Minority Rapport: How different minority groups brought down a prime minister
Of all the things that could have brought down Boris, who could have imagined that it would be lies about his knowledge of an alleged male-on-male sexual assault, and two Asian men resigning in response?
The news today that Boris Johnson has resigned has got me thinking about the impact of equity, diversity & inclusion on a societal level. The sight of two Asian men flanking the now former Prime Minister in Parliament was often cited as a symbol of integration and extreme allyship. How could there be structural racism in the UK if our government was run by a multicultural cabinet? (Let’s just ignore that this is the same government that answered ‘B.A.M.E.’ when the question was how many Black ministers are there?)
It was Sajid Javid’s resignation speech yesterday that caught my attention via one of our consultants, Selina. As two British Asians on a mission to accelerate inclusion within The Unmistakables, we were discussing the line “Not doing something is an active decision”. A paraphrase of the idea that “silence is compliance”, a term often used since the Black Lives Matter movement resurged in 2020. The idea that as Asians, our families and friends were - and still are - often told to keep our heads down, to ‘just get on with it’ in the face of racism and discrimination.
Javid, one of two Asian men starting a domino-effect of resignations made me consider what it takes to create change. What it takes to speak truth to power. What it takes to put it all on the line with a hope and a will to create change driven by integrity. Let’s be under no illusion here: both Javid and Sunak have acquired considerable wealth and will not be worried too much about potential loss of earnings - indeed their ethnicity may actually mask them from claims of privilege.
However, if you’d asked just one lifetime ago about what it would take to topple a prime minister in 2022, I think you’d have landed on the idea that the straw that broke the camel’s back would actually be one of the following: lies about leaving the European Union, lies about levelling up the country, or lies about not partying while the country was mourning.
It would be two men with roots in the former British Empire taking a stand after a prime minister didn’t stand up, with integrity, to the claims that a member of his team assaulted someone of the same sex.
If this doesn’t give you an indication that striving for equity, diversity and inclusion is a structural and societal issue then I don’t know what will. Today, we are on the brink of change.
Change driven by hope.
Change driven by exasperation.
Change driven by a realisation that, unless we act, we will be beholden to structures and systems that have, and always will, exclude us.
A view from Asad Dhunna, Chief Executive Officer of The Unmistakables