'Our experiences are not a myth': John Amaechi's rousing reaction to UK's race report

31 March 2021, 13:28 | Updated: 31 March 2021, 13:34

By Fiona Jones

Psychologist and former NBA basketball player John Amaechi gave David Lammy his rousing reaction to the Government's race report as it is released.

"Black and brown people, your experiences are not a myth."

These were Mr Amaechi's strong words for LBC listeners as the Commission on Race and Ethnic disparities released a landmark report which found the UK is not institutionally racist.

Instead the report brands Britain 'model to the world' on diversity.

The report is a "denial of reality," John Amaechi told LBC.

He said: "It's not about being a model, it's about looking at our people in this country, the people who have decided to make their lives here and contribute here, and saying should it not be the case that one is passion and driven and effortful, your experience should not be massively differential from the person next to you on the bus?"

"It feels to me like this report has said well there's institutional racism here in this part of society, and there's institutional racism here in this part. But because we found a place where it isn't institutional, it can't be overall.

"It feels like this report thinks that racism is a function of bad people doing bad things and that's not what racism is. It is indeed to yell the n word at a black person but that is not the sum total of racism's power."

Mr Amaechi branded the report a "gut punch": "This report...verifies and validates the narrative of racists out there, who want to believe that it's about some individual being racist somewhere and it's not about the system."

David asked the psychologist how society moves forward.

"Black and brown people, white allies out there, people who want a society where there is a quality of opportunity, not a quality of outcome...you need to decide where you stand.

"This is the thing with issues of conscience, it's not enough to think something is wrong. You have to say something is wrong, tell people what you stand for and tell people what you won't stand for, and live by the implications of that."

He continued, "Equality is not a spectator sport."

Mr Amaechi likened inaction to going to the pantomime: "You yell when you think the bad guy is creeping up behind the hero, and because you yell and the hero saves the day, you think you've done something."

He referenced the black squares and hashtags people posted on Instagram as a mark of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, telling David they were necessary but "insufficient in the face of denial of reality."

"Black and brown people, you are not delusional. Your experiences are not a myth. Our experience is not a myth."

Watch the full interview above.