Liverpool’s first black female mayor speaks out against ‘unconscious bias’

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Liverpool’s first black female mayor has said “unconscious bias” left some people angry she has the “audacity” to do the job.

Joanne Anderson spoke at the Liverpool Against Racism conference on Tuesday, almost a year on from her election in May 2021.

She said: “People are really angry that I have had the audacity to say I’ll do the job. It’s unconscious bias on their part, I can see it on their faces.

“I know that’s how they feel – ‘Who does she think she is?'”

Ms Anderson took over from previous mayor Joe Anderson, who is no relation, following his arrest as part of a probe into alleged bribery and corruption.

She said she hoped other black women would follow in her footsteps.

“It’s all for nothing if we all go back to normal after me,” she said.

“I might be the first female and black elected mayor of this city, I absolutely don’t want to be the last.

“Representation in politics is really important.”

Joanne Anderson
Ms Anderson was elected mayor almost one year ago (Peter Byrne/PA)

Ms Anderson said on the whole, the reaction to her election had been positive.

She said: “I generally feel the city is quite behind me and want me to do well.”

The mayor spoke about racist treatment from teachers in school and “micro-aggressions”, such as being followed round supermarkets by security.

She said: “I hate being followed round Tesco. Now I’m the mayor, I’m not getting up on a Saturday morning to go robbing, am I?

“It drives me mad, but it is different when you’re in a position of power.

“I get less wound up about micro-aggressions because I’m in the position to do something about it, my words have impact.”

Speakers including historian David Olusoga, presenter Charlene White and former boxer Tony Bellew were also at the conference, set up by Ms Anderson in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

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