'Consigning racism and prejudice to history' - Council outlines plans for stepping up city's response to Black Lives Matters

A review of Edinburgh's links to slavery and colonialism and a series of work strands to enhance diversity and inclusion across the City at the heart of a Council-wide response to Black Lives Matter.

Following calls from elected members in June to see the Council strengthen it's commitment to tackling discrimination and response to BAME issues, officers have started work on an action plan which was approved by the Policy and Sustainability Committee today (Thursday 23 July). 

The plan features work to appoint a panel to lead a series of workshops in the coming months, with the aim of reviewing features like street signs and statues, the Council's employment policy and procedures and projects looking at diversity in schools. 

This independent Review Group will develop parameters and a workplan to be presented to Council with support from the Equalities Champion and Equalities Working Group.

The report also outlined the strengthened approach to equalities and the Council's commitment to develop a policy on Equalities, Diversity and Human Rights.  

Commenting, Council Leader Adam McVey said:

Edinburgh is one of the most inclusive, diverse and welcoming cities in the world yet we must always strive to do better. Our ambition is to consign racism and prejudice to history. There is absolutely no place for intolerance in Scotland's Capital City in 2020 and the Black Lives Movement has provided us with a real opportunity to have an open and honest conversation with ourselves and with our communities.

This report offered ideas for enhancing diversity where we can and I'm looking forward to the appointment of the Independent Review Group with emphasis on imput and leadership from the wider BAME community.  I want to see us consider all options for rectifying the glorification of slavery and colonialism in our streets and for supporting diversity in our city, right across the Council and in each of our schools.

Depute Leader Cammy Day added:

This is an important and timely piece of work which will help us to build on our equalities programme, making sure we take action where we can in response to lessons learned from the Black Lives Matters movement. It’s important we listen to and act upon the views of the BAME community.

In recent months we've already committed to review our museum and gallery collections through the lens of BAME history. We've also put a temporary plaque in place to more accurately tell the history of the statue of Henry Dundas, a man who had links to the slave trade. We'll also look at how we can highlight this side of Edinburgh's history to our young people, parents and teaching staff so that they have the support and tools they need to make black history a core part of school life. 

Steps like these can help us understand the wrongs of the past and dismantle their harmful and persistent legacy in present day racism, so that prejudice can finally become a thing of the past.


Published: July 23rd 2020