Tackling racism: why now?

9th April 2021

As part of our commitment to shining a light on the issues that matter most to young people, we reached out to our Student Ambassadors to talk about their thoughts, feelings and concerns for the future. In this blog, Ubaid shares his thoughts on the important topic of racism in our society.

By Ubaid, Access Aspiration Student Ambassador

“Racism: the prejudice, discrimination or antagonism posed against an individual based solely on their ethnic/racial identity. These are the types of social issues we are still fighting against in the 21st century. Not modern-day slavery, not gang violence, not poverty, but the colour of your skin, which still seems to define you in modern day Britain.

Although racial discrimination has been illegal in the UK since 1976, its effects are still present almost 45 years later. Racial inequality has been especially highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, with minority ethnic groups at most risk of being hospitalised and dying from the virus. Those with Bangladeshi origin are twice as likely to die from COVID-19, with other minority groups such as African and Caribbean 15-50% more likely to die than their white and British counterparts. Issues surrounding this stem from decades of systematic and institutionalised racism.

Not only is racism affecting the health of individuals, but it also touches them financially through a lack of job equality and further widening of the equal opportunity gap. A disturbing report by the University of Manchester (2019) uncovered the shocking truth that 70% of ethnic minority employees have faced racial badgering and abuse at work in the last five years.  Despite the years of protests and fighting for equal rights, those of ethnic minority have never truly been able to be free.

Although there is a huge assemblage of proof identifying with racial imbalances in businesses, pay and progression within the workplace, the prejudice still remains concealed with silence. Mainstream outlets never truly expose the national disparities and struggles each ethnic minority group faces, but rather group us all together under the umbrella term ‘BAME’.

The term BAME refers to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups, something which has been especially overused during this pandemic. The term has been a gateway for many to ignore and refuse to accept the individual struggles and disparities within each ethnic group in the UK, and works to further consolidate the idea of ‘white and the other’.

Many have chosen to call out the term, whilst others have chosen to identify themselves with their own respective ethnic groups. As a Muslim British Bangladeshi, my experiences with racism are completely different and incomparable to a Black or Romani Gypsy individual. By grouping us all together, not only is it neglecting our own issues, but it fails to address them too. So, my question is: when will finally get our freedom? When will these years of generational negligence and oppression come to an end? When will we be finally be treated as equals in society? I ask, when?”

Click here to meet our Access Aspiration Student Ambassadors.