By Kenny MacAskill

MANY constituents have been in touch about the events unfolding in the United States and, indeed, there were even some local demonstrations about them.

It’s both frightening and tragic and I’ve co-signed letters to the Government and supported motions seeking action.

Racism is sadly deep-rooted in the USA, predating even Gifford’s famous son, John Witherspoon, signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Compounding that is institutional racism within many law enforcement agencies and a gun culture that’s lethal.

As Justice Secretary, I met many US police officers. They were invariably pleasant but I’d hesitate to approach an officer there, let alone ask the time or directions.

But racism afflicts every society and Scotland’s no different. We need to ensure that there are robust laws and that those who espouse abhorrent views are challenged.

Though the issues here may be less marked than south of the border, let alone the United States, they do exist and therefore action needs taken.

Understanding Scotland’s role in the slave trade would also be useful. Some grew fantastically wealthy as a result of it and the Scottish economy expanded consequently, even if wealth wasn’t shared equally here.

But many participated at a lower level. Even our own revered Rabbie Burns penned ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ to his beloved Clarinda as she prepared to depart for Jamaica to join her husband.

It wasn’t just in Edinburgh’s New Town or Glasgow’s Merchant City that the opulence and riches were invested. Large estates and houses everywhere, even in the Lothians, were paid for by slavery itself, slave labour and, perversely, compensation for ending it.

Of course, life here was harsh for many, with serfdom in the coal mines only ending at the beginning of the 19th century. But they were still recognised as persons, whilst a slave wasn’t even regarded as that.

An understanding of Scotland’s links with slavery is important.