Ethnic commission set up by Tower Hamlets into ‘East End racism’ after George Floyd killing in America
- Credit: Mike Brooke
The worldwide reaction to the killing of George Floyd in the US in June has led to a new ethnic commission set up by Tower Hamlets Council which aims to deal with racial equality in London’s East End.
The commission whose members have met for the first time follows in the wake of the “black lives matter” campaign as well as reaction to the Covid pandemic’s “disproportionate negative effect” on east London’s ethnic peoples which now make up seven-out-of-10 of the population.
It is headed by deputy mayor Asma Begum, from the Bengali community, and is looking for evidence to “help make changes” in public health, employment and education.
“The events of recent months show the disproportionately-negative impact on ethnic communities,” she said. “These impacts are likely to be made worse as we head into further economic recession.”
Cllr Begum aims to announce the commission’s findings and its plan of action early in the New Year.
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The commission actually represents a majority in numbers of the Tower Hamlets population of 69 per cent non-whites, from the last national census.
This includes 55pc black and Asian. Bangladeshis alone make up almost a third at 32pc, compared to Greater London’s three per cent and by far the largest ratio in the country.
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White British people are slightly fewer than Bengalis at 31pc of the East End’s population, while other whites make up one-in-eight, around 12.5pc, who include largely Europeans, Australians and Americans. The total white population is well under half, at 43.5pc.
Mayor John Biggs, who set up the ethnic commission, wants to see how equality issues affect the 69pc none-white population.
He said: “This is an opportunity to seek out community voices that will push for change and inform the way we make decisions.
“It’s important that as many people as possible get involved from all backgrounds, sharing their experiences and ideas on how we can a make a lasting difference.”
The council asked for ideas from people over the summer on how issues are represented in public places, a reference to the protests against statues of leading historic figures from past centuries said to be linked to the era of slave trading.
The commission is looking into several suggestions which could include shifting out some statues or at least adding plaques explaining the other side of the story. But it could also decide that no action is necessary in some cases.