It is now one year since the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was thrown into the harbour during the Black Lives Matter protests. To mark this occasion, and look at practical steps we can take to challenge racism and bias, I held a meeting with some of Bristol’s most active campaigners for equality.
It was both uplifting and challenging to speak to so many people who are determined to create tangible change.
Over the last year I have been working with a lot of local groups, activists and businesses, discussing practical ways we can make Bristol a more equal place to live for people of colour. There are a lot of inspiring things going on in our city, but racism is still entrenched in our society.
In this meeting, we discussed what needs to happen for ethnic minority communities to hold more power, and be actively part of reforming the institutions which have great influence over all our lives.
Poverty and deprivation are still too often drawn on race lines, with Black and other ethnic minority communities significantly disadvantaged. There are already many people working so hard to overcome poverty and economic inequality. But we need allies and institutions to come up with real long-term plans with tangible commitments.
As Member of Parliament for Bristol West, my responsibility is to both challenge the government and support my constituents in Bristol. In this work I am committed to dismantling the structures that are built on racism and underpin discrimination.
I believe that it is important to bring together people from all ethnic groups and cultures to unite our city in a shared purpose of ending structural racism. I welcome views and ideas from constituents about how we can do this together and what we need to do to achieve this. You can still give me your ideas using the survey on my website – anonymously if you prefer – and let me know how we can change Bristol for the better.
In years to come, I hope we look back and see the (long-overdue) removal of Colston’s name from city landmarks as something which led to much wider change.