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28 May 2021

One year on: Being anti-racist is a start, but it’s not enough

This week marks the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. Another life taken by a racially motivated act of violence.

This week marks the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. Another life taken by a racially motivated act of violence. Over the past year, we as a charity have been reflecting and making changes to ensure we are anti-racist in all we do, as individuals, organisationally, and as a member of the social work community. You’ll hear from social workers, fellows and staff, as they share their reflections.

Over the past year, the willingness to engage and share experiences, the community action, the intelligence and strength of Black people during this period of exceptional emotional toil, is something I will not forget. Today we say ‘we will neither tolerate or stand for this’.

The murder of George Floyd, so devastating, so public, captured on camera and circulated worldwide acted as a catalyst to bring people together to support Black Lives Matter. The fact that we have to take a stand in 2021 despite the civil rights movement and abolition of apartheid and say we will not tolerate harm, violence and murder of Black people; that a person’s value or opportunities should not be determined by their skin colour, shows the deep divisions within our society.

And yet the Black Lives Matter movement shone a light of such velocity, that as a sector, we could not ignore the deficiencies being highlighted. I’m proud of the openness that the sector has shown. We’ve acknowledged the things that we need to do better. We as social workers have used our voices to unite and support Black children and families, colleagues and friends.

Being anti-racist is something the social work profession has always privileged, However, being anti-racist is a start, but it’s not enough.

It does not offer justice beyond a specific individual, group or organisation. We need to think about how we tackle and challenge the structures and systems that exist, that actively prevent Black and minority ethnic people from having an equal footing.

We need to understand the histories of these structures and institutions, and the lived experience of Black and minority ethnic people. To do that requires an openness and an honesty about how these structures were designed to exclude Black people and how they continue to offer safety and security to those who are white.

So there is still more we can do. Almost a third of the children supported by social workers are from minority ethnic backgrounds. Across the sector we need to ensure our workforce is as diverse as the people we work with. We need to keep having those conversations about race and difference, privilege and oppression in our day to day work. If we all work together to do this, real social change can be made for the children and families we support.

Read all our blogs from the anniversary of George Floyd here.