THIS week, the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed a motion condemning racism, with MSP after MSP making passionate and eloquent speeches mourning George Floyd, proclaiming “Black Lives Matter” and confirming that racism really is a problem here at home as well.

The Parliament’s official position now includes the statement “that there is a responsibility on us all to identify and dismantle barriers of structural racism that exist in our society and institutions”.

It might not seem it, but it’s a huge milestone for Scotland.

Until recently (and in Iain Macwhirter’s case, until at least last week) the general line was that Scotland was exceptional, and “it’s not all bad” here.

We’re really all Jock Tamson’s bairns, we don’t have a class system, we only played a bit part in the Empire, we were ardent abolitionists, ordinary Scots didn’t see a single shilling of the money earned from the backs (and deaths) of enslaved Africans, we awarded Nelson Mandela the freedom of the city, we welcome immigrants.

Exceptional, exceptional, exceptional.

One or two of these points are indeed true. But you can be the exception to the rule and, in some cases, racist at the same time. David Hume, one of the most eminent philosophers in the Scottish Enlightenment and close friend of Adam Smith, thought “there never was any civilised nation of any other complexion than white”. Burns could believe A Man’s a Man for A’ That and still make plans to go to work as a slave driver in Jamaica. And never forget that it was Scottish emigrants who set up the Ku Klux Klan.

Closer to home, the Scottish Government can state that “Scotland has a wonderfully diverse society and we are all, each and every one of us, equal citizens and stakeholders of Scotland”.

At the same time, a charge of racial hate crime is levied against someone on average every three hours, every single day, 365 days every year. It comes as no surprise then that a third of all black minority ethnic people in Scotland report having experienced discrimination in the past two years.

BME people are twice as likely to live in poverty as their white counterparts and, not coincidentally, inequality and discrimination persist in the labour market.

Research shows someone with a non-British sounding name has to send nine times more applications in order to receive an interview. Public bodies try to get around this using “name blind” application processes, yet the Scottish Government’s own workforce data shows ethnic disparities of Ben Nevis proportions.

Even more worrying was the data showing that between 2000 and 2013, 10 murders with a known or suspected racist element were recorded, with many having little if any media interest.

All too often these were seen as “one-off” incidents rather than any broader reflection on Scottish society. Yet during this period, these 10 cases gave Scotland a higher per-capita rate of murder associated with racism than England or Wales.

In the last Social Attitudes Survey to look at discrimination, 22% of people in Scotland felt that there was sometimes a good reason to be prejudiced against certain groups.

That’s more than one in every five of us. It’s no wonder that more and more people are acknowledging that the “no problem here” attitude needs to change into a belief (as the Scottish Parliament agreed) “that racism is a societal evil that we must all stand united against”.

A milestone has been reached – Scotland’s parliamentary representatives are now standing up against racism. It’s a small step forward. But standing up doesn’t move us any further forward.

A key barrier to progress is people’s assumption that they, personally, could never behave or think in a racist way. The truth is that anyone can. To solve this, perhaps we need to treat the pandemic of racism like we are being asked to treat Covid-19.

Assume you are infected. You may be asymptotic, but as Amy Cooper showed in Central Park, the symptoms can surface at any time. Follow the science and listen to those who know more than you about it. Keep the R number at 0 – don’t let racism spread.

And if your life is absolutely the same as it was before you acknowledged the racism “outbreak”, then you are doing something wrong.

Luckily, a vaccine is already available – changing attitudes and behaviours. You can make changes for yourself, and help those around you to change. Learn more about social, structural and institutional racism; believe people who say they’re experiencing it; educate people who want to downplay it.

Don’t stand still, act. Let’s make the new normal an anti-racist one.

Jatin Haria is executive director, Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights