Wednesday, May 17, 2006

State of London Debate

I attended the Mayor’s State of London debate on Saturday 13th May.

Well, it started out well. Mayor Livingstone expounded on how wonderful it was to live in London and how much Londoners enjoy and appreciate diversity. He also made some excellent points about climate change.

It was kind of downhill from there.

I was particularly interested in the sessions about diversity and about African communities (well I would be, wouldn’t I?).

Lee Jasper was on the diversity panel, in which he shared with us the fact that he likes wearing African clothing and listening to reggae music.

Personally, I remember all those free GLC concerts in the parks in the ‘80s, listening to Aswad, whom I referred to as the GLC house band. Partying was and is a priority, no doubt about it.

However, I would have liked to have asked why it was that, when I was wearing an African outfit last October, during BHM, and I was racially abused by a passerby, the police did nothing. More about this later.

Some serious points were raised about the demise of the CRE and the creation of the new Commission for Equalities and Human Rights (CEHR), which is meant to cover a wide range of issues and likely will not address anybody’s needs. The Mayor’s office is arguing that the Interim Report of the Equalities Review is inadequate and needs to be redone.

Apparently, the report is difficult to read and understand, and represents equalities issues as a drain on resources rather than an investment in and/or asset to UK society.

The Mayor's office also states that the report, worryingly, portrays oppressed groups as victims who are 'vulnerable', rather than describing and analysing structures of oppression and discrimination within this society.

Everyone on the panel was careful to include different oppressed groups in their statements – Black people, people with disabilities, gay and lesbian people. Very PC. I am all in favour of inclusion but the downside is that different, distinct groups don’t necessarily get enough time to focus on our individual needs. Me, I am a woman of African heritage, disabled and a Buddhist, which makes me a member of three oppressed groups and a religious minority. Gender discrimination did not get much of a mention.

I also would have liked to have asked why it is that London bus drivers are so unhelpful and rude to disabled passengers. I could also include the elderly in this comment.

Another thing I did not get to ask was: What is the Mayor’s office planning for the 2007 commemoration and when and how has the African Caribbean community been consulted with regard to these plans? I have been contacting the Mayor’s office about this since 2004 and I still have not received any satisfactory response.

I have fed back my comments to the Mayor’s office so shall post if I get any kind of sensible reply. The Mayor is meant to respond within six weeks to all feedback forms submitted.

See also: 2007 Commemoration

No comments: