Black Lives Matter; ‘Majority Silence is Racism’
George Floyd was killed on 25 May 2020 and this is unfortunately another example of how racism blights society.
As a solicitor, I am always looking for the truth and fairness. But whilst we can point to the US on this occasion, the position is sadly no different in the UK. Injustice exists.
As the writer James Baldwin said: “Ignorance allied with power is, the most ferocious enemy justice can have”.
Our eyes should be open to the fact that racism exists in all parts of our society. The law is supposed to be ‘blind’ but the treatment of George Floyd and many others speaks for itself. Black people are more likely to be stopped and searched by the police, they are disproportionately represented within our prison system, there is inequality in terms of jobs and pay; and the position is no different in schools and exam pass rates. In 2019, the UK Independent Office for Police Conduct recorded a total of 276 deaths during or following police contact. Black people are overrepresented in cases including use of police force. The effect of COVID-19 will also have a disproportionate impact on Black communities.
There have been protests and demonstrations across the world. During the Manchester protest I saw a man holding a banner making it clear he feared racism more than COVID. He is right to hold such fear.
Everyone should be offered the same opportunities and treated with respect regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any other protective characteristic.
But in honouring the memory of George Floyd (and many others) I feel that, in my lifetime, we have not moved any further forward following the Brixton and Moss Side riots in 1981; and no-one has really taken heed of the warnings contained within the Scarman Report written at the time about racial disadvantage and institutional racism. Some might say that people are now treated more fairly but why does this keep happening?
So the #BlackLivesMatter movement shines a light on why racism and inequality is not something we can ignore or tolerate. We should call out racism, prejudice and injustice when we see it; we can also learn and be better informed.
Nothing will ever change until we commit and recommit ourselves across society to be actively anti-racist in our attitudes and behaviours. History has shown us that and we can all do more.