The scope for inclusivity, still under scrutiny in modern society

Christmas, a time for family and togetherness. Sadly, a recent Sainsbury’s Christmas advert illustrating a black family celebrating Christmas created outrage within a particular section of society, claiming that the advert was not a ‘representation’ of the UK.

Is the UK really as inclusive as it is made out to be?

Judging by the reaction to this particular advert, some members of society still hold strong nationalist views. The responses towards the advert included ‘I am dreaming of a white Christmas’ and ‘looking forward to seeing the UK version’. Thereby, in some people’s eyes it is not only the values that make you British, but also the colour of your skin. Thankfully, most of the notable supermarket companies, such as Co-op and M&S, stood by Sainsbury’s fight to combat racism. Head of brand communications, Rachel Eyre, emphasised that “Sainsbury’s is for everyone” and their advert was a representation of modern Britain.

So, who’s to blame?

The resurgence of national populism may have provided some with the opportunity to vocalise their negative thoughts, shifting the blame from themselves to others. For an instance, populist leaders pin the lack of job opportunities on rising immigration, and this ongoing cycle of blame is what help fuels the division we see today. The Brexit referendum divided the nation, and the aftermath saw a rise in hate crimes by 27% (almost double of the previous year). Racism lately has become more overt, the lack of repercussions and certain political figures not condoning such behaviour means there is no longer a deterrence to prevent people from acting in a hateful way.

Is racism here to stay then?

The BLM are one of the current embodiments of the Civil Rights movement. We, as a collective can put a stop to racism by getting involved in peaceful protests, promoting work by people of colour and educating ourselves on their history. In America, the BLM movement have achieved many policy reforms such as disallowing the use of chokeholds, banning of ‘no-knock’ search warrants in states such as Kentucky and, in both UK and US, monuments that honoured slave owners – all within a span of this year.

The Brexit referendum divided the nation, and the aftermath saw a rise in hate crimes by 27% (almost double of the previous year).

The British government have made some questionable decisions, such as immigration policies targeting race. For an instance, the Windrush Scandal in 2018 which denied the rights of the Caribbean natives who were initially brought to rebuild Britain after the second World War. This policy created such controversy due to the false promise made by the British government to safeguard their rights under the 1948 British Nationality Act.

Another similar controversial policy, was the deportation of Gurkhas, who were guaranteed the rights to settle in the UK in 1997 after serving in the war. The policy created such an uproar that British actress and political activist, Joanna Lumley, became the public face of the Gurkha Justice Campaign in 2008.

The contentious decisions made by the British government could be due to a lack of representation in the House of Commons. MPs from ethnic minority backgrounds make up 10% of parliament, with 63% being represented by Labour and 34% being represented by the Conservatives (with the remaining 3% being represented by the Liberal Democrats)

The British government have implemented two major acts to help challenge racism. For an instance, the Race Relations Act 1965 made it a criminal offence to discriminate against people of colour, and the Equality Act 2010 targeted all forms of discrimination from public areas to work-places and schools. Since then, there really has not been a significant policy being put forward to tackle specific forms of racism. However, as the BLM and other BAME related campaigns continue to push forward, we are likely to see more effective change in the socio-political system.

Racism is too engraved to be abolished overnight. To make sufficient change requires continuous momentum and bringing the next generation up on values of love, and not hate. Christmas is just around the corner, it’s a celebration of love and unity, and therefore there is no better time for humanity to come together.

MACKAYAN: the ad that challenged racism

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