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The commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Dame Cressida Dick, has admitted "there is much more to be done" to improve public trust in the force.

Her comments, which included a stated ambition to increase the number of black officers in the Met, follows criticism from the mother of two black women who were stabbed to death in a park in June.

Mina Smallman believes the force "made assumptions" about her daughters and was slow to investigate when Nicole Smallman, 27, and Bibaa Henry, 46, were reported missing.

The pair had been celebrating Ms Henry's birthday with a picnic at Fryent Country Park in Wembley, north-west London.
"They looked at my daughter's address and thought they knew who she was. A black woman who lives on a council estate," Mrs Smallman said.

The sisters were found after a search organised by their family and friends, rather than a police-orchestrated one.

Two police officers are also being investigated over allegations they took and shared photographs of themselves with the women's bodies when they should have been securing the scene.

Dame Cressida said: "The Met is not free of discrimination, racism or bias. I have always acknowledged that and do now again.

"In the Met we have zero tolerance of racism. My job is to continue to try to eliminate any such racism and discrimination, however it appears. pgslot

"My top two operational priorities are reducing violence and increasing public confidence in the Met, particularly the confidence of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.

"I am sure that will be good for all Londoners and it will help us achieve our mission of making the Met the most trusted police service in the world."

Korean boyband BTS say they feel "grief and anger" over hate crimes against Asian people in the US.

A statement from the group - published in Korean and English - refers to discriminatory experiences that made them feel "powerless".

Over the weekend rallies took place in 60 American cities in response to deadly mass shootings in Asian-owned spas in Atlanta.

Four of the eight victims were of Korean descent.

The recent spike in the deliberate targeting of Asian parts of the population is thought to come from people blaming China for the coronavirus pandemic.

'The right to respected'
"We cannot put into words the pain of becoming the subject of hatred and violence for such a reason," says the BTS statement.

"Our own experiences are inconsequential compared to the events that have occurred over the past few weeks.

"But these experiences were enough to make us feel powerless and chip away at our self-esteem."
US President Joe Biden has spoken about "vicious hate crimes against Asian-Americans who have been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated."

Last year the United Nations published a report describing "an alarming level" of racially motivated violence against Asian Americans.

BTS say they "stand against racial discrimination" and say everyone has "the right to be respected".

Covid 'hate crimes' against Asian Americans on rise
Asian women made to 'feel invisible' in America
More than 2,800 reports of hate incidents directed at Asian Americans were logged by the advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate in 2020.

It set up an online self-reporting tool at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic last year.

Other high profile celebrities have spoken about their experiences facing racial discrimination. pgslot

Killing Eve actress Sandra Oh gave a speech at a rally describing the "fear" and "anger" amongst Asian-Americans.

"This is the first time we are even able to voice our fear and our anger, and I really am so grateful for everyone willing to listen," she said before encouraging the crowd to chant: "I am proud to be Asian. I belong here."

Sir Lenny Henry has written an open letter urging black Britons to take the Covid-19 vaccine.

The comedian and actor said people should "trust the facts" and guard against misinformation.

The letter has been signed by high-profile figures such as actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, YouTube star KSI and actress Thandie Newton.

Vaccination rates among black Britons are considerably lower than among white Britons.

According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, vaccination rates for people in England identifying as having black African heritage stand at 58.8%, the lowest among all ethnic minority groups, and 68.7% within the black Caribbean community.

By contrast, for people identifying as white British, there is an estimated take-up rate of 91.3%.
The disparity exists despite a widespread study suggesting black people are twice as likely as white people to catch the coronavirus.

Asked why there was caution in the black community about having the vaccine, Sir Lenny blamed an "element of mistrust" in the system.

He said people felt "certain institutions and authorities haven't particularly done right by the black community in the past" so asked "why should they do something for us now? Why are they doing us all a big favour?"

Lower jab take-up by BAME NHS staff 'a concern'
Black MPs unite to encourage vaccine take-up
Black over-80s 'half as likely' to have Covid jab
Misleading vaccine claims targeting ethnic minorities
Sir Lenny's letter, addressed to "mums, dads, grandparents, uncles, aunties, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, daughters, sons and cousins", recognises these historic "legitimate worries and concerns".

But it adds: "We're asking you to trust the facts about the vaccine from our own professors, doctors, scientists involved in the vaccine's development, GPs, not just in the UK but across the world, including the Caribbean and Africa." pg

The appeal, which is backed by the NHS, has also been turned into a short film directed by Bafta-winning filmmaker Amma Asante.

A Captain Underpants spin-off book has been taken off sale and children's author Dav Pilkey has apologised for its "harmful racial stereotypes and passively racist imagery".

The book, titled The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future, was first published in 2010.

In a statement, Pilkey said it was meant to "showcase diversity, equality, and non-violent conflict-resolution".

But he said he now realised it was "wrong and harmful" to Asian people.

"I hope that you, my readers, will forgive me, and learn from my mistake that even unintentional and passive stereotypes and racism is harmful to everyone," the US author wrote in a statement on YouTube.

"I apologise, and I pledge to do better."

Publisher Scholastic said it would attempt to remove the book from library and school shelves as well as shops.

The book is a graphic novel supposedly written by the two fictional friends who feature in the Captain Underpants books, and follows "cave boys" called Ook and Gluk.

Pilkey said they "save the world using kung fu and the principles found in Chinese philosophy". It had an initial worldwide print run of a million copies.

