Date and Time

9th March 2021



Speakers and Artists
  • Deborah Coles
  • Leslie Thomas
  • Patrick Williams
  • Scarlet Harris
  • Natalie Creary
  • James Nazroo
  • Parth Patel
  • Dharmi Kapadia
  • Andrea Barry
  • Sandra Kerr
  • Omar Khan
  • Ken Clark
  • Nike Jonah
  • Anamik Saha
  • Alex Wheatle
  • K Biswas

A week-long online conference exploring the impact of Covid-19 on ethnic minority people in the UK.

Covid-19 has highlighted and exacerbated deeply entrenched racial and ethnic inequalities in the UK across a range of social arenas. The crisis has thrown existing inequalities into sharp relief, and in order to address this we must start to map and understand these key impacts of the current crisis moment.

‘Racial Inequality in a Time of Crisis’ was a week-long conference exploring the impact of Covid-19 on ethnic minority people in the UK. The event took place online each day at 5pm from Tuesday 9th to Friday 12th March, and was hosted in partnership between Stuart Hall Foundation, the Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) and Runnymede Trust.

We invited researchers and practitioners working across the fields of sociology, history, art, media, activism, politics, and healthcare to take part in a series of live online presentations and discussions that focused on a number of areas impacted by Covid-19: ‘Policing the Crisis’, Health and Well-being, Employment and Young People, and Culture and Cultural Activism.


Day 1: ‘Policing the Crisis’

Tuesday 9th March, 5 – 6.30pm

The emergence of the Black Lives Matters movement is marked by the deaths (incomplete lives) of minoritised people who encountered the police. This panel explored experiences of policing during the pandemic, campaigning and activism in response to this, and the factors that perpetuate policing by force in the face of campaigning.

• Deborah Coles, Executive Director, INQUEST
• Leslie Thomas QC, Garden Court Chambers
• Patrick Williams, Manchester Metropolitan University, CoDE
• Scarlet Harris, University of Manchester, CoDE (Chair)

Day 2: Health and Well-Being

Wednesday 10th March, 5 – 6.30pm

Ethnic minority people have experienced a much higher risk of COVID-19 related death, a stark disproportion that has impacted on all ethnic and religious minority groups. This session explored how these inequalities mirror longstanding inequalities in health and well-being, which themselves reflect deep social and economic disparities underpinned by racism, and the approaches to address them.

  • Natalie Creary, Programme Delivery Director, Black Thrive
  • James Nazroo, University of Manchester, CoDE
  • Parth Patel, Research Fellow, IPPR
  • Dharmi Kapadia, University of Manchester, CoDE (Chair)

Day 3: Employment and Young People

Thursday 11th March, 5 – 6.30pm

Covid-19 has induced the biggest shock to the UK economy seen in modern times and, without significant government action, the effect on the labour market will be severe.  This session explored how existing ethnic inequalities both in employment and in the transition from compulsory schooling through higher and further education into work may be exacerbated by the crisis with negative consequences for poverty and inequality.

  • Andrea Barry, Senior Analyst, Joseph Rowntree FoundationÂ
  • Sandra Kerr, Race Director, Business in the Community
  • Omar Khan, Director, TASO
  • Ken Clark, University of Manchester, CoDE (Chair)

Day 4: Culture and Cultural Activism

Friday 12th March, 5 – 6.30pm

This panel explored the nature of racial inequalities and the politics of ‘race’ in the cultural industries. It explored the impact of barriers and obstacles (and at times ‘opportunities’) facing racialised peoples in the creative sector, and how movements around access and representation fare in a time of crisis.

  • Nike Jonah, Creative Producer, Counterpoint Arts
  • Anamik Saha, University of Goldsmiths, CoDE
  • Alex Wheatle CBE, Writer
  • K Biswas, Writer and Director of Resonance FM and Racebeat (Chair)


All recordings of the conference events are available to view on the Explore section of the website. Click here to view.


The Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) is an ESRC funded research centre providing theoretically informed, empirically grounded and policy-relevant research on ethnic inequalities in the UK. They bring together expertise from a range of disciplines including sociology, demography, economics, history, geography, political science, cultural studies and seek to communicate their research to a wide range of audiences.

