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Answer this: Is Britain a post racial society?

IN ACTION: Miranda Brawn delivers her speech during the first anniversary event for the Centre of Pan African Thought last month

I WAS recently invited to answer this question on an expert panel at the “Pan African Thought” first year anniversary event, alongside some of the UK’s top race equality experts such as Eric Kauffmann (Birkbeck University of London), Dr Omar Khan (Runnymeade Trust), Bro Ldr Bandaka (Alkebulan) and Zita Holbourne (BARAC).

Although we have the best race equality legalisation and practice in Europe and there have been some positive movement on race equality over the last few decades, evidenced by the increase of race diversity within the workplace, there are many barriers facing Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.

A lot of work still needs to be done to tackle structural issues affecting BAME communities in relation to health, housing, education, crime, employment and so on; which demonstrate that we are not a post racial society yet.

New figures suggest that there has also been a rise in racial hate crime since the EU referendum on 23 June 2016 where schools across the country have also experienced a surge. We can and must all play our part to increase racial equality.

I am part of a race equality advisory group where we have worked on the race equality strategy providing a report and recommendations for one of the main party leaders. I have done the same with Lambeth Council as one of their Equality Commissioners.

In addition, I have launched the award winning Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation to help address race inequality while helping the next generation of BAME leaders become a success via scholarships and diversity lectures.

Education is an important key to fostering upward mobility and alleviating inequality. It is now well established and researched over decades that the early years of children’s lives, well before the age of five, and before they go to formal school, are critical for the development of attitudes to racial differences.

Recently, I made UK history again by giving the first diversity lecture aimed at schoolchildren aged from 4 years old. This took place at St Luke's Primary School, Queen’s Park where I encouraged school children to respect differences from a young age while providing a form of inspiration for their future careers.

The Runnymede Trust highlights that black and minority ethnic students are less likely to be admitted to elite institutions such as Oxford University, despite possessing comparable grades to their white peers which is in line with the recent example of only fourteen black males at Cambridge University.

I am also giving a talk at Cambridge University on 4th August 2017 to help encourage further diversity while supporting and inspiring young people to achieve their potential.

There is a large racial wealth gap partially driven by income. The recent example of Grenfell Tower sadly demonstrates how some BAME people are given the worst housing and ignored when raising vital concerns about living conditions. Unemployment is particularly high among BAME.

Part of the problem is infrastructure and education. Social networks reinforce the patterns, since most non-BAME get their jobs through friends and family connections.

There have been complaints from BAME people that because of their foreign sounding names, they are less likely to be taken seriously when looking for work.

So therefore, receive less favourable treatment compared to applicants with English sounding names. BAME people should be encouraged to help each other as much as possible to help increase racial equality.

Back in 2004, a report from a government task force highlighted the race pay gap that leaves Asian and black workers earning up to £7,000 a year less than white people.

Unfortunately, the situation has not changed much during the past thirteen years so the race pay gap needs to be given similar attention as the gender pay gap in order to help close it.

In the UK, the government is trying to encourage organisations to address the root causes through pay gap reporting, however, only a small number of organisations have actually come forward with their figures so far. The government and organisations must step up and do more to create the right conditions for equality.

The potential benefit to the UK economy from full representation of BAME individuals across the labour market through improved participation and progression, is estimated to be £24 billion a year according to ‘Race in the workplace: The McGregor-Smith Review’. The report goes some way to setting out answers for the solution, however, the issue goes beyond the business arena. It lies with society as a whole. Schools, the Government, the media, business, and other institutions, all play a part in contributing to the solution.

A disproportionate number of mental health admissions are from black and minority ethnic groups, at 23% compared to 14% of the population. Clearly, these trends are not simply attributable to individual prejudices and instead reflect a systemic problem at the societal level.

A 2015 report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that black people in England and Wales were five times more likely to be imprisoned than whites. David Lammy is continuing his review of the criminal justice system and the impact of BAME communities which will help to address this issue.

The Government must play a leading role, not only in addressing racism and racial inequality through the demands it places on institutions, but also through a more critical reflection of its own policies.

We have now reached a crossroads in Britain where there is growing racial, social and class divide. All this makes the movement for greater racial equality even more urgent.

Whilst there may be different voices with diverging viewpoints it is also clear there is a shared appetite for a brighter, more equal future. As a country, we all need to come together.

There is an opportunity to apply for this year’s scholarship via http://mirandabrawn.com/diversity-leadership-foundation-scholarship/ to benefit from funding, mentoring and work experience.

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