Church column with Pastor Alex Appiah

Pastor Alex Appiah.
Pastor Alex Appiah.

This November, the world has been celebrating the so-called “Black History Month”.

The BBC has been presenting various programmes related the history and struggles of people from African descent in Britain on its platforms.

I have had the opportunity to watch a few of these programmes, including the brilliant four-part series for BBC2, Black and British: A Forgotten History presented by historian David Olusoga and the depressing institutional racism against people of colour in Britain.

This was revealed in the programme: Will Britain ever have a Black Prime Minister?

The presenter British TV and movie star David Harewood investigates the obstacles facing black Britons in rising to positions of power and influence. Working with Dr Faisal Shaheen, a statistician from the Centre for Social Studies, he calculated the statistical chances of someone from his own coloured background ever becoming prime minister was 1 in 17 million compared to 1 in 1.4 million for a white counterpart.

These programmes paint a painful and regretful picture of structural and systematic racism and discrimination against people of colour or African descent in all levels of British society including education, housing, public and health services, employment and job prospects, progression to top positions in politics and industry just to name a few.

There is a disproportionate higher numbers of black or coloured people incarcerated in the penal system.

The statistics are so demoralising and frankly indefensible that it leaves me to ask the question “What is wrong with colour?”

For instance, 45% black or children from African descent are growing in poverty compared with 25% of children from white families!

The researchers showed students from black and ethnic minorities’ background are downgraded in school teacher-led assessments and sadly, they are less likely to get university admission to elite British universities such as Oxford and Cambridge, even when they have the same top grades as their white counterparts!

Of the 161 high court and 11 supreme courts judges, 193 generals of the armed forces and the many powerful media and newspapers editors including the BBC, there are zero blacks amongst these influential and powerful people!

As a minister of religion, I feel deeply troubled by the seemingly unchanging and unequal treatment of people from non-white races and ethnic backgrounds in Britain.

The silent and may be not contemplated issue behind closed doors is that will Britain ever have a black prime minister similar to what America has experienced?

Have the perceptions and understanding of the wider British public about people of colour changed and matured enough to accept the fact that all humans equal?

Are they willing to challenge and deal with the prevailing “unconscious bias or racism” that are deeply engrained in the society?

I must shamefully say that the Church of which I am part of is not guiltless, nor a better example to the rest of the society!

The Bible says God made all humans equal and in His image. “Then God said: ‘Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.’ (Genesis 1:28). God made us equal (male and female) irrespective of country of origin or colour of skin. ‘He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them Mankind when they were created.” (Genesis 5:2).

My plea is for us all to examine and rethink our view of people who are different from us. We need to evaluate our perceptions about people who look different from us and examine how we are either perpetuating the inhumane discrimination and inferior treatment of our fellow human being, who happens to look different by just four millimetres of skin depth!