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Southwark Stands Together Against Racism

29 June 2020

The brutal killing of George Floyd by US police officers has shocked the world, and highlighted the systemic injustice, violence and racism experienced by BAME communities across the globe, sparking the fire beneath the Black Lives Matter movement and inspiring people, worldwide, to make a stand against the atrocity of racism, past and present.

Southwark is one of the most diverse boroughs in the country, and as an authority, the council is intent on joining the support for BAME residents, to tackle racism and achieve equality.

Cllr Johnson Situ, Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning, is leading a new, proactive approach in this area of work, which is called Southwark Stands Together.

This new action will form a clear, three-part focus on ways we can identify, listen and learn, and then tackle racism and inequality in the borough.

  1. The first part is an anti-racist audit of the borough to identify statues and street names that do not reflect our borough's diversity, especially anything with links to slavery or our country's colonial past, and to identify positive opportunities for the celebration of more diverse figures which truly reflect the foundation on which Southwark stands.
  2. Running parallel is a listening exercise with communities across the borough, partner organisations, and our staff, to hear their concerns. We want to hear it all, from the uncomfortable, brazen and brutal experiences, to the more insidious ways it affects people, at a molecular level. We want to explore the plethora of ways racism creates barriers to BAME people achieving true equality, from jobs and prospects, to housing and safety and health, in particular regard to the Covid-19 pandemic and the disproportionate number of BAME people who have died.
  3. With this increased knowledge, we hope to identify solutions to address entrenched and persistent racism and injustice. This week, we are writing to businesses and organisations in the borough to work with us to implement these solutions, taking positive action to ensure equality of opportunity and a fairer future for all.

Councillor Situ said: “I want to give people in Southwark a forum to harness the positive energy that has been galvanised over the past few weeks in response to the atrocious killing of George Floyd, and the subsequent protest led by the Black Lives Matter movement.  Nobody should ever feel that society has placed a glass ceiling on their ambition, our promise of a fairer future for all is committed to ensuring no person in Southwark should feel that there is no hope, and that nothing will change. In the borough, and as a society, we must actively do better to address the structural inequalities that still hold black people back. History has taught us that change is most effective when protest is met and matched by policymakers willing to make the change. In recent months Southwark has come together to respond to Covid-19. I am confident that Southwark will stand together again to meet this challenge of tackling ingrained structural inequality."

Three listening events online, and a fourth – to be announced – that will be safely offline, will explore the impact of racism, injustice and inequality on our communities. We will share knowledge and hear about the lived experiences of individuals who live, work and visit Southwark. These sessions will unpack the grievances that have been brought to the forefront by the Black Lives Matter Movement as well the health inequalities highlighted by Covid-19 in a bid to understand what needs to change and how Southwark can stand together to deliver a fairer and more equal society. Alongside the listening events a survey will be available for those who would prefer to add their voice that way, which will go live this week.

Cllr Situ will report back on progress towards the end of the summer, but in the meantime, you can get involved in this important work by taking part in one of the first three listening events, bookable below.

Southwark Stands Together Listening events

  • Monday 29 June 2020, 6pm – 8.30pm (online via Zoom – Pilot session)
  • Tuesday 7 July 2020, 6pm – 8.30pm (online via Zoom)
  • Tuesday 14 July 2020, 6pm – 8.30pm (online via Zoom)

Register online now.


Page last updated: 20 August 2020

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