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View from 'The Voice': Support PM in fighting inequality

FOCUSED: Prime Minister Theresa May (Andy Rain/EPA)

IN THIS week’s front page exclusive, Prime Minister Theresa May says she wants to achieve meaningful change on the issue of race inequality.

During the interview May said she welcomes the support of Voice readers.

Her aims are laudable and worthy of support. And she will certainly need it. Tackling discrimination is not easy.

As the figures from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission suggest, discrimination in areas such as education, health, housing and employment is widespread.

However the nature of it has changed from the more obvious and direct form that was experienced by Windrush generation after they arrived in Britain in the 1950s and 60s. Discrimination as it exists in 2017 is subtle, harder to detect and more challenging to deal with. The experience that black people go through when they are turned down for jobs without being given an interview, despite the high level of their qualifications, or an encounter with the criminal justice system where their guilt is already presumed can take a mental and emotional toll.

In cases where they have families and relatives to look after they are more likely to try and ignore the discrimination and suppress the negative feelings involved. This inevitably leads to anger and bitterness.

May says she wants people who have been treated unequally because of their race to come forward. But given the insidious nature of discrimination proving it is difficult, something that only adds to a sense of frustration, isolation, withdrawal, self-doubt and lack of self-confidence.

The Prime Minister is to be applauded for putting these issues on the agenda. However, May may find the support she needs from the black community if she is prepared to re-think how discrimination victims are supported.

For example the re-introduction of the local Race Equality Councils, a major support for black people, would be a great start. Tougher penalties for those who discriminate would also be helpful.

As May says, reports are all well and good. But she must be bold if she is to succeed in making Britain a place where anyone can progress regardless of their background.

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