THIS week there has been an outpouring of protest across America, after the brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arberry and others in quick succession. UK social media has erupted in response – but often displaying a belief that racial injustice is solely an American problem. We are more comfortable believing that this is something “over there”, rather than homegrown, deep in the makeup of our own country.

We don’t want to talk about white supremacy and racism. We certainly don’t want to admit that our structures are steeped in it. But look at our Glasgow street names – Buchanan, Ingram, Glassford St – named for men who built their wealth on plantations through the forced labour of enslaved people. Look how our education often skated over the nasty bits of British imperialism and colonialism. Look at the overwhelmingly white makeup of all who hold authority in this country – headteachers, police officers, media editors, elected representatives, the judiciary. Look at how Sheku Bayoh died in Kirkcaldy five years ago, unable to breathe after police restraint. We cannot kid ourselves that we don’t have deep, deep work to do.

The reality of racial injustice is inescapable for the people in Glasgow at the sharp end of the UK Government’s Hostile Environment. Many people spend years in limbo waiting for decisions on their case, forbidden from working, forced to survive on £35 a week. While all other government support has increased to recognise the additional financial strain of coronavirus, the Home Office has refused to similarly increase the meagre payments afforded to some of the most vulnerable people in our city.

There are other people living under “No Recourse to Public Funds” (NRPF), with no access to homelessness services or benefits, and still not allowed to work. The mental and physical health toll of this constant struggle for survival is enormous. Recently, the Prime Minister revealed that he had no idea what the “NRPF” policy meant. His ignorance of a UK Government policy that deliberately pushes people into destitution is inexcusable.

This week, the Public Health England report showed the hugely disproportionate effect of Covid-19 on people from BAME backgrounds, who face a risk of death between 10-50% higher than the white population. When asked about the risk to BAME groups, Matt Hancock’s response was that they should follow government guidelines “very stringently”. What a laughably inadequate response – not least because BAME people are more likely to hold key-worker jobs that are at the highest risk and where physical distancing is often impossible.

This week, Green MSP Patrick Harvie pushed for the Scottish Government to publish equivalent figures. It’s likely they would show a similar picture; and that Black Glaswegians will be among the worst affected. The combined effects of poverty, poorer housing, employment discrimination, poorer health, along with the everyday, weathering effect of systemic racism, make it inevitable that this virus exacts a heavier toll on Black and minority ethnic communities. We’re not all in it together. Let’s stop pretending we are.