When my gran moved to Reading in 1960, finding a room to rent wasn’t easy. The worst quality rooms at sky-high prices were available for black people then; the signs in the windows infamously scrawled “No blacks, no Irish, no dogs”.
This was a common experience of the Windrush generation. Fast-forward 15 years to a classroom in west Reading and the teacher has made a black student dance like a monkey on the table – as entertainment. My mother – looking on – is not laughing. It isn’t funny when you’re the butt of the joke.
The same schoolyard crime would have very different consequences for the minority-ethnic kids than it did for the white ones. My mum left school at 16 and went to work. Most of the ethnic minority children got out as soon as they could to escape the mockery and unfair racist treatment from the teachers who were meant to fill them with the confidence to reach their full potential.
These overt and extreme experiences of racism are consigned to the past, but their impact lives on. They have everything to do with the socioeconomic position I was born into. Disadvantage, when not tackled, is inherited generation to generation. Today more subtle and hidden forms of racism and discrimination continue to blight our society. And this leaves black and minority-ethnic people – women in particular – on an unequal playing field before they even get going.
Today the Race Disparity Audit publishes its Ethnicity Facts and Figures website, which shines a light on stark injustices suffered by BME people across the country. While two in three white British households own their home, the audit found only two in five households from any other ethnic group own their house.