Councillor Jackie Taylor has led tributes from Sandwell councillors in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign against racism – and we at Think Sandwell would like to add our support too.
The campaign has been at the centre of mass protests across the United States, triggered by George Floyd’s death at the hands of police.
Marches in solidarity have also taken place in Birmingham, London, across the UK and the world this week, with more planned.
Councillor Taylor said the killing of George Floyd had shocked many people into action.
She said: “Firstly, my deepest condolences to the family and friends and all who knew Mr Floyd.
“He has died too soon but not in vain and we cannot let this man’s death just go by.
“This hit me in a way it hit many Black people across the world but it is not an issue only for Black people, it is an issue for ALL people.
“There is a wonderful quote: ‘We said Black lives matter, we never said only Black lives matter – we know all lives matter – but Black lives matter too’.
“Since his killing I have witnessed Black and White protesting together in America, this country and across the world. I have had White people ask me ‘what should I do?’
“Stand up to Racism – when racism rears its ugly head – speak out and do the right thing. Be open to including people from various backgrounds. The world will be a better place.
“Mr Floyd’s death shook me and many people across the world and has shown how Black and White people can stand shoulder to shoulder against something fundamentally wrong.
“Let us all continue to stand together and build a society based on equality, justice and fairness.”
Councillor Taylor became Sandwell’s first African Caribbean woman councillor when she was elected in 2014 and is now Cabinet Member for sustainable transport.
She trained as a nurse and then as a social worker and said she had her own experience of inequalities in both systems.
She said: “I am always happy to share my story, in and out of politics, because the first thing people need to take on board is the lived experiences of Black people.
“But this is not about me, it is about social, structural and institutional racism. Enough is enough, it’s time for change.”
Council Leader Councillor Yvonne Davies said: “We have watched events in America with absolute horror.
“Here in Sandwell, I’m delighted to say, we are a very diverse community, with 40 per cent ethnic minority population – almost three times the national average.
“I am very proud of that and I know that the vast majority of people here behave towards each other with respect and kindness, regardless of creed, colour or religion and that is a good code to live your life by.”
The Local Government Association (LGA) issued this joint statement from the Chairman, Group Leaders & Equalities Lead: “We stand with councils in the UK and the world in their work to tackle racism. We must all take part in the much-needed conversation on how to confront & end it. #LocalGov is listening.”
“Fairness, equality and social justice flows through everything local government does. The diversity in our country is what brings the richness to all of our communities.
“The Local Government Association stands with all of our councils in the UK and across the world in their work to tackle racism.
“Local government is wholly committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, reflecting the communities we serve and we will do all we can to ensure we continue to be at the forefront of confronting racism and discrimination in whatever form it shows itself.
“It’s vital that we are all part of the much-needed conversation on how we can all confront and end racism. Local government is listening.
“Racism has no place in our communities or in our lives.”
From the Independent: How to support the Black Lives Matter movement.