CoDE has recently launched EVENS – Evidence for Equality National Survey (EVENS). This is the UK’s first and largest survey of its kind to document the impact of Covid-19, and the lockdowns, on 17,000 ethnic and religious minority people. Participate in EVENS.


Runnymede is the UK’s leading independent race equality think tank. They generate intelligence to challenge race inequality in Britain through research, network building, leading debate, and policy engagement.

Speakers and Artists

Deborah Coles

Deborah Coles is the executive director of INQUEST, and has worked for the charity since 1989. She has a long track record of championing social justice and equality issues.  She leads INQUEST’s strategic policy, legal and parliamentary work and has considerable expertise in working to prevent death and ill treatment in all forms of detention and for more effective accountable learning after state related deaths.  She has been an independent expert advisor to numerous committees and inquiries and was the special advisor to Dame Elish Angiolini, the chair of the Independent Review of Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody.

Leslie Thomas

Professor Leslie Thomas QC practises from Garden Court Chambers and is a leading expert in civil liberties, human rights, police and inquest law. He is one of the top-rated silks in the country, ranked leading individual by both Chambers and the Legal 500 (2020). He is a Bencher to the Inner Temple, where he is a member of their Outreach Committee and Diversity Committee. He is on the Bar Standards Board and is a Champion for the ‘Bridging the Bar’ initiative. Leslie is currently Professor of Law at Gresham College delivering his lecture series ‘Death, The State and Human Rights’, and is Visiting Professor in Law at Goldsmiths.

Patrick Williams

Patrick Williams (BDX) is a senior lecturer within the department of Sociology, Manchester Metropolitan University, England.  His research interest includes; examining processes of criminalisation, the drivers of ethnic disproportionality, and community-led strategies and resistance against social harm.  He is currently Co-Investigator on ‘Policing and Crises: A Study Exploring the Policing of Minoritized People and Communities’ with CoDE. He is the co-author of Dangerous Associations: Joint Enterprise, Gangs and Racism (with Becky Clarke) and Being Matrixed: the (over)policing of gang suspects in London.  Most recently, he authored ‘Data-driven Policing: the hardwiring of discriminatory policing practices across Europe’, a study that considers the harmful encroachment of technology into policing and law enforcement practices.

Scarlet Harris

Scarlet Harris is a Research Associate with CoDE (Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity) at the University of Manchester. She recently gained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Glasgow, and her research interests include racism(s), anti-racism(s), social movements, and the ‘left’. She is currently working on a project alongside colleagues in CoDE which explores experiences of policing amongst minoritized communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Natalie Creary

Natalie is the Programme Delivery Director for Black Thrive. The cross-sector partnership works to address structural racism within systems that sustain mental health inequalities for Black African and African-Caribbean communities. Black Thrive centres the voices of communities to influence policy, inform commissioning intentions, embed antiracist practice within research and statutory services. She commits to creating space for Black communities to be seen and heard and has a keen interest in approaches that push conventional boundaries to disrupt the status quo. Her research explores how race, age, class, gender and sexuality interconnect and shape the health and wellbeing experiences of Black communities.  

James Nazroo

James Nazroo is Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester, founding and Deputy Director of the ESRC Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE), co-PI of the Synergi Collaborative Centre, which is investigating ethnic inequalities in severe mental illness, and founding and co-Director of the Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing (MICRA). Issues of inequality and social justice have been the primary focus of his research. Central to his work on ethnicity/race has been developing an understanding of the links between racism, socioeconomic inequality and health. This work has covered a variety of elements of social disadvantage, how these relate to processes of racism, and how these patterns have changed over time.

Parth Patel

Dr Parth Patel is a research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and University College London (UCL). He is interested in the political economy of health, with much of his research focussed on understanding how migration and ethnicity determine health. His research relating to the Covid-19 pandemic aims to unpick, and address, ethnic health inequalities. Parth has published in leading journals such as The Lancet and the BMJ, and his work has been widely covered by print and broadcast media. Parth also works as a doctor in Accident & Emergency. 

