A racial equality and diversity drive has been announced by Southwark Council in response to the Black Lives Matter movement amid fears that entrenched inequality has left Southwark’s large BAME community extremely vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19.
The new initiative, Southwark Stands Together, is being led by councillor Johnson Situ, cabinet member for growth and planning.
First the council is holding an ‘anti-racist audit’ of the borough’s street names and statues with links to slavery and colonialism, and to identify ‘positive opportunities for the celebration of more diverse figures which truly reflect the foundation on which Southwark stands’.
Tooley Street is also hosting a series of community events where BAME people can share their experiences with discrimination and bias and help develop ways to tackle deep-seated racism.
Councillor Johnson Situ, Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning, 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.”
The first of three online ‘listening events’ was held on Monday night, with an online survey also launched.
Further sessions will be held online via Zoom on Tuesday July 7, and Tuesday July 14, from 6pm to 8.30pm.