Upset by BLM statement
I am writing to express my concern and deep upset at the recent statement by the leader of the council, Cllr John Halsall, that he and Wokingham Borough Council cannot support the Black Lives Matter movement.
This comes at a time when it is widely recognised that the current Covid-19 health crisis is having a disproportionate impact on BAME people.
The majority of NHS and care workers who have died from Covid-19 are from the BAME community.
The reasons for this are still to be fully understood, however, race is a social construct, it is not genetically determined. There is no gene for being black or Asian.
Those looking for a straightforward biological explanation will be disappointed. The underlying reasons are complex and related to structural inequalities that exist in our society.
These inequalities result in BAME people being more likely to be employed in higher risk and lower paid jobs such as in the caring profession. They also result in financial inequality and differences in how health care is accessed. Wokingham Borough Council is 66% male, and out of 53 current councillors, only three are from a BAME background.
In contrast the population of Wokingham is around 11% BAME.
This lack of diversity and underrepresentation of key parts of our communities clearly results in a lack of understanding from the council regarding issues which they do not directly experience.
We have seen numerous instances of this and the current failure to support the Black Lives Movement is another.
Black Lives Matter is a movement. It is not a single organisation with a single set of goals. Support of this movement indicates an awareness of structural inequalities based on race and the many implications of this.
By refusing to acknowledge that Black Lives Matter, John Halsall and the Wokingham Borough Council have let down the community which they are supposed to represent and demonstrated, yet again, how out of touch they are with the lives and values of their constituents.
Louise Timlin, Leader of the Reading andWokingham Women’s Equality Party