Black Lives Matter

Image by O’Neill Howell © Benjamin Howell Photography

It is time to face facts. We stand at a moment in history. It is time to acknowledge racism in the UK. It is time to address our present and understand the past.  Time to tackle the structural causes of racism. Time for black and brown voices to be heard, not marginalised.

In 2020 the murder of George Floyd in America has led to a global outpouring of anti-racist protest. The fact that in 21st Century we need a Black Lives Matter movement at all is a sad inditement of a world that continues to discriminate against black and brown people.

Racism in the UK is a reality and borne out in the facts if we look at the disparities in employment, education, health, housing and the criminal justice system. Those facts are recorded in data sets such the government’s own race disparity audit

Racism in the UK is a reality and borne out in the facts if we look at the disparities in employment, education, health, housing and the criminal justice system. Those facts are recorded in data sets such the government’s own race disparity audit

Report after report, commission after commission, document racism in Britain. Following the murder of Stephen Lawrence, the 1999 McPherson Report concluded that the investigation had been “marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership”.

In the 2017 Independent review of deaths and serious incidents in police custody by Dame Elish Angiolini QC, she wrote that “Deaths of people from BAME communities, in particular young black men, resonate with the black community’s experience of systemic racism.”

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST said“The disproportionality in the use of force against black people adds to the irrefutable evidence of structural racism embedded in policing practices. ”

The 2017 McGregor-Smith review suggested the economy could receive a £24bn annual boost if businesses stamped out ethnic inequality.

Britain’s premier race equality think tank is the Runnymede Trust. Set up in 1968 Runnymede’s projects and publications have built up a body of evidence on a wide range of areas that address key race equality challenges for public policy and public debate.

Dr Omar Khan, Chair of Olmec and former Director to the Runnymede’s call for a national race equality strategy has to date fallen on deaf ears. “The extent of the inequalities, the links between poor outcomes in the labour market and prior inequalities in life, and the compounding effects of those inequalities over the life course (and intergenerationally) make it difficult to tackle racial inequalities”, concludes Dr Khan.

Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote in her seminal book ‘Why I know longer Talk to White People about Race’, “Structural racism is never a case of innocent and pure people of colour versus evil white people intent on evil and malice. Rather it is how Britain’s relationship with race distorts and infects equal opportunity”

It is time to face facts. It is time to acknowledge racism in the UK. It is time to address our present and understand the past. Teach the true horrors of Britain’s colonial past in our schools. Time to tackle the structural causes of racism. Time for black and brown voices to be heard, not marginalised. And to paraphrase the Green movement’s maxim, time to think and link racism globally and act locally.

John Mayford, Olmec CEO. June 2020.

Image by O’Neill Howell © Benjamin Howell Photography

“Black lives matter because, yes, we are human. But unfortunately, the way that the world has been shaped, over the last 400 years, we have been made subhuman and we need to bring humanity back.”

Patrick Vernon OBE Olmec associate, campaigner, activist, social entrepreneur and cultural historian

“Black lives matter for one simple fact, we are human beings. There is a lot going on, we’ve been subject to injustice and inequalities for far too long.  It’s ingrained in British society, it’s not just the US. The whole British Empire was built on the back of slavery.

When you go to the museum, it’s everybody elses history. The main thing they took from us was our people, they took our heritage, they took our culture, they took our names away from us.  In every single aspect of society, we are victimized, we are discriminated [against], we are looked down on.

One last thing is, I attended the protest over the weekend, and the amount of solidarity, the amount of support there is from non-BAME. non-black people. It’s astonishing and we need them on board, we cannot do this alone, it has to start from within. Black lives matter, united we stand.”

Sheldon Shillingford, Black on Board delegate

“Why do black lives matter? I think the question is more, why do we need to tell anybody that at all? We deserve the same love and care, the same smiles when you greet us and the same support and recognition as the rest of the global community.”

Danielle Kow Black on Board Community

“Black lives matter, because I matter, because we matter.”

Black on Board delegate

Black Lives Matter UK –

If you want to make a difference, please support these campaigns:

Windrush Justice : Sign the petition here

Two years after the Windrush Scandal, the independent report commissioned into the appalling failings that took place has finally been published. But with so much going on, we can’t let the lessons go unnoticed.

The Home Office can no longer ignore the true scale of the scandal and its impact on people – from being made homeless or unemployed to being denied access to the NHS or unfairly deported. The Home Office must urgently stop any racial discrimination and to learn from the lessons published, so this never happens again.

This includes full implementation of all recommendations – with an action plan to do this quickly, appointing an independent group to review progress, and doing more to support survivors now.

You can read the full report here:

Replace the statue of Edward Colston with a Black individualSign the petition here

Following the statue of Edward Colston being thrown into the harbour, it is time a suitable replacement is found that honours black Bristolians.

There are many suitable candidates for this honour that have some relation to Bristol: Princess Campbell, the first black ward sister for Bristol, is one possible candidate; another is James Peters, the first black rugby player to represent England. But the primary focus should be to communicate with the black community of Bristol, raise up black voices, to find an individual whom they wish to honour and remember.

It is time Bristol moves forward with its history in the slave trade, acknowledging the evil committed and how it can educate its citizens about black history.

Remove Slave Trade Statues Sign the petition here

Joe Pajak started this petition to UK Parliament and 1 other

Statues of slave traders have no place in a civilised world. Statues of slave traders should be removed from all our towns. It’s a sad truth that a significant element of our wealth was derived from the slave trade – but this should not have to be celebrated in our public spaces.

