A far-reaching motion to eradicate structural racism through a series of practical actions was passed at South Cambridgeshire District Council’s full council meeting on Tuesday 14th July.
The motion, put forward by Lib Dem district Councillor Sarah Cheung Johnson (Longstanton, Oakington & Westwick) and seconded by Councillor Tumi Hawkins, was passed by all councillors present bar one.
The motion addressed insidious racism in a range of areas, including education, employment, health, housing and policing. It proposed:
- Black History Month is made an annual event in South Cambridgeshire
- Reviewing the council’s own structures to ensure ethnic minorities are not disadvantaged in employment or in access to housing and welfare
- Auditing street names and public monuments for racist historical associations
- Writing to the Secretary of State for Education to call for a review of the national curriculum to ensure the inclusion of BAME history and culture in lessons, and asking South Cambridgeshire schools to include such material proactively
- Asking the Police and Crime Commissioner to report on measures for eradicating racism within South Cambs policing
- Requesting a review of the impact of Covid-19 on the local BAME population
- Calling for the Combined Authority to produce a toolkit for businesses to help broaden their understanding of race inequality in the workplace
- Working with the NHS to ensure that it fully compensates BAME staff, who have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19
Cllr Cheung Johnson said: “The death of George Floyd sparked a renewal of the Black Lives Matters movement and it's imperative that we don't allow this to be merely a moment. We must understand that the work of sustained anti-racism is constant and requires our attention at all times. Black Lives Matters doesn't mean they matter more but that they matter equally - which they currently don't. To that end I hope you agree that this motion is one with practical actions we can take. The list is by no means finite and I hope that we would build on it with suggestions from council members, officers and residents on how we do this.”
“I would like to reiterate that racism isn't just about people expressing prejudice - it's not just about Cllr Tumi Hawkins being followed around shops because of her skin colour, or my Chinese friends being called C-words and being blamed for bringing Covid-19 to the country - although these things should not be happening in 2020. It’s about tackling structural racism - the unseen but very real barriers which mean those who are not white do not have equality in our society today. We as a council have a duty to lead these efforts across our district.”