employee. However, many still see England’s St. George’s Cross flag as a threat.

“When I see the [St. George’s Cross] hanging out the window, I’m crossing the road. I don’t feel safe,” said one interviewee. “I don’t think they understand that to us it’s a symbol of fear and racism.”

The acronym ‘BAME’ (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) was considered “unhelpfully homogenising” when classifying Britain’s diverse non-White population, according to the report. Three-quarters (74%) of respondents felt uncomfortable with this label.

Faith matters more for Black communities than across the British population as a whole, with 84% of participants self-described as religious or spiritual (the 2021 census shows 56% of people in England and Wales identify with a religious faith).

When it comes to sexuality, a high number of respondents (84%) believe that Black LGBTQ+ people experience discrimination from within Black communities, although over half (56%) of BBVP participants say that acceptance of Black LGBTQ+ people has improved compared with a decade ago.

Interview data suggests there is still a fear of disclosing sexuality for many Black LGBTQ+ people, who worry about prejudice from church and family, as well as rejection from mainstream LGBTQ+ culture.

As well as the widespread belief that UK education ignores Black experiences, and its institutions are unserious about racism, 41% of respondents “definitely” believe discrimination to be the main barrier to academic attainment of young Black people.

Some interviewees discussed the importance of learning about histories of empire and slavery, while others pointed out the need to increase awareness of science and technology subjects in Black communities. Some 84% of BBVP participants felt that more Black teachers needed to be recruited.

The report also explores Black people’s attitudes to business and politics in the UK. A huge 95% of participants consider financial literacy “critical” to secure futures for Black Britons. The report argues that, for some, racial disparities in pay and pensions – combined with class hierarchies – create a “fatalism” about economic fairness.

Three out of four respondents expressed the view that Black businesses are treated unfairly by investors and financial institutions. Some interviewees argue that gentrification is pushing Black businesses out of their neighbourhoods in major cities.

Over 90% of all BBVP participants say they want to see more Black Members of Parliament. At a time of pervasive public cynicism about contemporary politics, an optimistic 22% also believe that Black politicians “have the power to address the needs of Black people in Britain”.

The Johnson government’s “Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities” was singled out for criticism by a number of interviewees. “For a man who referred to Black Lives Matter protesters as thugs… were we expecting anything else?” said one participant.

“We are mindful that historically black communities have been wary of reports conducted on race, as they attempt to limit or invalidate the reality of their lived experiences,” said Dr Monrose.

“However, the carpet of data captured within this report reliably highlights the chronic level of racial disparities and unequal outcomes that they face on a daily basis.”

Dr Maggie Semple, OBE, co-founder of I-Cubed Consultancy, added: “We can no longer overlook the lived realities of Black people in the UK and be non-committal in providing impactful long-term solutions.

“This is an opportunity to acknowledge our views and opinions, with the intent of creating a better future for us all.”


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