“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced” – James Baldwin
Amid the turmoil of the global pandemic and protests on our streets, we’ve seen great changes in community support, unwavering care for one another, and even stronger commitment to do more to support the Black Lives Matter movement. However, we continue to notice attitudes which resist the change that this crisis is calling for, and attempts to block progress in what will, without doubt, be one of the defining issues of our times.
MIN recognises the impact of structural racism – and racist institutions – upon members of our community, especially on the mental health of those going through the asylum process. We reiterate our commitment to equality of opportunity as we support our members to grow in confidence, inspire others and become important role models within, and outside of, our community. We believe dialogue is crucial to create understanding amongst the community and deliver this message throughout our services, including outreach with children and young people exploring issues around asylum, migration and inequality. As we consider the ways in which MIN can do more to support radical and much-needed change in all levels of our society, we encourage everyone in our community to reflect on how they may be able to play their part. Although Scotland has a reputation for being a welcoming and friendly country, we can’t ignore the historically racist actions and attitudes which continue to poison our society today.
Recently, racial inequality has manifested in the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has on black and minority ethnic communities, as well as in further shocking evidence of police brutality and complicity. As we mourn George Floyd and other victims of police brutality, it is impossible to ignore the similarly tragic death of Sheku Bayoh, which occurred after he was restrained by 9 police officers in Kirkcaldy. MIN welcomes the new inquiry being led to investigate the circumstances leading up to his death and encourages you to join us by adding your voice to the campaign to seek justice for #ShekuBayoh, and find out more about other campaigns we support which seek to rectify injustices and inequalities; #EndHotelDetention #StopLockChangeEvictions #LiftTheBan #FamiliesTogether #StandUpForAsylum.
There are many books, films, reports and resources which can guide your understanding and open doors to greater awareness and the need to take an actively anti-racist stance (please see the link below for MIN staff recommendations). Now more than ever we should all work together, to open our hearts and minds to the problem of racial inequality. For everyone who is playing their part in the struggle to oppose racism, we want you to know that MIN is here with you. We’ll never give up in the fight for equality, fairness, and a brighter future.
If you can, we urge you to have conversations on the issue. There are so many ways in which these can take place: whether it’s with family, friends, colleagues or larger institutions, your voice can make a difference. There are many ways to discuss matters respectfully and avoid conflict, and although differences of opinions are common, if an opinion is harmful and/or disrespectful you should feel confident to challenge it. Be mindful that the BLM movement is often referred to as ‘a marathon and not a sprint’. It’s unlikely you can change someone’s mind in an instant, but making the effort to respectfully disagree, or point out flaws in someone’s argument, can give them food for thought to reassess their view.