We must use this significant moment as a catalyst for change to tackle racism, discrimination, and inequality. The Government must ensure that local authorities and relevant organisations undertake a formal and thorough review of all statues that have connections with the slave trade.

Build a memorial to commemorate the victims of the Transatlantic Slave tradeSign the petition here

Right now, there is no major memorial in England to commemorate the victims of the Transatlantic Slave trade. These are millions of people who were brought over from Africa in ships and kept as slaves. Many of them built Britain, but were subjected to cruelty and forced into inhumane conditions. 

I’m part of Memorial 2007, a charity that is campaigning for an Enslaved Africans Memorial in London’s Hyde Park. We’ve secured planning permission for a space in the Rose Gardens and commissioned designs.

But we need the Government to fund this. Time is running out as planning permission will expire on the 7th November. That’s why we’re calling on the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to fund the first dedicated major memorial to Enslaved Africans before the deadline. 

Image by O’Neill Howell © Benjamin Howell Photography

Race disparity in the UK: the facts

Read the Race disparity audit here

This report provides an overview of the main findings from the first release of data from the Race Disparity Audit, published in October 2017.

As well as a review of each topic on the Ethnicity Facts and Figures website, the report presents an overview of disparities that have most impact across all aspects of people’s lives.

Runnymede Trust

For more information visit the Runnymede Trust’s website

Runnymede is the UK’s leading independent race equality think tank. Runnymede generates intelligence to challenge race inequality in Britain through research, network building, leading debate, and policy engagement.

Runnymede is working to build a Britain in which all citizens and communities feel valued, enjoy equal opportunities, lead fulfilling lives, and share a common sense of belonging.

In order to effectively overcome racial inequality in our society, Runnymede believes that our democratic dialogue, policy, and practice, should all be based on reliable evidence from rigorous research and thorough analysis.

INQUEST is the only charity providing expertise on state related deaths and their investigation to bereaved people, lawyers, advice and support agencies, the media and parliamentarians. Our specialist casework includes deaths in police and prison custody, immigration detention, mental health settings and deaths involving multi-agency failings or where wider issues of state and corporate accountability are in question. This includes work around the Hillsborough football disaster and the Grenfell Tower fire.


In April 2018, a group of United Nations experts commented on ‘structural racism’ being rooted at the heart of British society. The group of human rights experts cited police data showing a disproportionate number of people from ethnic minorities died as a result of excessive force. (source Inquest website)

Below is the breakdown of deaths of people of black, Asian and minority ethnicity (BAME) in custody or following other police contact and as the result of police shootings in England and Wales by calendar year (January-December) since 1990. This information is from INQUEST’s casework and monitoring.


Black on Board Community

Olmec has built an opportunity for people of colour to share their thoughts and feelings on recent events into our Black on Board (BoB) training. In the video above, BoB delegates discuss why Black Lives Matter

Bronze Woman (A Short Film By Community Roots)

The Bronze Woman sculpture of an African-Caribbean woman holding aloft a child was created to celebrate the contribution of the African-Caribbean community to the Capital, on the 200th anniversary of the end of the transatlantic slave trade in 2008.

The monument is based on a poem written by Cécile Nobrega. Cécile was born in Georgetown Guyana on 1st June 1919 and came to London in 1968. Cécile was an accomplished classical composer, poet, sculptor and educator. As an active trade unionist in the National Union of Teachers (NUT) she campaigned against placing children, usually from racialised communities in Educationally Subnormal Schools (ESN).

How to be a true ally to Black Lives Matter: 

So what can you do if you want to help? Actor and writer Obioma Uguola, has spoken to friends who are unsure how to show their solidarity for the movement.

From recognising the existence of anti-blackness throughout the world and acknowledging the United Kingdom’s long history of atrocious crimes, to realising that racism is not an American problem, but one that lives here too, here’s some tips on how to be a true ally to Black Lives Matter.

Racism in the UK & the US

Akala’s accapella on racism in the UK and the US woven through his personal journey: Fire in the Booth part 1


Further Reading

Akala Great Reads YouTube

I Can’t Breathe…Dawn Butler MP Structural and systemic racism can exist without individual acts of racism and it is literally killing us. #BLMUK #COVID19 #BlackLivesMatter

Layla F. Saad – Me and White Supremacy

Reni Eddo-Lodge – Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race

Reni Eddo-Lodge (@renireni) · Twitter

David Olusoga – Black and British: A forgotten History

David Olusoga (@DavidOlusoga) · Twitter

Akala – Native the ruins of Empire

Akala (@akalamusic) · Twitter

Afua Hirsch – Brit(ish) Afua Hirsch (@afuahirsch) · Twitter

Robin DiAngelo – White Fragility

Ibram X Kendi – How to Be an Antiracist

The Good Immigrant – book anthology edited by Nikesh Shukla Nikesh Shukla (@nikeshshukla) · Twitter Equal Justice Initiative (@eji_org) · Twitter

Rachel Cargle –

Rachel Ricketts –

Jen Winston –

Liz Plank –

The Other Box –

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

‘The racist legacies of the past are woven into the fabric of our present’ by Tamsin Ssembajjo Quigley

Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr.

Slay In Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené

Many of these are also available as audiobooks; an abridged version of Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other is currently free to listen to on BBC Sounds.

Further viewing

13th (2016) is a documentary about racial injustice and hypocrisy in the American prison system

Race Equality through economic and social justice