The report, published on Wednesday, said factors such as geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture and religion were found to have more impact on life chances than racism.
Baroness Lawrence, whose son Stephen was murdered by white thugs in 1993, said it had ‘given racists the green light’.
But last night the commission insisted: ‘We have never said that racism does not exist in society or in institutions. We say the contrary: Racism is real and we must do more to tackle it.’
They added: ‘The facts and analysis we presented challenge a number of strongly held beliefs about the nature and extent of racism in Britain today.
‘Sadly, however, in some cases fair and robust disagreement with the Commission’s work has tipped into misrepresentation.
‘This misrepresentation risks undermining the purpose of the report – understanding and addressing the causes of inequality in the UK – and any of the positive work that results from it.’
Dr Tony Sewell, the chairman of the commission, has faced particular criticism about his foreword, with some accusing him of ‘glorifying’ the slave trade.
The education consultant and ex-charity boss called on schools to use history lessons to ‘tell the multiple, nuanced stories of the contributions made by different groups that have made this country the one it is today’.
He said there was a new story to be told about the ‘slave period’ that was not all about ‘profit and suffering’.
In the statement last night, the commission said there had been a ‘wilful misrepresentation by some people’ of its view ‘on the history of slavery’.
‘The idea that the Commission would downplay the atrocities of slavery is as absurd as it is offensive to every one of us,’ they added.
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