We have held two discussions on this important issue and about 50 people altogether actually took part. The first one was on Windrush day and the second a couple of weeks later. The first meeting focussed on whether there is racism in the faith communities.
The discussions were very interesting a youth worker suggested that it was not so much that there is racism in church but in the way church is done and this might challenge people from an ethnic minority. In one church to our knowledge the black congregation all sit at the rear of the church with white people in front, even though there is a black minster.
The Church has not yet publicly acknowledged their role in the slave trade although it was also agreed that the church was in the forefront of the abolition of slavery. It was suggested that saying sorry was not that useful if there is still a racist attitude. Black people should be encouraged to get involved in the leadership within churches as much of the leadership is white.
Talking about Islam there are also some racist problems-black reverts didn’t practice quite the same sort of worship as the Imams of Croydon so had opened their own Mosques. We need to heal wounds and remember that a person is a human being and try to overcome the institutional abuse of humanity that is still here. People's emotional wellbeing needs to be cared for -we need to persevere and befriend people.
We all need to improve our relationships with others. Sometimes comments do not extend from racism and not only white people are racist.
Some recompense still needs to be made to the Windrush group who were told they were not citizens after being here for many years. The experience of African Black people is different to the experience of other Black people and integration is not the same for all people. In the breakout groups of the first meeting these were the key messages:
It is a human issue and poor behaviour leads to the ‘ism’, we should appreciate differences and try to understand differences, look at ourselves and think what this problem means to each of us, People should cooperate with each other and put their ego to one side, different age groups and backgrounds should work together such as when many groups got together for the Mayors entry not the New Year’s Day parade. ‘In Croydon our Hearts beat’
In the second meeting we talked more widely about Croydon and what we can do, the Government has brought in laws about Hate Crime and yet it still happens. The feedback groups thought that, we must ‘call it out’ and have diverse people on interview panels and other important areas so that there is positive discrimination. We should be an ‘upstander’ and look at educating children to a better way of thinking.
The main thing that came out of both meetings was that we must talk to each other and cooperate with each other. We also heard that the schools in Croydon are spending time looking at the whole curriculum and ways in which it can be changed to encompass the impotent black lives through history and in the present day and not just have a token of Black History month.