Honour George Floyd - Condemn the Sewell Report to the trash bin of history

Blog by CORE Chairperson: David Weaver - in Memory of George Floyd

Image by Dan Lacey is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

I am writing this blog on 25th May, the first anniversary of the death of George Floyd. Like many of you, I still can’t bear to look at the video of the murder of our martyr in plain sight. The world watched in horror and took to the streets.  And to add psychological insult to injury, even though it was clear to all that the racist policeman Derek Chauvin, plainly committed this heinous murder, we (especially Black people) were still not optimistic that a guilty verdict would be reached.  Such is the insidious nature of state, systemic and institutional racism. Yes - institutional racism - I said it, and I’ll come back to that in a while!

We should never underestimate the increasing prevalence of gaslighting.  If you deny a person’s reality often enough, doubts eventually begin to creep into their minds about their foundational certainties. In January of this year, an organised mob filled with hate stormed the Capitol building bent on preventing Joe Biden’s election win from being ratified by Congress.  The realities of ex-police officers, former marines, and regular family guys was over-ridden by the ‘Big Lie’ of a stolen election. Under a gas light, nobody can see clearly.

Things are not that different over here! Indeed, Tony Sewell’s (and his Commission’s) audacious attempt to deny that we are living with ingrained racism with their claim that institutional racism doesn’t exist is a classic.  If you haven’t listened to government minister Liz Truss trying to defend this grubby report on LBC radio - please do.  Her contempt and absolute disregard of the issue was so evident that even the presenter Nick Ferarri, who can hardly be described as a defender of race equality, snarled in absolute disbelief when she couldn’t name one individual who supported the report!

My reality and that of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people is one of living with racism.  It is on the streets manifesting as hate crime, stop and search and knife-crime.  Racism pervades our schools showing up in exclusions, poor attainment rates and even interfering with our children’s choices of hairstyles!  It’s in the NHS and our hospitals leading to Black women being 4 times more likely to die during childbirth.  It’s in our workplaces blocking pathways to career progression. For the Windrush generation, it’s even in the decisions the Home Office makes about who to put on Thursday flights to Jamaica.  Welcome to Jamrock!!

It was perverse that at the very moment George Floyd’s trial was revealing the inhumanity meted out to our Black sisters and brothers in America, on this side of the pond, a Government Commission was discovering “no evidence of actual institutional racism”.   Sewell and his commissioners have shown that there are no limits to the audacity of dopes!

I’m proud that CORE was fast off the blocks in condemning this ‘racist report’ and joined thousands of organisations and individuals in condemning it.  As a national coalition of race equality organisations, we are duty bound to work with other organisations in holding government and other major institutions to account. Equally, we must ensure that we, as black-led organisations, are doing the best we can to ensure that we take up the leadership mantle needed.  Covid-19 will continue to wreak havoc on our communities long after it has disappeared; we must think carefully about how we address the trauma and psychological / mental and emotional health implications.

Black Lives Matter has to be more than a slogan. And we, as black led organisations have a responsibility to ensure that we contribute our utmost endeavour to achieving freedom, justice and equality.

 

David Weaver

Chair, CORE, the Coalition of Race Equality