By Tracey Gore, Chair Liverpool Race Equality Taskforce
It is is nearly 12 months since we saw the video of George Floyd’s murder, the re-energising of the Black Lives Movement and the collective acknowledgement that racism is pervasive in too many countries across the world where Black and other ethnic people are minorities in the communities in which they live.
Here in Liverpool, a City with the oldest Black community in Britain, Liverpool City Council acknowledges that we have a problem in Liverpool, where black people, young and old, are consistently under-represented in places of employment but over-represented in the criminal justice system. They are also under served in our health services.
This acknowledgement is what led to the setting up of the Liverpool Race Equality Taskforce, and what is driving its work; examining the structural issues that make race inequality so endemic in our City and putting forward recommendations to make lasting change.
Inequalities and race inequality can be complex, there are many paradoxes. As I look back over world events, Nelson Mandela, once labelled a terrorist, become the President of the Country that imprisoned him; a leader fighting apartheid and fighting for Black people’s humanity. A man that went on to be revered around the world.
In the USA where Africans who were stolen from their homeland, were sold into slavery; where Jim Crow’s own apartheid only ended in 1964. That same country would eventually go on to elect a Black President in 2008 and re-elect him in 2012. Nevertheless, the KKK and Far Right groups were openly marching in the streets a few short years later, emboldened by a new President, who openly displayed hostility to Black and Brown people.
I sit here, a couple of days after the citizens of Liverpool elected the City’s first Black woman Mayor; the first woman to be elected to lead a major British city. What an historic achievement for Joanne Anderson and the City of Liverpool. Liverpool is known for being a City of firsts. A City that is mature enough to face its challenges. Not only the serious challenges that Liverpool City Council is facing but also the City-wide challenges and on-going impact of COVID-19 and the deeply entrenched inequalities facing so many in our City. The work of the Liverpool Race Equality Taskforce will need to be embedded into the City’s key institutions; their strategies; business plans and action plans to ensure that our City is able to be truly an inclusive City.
What a great way to start Black Inclusion Week. A week full of hope and inspiration and one where Black people may start to believe that progress can be made. Here in Liverpool, that change has now started from the top.