Brighton Town Hall and the Brighton Centre are being lit up in purple in support of the World Against Racism day of action on Saturday and the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Sunday.
The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination takes place annually on 21 March, marking the date that police in Sharpeville, South Africa opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid in 1960.
More than 60 years on, racial discrimination continues worldwide.
The theme of this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is ‘youth standing up against racism’.
Over the past year we have seen an amazing stand taken by young people in our communities against racial discrimination.
We’re supporting a number of community virtual events to mark the day this year, and lead councillors took part in Brighton & Hove Stand Up To Racism’s online event on Wednesday 17 March.
In response to the Black Lives Matter protests in the city last summer following the killing of George Floyd and concerns about the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on some BME communities, we made a pledge to become an anti-racist council.
Since making the pledge, our work towards becoming an anti-racist council includes:
- launching an anti-racism strategy for schools and allocating £100,000 towards its delivery
- awarding £25,000 to Black, Asian and minority ethnic community and voluntary groups to empower and support the well-being of Black, Asian and ethnic minority residents
- appointing Black and minority ethnic residents to two of the council’s decision-making committees
- setting up a community-led advisory group to act as critical friend to the council and guide the development of the council’s anti-racism strategy
- allocating funding for a BME civic leadership programme to increase BME people in positions of power
- developing a public art in Lewes Road to celebrate the city’s diverse history
- creating new roles in the council to increase the diversity of our workforce
Challenging racial inequality
Councillor Steph Powell, the Green Party’s joint chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture committee, said: “Our pledge to be an anti-racist council means we are committed to using our resources and changing what we do to actively dismantle racist structures and challenge racial inequality.
“We recognise the importance of shining the spotlight on our own organisation and changing our own systems.
“We are proud of our status as a City of Sanctuary, building a culture of hospitality and welcome for refugees including those seeking sanctuary from war and persecution.
“There is still a long way to go but we are fully committed to continuing this action and working with others to become an anti-racist city.
“We owe it to our current and future generations of young people to do everything in our power to become truly anti-racist and tackle racial discrimination wherever it exists.”
Councillor Amanda Evans, the Labour opposition lead for Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture, said: “We fully support the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
"Covid-19 has had a disproportionate impact on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic residents and shone a light on the inequalities endured by them locally as well as nationally.
"We are committed to the council’s anti-racism strategy and to working with our residents, communities and organisation to make Brighton & Hove an anti-racist city.”
Councillor Dee Simson, the Conservative lead for Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture, said: “With our city’s landmarks being brightly lit up this weekend for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, it is a reminder that our own council must become a beacon for anti-racism to set an example that our communities can look up to.
“There is much work that the council needs to do to meet this standard and the council is certainly not there at the moment. There will need to be a concerted effort from councillors over coming months to live up to the city’s stated anti-racist policy.”