Yes, BLACK LIVES MATTER.
In Woodbridge. In Suffolk. In Britain. In the world. And I want to state unequivocally that I stand firmly behind this – and most particularly everything the young people of Woodbridge are doing to raise awareness and alter perceptions.
I shouldn’t really have to put this out here, because it should be a no-brainer. Of course black lives matter. Stands to reason. We’re all human. Black lives, white lives, all lives are begun by the same process, have the same potential, face the same difficulties, end in the same way. We’re all in this together. Right?
Years after the Equality Act, it turns out that we’re still living in a country where your life, your life chances, your safety, your self esteem will be threatened just by being born with black skin. You’ll have a lesser chance of anything good (like a fair share of the pie). You’ll have a greater chance of anything bad (like a kick in the face).
Seems there’s discrimination even with Covid19: “The unequal impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities may be explained by a number of factors ranging from social and economic inequalities, racism, discrimination and stigma, occupational risk as well as inequalities in the prevalence of conditions that increase the severity of disease.”(PHE)
This inequality is not just ‘in the inner city’. It’s here, in Woodbridge. As Woodbridge-born #BLM campaigner Nadia Khan puts it: “People think racism is skinheads and swastikas. No, hun, it’s your auntie Karen.”
At the deeply moving, thought-provoking and utterly peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration, held in Elmhurst Park and organised by Naomi Keeble, Harry Raithatha and others last Saturday, a significant – and socially-distanced crowd of hundreds gathered to hear simply-voiced stories of utter outrage: the 11 year old boy whose daily walk home from school took him past two middle-aged men who shouted racist abuse at him. The teen who went to buy a birthday present, and was accused of shoplifting because she was the only black shopper. The 15 year old who was followed and punched – in broad daylight – by an adult. The child who was always left at the bottom of the drive, because she didn’t get to go into her friends’ houses. The baby who ‘was really very light.’ The other pale-skinned baby, who “must have been adopted” because its mother was black. The remembered outrage of the white boy walking home with his black friend and who suddenly witnessed an episode of racist abuse without understanding why or how it could happen. All in our nice polite white little town. Powerful, powerful – shaming – stuff.
We then ‘took the knee’ for the 8minutes and 46seconds it took for George Floyd to die. Some people were young, some over 80. For all of us, it seemed an immeasurable and horrifying length of time to be kneeling. Again, very powerful.
I congratulate the young people of BLM Woodbridge for the peaceful, polite and determined manner in which they have made this town sit up and take notice. I am proud of the calm and reasoned means they have used to raise awareness of innate white privilege and to try and change people’s mindsets. I am thrilled to have heard people say how their views have been changed.
And I am also proud to live in a town where the Town Councillors can respond in such a positive and collegiate spirit to the concerns of these young people.
I am proud to represent this town.
BLACK LIVES MATTER