Ruth Maguire MSP has called for Scotland’s political parties to take action to address the lack of diversity in public institutions such as the Scottish Parliament.
The SNP MSP made the comments during a Scottish Parliamentary debate on showing solidarity with anti-racism, following the death of George Floyd and subsequent protests across the world over systematic racism.
The action taken by the SNP to increase female representation of parliamentary candidates ahead of the 2016 election was highlighted as an example of redressing the balance which could be used in future to bring more women of colour into frontline Scottish politics.
Speaking in the chamber, Ms Maguire said: “I cannot “pass my mic” to a Black or minority ethnic sister in this parliament because there is no one here. That is not good enough, but neither is just saying so. Our apologies, sympathies and declarations of solidarity are not enough.
“The argument that many of us have made about not being prepared to simply wait to see improvements in women’s representation at glacial speed stands here too.
I know with similar mechanisms and structures we can overcome the structural barriers in the way of the BME women. BME women, who’s talent we are missing from this chamber. We must have a parliament more representative of the citizens we serve.”
The MSP for Cunninghame South also drew attention to comments from Intercultural Youth Scotland and the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) which highlighted the need for solidarity from organisations to go beyond token gesturing:
“Engaging in empty gesturing about racism ends up being performative and a quiet way to continue systematic racism.
Reflecting on their words I say a hashtag, a picture taking the knee are not the same as exacting meaningful lasting change.”
The Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee is leading an inquiry into race inequality around employment in Scotland. This inquiry is open for submissions until June 30th. Submissions can be made here.
Ruth’s full contribution can be viewed below: