Black people, racism and human rights Contents

2Perceptions of human rights in the Black community

15.We were clear at the outset that a primary interest in undertaking this inquiry was to better understand how Black people felt their human rights were protected in comparison to white people. To help achieve this, we commissioned ClearView Research, a Black-led research organisation, to carry out qualitative and quantitative research into Black people’s views on whether their human rights are equally protected in the UK.


16.ClearView Research is an audience insight and strategy agency which specialises in working with diverse groups; in particular, young people, minority ethnic groups, people with specific protected characteristics, and vulnerable communities on research and evaluation projects.

17.ClearView took an approach which involved conducting focus groups and interviews as well as a polling exercise. The focus groups were conducted first and feedback from them were used to help frame the polling questions.5

Key findings6

18.The headline finding from the polling was that the majority (over 75%) of Black people in the UK do not believe their human rights are equally protected compared to white people. (see figure 1.). Some of the reasons for this were explored in more depth in the interviews and reasons such as unequal treatment in education, employment and crime were raised.

Figure 1: “As a black person, I believe that my human rights are equally protected compared to white people in the UK”, percentage

Figure 1 chart

Source: CVR Insights, The Black Community and Human Rights, September 2020

19.Speaking about this finding when he came to present the research findings to us, Kenny Imafidon, Co-Founder and Managing Director of ClearView Research told us that when answering this question about whether Black people’s human rights are equally protected when compared with white people, respondents tended to link the term “human rights” to specific rights such as “my right to an education”, “my right to life”, “my right to a fair trial”.7 Asked by Dean Russell MP whether respondents’ answer to this question was based on personal experiences, Burphy Zumu, Director and Senior Research Executive at ClearView, told us that:

“From [the interviews] we got a sense that, for some people, it was direct experiences of their life that made them feel that way. For others, it was the stories they heard from others in the community—from their close friends, their families. That gave them a feel [that their human rights are not equally protected compared to white people], which was also supported by their knowledge of certain research that exists.”8

20.While the majority of both men and women do not believe their human rights are equally protected compared to white people in the UK this is felt far more strongly by women. Over 82% of women disagreed that their human rights are equally protected, compared with 69% of men. This differential between men and women’s views was evident in relation to all the issues covered in the polling; also arising in the context of views about the police and the NHS. Women felt that their rights were less protected in all domains.9

Figure 2: “As a black person, I believe my rights are equally protected compared to white people”, percentage by gender

Figure 2 chart

Source: CVR Insights, The Black Community and Human Rights, September 2020

21.Other key findings from the polling were:

Box 1: Suggestions made by poll respondents about actions that could be taken to improve Black people’s human rights10

Better anti-racism laws and better record keeping of racists incidents including more investigations into, and the charging of, those guilty of racist offences.

More positive Black role models in different spheres (i.e. in education, the police force, the media etc.).

Better education in school and workplaces about human rights, Black history, and on equality and diversity.

More Black communities supporting each other.

Reparations given.

Purposeful reform and review of the criminal justice system.

Black focused initiatives by Government & the NHS including mental health support (especially for Black women).

Source: CVR Insights, The Black Community and Human Rights, September 2020

22.The findings from the research are very much in line with other recent surveys on related issues, although these were not focused on human rights. For example, in August 2020, the charity, Hope not Hate, published “Minority Communities in the Time of Covid and Protest: A Study of BAME Opinion.” A key finding from this work is that 72% of respondents agree that Black and Asian people face discrimination in their everyday lives.11

23.The majority (over 75%) of Black people in the UK do not believe their human rights are equally protected compared to white people. This is a damning indictment of our society and must be addressed as a matter of the highest political priority. To this end, the Equality and Human Rights Commission must undertake to run an annual opinion survey on whether Black people feel their human rights are equally protected, so that issues can be identified, and progress checked.

24.The clear message from these research findings also needs to be heeded by those of us in Parliament. We, both in this Committee, and more widely across both Houses need to keep these issues high on our agendas and not only focus on them when they come to the fore in the wake of events such as the murder of Stephen Lawrence or the Windrush scandal.

25.This Committee undertakes to focus ever greater efforts on ensuring that we hear routinely from a diverse range of witnesses. These efforts will include a focus on ensuring that we hear directly from Black, Asian and minority ethnic people about their experiences in relation to human rights.

26.Parliamentary select committees should reflect on how they ensure issues of race and racism are tackled through their work and have a regular focus on race equality through their inquiry work.

27.The Houses of Parliament should use best endeavours to facilitate the recruitment of Black and minority ethnic staff into senior roles and report annually on progress.

5 The polling research was conducted among a representative sample drawn from ClearView’s existing database which includes thousands of people from the black community, who have taken part in previous research studies and participants identified through local and strategic partner organisations. The sample was larger than would generally be expected for a poll that looks at the views of people in the black community. The usual number would be around 200 or 400 at best, whereas this sample had 515, which means that there can be a large degree of confidence in the findings. All participants completed the poll online. Further to the polling, interviews were carried out with people from the black community. In order to ensure that the population polled was an accurate representation of the UK population, ClearView applied sample and statistical weighting, using known population estimates for England and Wales from the 2011 census data. The sample was weighted on ethnicity, age and gender. Further details of how the weighting was calculated and a breakdown of participants by other characteristics including disability, educational attainment and geographical location within the UK, can be found in the full research report available on our website: ClearView Research, The Black Community and Human Rights, September 2020.

6 An overview of the key findings of the report is given here. Specific findings are discussed in more detail in later chapters of the report.

7 Q30 [Kenny Imafidon]

8 Q30 [Burphy Zumu]

9 Q37 [Burphy Zumu]

10 Suggestions made by respondents to the poll have been grouped according to their main sentiment.

Published: 11 November 2020