The Equality and Human Rights Act 2010 says that people must not be discriminated against on the basis of their race. However, racism persists and there continues to be a lack of recognition of the consequences that it has for everyday lives.
Organisational policies, procedures and practices can serve to discriminate. This is often referred to as institution racism. While racism can be visible and overt, this is not always the case.
For example, ethnic minority people working in the UK's National Health Service are disciplined more often than White British people. Monitoring data can help to identify this kind of discrepancy and feed into discussion of adverse treatment as well as action planning to help address racism in policy and administrative processes.
The racially motivated murder of the teenager Stephen Lawrence on 22nd April 1993, as he waited for a bus in Eltham, triggered discussion of policing and racism. The ensuing Macpherson Inquiry into Stephen’s death, exploring the lessons for investigation of racially motivated crimes and helped foster greater discussion of institutional racism in the UK. In 1999 the Inquiry made recommendations which aimed to foster zero tolerance for racism in public bodies.
One outcome was the 2000 Race Relations (Amendment) Act which placed a positive duty on public bodies to promote race equality. This public duty is now part of the Equality and Human Rights Act 2010.
The murder of George Floyd on the 25th May 2020 and the Black Lives Matter social and political movement has been a catalyst for anti-racism activity in the last couple of years. For example, protest marches, footballers taking the knee and organisations setting up working groups to address inequalities. At the University of Essex a working group entitled Tackling Racism was formed in the summer of 2020 and this led to an University Action Plan.
While there is much focus on racism, globally, there is also discussion of the importance of recognising the whole person; engaging with both race and intersectionality. A combination of different aspects of an individual’s identity, for example race, gender and age can form a different mode and experience of discrimination. This is often described as intersectional discrimination which, like institutional racism, embodies structural factors.