Government & Society

Institutional racism is ‘a perception more than a reality’.

Not our words, but sentiments of Munira Mirza, the No 10 adviser who has the task of setting up the new government commission on racial inequalities that Boris Johnson announced on Sunday.

Now, in case you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, let’s pretend for a moment that this as a movie. The plot will go as follows:

Death of a black man (George Lloyd) in the US sparks a series of #BlackLivesMatter marches and protests internationally.

Get people to begin to appreciate the longstanding issues around racial injustices and inequalities, that had been consistently ignored.

Follow through with more marches and protests in the UK – despite an ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

A few statues get displaced because of their connection to slavery (not saying whether this is right or wrong, but that’s the way this movie goes).

Get people to notice the absence of black people in key positions across UK organisations and institutions, including the ranks of Cabinet Ministers.

Quiz the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care about this, to which he’ll assert that not having a black Cabinet Minster is not an issue because Cabinet has “diversity of thought”.

Add in some more marches and protests, peppered with violence (not condoned), and dashes of healthy debates.

Get PM to announce a cross-governmental commission to look at all aspects of inequality in the UK – because we need yet another one!

Then, for the plot twist, and every good movie needs one, let’s give the job of setting up the commission about ‘racial inequalities’ to someone who doesn’t think ‘institutional racism’ is a thing.

I have no idea what the next scene might be – your guess is as good as mine – however, there’s probably enough in here already for an Oscar nomination.

But, off course, this isn’t a movie, this is the reality we live. So don’t, not even for one moment, think I’m making light of a serious issue.

Oh, and someone please tell the BBC website editors that not every article about racial inequality needs to be covered with a #BlackLivesMatter march poster.