York’s councillors have voted to become north’s first anti-racist city
Haddy Njie, the driving force behind the idea, was tearful as councillors were unanimously in favour of the motion, which was backed by a host York organisations, at a full council meeting. (Thursday night)
Her organisation, Speak up Diversity, will now work with the council to set up a diverse, independent working group aimed at tackling systemic racism in the city.
According to figures from North Yorkshire Police, there has been a 239 per cent in recorded race-related hate crimes since 2012.
Make sure this is about more than lip service
Haddy, a risk assessor, has experienced “life-altering” racism since moving to York in 2015.
Speaking after the meeting, the 37-year-old, said: “We feel that change is finally about to arrive in York – we have an historic opportunity to tackle racism in the city.
“We want to make sure this is about more than lip service – the work starts now.”
Jake Furby, a trustee of York LGBT Forum, and Imam of York Mosque, Mirazam Khan, also spoke in favour of the motion.
City of York Council follows in the footsteps of councils such as Oxford and Brighton and Hove in declaring its ambition to become an anti-racist and inclusive city.
The working group will develop and implement a long-term anti-racism and inclusion strategy aimed at breaking down barriers that marginalised ethnic groups face.
Haddy has told of how she was racially abused by a taxi driver who told her to leave his vehicle after she asked him to take a different route not long after moving to York.
Her African American partner was told he was “no longer a slave” in a pub, and Haddy said the couple are stared at and given wary looks every day while out and about around their Fulford home.
Labour leader Pete Kilbane, who moved the motion, said it was “a real shame on all of us” that it needed to be put forward at all.
He pointed to the fact that the council, senior council officers and many top York organisations were overwhelmingly white.
Coun Kilbane added: “This is a group of people who can lead the charge for change, who have the direct lived experience of what it feels like to suffer the indignity of racism on a regular basis, who understand what needs to change and are empowered to try to make that change.
“A group of people who will be part of the solution and direct the strategy and monitor the implementation of measures to tackle this ongoing scourge on our society.”