Today marks the second anniversary of the racist murder of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer.
George Floyd’s murder reinvigorated the global Black Lives Matter movement for racial justice and shone more light on structural racism in the UK and here in Oxford.
Thousands of people from across our city took to parks, open spaces, and gathered in our High Street in solidarity with the demands of the Black Lives Matters movement and the Rhodes Must Fall movement. Support came from across the whole community in Oxford, showing the wide support for effective action to tackle racial inequality.
This was yet another moment of reckoning for the government and institutions, including Oxford City Council, to examine their role in tackling structural racism and the push for equality.
The council developed its Anti-Racism Charter, its commitment to ensuring tackling racism in all its forms, and part of the council’s work and its aims and objectives. The Anti-Racism Charter was developed with communities across our city and followed many hours of dialogue with organisations and individuals. The charter is a live document and will be reviewed in partnership with the community to measure the council’s progress in challenging racism. Alongside this more work is being done to improve representation in the council’s workforce. The council’s Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy outlines how the council will take this work forward.
Oxford City Council is reporting on its Ethnicity Pay Gap, alongside its Gender Pay Gap, even though as a council, there is no legal obligation for this reporting to take place. The council believes it has a duty to be transparent on this issue. It's only through reporting on the Ethnicity Pay Gap that we can make the council a more inclusive, equal place to work and encourage places of work across our city to do the same.
The council’s Community Grants Fund, now known as the Community Impact Fund, has been restructured so that representative community organisations are able to access council funding in a more user friendly way.
These steps show progress but we acknowledge that much more work must be done. In 2021, Oxford City Council had its most representative Cabinet ever – with three women of colour appointed to the cabinet for the first time ever. In part this happened because of the work done by the Black Lives Matters movement. This year, Councillor Chewe Munkonge, an experienced councillor of more than six years, was appointed Deputy Leader of the Council. In doing so, Councillor Munkonge becomes the first Black and African heritage Deputy Leader of the council in the institutions history.
These milestones are vital because representation matters. We must continue to build on these achievements to make sure more, meaningful, change takes place.