It doesn’t matter if the prime minister is brown. The UK is still as racist as ever

As a British Indian, Sunak doesn’t represent me

I know that to many in my own community, Rishi Sunak becoming prime minister is seen as a win. A shining example that anyone, regardless of background, can make it right to the top of the ladder. I know that the Conservative party will use Rishi Sunak being prime minister to ignore its history of discrimination and racism. How can it be racist when it voted in a brown prime minister?

Rishi Sunak is a prime example of the “right” kind of brown. The kind that is colour-blind, they don’t talk about race, they sit down next to people who have called us names behind our back and work alongside them with no problem. Rishi Sunak allows Conservatives to feel good about themselves. He doesn’t question the racism in his party, in fact he insists it doesn’t exist.

As a British Indian, Sunak doesn’t represent me. I don’t have millions at my disposal. My family aren’t billionaires. The only thing that could possibly connect my life to his is our skin colour, and so it is used as a weapon. Rishi Sunak is brown when he talks about his small beginnings as a child of immigrants, like me. But he isn’t brown when he is supporting immigration policies that wouldn’t have let his own parents into the country. His race is a token that he can pick up and put down when he feels like it. He can pay his way out of racism. Not all of us are so lucky.

I remember my father coming back from a shift in the hospital to tell me that for the third month in a row, they don’t have enough beds for the patients. He hasn’t had a pay rise since 2010, after working in the NHS as a doctor since 1997. Our family watched as the NHS we love so much crumbled around us with cuts after cuts to spending on social care.



Racism in the UK is different than anywhere else in the world. It is deep rooted and insidious. It creeps into our schools and our systems. It pushes underneath our society, relentless and unforgiving. It comes out in the kids at school saying we smell like curry. It comes out when a person on social media rants about the immigrants taking jobs away from real British people. When my brother is stopped at airport security when no one else is.

A study by the Oxford Migration Observatory shows that the UK is an outlier in Europe as citizens in the UK born to migrant parents report facing higher levels of racism than immigrants themselves.

I remember being at school when a classmate called me a “P*ki”. He told me to go back to Sparkhill. The most harrowing part of the whole experience wasn’t even being called a “P*ki”. It was the fact that no one, not a single person around us thought to say anything about it. It was being told that if I didn’t like it, I couldn’t take a joke. Every person of colour will know the feeling of being in a room, surrounded by white people, and feeling a deep sense of discomfort. As if we don’t belong.

We can’t applaud the forward thinking of the Conservative Party while forgetting the backwards steps that have put us in this position in the first place. Spending cuts and harsh immigration policies affect us so much more than it affects him. I won’t forget the racism within Sunak’s government and the UK as a whole. Until we have a general election, we can’t fight the situation that has been pushed upon us as voters. We can only sit by and watch as our country is run by the same people who drove it into the ground.

None of that will be rectified by a brown prime minister. Especially one that supports the very policies that bring us down. Rishi Sunak doesn’t speak for me. He doesn’t speak for any of us. He only speaks for himself.

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