Only 36 out of 1,000 most powerful and influential people in the UK, not even 4%, are from black and ethnic minorities, according to a new study “The Colour of Power” released last week. Some professional categories in the UK lack minorities whatsoever, including the Supreme Court of Justice, CEO/managing partners of top law firms and financial institutions, or Defence Council for the Armed Forces.
The authors of the study were inspired by a last year’s publication by the New York Times “The Faces of Power” that revealed that out of 503 of the most powerful American people in government, education, culture, and business only 44 were minorities.
The British study confirms previous findings that race and ethnicity are still very powerful social constructs. Although in itself they don’t hold any meaning, we keep employing them as markers of difference. We use color of skin, place of birth, or cultural belonging as a reliable source of information to decide whether a particular person is part of our community and whether it is capable enough. But why? We need to remind ourselves every day that by subjecting each and every one of us to that racial scrutiny we only perpetuate the existence of a world in which the sole act of being born in a particular context is sufficient basis to have your aspirations questioned. Does power really have a color?