Black History Month

A note from Wycombe Labour's BAME Officer, Sabrina Jamil

This year the celebration of Black History Month was more important than ever. Through COVID-19, we have witnessed key workers who are more likely on average to be from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority-Ethnic) backgrounds, women or born from outside of the UK (ONS Keyworkers, 2020) – be the backbone of our country. Yet, Black communities have been most devastated by this pandemic. 

For years the devastating austerity programme led by the Conservatives, entrenched racial inequality within our country. In 2019, the UN expert on racism concluded that the Windrush scandal was a “glaring example” of pertinent discrimination in the Tories immigration policy (Guardian, 2019). Even before the pandemic, the Equality and Human Rights Commission estimated that by 2022 Black households would have seen a 5% loss in income due to austerity measures, double the loss for white households.

Such inequalities were further highlighted in the injustices of Grenfell and the loss of Belly Mujinga. In the latter – a black mother, wife and railway worker lost her life after being spat on by a man claiming to have COVID-19 with the British Transport Police stating they would not pursue any charges. In a report written by Baroness Lawrence, mother of Stephen Lawrence, she explains how “Black, Asian and minority ethnic people have been over-exposed, under-protected, stigmatised and overlooked during this pandemic - and this has been generations in the making.”

Over the summer, the protests we witnessed organised by Black activists across the country were a chance for many who have experienced such racisms to demand an impassioned plea for justice. In High Wycombe, more than 600 people gathered together, peacefully and socially distanced on the Rye, with locals from African, Caribbean and Asian communities exchanging heart-warming stories in solidarity with one another. 

Four months later, with the movement no longer being reported across our social media timelines and on the news, Black History Month provides an ample opportunity for everyone to reflect and recognise the contributions made by Black communities. 

For those of us within Wycombe Labour who may have not experienced such racisms directly, this small newsletter I hope provides us an opening, for us to consider how we may demonstrate support as allies as well as celebrating the achievements of Black individuals we know.