The Captain Underpants series includes 12 novels and numerous spin-offs. They are hugely popular with young readers, with more than 80 million copies sold around the world, but are often among the American Library Association's most complained-about books because of their violent imagery.

Scholastic said it had halted publication of the book in question on 22 March with Pilkey's "full support".

"Together, we recognise that this book perpetuates passive racism," the company said in a statement. "We are deeply sorry for this serious mistake."

Pilkey said he would donate the advance and royalties he received for the book to charities that provide books to children in underserved communities, promote diversity in children's book, and fight anti-Asian prejudice. pg

Biden condemns anti-Asian racism in Atlanta visit
Killing Eve star speaks at Stop Asian Hate rally
The move comes amid an examination of anti-Asian sentiment in the US following a rise in harassment and hate crimes, and in light of the murders of six Asian women in a shooting in Atlanta earlier this month.

It also comes as some children's books and characters are being reassessed. In early March, the company that preserves the legacy of author Dr Seuss said six of his books would no longer be published because of racially insensitive imagery.

The UK "no longer" has a system rigged against people from ethnic minorities, a review set up by No 10 says.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities said family structure and social class had a bigger impact than race on how people's lives turned out.

It said children belonging to ethnic minorities did as well or better than white pupils, but overt racism remained, particularly online.

The Runnymede Trust think tank said it felt "let down" by the report.

The commission was set up after Black Lives Matter anti-racism protests across the country last summer - triggered by the killing of George Floyd in the US.

The main findings were: pg slot

Children from ethnic-minority communities did as well or better than white pupils in compulsory education, with black Caribbean pupils the only group to perform less well
This success in education has "transformed British society over the last 50 years into one offering far greater opportunities for all"
The pay gap between all ethnic minorities and the white majority population had shrunk to 2.3% overall and was barely significant for employees under 30
Diversity has increased in professions such as law and medicine
But some communities continue to be "haunted" by historic racism, which is creating "deep mistrust" and could be a barrier to success
The commission's report concluded that the UK is not yet a "post-racial country" - but its success in removing race-based disparity in education and, to a lesser extent, the economy, "should be regarded as a model for other white-majority countries".

When setting up the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities during the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, Boris Johnson said: "What I really want to do as prime minister is change the narrative, so we stop the sense of victimisation and discrimination."

But reaching a settled view on the question of racism in the UK was always going to be a struggle.

Critics were concerned by Mr Johnson's assertion that he wanted "to look very carefully at the real racism and discrimination that people face".

There was further unease among anti-racism groups at the reported involvement of Number 10 policy advisor Munira Mirza in setting up the commission, because she had previously written of how institutional racism was "a perception more than a reality".

UK not rigged against minorities, race report says
When Theresa May created the Race Disparities Audit in 2017, Ms Mirza complained that "anti-racism is becoming weaponised across the political spectrum".

The appointment of Tony Sewell to lead the inquiry once again disappointed anti-racism activists.

One London-based organisation, Monitoring Group, considered seeking a judicial review to prevent his selection on the grounds that he had "a longstanding record of public statements rejecting or minimising" the impact of institutional racism in Britain.

The accusation that this report is the result of a hand-picked committee, designed to say what ministers wanted to hear, will have some traction, whatever the commission and the government insist about its independence.

The problem is not whether the report is right or wrong in its conclusions, nor whether the commission was impartial in its analysis. Indeed, the findings offer some important perspective on the complexities of race and social mobility. pg slot

The difficulty is that the process does not enjoy broad support as a truly independent exercise. As a result, rather than helping encourage consensus over this vexed issue, it may deepen distrust and division.

A government-commissioned report which found that the UK "no longer" had a system rigged against minorities has been accused of ignoring black and ethnic minority people's concerns.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities said family structure and social class had a bigger impact than race on how people's lives turned out.

Campaigners said it laid the blame for inequality on individuals and families.

And Labour has accused the government of downplaying institutional racism.

The commission was set up after Black Lives Matter (BLM) anti-racism protests across the country last summer - triggered by the killing of George Floyd in the US. But its report has been was met with criticism from campaigners.

Jabeer Butt, chief executive of the Race Equality Foundation, said: "The report seems to go out of its way to deny that there's anything that's been the result of policies we've put in place and instead puts the blame at individuals' decisions or at family's doors."

The GMB's national officer Rehana Azam said it "feels like a deeply cynical report", calling it "completely irresponsible and immoral" and accusing it of ignoring black and ethnic minority workers' concerns.

Boris Johnson said the government would consider the implications of the report's recommendations for future policy and remained "fully committed to building a fairer Britain".

Race report risks deepening distrust and division
Key points: What does the race report say?
'You can't tell victims what racism is'
The commission's 258-page report concluded that the UK is not yet a "post-racial country" - but its success in removing race-based disparity in education and, to a lesser extent, the economy, "should be regarded as a model for other white-majority countries".

In his foreword to the report chairman Tony Sewell, an education consultant and ex-charity boss, said while the "impediments and disparities do exist", it continued, they were "varied and ironically very few of them are directly to do with racism".

Black Lives Matter UK tweeted that it was "disappointed" that the report overlooked disproportionality in the criminal justice system.

Black people in England and Wales are nine times more likely to be imprisoned than their white peers, it said.

The report thanked the "mainly young people" behind the BLM movement for putting the focus on race but said progress could not be achieved by "cleaving to a fatalistic account that insists nothing has changed". pg slot
 
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