George Floyd’s murder sparked a movement for change – the government isn’t listening

<p>It has been a year since the death of George Floyd</p> (Alamy/PA)

It has been a year since the death of George Floyd


It has been a year since the brutal murder of George Floyd, causing a global outpouring of an anger and grief.

His cries of "I can’t breathe" shocked the world. That could have been my brother, my nephew, that could have been me.

His death sparked a powerful movement that spread to workplaces, schools and onto the streets of our country. It’s made people reflect on our society and ask questions about our history.

In the same year, Black, Asian and ethnic minority people have been unequally impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, as Baroness Lawrence’s recent report for Labour revealed. Our communities were left overexposed, under-protected and overlooked.

The events of 2020 marked a turning point in the minds of British people. Individuals and businesses began to reflect on the racial inequalities still prevalent across British society. Unfortunately, the government has completely ignored the public’s call for change.

Their response to the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement has been to establish a Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities which downplayed the role of structural and institutional racism, blamed ethnic minorities for their own disadvantages and suggested that there was a "new story" to tell about slavery.

Instead of harnessing this nationwide movement as a force for good, Ministers have spent the past year telling us they are interested in inequalities of class and geography, not race or ethnicity. But the truth is they have no interest in ending inequality at all.

Many people start off in life from a position of systemic disadvantage, whether that be of class or race – or a combination of the two. It is our job as politicians to abolish inequality and establish a level playing field so that everyone can achieve the best for themselves.

But we need the whole country behind us. I know people believe everyone should have a fair start in life and I see how Conservative governments have lessened the opportunities for many. Low pay, insecure work, overcrowded housing – all have had an impact during the pandemic.

Instead of tackling these problems, the Conservatives are intent on bringing in new policing laws that will unequally impact Black people via a push to increase stop-and-search powers, and a voter ID law that would lock millions of us out of democracy. Where they choose to sow division, Labour chooses unity.

We will not ignore the ambition of British people to build a better society for everyone. We have committed to introducing a Race Equality Act shaped by lived experience. That is why, today, on the first anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, I am in my constituency speaking to young people about their experiences of the pandemic, the government’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement and their hopes for the future.

This is the first of what I hope will be many conversations about equality and aspiration to shape our Race Equality Act. This summer, I want to listen to as many people as possible about their experiences of inequality and what they think needs to change to create a better society.

I want to make sure our Race Equality Act does everything possible to end structural racism and inequalities that have increased during the pandemic and long before.

I know that together, we can harness the ambition for change which began a year ago and make sure that Black Lives really do matter.

Marsha de Cordova is the shadow women and equalities secretary and the Labour MP for Battersea

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