On the 25th May 2020, the whole world witnessed an act of racially motivated brutality that resulted in the death of George Floyd.
Derek Chauvin, was seen kneeling on the neck of a man that was handcuffed, unable to move , unable to breathe for 9 minutes.
The aftermath that followed sent shock waves all over the world. We saw #Blacklivesmatter matter trending all over social media, organisations posting #BLM statements to show solidarity, we saw protests, endless debates, and an increase in diversity training.
There was a sense of shock and disbelief that a police officer, who is meant to protect and serve, could do such a thing.
The outrage that followed, was not just about what happened on that fateful day, it was anger and outrage about all the other people that have been murdered by police not just in the states but in other parts of the world, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Clinton Mcurbin, for whom nobody has been held to account. It was a call for action, a call for justice.For decades a number of individuals and families have been campaigning for more thorough investigations into deaths in custody. One such organisation is The United Families & Friends Campaign (UFFC). They were established in 1997 by families who had loved ones die in police custody.
Figures in 2020 showed that over a period of 10 years, there were 164 people who had died in police custody in England and Wales. ( BBC.co.uk June 3 2020).
Over the past year, many organisations have been reflecting on how to respond, but in a way that is meaningful. They have used it as an opportunity to reflect on the diversity of their workforce, the services they deliver, and if they meet the needs of a diverse population, treatment of Black and minority staff with regards to career prospects.
So what has changed?
I have seen some changes, although the lasting impact is yet to be measured. I have seen an increase in diversity training, reviews now taking place on the race equality framework for local government, a government commissioned report into race and ethnic disparities, which has received widespread criticism.
I have seen schools examine diversity in the curriculum, more diverse representation in the media, especially in TV advertising and mainstream media.
Whilst this all sounds really positive, worryingly we are still seeing and hearing of racist incidents in sports, in the media, disproportionality in stop and search, and a lack of diversity at senior levels in organisations.
A report published in February 2021, showed that Black and other minority people are 4 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people. ( Her Majesty Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue)
I am in no doubt that the events of May 25 2020, will reverberate for many years to come, as many still struggle to find solutions to a centuries old problem.
The biggest change for me, was the conviction of Derek Chauvin, this for me restored some faith in the justice system. My hope is that this faith continues to be restored, and that others who have suffered the same fate as George, find justice too.
So what is the answer?
It has to start with self…we need to examine our own conscious or unconscious bias, our own values, and the impact that they have on others, and how we engage with others.
Without starting with self and being honest with self, any actions will most likely have no long lasting effect. Training may help, but more importantly, it is the reflection post training that will make the real difference.
So one year on what will you do?
I started of this blog post with a quote from Dr Martin Luther King Junior, and I will end on another quote from him, one year on… don’t be silent…
Thank you for reading
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Chinara Enterprises Ltd
May 25 2021