Black lives matter

East London Humanists support demands for action against racism and for greater awareness. Opinion piece Barking and Dagenham Post 18.6.20.

Why are there so few black Olympic swimming champions? 

After all, black athletes excel in many other sports. The question is one of many considered by geneticist and broadcaster Adam Rutherford in How to argue with a racist’ published earlier this year.  Adam is also a patron of Humanists UK. He demolishes one old fallacy, that it’s because black people have heavy bones. He points instead to the strong correlation between lack of achievement and historic lack of access to pools.

Yet the ‘heavy bones’ myth is still believed even by some well-meaning liberals.  It’s just one example of many engrained false notions about racial difference and physical and intellectual ability which don’t withstand scientific scrutiny.

Of course, all lives matter and inequality is rife. But Black Lives Matter confronts the particular scourge which non-whites still encounter on a daily basis, an additional layer of grief and difficulty suffered for no reason other than skin colour. The roots are deep. Records show slave owners lived throughout this land, including several in Barking.  We should all be concerned that black Londoners are many times more likely to be stopped and searched than white. And the disproportionate toll that Covid-19 has taken on BAME communities, particularly here in East London, should be investigated with the urgency it deserves.

We have not been ‘all in it together’ during the Covid 19 crisis. We must make sure we emerge with greater awareness of and willingness to address prejudice and inequality.

Paul Kaufman
Chair East London Humanists

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