1. Ministerial Foreword
Since its publication in 2017, the Race Equality Action Plan (REAP) has guided our work on the journey to race equality in Scotland. Each year, we have published a report on progress against the actions, which contribute towards the long-term vision and goals set out in the Race Equality Framework (2016-2030). This final report will look back not only at 2020, but at the successes and challenges over the whole lifetime of the REAP, as it now draws to a close and we look ahead to the next stage of our work.
Since the Year 2 report was published just days before the first lockdown in March 2020, we have seen unprecedented change, disruption and uncertainty across all aspects of our lives – this is true not only in Scotland, but globally. COVID-19 has, of course, had deep impacts in terms of health, the economy, and more, changing what "everyday" looks like for everyone. But for many groups, including minority ethnic communities, COVID-19 has also exposed and exacerbated existing inequality. The disproportionate impacts experienced by some minority ethnic groups have been stark, and the need to explore and address those issues has been, and continues to be, paramount. This has shaped much of our work throughout 2020, and will continue to do so for some time to come.
As well as the pandemic, 2020 marked the final year of EU membership for the UK, and on 31 December 2020, the UK exited, bringing significant change to the lives of many who have benefitted from the advantages of EU membership, such as freedom of movement. As part of our commitment to protecting rights after EU Exit, we are working towards a new statutory framework for human rights, and working towards incorporation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) as part of that work.
The Black Lives Matter protests during the summer of 2020 shone a harsh light on the continuing injustice and inequality experienced by minority ethnic communities. Although the USA was initially the focal point for activity, there were significant protests across the UK and in Scotland, and this has played a role in raising public awareness of race and racism, and how this is reflected in – for example – our historic environment, and our education system. But these are not events that are consigned to history; they bring with them a legacy of discrimination and disadvantage which has an ongoing impact. We cannot be complacent: Scotland cannot and does not claim to be free of racism. We have a duty to each other and ourselves to be explicit, however, that we do not tolerate racism of any kind in Scotland – our new Hate Crime Bill sends that message out loudly and unequivocally.
Of course, there is much more to inequality than racist hate crime. There are also the systemic and structural issues that perpetuate inequality and exclusion. These are more complex issues to overcome, and this is not just a job for Government, but for all of us. We must be example-setters, leaders, and enthusiastic advocates for change, however, we need the support of everyone, in every sector of society, so that we can achieve the goals set out in the long-term Race Equality Framework for Scotland.
This report shows the progress we have made, highlighting enlightening examples of good practice. But, it also acts as a challenge to us. There is more to do in order to see our collective ambitions become reality, and in particular to unpick the systemic discrimination which perpetuates racial inequality.
I would like to thank everyone who has engaged with us over the last, extremely challenging, year and indeed over the lifetime of this plan. I see the collective level of ambition and I am as determined as you are to see those changes, whether it be system level, attitudinal or policy shifts, we will act to continue on that journey of making Scotland an equal and fair place for all.
Christina McKelvie MSP
Minister for Older People and Equalities