The Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF) held a virtual meeting last weekend to discuss whether racism, and particularly Islamophobia, still militate against BAME and Muslim communities becoming engaged in the democratic process. It was addressed by Lord Simon Woolley, founder of Operation Black Vote. A recording of the meeting is available on the MPF Facebook page.
Lord Simon Woolley set out the view that the BAME community is fighting an international pandemic of institutional racism which tolerates BAME people suffering from Covid in disproportionately high numbers and in which institutional racism leads to the death of black men on the streets in the USA and to more incidents of stop and search in the UK.
The death of George Floyd – under the knee of one US law enforcement officer, but at the hands of the institutionally racist US establishment – was dismissed by one of the most senior BAME politicians in the country. Home Secretary Priti Patel said that the Black Lives Matter movement is “dreadful”.
“We have campaigned for people who look like Priti Patel to be in office for them to turn round and say the movements that we belong to are no good,” said Lord Woolley. “She couldn’t have been where she is if we hadn’t campaigned for race equality, for people like her to get into positions of power. We didn’t campaign for her to be in power for her to then rubbish everything that we are fighting for. It’s heart-breaking.”
Lord Woolley gave a positive message for the future. “We must say to ourselves that we must inspire and encourage a new generation of activists and politicians, of lawyers and doctors and schoolteachers, to confront racism… but [we must] inspire a generation to be brilliant, to be successful.”
Muslim Professionals Forum Chair, Cllr Khaled Noor, said:
“Lord Woolley set off a fantastic discussion – explaining the racist legacy of colonialism and how difficult it is to emerge from that legacy. We still have a great deal of work to do to overturn that legacy and progress towards equality across the world. I urge everyone interested in this subject to watch the discussion.”