Equality minister Kemi Badenoch rejected Downing Street Briefing amid fears it seems 'tokenistic'
Equality minister and the exchequer secretary to the Treasury Kemi Bandeonch has rejected a Q&A TV appearance amid concerns it would look "tokenistic".
Badenoch, who is leading a government review into the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on BAME people, revealed to MPs on Wednesday (15 July) that Boris Johnson had invited her to answer questions about the probe at one of the high-profile televised press conferences.
The black MP, however, who serves both as equality minister and exchequer secretary to the Treasury, declined the chance to lead the briefing amid concerns her appearance to discuss BAME issues would not "give the right impression".
The equality minister also raised the point that when it comes to talking about Black issues, bringing a black individual onto the panel just for that purpose would make people feel that they should only accept advice that comes "from people who look like them" - which she believes is not the right way address things.
Banedoch also said: "On the point about things being tokenistic, I do think if it is done in the wrong way it can look tokenistic...It would look like when we were talking about Black issues we bring a black person on to talk about that and not about the wider things. I'm not just equality minister I am also Treasury secretary".
Banedoch's choice to decline the lead on the briefing also signals to other MPs and to society that when it comes to ethnic subjects, ethnic minorities should not feel that that is all they are able to contribute toward - BAME individuals can discuss, debate and have an opinion on everything else, too.
While Banedoch understands this perception is challenging, she argues we should not just accept that only members of a certain ethnic sub-group can be represented by members of their own community.