Tackling racism and inequality – Time for change

 

 

Leap is joining other Active Partnerships in committing to being an anti-racist organisation and tackling inequality. Today we are standing together for our #RacialEqualityCommitment.

A year on from the death of George Floyd, Leap (Bucks and Milton Keynes Active Partnership) Director, Mark Ormerod gives a personal reflection on racial inequality and Leap’s journey in tackling racism and racial inequality.

The murder of George Floyd ignited a movement that has made me think harder and see clearer the issues and prejudices, unconscious or otherwise experienced by people who are non-white. Along with my fellow CEOs and Partnership Directors, the Active Partnership Network has been through a transformative journey. We have completed a series of workshops that have really shaken us, emotionally moved us, most of all challenged us about preconceptions, misunderstanding and grave inequalities.

John Amechi OBE spoke to us. He spoke in a certain way, with clarity, and sensitivity, with pitch and tone that was mesmerising, a sermon, not a lecture. I think he is an incredible man. My Black colleagues spoke about the day-to-day prejudices; never dare leaving a shop without a receipt, because despite the nice suit or the GB tracksuit, if you are black there is a chance you will be stopped. Most of all Sadie Mason MBE talked about a history of harassment and prejudice, blatant racism and sexism, the glass ceiling and the third floor of No.2 Upper Woburn Place. Sadie’s experiences moved me most, in fact moved me to tears. Why? Because I like Sadie a lot, she is a colleague, she’s genuine, she’s smart, and she’s helped me over the years; our careers have parallels, but only now do I realise her journey has been significantly more challenging, and that is simply not fair.

How have I changed? I have tried to create better opportunities and equality where I can. Along with Leap’s Chair Sue Imbriano appointed Leap’s first Black Board member Yvette Thomas, as Chair of SportsAid Eastern appointed our first Black trustee Jason Sinclair, as Chair of the Bucks VCSE Recovery Board recruited our first Black Board member Jacqueline Roberts, and at Bedford Blues Foundation as Senior Independent Director currently lead the search for our first non-white Director.

A key tenet of Leap’s work is focused on challenging stubborn inequalities through targeted work and investment, using our insight and intelligence from partners with the right knowledge and the right networks. Moving our Communities funding has been used to make a difference in the right area for the people who will benefit most.

So a year after George Floyd’s death and Black Lives Matter, have I changed, yes I have, but in truth I didn’t have to travel far. The real job is educating others further from realisation that their biases, that their unconscious prejudices need to alter; they need to see beyond a person’s skin colour, or their sex, or their disability and instead see the person, see the child, see the mother, see the heritage, understand their challenge, appreciate the inequality., and extend the hand of friendship,

As a 50+ year old, I have great hope for future generations who seem to have greater awareness and a more developed perception of right and wrong; possibly as the world is a much more connected place than when I was a teenager. Today’s young people are far better informed and see activism as part of their identity and brilliantly skilful at making change happen not just locally but globally. Being anti-racist should be the default-setting for everyone until racism becomes a thing children only read about in history books.

With my niece Bowie, Cape Town, 2019

 

Leap’s commitment to inclusive language click here

Leap’s Equality and Diversity Policy statement is HERE

Learn more about work and our long-term commitment and priorities, subscribe to our newsletter HERE