Covid-19: BAME Communities

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:25 pm on 18th June 2020.

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Photo of Dawn Butler Dawn Butler Labour, Brent Central 1:25 pm, 18th June 2020

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. It is not one rule for Government Departments or Parliament and one rule for the rest of the country: we have seen that play out way too often. He is absolutely right that that has to be taken into consideration.

More than two in 10 black African women are employed in health and social care roles, Indian men are 150% more likely to work in health or social care roles, and 14% of doctors in England and Wales are Indians. Covid-19 does not prefer one person’s lungs to those of other ethnicities. It is not the pandemic that discriminates—it is society. It is almost as though being black is a pre-existing condition that results in worse outcomes for health, employment and education. That does not for one moment mean that it cannot be overcome. It is not a victim mentality that has put us in this situation, any more than it was indolence that put British citizens on planes and deported them during the Windrush scandal or bad sportsmanship that subjects our players to abuse on the field. We must call it what it is, because if we do not call it what it is, how can we identify it, how can we cure it, how can we stop it? It is racism, and it has become more structural and systemic. It is not just about individuals. Structural and systemic racism can exist without individual acts of racism, but it is an unfair, unequal discriminatory system—and it is literally killing us.