With the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement this summer, racial equality has been a topic never far from the headlines in 2020.  #BLM is a movement that originated in the US to highlight the deaths of African Americans at the hands of the police, but how much of a problem is racism in the UK?

When Channel 5 News decided that they wanted to make a special edition of their evening news programme to mark the six-month anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, they decided to investigate the issue themselves. They teamed up with ROTA to construct a questionnaire that would investigate the experience of racism in Britain today.

We sent the questionnaire to our mailing list and shared throughout our networks. Some of the findings we got back were concerning.

We found that …

  • Over 95% of those respondents in our survey identifying as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic have faced racism or racial prejudice.  93% of respondents said that the school curriculum was not diverse enough to reflect society, and 90% believe that teachers lacked adequate training to deliver an anti-racist education.
  • Further to this, 85% of respondents said they have experienced one or more forms of racism in the workplace, and 49% of respondents think attitudes about race have not progressed since the BLM protests.

This experience of discrimination even seeps into healthcare.  26% of respondents say they have faced discrimination in accessing NHS services and almost one in five (18%) believe they have been denied pain medication or prescription from the NHS based on their race and ethnicity.

Source: Channel 5 News and ROTA


This is clearly not a good reflection on the country that the current government describe as being one of the most welcoming and racially tolerant in the world!

Examples of everyday racism experience revealed in the survey include:

Janet Ballentine, a midwife and the only black board member for the Royal College of Midwives, discovering patients were refusing to be seen by her: “When I actually got the lady's note and looked in her notes, it was clearly documented that she didn't want to be seen by anybody who wasn't white, not a doctor, not a midwife, no one at all. And I had to consider to myself, why would one of my colleagues in this profession write that in her notes? Why would they not call that out, and action that?”

Ron Shillingford from London said: “I get these microaggressions nearly every single day, everywhere I go, people don't want to sit next to you on public transport woman hold on to their handbags tighter and I’m a professional man. As far as society is concerned we're still second class citizens, still the pits.”

Ahmed James says he’s continuously mistaken for other black colleagues in the workplace: “despite informing them of my name I have had to tell them that I am not that other black person. There have been instances where managers have also called us little monkeys as well.”

Claudia Murray has been told her hair is not work appropriate and has faced discrimination: “I have been told that my hair is unacceptable, dirty, not work appropriate, when I put my hair in braids, in cornrows I’ve been told it is ghetto and not work appropriate but when my white college does it, it is edgy, exciting – it's cutting edge.”

Our director Maurice McLeod, said of the survey

“Almost everyone in Britain, no matter what their cultural heritage, has an opinion on racism today. We wanted to investigate how racism impacts all parts of our lives. Although it was a relatively small sample, we feel that our survey provides a snapshot, and one that may surprise some people for whom racism is not part of their lived experience.”

Channel 5 newsreader and presenter Claudia-Liza explained why the station wanted to do a special programme on the issue.

"After a year that has seen race and equality take centre stage and the igniting of conversations surrounding bias and discrimination, this survey shows there is still a significant way to go in tackling the micro aggressions that exist in almost every area of life.

Which is why, with our special programme on everyday racism, Channel 5 News hoped to give a real insight into what it is like to live as a person of colour in Britain today."

The Channel 5 News special ‘Everyday Racism’ was broadcast live on Wednesday, November 25th at 6.30pm.  The live broadcast was hosted by Claudia-Liza and featured ROTA's Chief Executive Maurice Mcleod, and included discussions and in-depth analysis about issues raised in the survey.


Watch the full programme here