Black Lives Matter
In 2019, disproportionate number of people of colour died at the hands of the Police in the US including, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, 12-year old Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and many others since but approximately 1% of police officers are charged with a crime.
A disproportionate number of people from BAME communities have died following the use of force by the police in Britain. In 1969, David Oluwale was the first Black man to die in police custody in Leeds. Other Black deaths at the hands of the police include Julian Cole and Sean Rigg. The statistics are stark: Black people are nine times as likely to be stopped and searched by police; three times as likely to be arrested and five times as likely to have force used against them than white people.
In the protests following the death of George Floyd in the US and those in Britain the protestors have carried placards and chanted “Black lives matter” and the hashtag has been added at the end of tweets. Yet some people have responded, “All lives matter”. This apparently innocuous phrase just adds insult and greater injury to the psychic, symbolic and actual violence already endured by people of colour. It seeks to negate their experiences of racism. This racism can be encountered every day through acts such as being mistaken for another person of colour in your department, or, mistaken for a cleaner or people assuming you are a spokesperson for your community or culture.
As a senior manager within higher education I remember a white female first-year student approaching me after an induction session I had just led to tell me I spoke good English, but there was a slight hint of an Indian accent. I was shocked, insulted and annoyed - yet didn’t respond. In that instance, the power dynamic was upturned. Despite the lecture being led by an Asian woman she clearly needed to put me in my place with the reference to my ethnicity. In that instance I was made to feel I didn’t belong. I was a body out of place as a manager in HE who was leading a lecture.