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.
Anoshe Waheed, head of people
So many Black people have been killed at the hands of police in America and elsewhere across the globe. But the murder of George Floyd just over a year ago captured the attention of the world in a way and on a scale that I had never seen before. People who had previously been unaware of the fact this has been happening for years started to pay attention. The fact that it took a man losing his life in the way that George Floyd did is tragic.
It had a big impact on me personally. I am a Brown, Pakistani woman, my family is Muslim and we all experienced racism growing up. But what I have realised and have come to terms with over the last year is that I still have a degree of privilege. Being a victim of racism myself has meant that I haven’t always been vocal when people of colour have been discriminated against, attacked or killed. But this shouldn’t be the case. I have to speak out, and use whatever position, voice, power I have to stand alongside all ethnic minority people and communities.
I’ve found that in the last year there have been more opportunities for me to do this because so many people, regardless of their ethnicity, are thinking and talking about racism now. People from ethnic minorities have also felt able to be more open and honest about their experiences of racism. I’ve particularly noticed this among Frontline staff, and I feel proud to work for an organisation where everyone has pulled together and stepped into action with such commitment.
As head of people, I’ve been thinking a lot about our approach to racial diversity and inclusion, how to educate myself and how we can educate our staff. We’ve worked really closely with our employees, putting mechanisms in place for our ethnic minority staff to share experiences and feedback and have set up a mentoring scheme to support career progression.
We’ve also been thinking about how to educate our colleagues, but in a way that is active and not passive. Frontline has committed to being an anti-racist organisation and have an evolving action plan outlining what we want to change. Some of my Black colleagues worked with us on a video to educate others on microaggressions, which was a hugely brave and generous thing of them to do. We’ve also changed our training and workshops for staff because we wanted them to be move from being learning and reflection to something more active. They will now focus on how we can proactively work to dismantle racism, and on anti-discrimination and allyship in action.
We still have lots of work to do – I don’t think this work ever stops. I think the most important thing is to always come from a place of humility, and to really listen to people. Listen to their experiences and their truth. Learn from them, and then be an ally to them. This means being active, in however small a way, however small the steps, because without action we will never be anti-racist.