This is a letter I recently wrote to my local representatives to hold them to account on what has been happening across the world, in relation to #BlackLivesMatter. The sections in italic are additional for this blog post, as I still sit at my laptop thinking and learning about this. Honestly, I have only scratched the surface on the topics, though there is so much to learn still.
At the end of this post, I will be sharing links and resources to help educate you, the reader, on the importance of black lives.
Dear representatives of my local constituency,
I’m writing to you in relation to the current climate of our Black Asian and Minority Ethnicity (BAME) community and how recent events highlight the importance of us to come together against racism.
Though the current events are in the US, the UK is not isolated to this. The BAME community face prejudice, micro-aggression and racism every day. Micro-aggression with appearances, perceptions on personality traits, and ignorance on their cultures are some of the things they have to face. They have to face fear every day if they encounter the police.
Let us remind ourselves of the unnecessary death of Christopher Alder, a young black male, who died at the hands of our police while in custody. His last moments were of officers mocking him with monkey noises as he laid on the floor with his trousers down and in his own vomit. No one should have to have that as their last moments in life. Nor should the trauma continue when the body exhumed, believed to be Alder, was actually an elderly black woman, Grace Kamara. Alder remained in our morgue for years. Alone. No goodbyes. No closure.
According to inquest.org.uk (March, 2020), The proportion of BAME deaths in custody where restraint is a feature is over two times greater than it is in other deaths in custody. In addition, the proportion of BAME deaths in custody where use of force is a feature is over two times greater than it is in other deaths in custody. in 2017, there was a spike to show the deaths in custody – the highest across a 10 year period.
How is this even allowed?
The deaths in custody, while there are no confirmation of how the individuals have died, still should not be happening. The Police are meant to protect and serve justice (apologies for how ‘American’ that may sound) but how can we trust the Police if deaths of the BAME community are higher, or they are stereotyped and targeted by the Police?
I work at a University, and while I am conscious about my practice to ensure there is inclusion in the support I am giving to students, I am also aware of how much I have to learn about the wider communities. BAME students are identified as one of the underrepresented categories in UK Higher Education and fall under our Widening Participation agenda. But there are many attributes that contribute to their experience at University, particularly with the four pronged typologies of students (Thomas and May, 2010); educational, circumstantial, dispositional and cultural.
Mental health, socio-economic and previous experiences in education and their perception of sense of belonging and communities are some of the contributions to their success in their education. And while Higher Education are working as much as they can with Office for Students, we need to educate our student cohort about the importance of inclusivity and learn about others’ positions.
In the UK Universities Report, they state:
“A student’s race and ethnicity can significantly affect their degree outcomes.
Of the disparities that exist within higher education, the gap between the
likelihood of White students and students from Black, Asian or minority
ethnic (BAME) backgrounds getting a first- or upper-second-class degree
is among the most stark – 13% among 2017–18 graduates. The sector must
partner meaningfully with students and robustly demonstrate its
commitment to addressing the BAME attainment gap.“
It is still evident that there is an element of racial inequality within the Education system which disadvantages BAME students and their outcomes, despite having the same access to education as CIS students.
I ask again, how is this allowed?
When I reflect back on my education, from a young age, I realised that the formal education routes I took had little diversity nor acknowledgement of issues that are happening when it comes to Race. It’s through my own persistence I have had to educate myself. I’m now pushing myself to have these uncomfortable conversations with my peers and on my social media platform to educate each other and be supportive of our diverse culture.
At times I may make naive mistakes, but I would rather admit to these mistakes and correct them than remain in silence.
Unfortunately there is no overnight success. But as the elected councillors, there are so much that needs to be held accountable. Regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic, there needs to be accountability against acting against racism, prejudice and micro-aggression to name some.
I ask the following:
- Press for our Government to not only speak out against the death of George Floyd. But to also highlight that the actions and behaviourism that ran up to the deaths of Floyd, Alder and many others is not acceptable and needs to be acted on.
- Ensure that our communities are upholding the Equalities Act (2010) and our protected characteristics and hold institutions (educational, health, security, businesses etc.) accountable for institutional racism and micro-aggression.
- Push for a diverse curriculum from Early Years to Higher Education, both in formative and summative forms of assessments, to educate and empower our communities to love, support and stamp out any form of hate.
- To hold MPs and Councillors to account who have not only demonstrated form of hate speech and actions. But to also recognise the hard work other MPs and Councillors have done for their communities to celebrate our diverse societies.
I would welcome your response on how you are going to look into the following I am asking for.
We should be living in a world where everyone has a role model they can look up to. Not to have to walk around in fear nor keep repeating themselves that there are failings in the systems.
Information and Resources
Websites (Articles, Resources and Donations)
- Black Lives Matter
- Black Lives Matter Resources and Reports
- Stop Hate UK
- Black Cultural Archives
- The Independent: How to support the Black Lives Matter movement even if you cannot attend the protests
- Zoella: Black Lives Matter Resources
- Elle: George Floyd – Black Lives Matter-Focused organisations to support in the wake of George Floyd’s Death
- Youth Music Network -Black Lives Matter
- Glamour: Three black women tell us how to support the #BlackLivesMatter movement that goes beyond posting an Instagram image
Books (Via Amazon – I make no money from this!)
- Why I’m No longer Talking to White People About Race (Reni Eddo-Lodge)
- White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for White people to talk about Racism (Robin DiAngelo)
- Me and White Supremacy: How to recognise your privilege, combat Racism and change the World (Layla Saad)
- Brit(ish): on Race, Identity and Belonging (Aufa Hirsch)
- Black and British: A Forgotten History (David Olusoga)
- White Privilege: The myth of a post-racial society (Kalwant Bhopal)
- “I Will Not Be Erased”: Our stories about growing up as people of colour (Gal-Dem)
- Overcoming Everyday Racism: Building Resilience and Wellbeing in the Face of Discrimination and Microaggressions (Susan Cousins)
- Don’t Touch my Hair (Emma Dabiri)
- Shame On Me: an anatomy of race and belonging (Tessa McWatt)