We’re firmly in the age of information; there isn’t much that Google can’t help us find. I’ve learned so much in the past year; it feels like I’m mid-way through a social justice Masters.
Although it’s been enlightening to navigate the complex nature of racism past my own personal experiences, it’s also been quite frustrating, but not for the reasons you may immediately think. When I research the tangled intersections that neatly meet racism, there is a common sequence that seems to run the path of resolution:
- An issue or problem is identified through a significant (and avoidable) event
- The people rise up through protest
- Influencing bodies and Government are forced to pay attention
- Subsequently, a report is commissioned
- The findings either tell us what we already know or finds a way to gaslight us(!)
- Recommendations are set
- Changes are slow to happen, or nothing changes at all due to inaction.
I watched a documentary on BBC iPlayer which explored the relationship between the Church and racism. It’s no secret that the Church of England (COE) have struggled to tackle the inherent racism within the institution; twenty reports over the past 35 years have examined the issue of racism within the COE. Over 160 recommendations were made, and even with this, the Church still remains deeply institutionally racist.
This bothers me.
If the institution morally obligated to ensure all people are treated fairly and equally can’t get it right, how are we likely to arrive at the systemic change that is well overdue?
So much more needs to be done across the board, not talk, ACTION. I don’t know about you, but I’m bored of talk. It really is just a copout and fits perfectly into that ‘social responsibility’ checkbox. We should widely condemn inaction and call for real consequences to force accountability. Only today, England players were booed for taking the knee before the start of a match. These ignoramuses should point-blank be banned from attending any future matches. No questions asked, no negotiations made.
It’s trendy and politically correct to take a zero-tolerance stance to racism outwardly, but if in reality, an organisation’s internal approaches, policies and procedures aren’t fit for purpose, then there is a level of racist complicity that cannot be argued away.
More than half of the recommendations in the recent flawed Race and Ethnic Disparities report are similar to those made in reports before. While they may differ in detail, they echo those made in 14 previous reviews into racial discrimination and inequality since 1999.
Those in power are acutely aware of the issues, but few have shown signs of prioritising the reforming or dismantling of racist structures. Hiding behind liberalism, inclusion and tolerance just isn’t going to cut it.
How can you take action and hold Government and Institutions accountable?
Understand that you can influence! The days of apathy are over; we’ve now exhausted the stage of acknowledgement, we must push for real change. You can do this in several ways:
- Use social media to bring awareness to promises made to challenge racism
- Write to authors, the inter-ministerial government group and others involved in key reports and request updates
- Get involved in unions, committees, etc. – representation is vital to ensure your voice is heard. Become empowered not just to advise change, but also make it happen
- Demand to see detailed anti-racist and/or inclusion action plans. If you feel that these don’t go far enough or address/reflect the recommendations made, then push for answers and improvements
- Challenge where necessary – those responsible may not have the most qualified opinion
- Don’t be deterred; this is truly survival of the fittest. No matter how high the walls can appear, understand that you have the power to break through these.
Remember, racism was at the core of the inception of most institutions within the UK so dismantling it won’t be easy, but we must take the next steps. I don’t want to be the pessimist, but if we don’t make changes now, we may miss the window of opportunity and only touch the surface for many more years to come.
Sending light and love always.