Report by Violeta Cotoman.
Currently, more than 6 months have passed since George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor were brutally murdered in the US by police officers. These murders have generated a global wave of protests, from Minneapolis to Coventry. Communities have come together to protest against racial injustice and ultimately create a space in society where discussions, no matter how uncomfortable, are encouraged and in fact critically needed from a very long time. In the United Kingdom, these events of police brutality and racism are not new. We have seen this year massive anti-racist mobilization, spurred by the events in the US, supported by young adults that want to see a change happen in the system.
For this reason, on the 18th of November, an open discussion took place about Black Lives Matter with students from Coventry University and guest speakers: Coventry MP Zarah Sultana and Amara Okoye, a student from Warwick University and UWSU Women’s Officer.
Police violence, high rate of poverty, overcrowded housing, disproportionate representation in frontline key jobs as well as high rate of COVID-19 deaths widely affects black and brown people in the UK that suffer from systemic and institutionalized racism. In fact, since 1990, there have been over 1,700 deaths in police custody or following police contact. Yet, no single persecution was made against these police officers. Racism is deeply entrenched in Britain today, seeded from the legacies of colonialism, which now forces us to have these critical and much needed conversations in the public sphere and with our loved ones about past injustices and the glorification of tyrants, in the form of statues, that support a past full of oppression, slavery and genocide of black and brown people.
In this essential discussion we have covered topics such as what the BLM event is trying to achieve and what it can be done to be more effective; what can we do to support this movement and the investments we need to see from the government in supporting such changes; the Britishness issue on identity; the educational curriculum that needs to be adapted and re-formulated to embrace these conversations among students and so many other important features that need to be addressed so we can create a better inclusive and equal world for everyone. I encourage you to see the video of the discussion, and hopefully to feel inspired to keep this conversation going within your social circle. Through empathic and active listening, we can keep the BLM movement alive within our communities, and that is where the change needs to come in order to be able to build a better world for future generations, better than what we have seen or experienced in the past.
Video of the event shown below.