Dharmi Kapadia

Dr Dharmi Kapadia is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at University of Manchester and amember of theESRC Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE). Her research focusses on racism, health, mental health and older people. She is Co-Investigator of the Evidence for Equality National Survey (EVENS), Britain’s largest survey of ethnic and religious minority people and Co-Investigator of the’Ethnic Inequalities in Later Life’project funded by The Nuffield Foundation. She also co-leads the CoDE Early Career Race Network which provides support and mentoring to PhD students and early career researchers.

Andrea Barry

Dr. Andrea Barry is a Senior Analyst, leading analysis for Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s work outcome group. She plays a key role in providing and disseminating evidence and analytical work related to JRF’s outcomes. In July 2020, Andrea gave evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee on the effect of COVID-19 on ethnicity. Before this, Andrea completed her postdoctoral research with the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester. She has finished an MSc in Economic and Social Policy Analysis and a PhD in Economics at the University of York

Sandra Kerr

Sandra is the Race Director for Business in the Community (BITC), a business led network of organisations from the private and public sector working and committed to race equality as part of their good business practice.  Sandra works together with the BITC Race Equality board to set the agenda for race diversity in the UK as a business imperative. Sandra was awarded an OBE in 2012 for Services to Black and Minority Ethnic People and a CBE in 2019 for Services to Equality and Diversity. Sandra published the Race at Work Black Voices Report in August 2020 and the Race at Work Charter 2020 report in October 2020.

Omar Khan

Omar is the director of The Centre for Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in Higher Education (TASO). Prior to this, he was Director at the Runnymede Trust having joined as Head of Policy. Omar holds several advisory positions, including chair of Olmec, chair of the Ethnicity Strand Advisory Group to Understanding Society, chair of the advisory group of the Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) at the University of Manchester, Commissioner on the Financial Inclusion Commission and a member of the 2021 REF and 2014 REF assessment. Omar was previously a Governor at the University of East London and a 2012 Clore Social Leadership Fellow.

Ken Clark

Ken Clark is a member of the ESRC Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) and the Department of Economics at the University of Manchester where he is also an Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning in the Faculty of Humanities.  He is also a Research Fellow at the Institute of Labour Studies, Bonn, a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts and the economist member of  the School Teachers’ Review Body. Ken has researched, taught and published in the area of labour economics for over 30 years.

Nike Jonah

Nike works in strategic development across the cultural and creative industries worldwide. Since the early 90s, she has developed innovative approaches to much successful music, fashion, television, design, visual and performing arts projects for several influential organisations in Africa, America and Europe. She is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (2017-2021) and a Creative Producer at Counterpoint Arts on the Pop Culture and Social Change programme. In July 2018, she launched Pan African Creative Exchange (PACE) in partnership with the Free State Arts Festival in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Between 2008 and 2012, Nike led the Arts Council England’s Decibel Programme.

Anamik Saha

Dr Anamik Saha is a senior lecturer in the Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has held visiting fellowships at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Trinity College, Connecticut. His research interests are in race and media, with a particular focus on cultural production and the cultural industries, including issues of ‘diversity’. He is the author of Race and the Cultural Industries, (Polity, 2018). In 2019 he received an AHRC Leadership Fellow grant for Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing. Anamik is an editor of the European Journal of Cultural Studies. His new book, Race, Culture, Media (Sage), will be published in 2021. 

Alex Wheatle

Alex Wheatle is the author of several novels, including Liccle Bit (2015), Crongton Knights (2016) – winner of the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize – and Straight Outta Crongton (2017). Born in London of Jamaican parents, his first book, Brixton Rock (1999), tells the story of a 16-year old boy of mixed race, in 1980s Brixton. In 2010, he wrote and toured the one-man autobiographical performance, Uprising. His play, Shame & Scandal, had its debut at the Albany Theatre, Deptford in 2015. He was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2008. Alex’s life story inspired ‘Alex Wheatle’ – the fifth episode of Steve McQueen’s recent TV series of films, Small Axe.

K Biswas

K Biswas is a critic and essayist who has written for the New Statesman, New York Times, The Nation, and the Times Literary Supplement on everything from populism to the politics of grime music. In 2019, he founded The Race Beat, a network for journalists of colour working in the UK; is the editor of the Journal of Media and Diversity; and director of Resonance, Europe’s largest community radio station