Residents in Hemel Hempstead have taken action in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement following the killing of unarmed black man George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Thousands of protestors filled the town centre on both June 2 and June 13, showing unity against police brutality and racism.
Carl Blood, an African American who has recently moved to Hemel Hempstead, has also experienced racism in his life and said that seeing how many people joined the protests in town brought warmth to his heart.
He mentioned: “I’ve experienced racism since I was 13 years old. I’ve been cursed out, pulled over countless times, car searched for no reason, all by police and never given a real reason for the stop.
“I’m from Charleston, South Carolina so even though it’s an amazing place, it’s still normal for me to go downtown and see the KKK standing on the corner having a rally so with that racism is definitely alive and well. I’ve been called the N word a few times as well.
“Honestly, it’s nothing surprising what’s going on in the US right now. It’s been going on for decades now and In the African American community police being racist is normal.
“Some are far removed from it depending on where they live but trust me when I say most African American men have a story of a cop doing something for no reason at all.”
Unfortunately, racism in the UK still exists although people believe it is more subtle compared to the US.
Some have responded to the “Black Lives Matter” slogan with “All Lives Matter”, the phrase has been seen as a criticism of the BLM movement.
Talking about this, Carl added: “All Lives Matters people are disconnected from empathy to any particular group other than themselves.
If my house is on fire and I need help, it’s unwise to start saying “my house matters too”. I mean yes of course your house matters, but is it on fire? No.
“Coming here in Hemel I definitely didn’t think people even cared enough about what happens to blacks in America. But I’ve learned that racism is definitely a thing here as well it’s just more discreet.
“Just seeing so many people care about one another and so many of us young people leading the way during the protests was beautiful. Having each other backs even across cultural differences shows the best in us as humans. God bless Hemel Hempstead.”
Many local people have been supporting the movement through social media as well, by writing posts, sharing images and suggesting ways to fight racism.
One person wrote: “For those of us who never considered ourselves racist but have been a bit on the ignorant side of white privilege, now is the time to educate ourselves. I’ve been watching documentaries on things like redlining and racial covenants in the US – absolutely disgraceful.
Also, taking time to speak with any of our black friends and if they’re not too tired of explaining, then to just listen to their experiences. It’s important for us to allow these sometimes-awkward conversations in order to understand and become allies and educate others.”
Another person said: “Educate our children and talk to them frankly, truthfully and directly about racism and equality.
“Our schools need to stop worrying about upsetting parents and pandering to prejudice. It perpetuates the problem and allows things to go unchallenged. We have a huge issue in this country with micro aggressive racism emanating from covertly racist views. It needs weeding out and if we can’t educate from the ground up (at primary school age) we’ll never tackle the systemic nature of the problem.”
In light of protests by the Black Lives Matter movement and with further protests planned across the county, all 11 leaders of the district, borough and county councils in Hertfordshire, plus the police and crime commissioner have issued the following statement:
“Hertfordshire stands united against every form of discrimination, racism and injustice. The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis has reminded us once again that we cannot and should not tolerate racism in any form or from any person.
“There are still many injustices to overcome but as leaders in our communities, we have an important role to play in challenging inequality. We will work with our communities to bring about meaningful change. We don’t have all the answers yet, but we are committed to listening, and to learning how we can most effectively challenge inequality and stamp out injustice.”
Picture courtesy of Sally Masson