Amos: “I Don’t Think We Need Another Commission”

Having denied the existence of institutional racism in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has now announced a commission to investigate racial inequality. To discuss all this, Christiane speaks with Baroness Valerie Amos – she has served as a cabinet minister in the UK government, worked at the United Nations, and will soon be the first ever black master of a college at Oxford University.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Can I start by asking about this commission that the prime minister has announced? Are you satisfied by what the government is saying about institutional racism and do you think there is an honest appraisal of what’s happening, even here in the U.K.?

VALERIE AMOS, INCOMING MASTER, UNIVERSITY OF COLLEGE, OXFORD UNIVERSITY: Well, Christiane, you won’t be surprised to hear me say that I don’t think we need another commission. Just in the last three years, we have had, from the previous prime minister, a race disparity audit which showed very clear inequalities across health, across our criminal justice system, across our employment system. We had a further report from David Lammy looking at the criminal justice system itself and the huge inequalities in that system. We had the McGregor-Smith report looking at the workplace, again, very clear evidence of inequality. We had the Windrush report. And just this year, the lessons learned from that, 30 recommendations in that, and this week or next, we’ll have the publication of the report on COVID, and very clearly inequalities identified in that report too. So, what are we having another commission for? If all it will do is delay, there are recommendations on the table already that governments can implement now. We need change, we need change urgently, and we need action.

AMANPOUR: So, again, my question to you is clearly here and in the United States, there have been many reviews, many training programs, many reforms and none have either been implemented or they haven’t worked. Do you believe this government is honest about the level of racism, I mean, the notion of systemic racism still here in the U.K.?

AMOS: I think what the protests have shown, not just here but in the United States as well, and the fact that there has been, as it were, a global response with lots of protests in many countries across the world drawing attention to the pernicious and pervasive impact of racism, the government has got to have understood by now that this is structural, it’s deep, it’s part and parcel of the way that our society functions. And we have to address it at that level. And I have to say that the response of the prime minister today offering just yet another commission does not give me confidence of that recognition. We have recommendations on the table. Those recommendations have been there for years.

About This Episode EXPAND

Christiane speaks with Baroness Valerie Amos about the UK’s new commission to investigate racial inequality. She also speaks with David Simon, creator of “The Wire,” about the role of cops in the American public imagination. Michel Martin speaks with law enforcement scholar Phillip Atiba Goff about fighting implicit biases in police departments.