We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Black Lives Matter: Rachel Dineley calls for equality in letter to local MP

June 11, 2020 5:14 PM
By Rachel Dineley

Rachel Dineley, the Diversity Officer for the Chiltern Liberal Democrats, has written to the Chesham and Amersham MP, Dame Cheryl Gillan, following recent events relating to race equality in Bristol and elsewhere:

Dear Dame Cheryl,

I have been watching the news from Bristol (my home town, where I grew up in the 1970s.) Peaceful protest is important, and it is striking that people want to go out and protest, with face masks on, notwithstanding the pandemic and the disproportionately higher risk to the BAME members of our society.
Online I have seen the tearing down of the statue of Colston, the slave trader, and being unceremoniously dumped into the docks. Perhaps a fitting place for his statue to end up, since as a slave trader he must have been responsible for the death of so many men and women, whose bodies ended up being thrown overboard in the course of ocean-crossings. Personally, I think the statue should have been put in a museum long ago. I certainly do not condone acts of violence or criminal damage.
In case you are not familiar with Colston's history ( he was an MP), here is a handy summary taken from Wikipedia:
Edward Colston (2 November 1636 - 11 October 1721) was a Bristol-born English merchant, philanthropist, slave trader, and Member of Parliament. He supported and endowed schools, almshouses, hospitals and churches in Bristol, London and elsewhere, and his name is commemorated in several Bristol landmarks, streets, three schools and the Colston bun. Many of his charitable foundations still survive. A significant part of his wealth was acquired through the trade and exploitation of slaves.
As a schoolgirl in the 1970's I sang in concerts in the Colston Hall, entirely oblivious of how the "philanthropist" had made his fortune - through the destruction of black lives.
More than 40 years on, I can recall all too many incidents here in the UK, when it seemed that the lives of BAME members of society featured in headlines in a way that white lives did not. The Stephen Lawrence tragedy, to name but one. As an MP you will have noted these too.
The protests across the country - and indeed around the world - over this last week have shown that things must change. In the UK there is still much to be done to ensure that there is real equality in the functioning of our institutions, in education and job opportunities, as well as the legal systems, and in our communities.
Change requires action. Big change requires significant action.
So, my simple questions to you are these: what will you do to lobby the government to address race inequality and take urgent and effective action to tackle its many causes? What will that action be?
Yours sincerely,
Rachel Dineley
Diversity Officer
Chiltern Liberal Democrats