Abena Oppong-Asare, the MP for Erith and Thamesmead, has used a Black History Month debate to call on ministers to set up a race equality strategy and a taskforce to look at diversifying school curriculum.

Speaking to the Commons after securing the first Black History Month debate in five years, the newly-promoted Labour MP said: "Black people have faced discrimination in the UK for as long as history can remember, but racism is not a thing of the past.

"I am sad to have to stand here and describe how discrimination has continued into the present. Its impact is still felt on so many lives.

"Black women are five times more likely to die in pregnancy. Black Caribbean children are three times more likely to be excluded from school. Black workers with degrees earn almost a quarter less than their counterparts.

"Black people just make up 3% of the UK population, but 12% of people in prison. Why is it that year on year that these statistics are read out in a debate or in news and no action is taken?"

Ms Oppong-Asare added: "I have two asks from the Government and I want them to give me a direct answer today - the first is to implement a race equality strategy and action plan that will cover areas such as education, health and employment which is something that Operation Black Vote has called for.

"The second is to set up a taskforce that will look to diversify the curriculum, really diversify the curriculum. We want all our kids, all our children, black and white, every single corner of this country, to better understand our history so our children have a true sense of belonging within British culture."



During the debate, MPs from all sides also shared their personal experiences of racism during a parliamentary debate on Black History Month.

Tory MP Adam Afriyie described his experiences of racism having grown up in south-east London.

He said: "As the first black Conservative MP on these benches in 2005, it's actually great to look around the Chamber today, on all sides actually, because the complexion is new, and certainly on these benches every one of us is here based on hard work, merit and, yes, of course, a little bit of luck from time to time.

"When I was growing up in a single-parent household in south-east London, I have to say that racism was pretty crude.

"It was in your face, it was insults, casual violence and it was very direct and very physical, including being spat at on buses and all sorts of things.

"I have to say that I never dreamt back in those days that there would be any opportunity to get to the law-making apparatus of our entire nation, I mean what an amazing thing to achieve.

"I'm sure that everyone here, of any background and persuasion, feels exactly the same if they came from a challenging background."

History "needs to be decolonised", Labour's Dawn Butler (Brent Central) said.

She told the Commons: "At the moment history is taught to make one group of people feel inferior and another group of people feel superior and this has to stop. We need to look at history and we need to improve it.

"Therefore part of the solution is recognising the role that each of us plays in each other's lives and understanding that... it should not mean destruction or dehumanising of another person, but an understanding of each other."