Why after so many years does racism still exist in Scotland? Was the slave trade not abolished because it was believed to be abusive and wrong on the basis that it wasn’t right to consider people less just because of their colour?

The slave trade was based on the ideology that black people were subhuman. To be used and not to be valued as fellow human beings. Not as the same race but as less than white people.

This inhumane treatment of black people was subsequently followed with the ‘saviour mentality’ where instead of acknowledging the wrongs, white people saw themselves as performing heroic acts of saving black people from the racism they perpetuated.

Although the slave trade is no more, both attitudes towards black people continue to present themselves in the lack of value placed on black people and any contribution they make in Scotland.

READ MORE: Slavery isn’t just Scotland’s past… it is also our present

There remains a lack of appreciation of the skills, qualifications and talent of black communities and individuals. Black individuals still have to work 10 times harder to get anywhere. They will not be heard, appreciated or accepted fully even when they have proved themselves over and over. The expectation to deliver does not match the reward. Many who are qualified still remain unemployed or underemployed.

Children in school are neither heard nor valued, universities are rigged with racism leading to black students being undermarked and forced to fight to be fairly rewarded for their hard work.

This trend carries on into workplaces where black people have their work undermined by colleagues over and over, often working for years without promotion. For change to come, systematic racism must be acknowledged and changed.

However, Scotland will dismiss this by suggesting it is a very friendly nation, an image which is projected through strategies and policies which remain nothing but that. Communicating that migrants and refugees are welcome, yet the barriers to employment and opportunity remain.

Such policies and strategic papers send out a message that ‘everything is alright’ which is very damaging to those who are affected by racism when not acted upon. They lead to a false sense of hope, unhealthy tiring experiences of black people constantly trying to prove themselves.

Racism is not addressed because it is met with ‘but we are friendly’, maybe you need to communicate better, BAME communities are ‘hard to reach’, all of which serve to keep you trying. Trying to be part of the community, trying to be heard, trying to be understood, trying to join in, trying to get better, yet in truth you will never be valued.

The systems are designed to keep black people out, to keep them trying, in a system that has mastered the art of problematising those they consider less valuable. It is the norm for organisations and decision makers to claim they don't know how to address racism. To claim they want to recruit black people but don't know how to.

Sometimes companies will offer placement opportunities which remain just that, never materialising into meaningful employment for black people, offering a ‘saviour mentality’ to help the poor black people achieve because they are struggling. Saying they embrace diversity but in reality, they are numb to racism. They are numb because it doesn't affect them. Because the people racism affects don't matter.

READ MORE: If we Scots really knew our history, we would be even angrier

For things to change, systems need to be challenged and changed. However, the word ‘system’ needs to be used loosely. While it is true that systematic racism exists, we must not underestimate those who built and continue to develop these systems. If there is a desire to address racism, the solution lies with the people who work in these systems. Those who run, maintain and design the systems.

The responsibility to address racism lies not with a system which has no face but with people who hide behind the systems. The leaders, decision makers and those who benefit from systematic racism. Those who ignore the child in high school when they are experiencing racism, those who undermine the work of that young adult at university trying to get a good head start in life, those who ignore and uphold racism in the workplace to refuse entry of black people and protect their white colleagues. Those who remain silent.

People really are the system. A system of people who insist on fixing people who face racism instead of fixing their systems. A system created and maintained by the people it serves to keep 'others' out.

If Scotland was in fact against slave trade is it also against systematic racism? We can bury history, but we can't bury the consequences that come with it. As a friend put it, ‘you can't go around in your youthful years being promiscuous, but you can’t say in your senior years that those are not my children.

If Scotland is to truly continue and grow as a global player, systems need to change, people need to reflect and work towards change in this moment. As the African proverb says, rising early makes the road short.

Pheona Matovu and husband Micheal are co-founders of social enterprise Radiant and Brighter that aims to promote diversity in schools and the workplace and create better opportunities for BME communities.