As a proud British citizen, born in Malaysia and of Chinese descent, 2016 has been a terrifying year. The rise in racist incidents and attacks since the EU Referendum has been well-documented – an outpouring of hate that shocked so many across the country, who believed us to be an open, diverse and welcoming society. I’ve received so many emails from friends in the Chinese community and with ancestors across the world who have experienced abuse in the last six weeks, it makes you wonder what it means to be British.
As a young, black woman, I've naturally felt like the Labour party represented me. It's always been the party of equality, social democracy and justice for all. Historically, it has fought against racial inequality and in 2015, I was glad to see a BAME manifesto released. It included ‘closing the BAME pay gap’, ‘taking robust action against hate crime’ and ‘strengthening representation in public life and in politics’. Unfortunately, Labour didn’t win in 2015 and right now, as a party we need to focus on winning a general election so we can work with the BAME community and make sure these changes actually happen.
Racist, Islamophobic, xenophobic and anti-Semitic tropes and ideas are becoming increasing prevalent and accepted in British society. We speak of racism too often in abstract terms, and not rooted in the day to day functioning of entrenched oppressive structures and power relations. It is no secret that BAME engagement at every level within the Party is abysmal, with BAME Labour itself consistently struggling to capture the imagination of ethnic minority communities across this country, let alone enthuse them to become powerful political agents. This leadership contest, whilst between two white men, nonetheless poses vital questions about how to genuinely challenge the rising tide of hatred in this country.
Tomorrow is the deadline for the Herald and GenAnalytics inaugural Diversity Awards.
These awards will recognise the outstanding success of companies, organisations, individuals, third sector organisations and community groups who have demonstrated a strong commitment and track records of achievement in ensuring that everyone in our society has the opportunity to fulfil their ambitions, aspirations and potential.
In Scotland, with a base of over 300,000 businesses and third sector organisations, 32 local authorities, over 100 public bodies and a population of five million citizens, we are well placed to demonstrate and share our existing commitment to diversity and equality in the workplace, in our communities and our society.