This is a demonstrable fact based on language he has previously used. Johnson once wrote about ‘flag-waving piccaninnies’, and referred to African people as having ‘watermelon smiles’. He has also referred to Muslim women wearing the burka as looking like ‘bank robbers’ and ‘letterboxes’. I could go on, but I won’t.
From the Tory MP who challenged me on TV saying I was ‘extremely offensive’, to the radio host who described Johnson’s comments as ‘unfortunate’ and ‘robust’, and to all the people who have sent me abusive messages since I called it out: I’m sorry to break it to you, but Johnson’s comments are racist, plain and simple.
But sadly, some people seem to find me calling out racism more offensive than the racism itself.
Judging by the reaction to my television appearance from the other guests and presenter, I have come to the conclusion that we must be living in an Alice in Wonderland world, where it’s become worse to call out racism than it is to be racist. I was made to feel in the wrong for calling out racism and my own lived experiences were disregarded.
The other thing that is so often used to discredit me when I call out racism is to switch focus to Labour and anti-Semitism. I have said repeatedly that Labour failed on this issue and it is right that we apologised.
However we are dealing with it and we are getting our house in order and I have said we must implement the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) recommendations in full.
But that does not in any way negate the enormous responsibility of this Tory Government to stand up against racism and sort out their own party.
Sadly, the Tories are governing the country, which means they must set the highest of examples – yet Johnson and those defending him have failed this test with their own behaviour.
The media also bear some responsibility too – and they, like Johnson and his party, are failing.
It was only weeks ago that a woman in the audience on Question Time was given a platform to air factually wrong and uncomfortably racist information. Since then she has been exposed as a supporter of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, otherwise known by his stage name, Tommy Robinson.
I wouldn’t necessarily expect the BBC to know the background and associations of every audience member, but once her views became clear they should have stopped promoting her appearance with clips on their social media channels.
It shows a serious lack of judgment and care about the pain and suffering racism and hateful language causes, especially to people of colour.
This is also the case when it comes to basic fact checking. In the same segment last week I had to correct a presenter that told me Jeremy Corbyn is being investigated by the EHRC, which he isn’t. I also pointed out that the EHRC is in fact bringing a legal challenge against Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
The presenter shot me down before informing me later in the show that I was actually correct. A simple, ‘Sorry Dawn, you were right’ would have been nice.
It is important not to back down in the fight against racism and discrimination, but to double down
It should not be up to TV guests to challenge ‘facts’ presented by the show’s host. And I certainly shouldn’t be criticised for telling the truth and calling someone racist for being racist.
Last week’s appearance on BBC Politics Live wasn’t the first time this has happened either. In 2018 I appeared on TV with Conservative politician Liam Fox during election night.
When I stated that the Conservative Government’s policies were institutionally racist, he found my comments – you guessed it – ‘offensive’.
However, following my explanation that the Conservative Government under Theresa May commissioned its own race disparity audit to look into burning injustice in society, he did acknowledge that this report found that there are indeed disparities in educational and employment outcomes for Black, Asian and minority ethnic people in this country.
Sometimes you are forced to take people on a journey in order for them to understand the point we make.
If people would have engaged with Johnson’s past comments last week, rather than just feigning outrage about me calling it out, they would have realised the truth in what I was saying.
The negative side of the reaction to my BBC Politics Live appearance has been disheartening and disappointing but I will not let this stop me. I will continue to call out racism and discrimination wherever I see it – whether it is from the prime minister or anyone else.
But I also have to say that, on the other end of the scale, the outpouring of support I have received over the last week (and hilarious memes!) have given me strength.
It has recharged my batteries and also highlighted what a difference me being elected as the deputy leader of the Labour Party would make to this debate.
It is important not to back down in the fight against racism and discrimination, but to double down. Together we must do just that.