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.
Claire Robinson, Fellowship officer
The North East, where I live, is one of the least ethnically diverse regions in England. Because of this, it is extremely important to me that I find ways to speak to my sons about difference, diversity and privilege. I also want to provide them with rich and diverse life experiences; and that they develop skills in empathy, curiosity, and have a strong sense of social justice.
The murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd at the hands of police in the US, opened the door for some of the most difficult conversations I have had, and continue to have, with my sons.
One evening, I was presented with the question, “Did George Floyd die because of the lethal amount of fentanyl in his system?”
The feeling that came over me upon hearing my sons’ question was one of heavy sadness and frustration. However, to shut down this conversation was not an option. One thing I have recognised this year is that the ‘cancel culture’ developing in our society is harming our ability to receive and hear multiple perspectives. Simply shutting down, does nothing to change or challenge.
We as parents, must pay attention to the messages that our children receive, stay reliably informed, learn with and from each other, and be prepared to hold space for difficult conversations.
And there have been times over the past year where I simply haven’t had an answer for my children. I have had to educate myself too by reading, watching videos, listening to podcasts, and talking to friends. With so many different sources of information available and countless different opinions and reactions being posted on social media platforms, how do we help young people to distinguish between facts and fabrication? How can our young people grow into truly anti-racist adults?
I am involved in community organising both professionally, as a Frontline Fellowship officer, and also in my spare time. My sons have joined me in supporting many different communities and campaigns from challenging Islamophobia on public transport, to improving mental health services, to reducing stigma for people who use drugs.
As I look past the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, and into the year ahead, it is essential that I continue to help the young people in my life find answers to hard questions. My hope is that they continue to remain curious, take part in discussions, and form their own identities as allies as they work to become anti-racist.
Take a look at Claire’s recommended resources.