KEEPING RACE ON THE AGENDA

by Jagwant Johal and Siobhan Harper-Nunes, Birmingham Race Impact Group (BRIG)

Following the Black Lives Matter protest in Centenary Square on 4th June 2020, many of Birmingham’s institutions renewed the call for rapid change in the delivery of racial equality. The big question is how seriously will these calls be taken now, and will ‘racial justice’ fall off the agenda, after a series of trumpeted quick wins and displays of public pledges, once the limelight has faded.

Our approach is simple. We ask… ‘How did this start? Where are we now?’

The answers to these questions reveal that we have been here before, in a continuous loop of one step forward and two steps back, and will likely be here again unless sustainable approaches are seriously resourced to bring about lasting change. We believe no single Birmingham institution can tackle racial inequality across the city on its own and that a collective effort is required, which looks into the structural roots that continue to determine our lives.

To this end we advocate a ten-year plan to tackle racial inequality in Birmingham. One that goes beyond ‘window dressing’ and managing racial inequality instead of addressing it head on.

What would an “R” number reveal if we were to measure the lost opportunities for the city and its citizens from failing to address racial inequality? In a sense this is BRIG’s open letter to the City’s institutions to get involved to make this a truly anti-racist city, beyond word, but one of actions that leaves nobody behind.

To this end over the last year we have been seeking to engage Birmingham’s institutions to come together over two years as the Birmingham Race Impact Summit, starting in May 2022, to hold each other to account as to the progress being made, or not. We have started to engage the City’s institutions, but not all have responded. For some it would appear, George Floyd is already so last year and it’s business as usual.

However, there are those that are keen to use their collective capacity to drive change, providing a platform to build from. Over the next year we will also be developing a range of projects, including the history detective to develop new archives and schools based archive projects centered around the Commonwealth Games – ‘Birmingham’s Common Wealth and Where it came form?”

If you are interested in getting involved or supporting Race Impact Summit, inclusive of mini sector based summits (employment / business and enterprise / education / housing / health / Criminal Justice / trade union / further and higher education / media / arts) please get in touch via: info@wearebrig.co.uk

Published in the Birmingham Black History Month 2021 event programme – https://birminghamblackhistorymonth.co.uk/bhm-2021-brochure/#brochure

Birmingham Trade Union Council is one of the organisations involved in BRIG’s Race Summits initiative.

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