Over three quarters of Black and Muslim people in Britain experience discrimination, new research finds

New research from our Beyond Us and Them research project has found high levels of discrimination being reported by Black and Muslim people in Britain, with 81% of Black British people and 73% of British Muslims reporting experiencing discrimination in the course of the previous month.

Research undertaken by the Belong Network and the Centre for the Study of Group Processes at the University of Kent, studied survey data on social relations in Britain, focusing particularly on the attitudes and experiences of Black, Muslim and White respondents. This research was funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

Discrimination, Prejudice and Cohesion: Intergroup relations among Black, Muslim and White people in Britain in the context of COVID-19 and Beyond provides evidence for the importance of ‘intersectionality’ in understanding experiences of discrimination. It suggests that vulnerability to discrimination becomes cumulatively greater the more protected characteristics a person has. Younger Black women (89%) and younger Muslim women (85%) are most likely to report experiencing discrimination of some kind.

The research also found that social contact with people from different backgrounds is associated with lower levels of prejudice, but that the quality of our interactions with others are ten times more important in reducing prejudice than the number of our interactions.

Some of the report’s key findings include:

How widespread is discrimination in Britain?

  • Four fifths (81%) of Black respondents report experiencing some form of discrimination in the last month, compared with about half (53%) of White and three quarters (73%) of Muslim respondents.
  • Muslim women are significantly more likely to report experiences of discrimination than Muslim men (77% vs 67%), and White women are a quarter more likely to report discrimination than White men (58% vs 46%). Among Black respondents, reports of discrimination among men and women are the same, but at a very high level (81%).
  • Levels of reported discrimination among younger age groups are significantly higher than among older age groups, with 78% of 18-24-year-olds reporting at least one experience of discrimination, compared to 44% of those 45-year-old and above.
  • Younger Black women (89%) and younger Muslim women (85%) are most likely to report experiencing discrimination.

How seriously do we take discrimination?

  • People generally view discrimination as being a serious concern.
  • Discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity is viewed as the most serious form of discrimination; discrimination on the basis of age is seen as the least serious.
  • Women of all ethnicities view racial discrimination as being more serious than do men.
  • People take more seriously the types of discrimination that they themselves are likely to be subject to. As such:
    • White people view discrimination based on race as being less serious than Black or Muslim people do.
    • Muslim people view discrimination based on religion as more serious than do Black people, who in turn view this form of discrimination more seriously than White people.
    • Women of all ethnic groups view gender discrimination as being more serious than do men.


The report calls for greater urgency to tackle discrimination, support for initiatives that help build meaningful connections between people from different backgrounds, and public dialogue that encourages people to listen to the views and experiences of others. The authors call for education and youth services to provide children and young people with more opportunities to form connections with people from different backgrounds, and for funding at a neighbourhood level to support spaces, programmes and activities that promote social mixing.