This week I was re-elected Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Race and Community. Thanks goes to the Runnymede Trust – the UK’s leading race equality think tank – which has and will continue to be the APPG’s Secretariat.

Read my Chair’s report here:

The APPG on Race and Community has continued to go from strength to strength over the past year.

We have held a number of topical events which have brought together a wide range of parliamentarians, and hundreds of members of the public. We embraced the opportunity to once again hold in person events, and began the reporting year with an event covering ‘Race, Elections and Political Participation’. The UK has huge gaps in democratic participation, with up to 9.4 million eligible people not correctly registered to vote. Of particular concern is the high number of people of colour that are underrepresented on Britain’s voting registers. As of 2018, only 76% of Asian people and 75% of Black people were registered to vote, in comparison to 84% of white people. This underrepresentation amounts to a longstanding ‘democratic deficit’ among minority ethnic groups in the UK. This event brought together experts and experts by experience to discuss this ‘democratic deficit’ and posit ideas that could address the barriers to democratic participation.

In April, we held an event addressing the racial disproportionalities present in the Criminal Justice System. ‘Re-imaging Justice’ examined the racial disproportionality present in policing and charging and judicial decisions. Race-based disproportionalities exist at all stages of the criminal justice system and have resulted in the overrepresentation of people of colour  in the prison system — making up 27% of all prisoners. At the event, we heard from senior members of the Crown Prosecution Service, legal professionals, and civil society campaigners who discussed how we can create a more equitable justice system that works for all.

In June we facilitated a conversation with historians Asif Shakoor and Georgie Wemyss who discussed ‘Unearthing Invisible Seafaring Histories of Empire, Britishness and Belonging’ to an intimate audience. Asif had no idea that his late paternal grandfather, Mahomed Gama, had worked on British Merchant ships during the First World War until a discovery was made when visiting his ancestral home in Pakistan. The unearthing of letters received by his grandmother in the 1960s led to him researching across continents to find out more about the life of Mahomed Gama and a search for his missing war medals. Drawing from Asif’s research and stories about his grandfather’s journeys between continents including wartime visits to docks in London and Liverpool, this conversation highlighted important insights into the conditions experienced by seafarers born under British colonial rule which still impact on present day issues of Britishness and belonging.

Finally, we have begun an inquiry into Climate Change and Global Systemic Racism. Globally, people of colour are being disproportionately affected by the climate and environmental emergencies, an emergency they historically have had little role in creating. This unequal impact is being felt due to the role of global systemic racism, which has produced racialised inequalities that are determining who is most affected by the climate and environmental emergencies. This inquiry has heard from over 20 experts and experts by experience on how we can create more inclusive, intersectional and effective climate change policy by better understanding the structural causes and barriers which have led to the environmental emergency having a disproportionate effect on Black people, Indigenous Peoples and People of colour.

Looking at the year ahead, we hope to continue the impactful work we have engaged with this year. We will launch the findings of our Climate Change and Global Systemic Racism inquiry with a report detailing clear policy recommendations for UK policymakers to address injustices in the climate crisis. We look forward to building on our successes as a cross-Parliamentary group, and continue to articulate the issues that matter most to Black and minority ethnic communities in the Parliament.

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