Updated: Mar 20
On Saturday 20th June, over 200 people from across the Hayes community came together at Barra Hall Park for the Hillingdon Black Lives Matter gathering: to take a stand against racism. The gathering, organised by Nazia and Charlene, featured speeches from a range of community leaders and activists who each spoke about the deep-rooted racism they have witnessed. The first speaker was John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, highlighted Class inequalities are racial inequalities. He called for justice for Grenfell tower, and justice for the wind rush generation. He also called for action on racial inequality in education; to recruit more black teachers, and to reform the curriculum so as to represent and reflect a full British history that doesn’t wash over the issues of slavery, empire and colonialism. Wally Kennedy of Hillingdon Trade Union Congress talked about his experience of racism as an Irish man in the 1960s and emphasised the importance of solidarity to combat racism. This message was echoed by Balwinder Rana who said “no justice no peace, bringing solidarity to racism"! She also reiterated the need to teach black history in schools.
Cllr Ali Milani emphasised that racism is not just an American problem noting that "Black females and males are 20% less likely in British universities to get 2:1 or 1st." Drawing on Marcus Rashford’s campaign to get children fed over the school holidays, Kiri Kankhwende concluded with a powerful message: change can happen! The community’s solidarity during the event encouraged many locals to bravely stand and share their stories. The organisers were “amazed and proud in how people stood together to respect each other in listening to what is a sensitive topic”. Many were moved, emotional and speechless, but overall welcomed being educated on their neighbours’ challenges and experiences. Those who shared their stories were particularly thankful for the event; they expressed how important the day was to them. In a final piece, to give their respects and support to Black Lives Matter, the community took a kneel for 8minutes 46seconds in a homage to George Floyd, which ignited the series of black solidarity rallies and public outcry for racial equality across the world. Moving forward, organisers of BLM Hillingdon are looking to further expand education on black history and build lines of communication between different groups within the Hillingdon community. Further, they want to facilitate change by hosting events which provide a platform to those who want to share their stories; for members of the community to share the vibrancy and beauty of their different cultures and backgrounds. They are calling for Hillingdon Council to work with them combatting racism by reinstating their Black History Month campaign which they removed in 2007. To learn more about BLM Hillingdon and stay up to date with upcoming events, follow BLM Hillingdon on: Facebook: BLMHillingdon Instagram: BLMHillingdon Twitter: BLMHillingdon