TODAY, I was going to write about Boris Johnson – even though everyone wants to forget about him. I would have written about how, just like the glitter in my kid’s hair after a day painting and doing arts and crafts at nursery yesterday, it is just so hard to get rid of him., even after he quit as an MP – he still has a massive platform, he was still able to give peerages to deeply questionable people, and his legacy of Brexit and eroding trust in politics and institutions is not going away anytime soon.

That would have been a funny one. I promise you would have had a good time reading it.

What made me change my mind is an event I attended yesterday, organised by Pass The Mic – the initiative which is instrumental in making sure there is no excuse not to have women of colour in TV and radio shows as well as newspaper columns because we are here, we exist, and guess what! We are actually excellent in what we do.

I have been a friend of Pass The Mic for a little while now, and I am immensely grateful that it exists, thanks to the passion and dedication of Talat Yaqoob. Not only does it create a fantastic, much-needed space for women of colour to share their stories, experiences and tips for appearing in the media and dealing with the subsequent exposure but

it also offers mentoring for those who want to get into commentary writing in particular.

For me personally, Pass The Mic has opened many doors. Journalists, producers and event organisers have been able to find my name and contact details on the Pass The Mic directory of women of colour experts, leading to exciting opportunities.

I know, from also having the experience of working as a researcher in a daily radio programme in France, that the lack of time makes journalists tend to go to their obvious contacts, those who are most likely to say yes to having their name and their voice out there because they are free, don’t have caring responsibilities, and also are more likely to see them as experts.

Generally, these are white men. So it is great that it exists.

Funny story – it actually took me weeks to get my name in the Pass The Mic directory. I was intimidated by the word “expert”… even though at the time, I had been working in journalism for a few years and had built my own platforms. I needed to be messaged separately by several totally unrelated people to think that maybe I wouldn’t be an imposter for putting my name on it.

Imposter – we hear this word a lot. Women of colour are not getting into politics, journalism, science and engineering, because we have imposter syndrome. Apparently, it is because we are fearful, so we need to sort our head first, and then maybe we will see some change. It is, apparently, on us to solve the problem of our own invisibilisation.

Of course, women in general tend to make themselves invisible, diminish themselves, not take up space. But the reality is that we are made to think like that by a system that excludes us and silences us.

There is cold hard data to prove this. Research conducted by Professor Karen Boyle, Melody House and Yaqoob shows that “whilst our finding that women of colour are under-represented in Scottish news is not surprising, in considering how women of colour are represented, we point to the tensions of visibility for women of colour, the limited construction of their expertise, and the marginalisation of women of colour’s opinions within stories about Scotland, including when these stories explicitly address racial in/equality.”

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak faces pressure to confront Modi at G20 on Jaggi case

The figures are sobering. Women of colour are twice more likely to be photographed than quoted in stories – I suppose to tick the box of representation. In commentary writing, the situation is especially bad, the space being overwhelmingly occupied by white men. But even with guest columns, which are a real opportunity to bring some fresh perspective into a publication, there is not much change.

I COULD, arguably, not care about this. After all, I have got my spot now as a weekly columnist in a Scottish newspaper, so job done, right? Well, not quite.

What frustrates me is people – ordinary citizens or decision-makers in the media – who say: “It is not that we don’t want more diversity, it is that the people are just not showing up”. Nobody is barring them from pitching and applying, so why are they not doing it?

They aren’t doing it because they feel their perspectives don’t fit, their experiences don’t fit, their identity doesn’t fit. They are not seeing themselves in the media, so they don’t think they belong in that space.

What they are seeing is the people from a certain demographic getting the opportunities. And the idea of meritocracy actually makes it worse, because you start getting in your head – especially when hearing people say that you are actually free to take up a spot – and think: “Maybe I am not there because I am not good enough”.

I know that this is something I am spending a lot of energy fighting against as a Black woman who grew up in a working-class background, who is not a native English speaker, and who has only been in Scotland for a few years.

So maybe it is not a coincidence that I chose to freelance. Maybe it is not a coincidence I have always spent a huge amount of my time working on my own thing, trying to “slay in my lane”. But at this point in my professional journey, I have reached a place where I can finally express how I feel: Disrespected. I can’t bear the condescending talk about simply needing to “get in and write the email” anymore.

Of course, I am responsible for my own progress, and I like to think that if I was totally rubbish, then I wouldn’t have any work published. However, we should not downplay the systemic barriers that people of colour continue to face.

What gets me particularly upset is the whole debate surrounding quotas – people are worried that it will help prioritise identity over talent and competence. If this is a position that you hold, then consider why you hold those beliefs. Do you think that a person of colour is less likely to be competent and qualified? Do you think that women of colour are not getting certain opportunities because they are mediocre?

READ MORE: New legal opinion outlines international routes to independence

The assumption that individuals have achieved their positions solely due to merit overlooks the influence of networks, contacts, and financial privilege in accessing opportunities. The truth is, many talented individuals from marginalized communities are excluded due to the inability to afford unpaid internships and other gatekeeping practices prevalent in journalism.

Here is another funny story for you. When The National tweeted the announcement of my new role as a regular columnist a few months ago, the response was overwhelmingly positive. However, amidst the supportive messages, there was one comment that stood out for all the wrong reasons. The person basically said: “Remember when journalists were hired for their talent instead of their identity?” Ironically, it came from someone claiming to be a feminist … but who has no problem tearing down other women and perpetuating harmful stereotypes based on race.

This comment highlighted an important issue that women – especially women of colour – face – the constant suspicion that our achievements are not earned through our work, but rather the result of being parachuted in a position.

This is the story of my life. Even from primary school, some people believed that my grades were not a result of hard work and intelligence, but rather an act of charity or tokenism on the part of my teachers, who supposedly wanted to help the only black girl in the class.

This column is not intended as self-pity; rather, it’s a sincere plea for improvement. It is disheartening to witness the persistent prejudice that women of colour face, a prejudice that has accompanied me throughout my life. This kind of bias causes so much harm. It is high time for individuals in the media, and society at large, to do better – and not wait for the situation to solve itself.