Up­set by BLM state­ment

The Wokingham Paper - - VIEWPOINTS -

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

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