Scotland’s Justice Secretary has recited the last words of George Floyd in an emotional speech in the Scottish Parliament.
Humza Yousaf, closing a debate on racism for the Scottish Government, held back tears as he read out the final words of the 46-year-old father, who died in police custody on May 25 in the US city of Minneapolis.
Mr Floyd’s death was caught on camera and went on to spark protests across the US and the world, including thousands who defied the wishes of Yousaf and the First Minister to demonstrate in Scotland despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Yousaf said: “There is no black MSP in this parliament, in a debate about Black Lives Matter, there isn’t a black voice here – to our shame.
“So I want the last words in this debate to belong to George Floyd.”
Yousaf, after urging MSPs to imagine the last words of Mr Floyd were said by a member of their own family, read out what could be heard in the almost nine-minute-long video.
The Justice Secretary went on to say that not only did members of the black and minority ethnic community have to put up with “racist slurs”, but racism was “literally killing minorities”.
Turning to the issue of race in Scotland, Yousaf said the death of Mr Floyd and other racial issues elsewhere “force us to hold a mirror up to ourselves”.
He added: “This is the part where we should all begin to feel uncomfortable.
“We have to accept the reality and the evidence in front of us, that Scotland has a problem of structural racism.
“Take this parliament as an example – over 300 MSPs have come and gone out of this parliament and in 20 years, not a single black member of the Scottish Parliament.
Yousaf, one of only two black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) MSPs currently sitting in Holyrood alongside Labour’s Anas Sarwar, pointed out that the Liberal Democrats, Greens and Tories have not had a person of colour represent them in the Scottish Parliament.
He added: “I don’t say that to point the finger, I say that to make change.”
The Justice Secretary went on to point out those who he deals with on a daily basis in his portfolio, all of whom are white.
“Reciting the names of the heads of the legal profession, the courts and the police, Yousaf punctuated them with the word “white”, before moving on to the medical profession, trade unions and directors general of the Scottish Government.
He concluded by saying: “That is not good enough.”
Yousaf went on to address white people directly, saying “as people of colour, we don’t need your gestures”.
“Don’t just tweet Black Lives Matter.
“Don’t just post a hashtag.
“Don’t just take the knee.”
He added: “What we need from you is action and for you to be anti-racist by your deeds.
“Don’t just tell us how you’re not a racist – I take that as a bare minimum – you must be anti-racist.”