21 March is marked by the United Nations as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. On this day in 2017, I was invited to attend the Race Equality Framework for Scotland event. One of the main visions for the Race Equality Framework, is to ensure that all people living in Scotland are healthier, happier and treated with respected; and that opportunities, wealth and power are spread more equally.
To think that there was a time in the United Kingdom where it was the norm to come across clearly visible signs in public places that would say “NO IRISH, NO DOGS, NO BLACKS”. There was police brutality because black people were being killed by the police, and that led to rioting (the Brixton and Tottenham riots). Not surprising, these riots and issues were not really covered in Mainstream media, and so because of this, some white people may not understand the black experience of life in the UK. Rolling forward to 2017, the current political climate in the UK has fuelled distasteful comments and behaviours by non-black people in any space, be it in a learning, social or working environment. These attitudes, comments and behaviours negatively impact on black people’s self-esteem or confidence and reminds black people that even though they are visible and have been ‘allowed in’, they must not be loud enough to be heard, that nobody cares to listen, that they are not relevant, that they should know their place and that regardless of age, level of education, or experience, that they dare not advance beyond their white counterparts.
They have it on paper that the Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and other areas within society. I often say that the Equality Act is often only worth the paper that it is written on as we continue to see black people being fitted into stereotypes and be treated unfairly based on those stereotypes. We continue to see that black males are most likely to be stopped and searched by police for no reason. We continue to see a stereotype around black men and boys fitting certain crimes. We continue to see that there is an understanding that migrants come to the UK to deliberately live on welfare because they are lazy. We continue to see black people humiliated at work, in meetings, in classrooms or lectures; we have heard of lecturers using their bias to mark students down because of one petty reason or the other. We continue to see the unfair treatment of black single mothers, as well as the unfair treatment of black prisoners within the prison system. We continue to see black children stereotyped as aggressive and loud etc. although I must admit that inequalities exist amongst non-black people and also the poor indigenous people of this country, the aforementioned stereotypes determine attitudes and how blacks are treated around opportunities at work, within education housing and so on.
Thank God for this framework, at least someone is willing to make a positive impact for equality for all by eradicating racism.