PROFESSOR Geoff Palmer can't even walk to his car without someone talking to him about race and racism.

The newly-appointed Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University says that's progress – and wants critics and writers to stop "lying" to Scotland about its past.

That's after official figures revealed reports of racially-motivated hate crimes rose by 6% year-on-year during 2019-20, when 3285 such charges were made.

The latest results, revealed last week, mark the second successive increase – a disappointing trend after a five-year run of falling figures.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service says the proportion of charges relating to racially-aggravated harassment and behaviour have "fallen steadily", but the number other offences – threatening or abusive behaviour or even assault – that have a racial aggravator are behind the increase.

Palmer, a noted human rights activist, says "jargon" phrases like "unconscious bias" should be ditched in favour of plain speech on prejudice because it "gives people excuses to do nothing".

READ MORE: How has the Black Lives Matter movement changed Scotland?

And he says after lengthy debate about the involvement of Scottish Enlightenment figureheads like David Hume and Henry Dundas in slavery and racism, it's time for their defenders to stop trying to "protect" the public.

"They think they are protecting the Scottish people from embarrassment," he told The National. "The Scottish people can take their own history, they don’t need people to lie or to have things omitted.

"We need to look at the consequences and try to address those."

Palmer, from Midlothian, makes frequent appearances in the media discussing Scotland's involvement in slavery and empire and its response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

The former brewing lecturer now receives regular requests to give talks to corporations and financial institutions about diversity.

But his most commonly-held conversations about one of the biggest issues facing contemporary Scotland happen in the street, supermarket and car park as members of the public seek him out.

READ MORE: Show Racism the Red Card warns of 'widespread' racism in Scottish schools

"People are becoming engaged by this. I do what I can because it's very important," says the Jamaica-born educator. "I go into the local Post Office and they're talking to me about what's gone on.

"A woman working at the supermarket bought me a diary – she said she could see me coming back and forth and she knew I had all these things to organise, so she decided it would be of some value and bought it out of her own money.

"These are ordinary people engaged in a way that's never happened before. I can't even get to my car, people will stop me."

In one recent exchange, Palmer was greeted by two older white men who explained how they had been raised with ideas about race that they've now abandoned as a result of the ongoing dialogue about racial and institutional discrimination.

"One guy talking to me had been born in the Congo," Palmer says, "and grown up with certain attitudes to race and black people and all this has now made him think again. This was an elderly person in a three-piece suit and another with him who was white from Zimbabwe telling me the same.

"This is important. We need to speak plainly about these things and find connections.

"Using jargon obscures those and holds up justice. That's wrong – we've been doing that for 300 years."