In the UK when people speak of racism many white people, due to their ignorance, believe that this abhorrent phenomenon is uniquely historical. Those who are partially informed may acknowledge that discriminatory attitudes exist but that these views are merely thoughts and do not impact people on a daily basis. Indeed when the numerous stories of unarmed African-Americans being gunned down by police are reported online, many in the UK believe that this systemic attitude is uniquely an American problem. Not only is this false but it blinds people to systemic racism that still exists in British society.
We all know that racism is a problem but as a white person it can be difficult to fathom what ethnic minorities experience on a daily basis. Specifically this article will be talking about how race plays a role in determining what people are paid. The reason I wanted to cover this is that salaries are something that impacts everyone but the pay gap is something that is often ignored in favour of more blatant forms of racist activity such as verbal insults or police harassment.
A new report by the TUC has found that at every stage of academic achievement black workers are paid significantly less than their white counterparts. The report states that the pay gap between black and white people, on average, amounts to 23%. When broken down by level of academic success: black university graduates earn around £14.33 an hour and white graduates earn £18.63 an hour, which is about a 30% disparity; black workers with A-Levels earn around 14% less that whites; and black workers with GCSEs earn around 11% less than their white colleagues. What is especially depressing about these figures is that the gap between the races gets worse the more academically qualified the worker is.
Why is this important? Aside from the philosophical understanding of racism being an inherently immoral concept. The pay disparity between people of differing races perpetuates the economic realities that lead to other, move overt, acts of discrimination. For example, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in 2012 25.3% of the prison population in England and Wales are non-white (black, Asian, mixed race, Chinese, or other ethnic minority). However, according to the 2011 UK census only 14.3% of the population of England and Wales are non-white.
ntly more likely to commit crime that white people? Of course not, and so we must then ask why more non-white people are in prison, and one of the reasons is that many non-white people are less economically secure and live in poverty. This links back in with the pay gap that the TUC has revealed. If people who are not white are paid significantly less than their Caucasian colleagues, it means that workers in these communities will have less money. Countless studies have demonstrated the link between poverty and crime, and therefore it is imperative that this pay gap is address as it the economic mechanism that perpetuates the racial inequality in our society. Of course there are other aspects to this dilemma such as the institutionally racist nature of many organisations, however there is no other way to get around the fact that the pay gap between white people and non-whites is purely down to racist attitudes.
This study’s findings should be publicised as what it is: a national disgrace. People who are not white are disproportionately more likely to go to prison and a reason for this is economic injustice. With the TUC’s report showing that the pay gap increases as people become more qualified, we can only imply from this information that employers at every level are, consciously or subconsciously, biased in favour of hiring white people.
Social deprivation, irrespective of the ethnic groups involved, should be tackled as it perpetuates intolerance and hatred. When the racial element is taken into account we, as a society, have to acknowledge that the reason for poverty and crime being disproportionate in ethnic minority communities is because of economic circumstances. These economic circumstances will only be addressed when workers from ethnic minorities are paid the same as their white counterparts. Racism in all its forms must be fought and changing attitudes takes time, however stamping out this financial form of discrimination can not only be done quickly but will have transformative effects in ethnic minority communities around the country.