Race Equality Week 1st to 7th February

We’ll never have another year like 2020, or so we keep telling ourselves. A global pandemic swept through every continent of the world, reaping destruction and sadness in its wake. The most controversial President in the history of the United States was shown the door of the White House, but not before some of his more rabid supporters stormed the US Capitol to send a shock wave through western democracy.

And in the middle of the year, the unlawful killing of George Floyd by a US police officer caused a seismic shift in the world’s consciousness of the struggle for race equality.

But that doesn’t fade at the end of 2020, just as it didn’t start in the last year. For centuries minorities have fought for equality of opportunity and it seems that every time we take two steps forward we take a step back. Premier League football players, including Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United player who campaigned so impressively to tackle child poverty, have been victims of racist bile on social media just a few days ago.

Which is one of the reasons why it is so important that the UK’s first Race Equality Week was launched today as the struggle goes on. Organised by Race Equality Matters (REM) the week-long initiative is designed to unite organisations and individuals to tackle issues which affect ethnic minority employees day after day. REM was formed in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, with the aim of effecting meaningful change in racial equality in society and at work.

REM can support organisations with a resource pack including promotional materials and communication tips, webinars, and a Race Equality Network to exchange ideas with other organisations.

Here at HDN we have plenty to say about Black Lives Matter and the wider equality issues, and BLM is the subject of our first podcast, due to be recorded this month.

Karpal Kaur Sandhu

While the UK Police force has taken steps to improve the diversity of its workforce to better reflect the communities it serves, there is still a way to go.

The Police workforce stats show that white people made up almost 93 per cent of police officers in March 2020, and 86 per cent of the whole population, according to the 2011 Census. Asian people made up 3 per cent of the police workforce compared with 7 per cent of the population, while Black people made up just over 1 per cent of the force and over 3 per cent of the census.

This year marks the 50th anniversary for Karpal Kaur Sandhu, the first woman of South Asian origin to join the London Metropolitan Police Service. She joined the Met on 1st February 1971, a Sikh born in Zanzibar who came to England ten years earlier and she trained as a nurse.

Karpal was murdered in the line of duty two years later and she remains one of the Metropolitan Police’s best loved and respected employees. She had staggering courage to defy gender and racial stereotypes, at a time when sexism and racism discouraged many from joining the force.

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