2020 has been an unprecedented time of challenge, a global pandemic, the impact of climate change on countries all over the world, divisive politics and a spot light on racism from the overt killings of black people, to the more deeper look into institutional and systemic racism that blights communities across the world and right here in the UK.
As I sit here reflecting on 2020, it occurs to me that we are in a moment of momentous change, we hear all the time that change is a constant, but we also know there are moments in time when things happen and change impacts a significant proportion of people at the same time, we are living through and witnessing one of those moments now.
Covid-19 has given us all time to stop, to pause, to show compassion, we have all been struck how are local community and voluntary organisations jumped into action to feed those who were socially isolated, people who were struggling financially as they had lost their jobs, and again when the disease was spreading through our communities, to get the word out, to educate, to communicate, to protect each other, I like many have been humbled.
It has been against this backdrop that the Liverpool Race Equality Task Force has been met with the openness and willingness from the citizens of Liverpool and its City Region to engage with the race equality review.
The Task Force members reflect Liverpool’s diverse multi-cultural communities and come with their own wealth of experience and expertise. Our priorities have been agreed, Education; Employment, Skills & Economy; Health & Wellbeing; Crime and Criminal Justice and Culture.
Education is the area that we chose to look at first, we have gathered data, held a series of dialogues, met with Black and Racial Minority Educators and we are in the midst of holding formal evidence hearings and will test back our findings with our young, and wider communities, particularly Black and Racial Minority communities before finalising our recommendations.
Discussing racism is hard. Some of us are not use to it, whether it is overt acts of racism, the subtle acts of micro-aggressions or the institutional and systemic racism that exist. There is a lot of fear and anxiety that can sometimes stop the honest and open discussion and learning, nobody wants to be labelled a racist. The Task Force work will, of course, highlight overt racism when it sees it, but importantly, in its questions and discussions, it is holding up a light to the structures, policies and procedures and every day practices that impact adversely on Black and Racial Minority people. We will highlight the impacts of unconscious bias and we will work with the leaders of institutions to enable them to understand the impacts of racism.
I am always full of hope when it comes to dealing with racism the Task Force starting point has been that racial institutional and systemic racism exists, the acceptance from many of the City’s leaders that not only does it exist but they want to do something about it. This acknowledgement leaves me with hope.
Our challenge being, to turn the knowledge into change and for the commitments made to be written into strategic documents. The monitoring of progress should be reported on, in a transparent manner back to the wider community.
Chair of Race Equality Task Force