An MP lifts the lid on the racism she faces on a ‘daily basis’ working in Westminster

Rupa Huq MP
Emily Apple

A Labour MP has revealed the racism she receives during her working day in Westminster. Speaking during a debate on stop-and-search, Rupa Huq, who is British-born of Bangladeshi origin, said she is stopped from going about her business “on a daily basis”.

“My face does not fit”

Speaking about the racism people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds experience, Huq stated that, “because of our pigmentation, we are treated differently”. She then explained what regularly happens to her:

I can state here today that I have been stopped more times in this place since my election in 2015 than I ever had in 43 years outside.

And Huq suspects the reason behind it:

This still occurs on a daily basis, presumably because my face does not fit.

She further claimed that the last time she challenged why she was stopped, a complaint was made against her.

Hostile environment

Huq also criticised Theresa May’s “hostile environment” and the way this creates:

the presumption that anyone of the wrong pigmentation… may be up to no good.

And Huq’s experiences are by no means isolated. When asked whether she faced racism in parliament in 2016, Black MP Dawn Butler said “Yes – God, there are so many incidents”. Butler recounted one particular incident:

There was a time when I was in the lift. It was a Members’ lift that Members of Parliament use specially in cases (where) we have get to [sic] places quickly. I was in the lift and some other MP said: ‘This lift really isn’t for cleaners’.

You can watch Huq here:

The bigger picture

Huq’s experiences in Westminster are a reflection of the racism BAME people face from authorities across the country. Home Office data from 2017 shows that Black people are eight times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.

Meanwhile, figures from the Metropolitan Police show that 22,989 of 62,000 uses of force in 2017/18 involved Black people. Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott stated that the “disproportionate use of force is discriminatory”.

Huq’s experience of racism working as an MP is a microcosm of what is happening to thousands of people. It’s been 20 years since the inquiry into Stephen Lawrence’s death found institutional racism in the police. Sadly, 20 years later, it appears nowhere near enough has changed.

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