Why Global Citizens Should Care
The United Nations’ 17 Global Goals work together to end extreme poverty. Global Goal 10 calls for reduced inequalities to ensure everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, or disability, has equal access to opportunities. However, the story of a Black British barrister being repeatedly mistaken for a defendant shows how far the UK has to go before workplace discrimination truly becomes a thing of the past. Join the movement by taking action to help achieve the Global Goals here.

In a long Twitter thread on Wednesday evening, Alexandra Wilson, a Black, 25-year-old barrister based in Essex, England, described the “exhausting” experience of being mistakenly identified as a defendant three times in a single day at work

“This really isn’t ok though,” she tweeted, saying she wanted to share what had happened to her to “shine a light” on how different people are perceived depending on the colour of their skin.

When she arrived at work, a security guard first assumed Wilson to be a defendant in the trial, rather than the defending lawyer.

Then she was told she couldn’t enter the court by a member of the public who thought she was a journalist, before being told to leave the courtroom and wait outside by another lawyer, because they also thought she was the defendant waiting to come in.

Finally, while speaking with the prosecutor before the trial began, she recounted that the court clerk loudly called her to “get out” — again assuming she was a defendant. “I don’t expect to have to constantly justify my existence at work,” Wilson concluded in her social media posts.

The young barrister, who has written a book called In Black and White about racism and classicism in the British legal system, has received an apology from court officials.

Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) also apologised for the "totally unacceptable behaviour”, the BBC reported, and the service has promised to investigate the complaint made by Wilson about what happened.

Wilson’s shocking experience has highlighted how racism and racial microaggressions in the workplace are commonplace for Black British professionals, and sparked an outpouring of solidarity on social media.

The rush of support from other people working in law showed how frustrated people feel about. 

According to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, 3% of UK solicitors are Black, but in the larger firms, those with 50 or more partners, only 1% of the lawyers are Black.

Law has also been targeted by social mobility charity the Sutton Trust for being hard to access for people from low-income backgrounds. The trust's 2019 report on access to the UK’s top professions revealed that some 65% of senior judges went to private schools, compared with 7% of people in the country as a whole.

Here’s a few more of our favourite responses to Wilson’s experience, from sectors outside law too, demonstrating how widespread racial discrimination is and how much more work still needs to be done: 


Demand Equity

7 Tweets of Solidarity With Black British Barrister Mistaken for Defendant 3 Times in One Day

By Helen Lock