Kent Messenger Column - 12-10-17
In the early 60's, to the best of my knowledge, I was the only person in the whole of Carlisle with a darker skin colour. Born in London of an English / Welsh mum and a Nigerian dad, I'd get called names at school and bullied sometimes, but so did some other kids who were different in one way or another. I never felt, however, that I was missing out on opportunities because of my colour. It was up to me to work hard, and progress, and that was that.
The passing of time has produced many new generations of non-white British people, and many more have arrived on our shores as new migrants. In Maidstone & The Weald, by way of example, there were around 2700 (3%) non-white people in 2001, rising to around 7,000 (7%) in the 2011 census.
These are peoples from all around the world, each with their own cultures, traditions, values and identities. The challenge we must tackle is to learn how to live together, embrace each other and celebrate both commonality and difference. I am proud to represent a community that embraces its cultural diversity but there are more diverse parts of the country where people's chances in life are uneven and unjust.
The issues are complex and numerous and, until now, poorly understood. That is why Theresa May commissioned her Race Disparity Audit upon becoming our PM in 2016, and the data was published this week and can be read here.
For the first time we will be able to form a comprehensive view as to where the disparities are, what needs to change, and then work out how to go about achieving that across a multitude of issues, communities and government departments.
Justice and equality were core reasons behind my decision to enter politics and I see this as a good week for our country, but it is just the beginning. There is much to do.
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