CNN World News

Blacks in Britain face similar racial issues as U.S.

October 17, 1995
Web posted at: 6:15 a.m. EDT (1015 GMT)

From Correspondent Rob Reynolds

LONDON (CNN)-- In terms of numbers alone, blacks in Britain have little in common with their counterparts in the United States. The percentage of the black population in the U.S. is much greater. But, in terms of experience, the effects of racism are much the same.

Britain's approximately 900,000 black people make up less than two percent of the country's total population. They are mostly immigrants, or the children of immigrants from Britain's former colonies in Africa and the West Indies.

Black people make up Britain's second largest racial minority group, outnumbered only by people of the South-Asian origin.

Despite their relatively small numbers, British blacks experience many of the same problems as African-Americans. According to government statistics, members of ethnic minorities, including blacks, are twice as likely to be unemployed as white Britons.

Seventeen percent of black families are headed by a single parent, as opposed to 4 percent for whites. Eight percent of all men in British prisons are black.

Bernie Grant, a British Parliament member says, "Racism is an international phenomenon and certainly the types of racism we get in Britain is very, very similar to the racism in the United States."

Grant says that British institutions have a 'de-facto' glass ceiling that bars blacks from advancing. "In the U.S., black people are able to achieve. For instance, Colin Powell could be the next President of the United States. There's no question of any black person being the next Prime Minister in Britain."

One of the most important differences between Britain and America is that in Britain, the issue of race relations is relatively low on the political agenda for both the major political parties.

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