Racism: Our collective duty to lead by example – Nick Fletcher

As found in the Yorkshire Post:

The murder of George Floyd is by far one of the worst news stories I have witnessed in many years, and there 
can be no doubt that the police 
officers in question should be brought to justice.

With the trial currently ongoing, I am confident they will.

The right to protest is essential to our democracy, and the ability to do this should be defended vigorously.

However, acts of protest in a democracy like ours should always be peaceful.

The scenes last weekend, where we witnessed violence, property damage, and graffiti being sprayed on the Cenotaph, is nothing short of despicable.

While it is always a minority of people who engage in such activity, it is only right that those who took part are to be pursued and brought justice.

The graffitiing of Churchill’s statue on the anniversary of D-Day is nothing short of disgraceful.

Without Churchill’s leadership during the Second World War, the right to protest wouldn’t even exist within our country.

Yet we cannot hide from the fact that, in the world’s history, many wrongs have been committed and the UK has not always been an innocent player.

Yet we must continue to remember the past, as without learning from history, we cannot possibly hope to create a better future.

We should celebrate the good deeds we have done as part of this great nation, but also remember our wrongs.

The removal of the bronze statue of the slave trader Edward Colston may seem to some necessary and long overdue in Bristol.

Still, we can only truly learn from the past if the young people of Bristol learn about who he was – and as a permanent reminder of what racial inequalities can lead to.

So, what should we do?

I have always believed that there is nothing wrong with peaceful protest, but unfortunately these days, and during a global pandemic, it is often challenging.

While protesting can often lead to significant change, I think we can achieve even more by taking time to think about our own actions and what we say and do to others.

If we all, as individuals, live with the one value that all people are equal, then I think we stand a chance of making a real difference.

In which case, let’s not ever entertain racism of any kind.

Let’s not speak down to anyone.

Let’s treat all people equally and call out any signs of racism at home, work and wherever we are.

Only then will we ever stamp out this intolerable disease.

If we hold ourselves to account, future generations have a better chance of making racism a thing of the past.

As a Christian, I believe that a child is not born racist nor full of hate.

Children learn from those around them and from what they see.

This puts the burden on us to be respectful and tolerant, as well as mindful to what we expose our children to.

We must educate them on the wrongs of our predecessors, but also on the wonderful things they have achieved, celebrating these wherever possible.

While this may not always be easy, the consequences for not carrying out our duty to be good role models will be dire for future generations.

Only by being role models of tolerance, decency and respect will we ever be able to rid society of the scourge that is racism, and avoid the scenes that we have all 
been shocked by over these recent 
weeks.

I am sure we will manage, as I know my friends, family and constituents want this.

Yet we need to remember that changing society begins with us and 
so we all must have a willingness to
be kinder and more tolerant of one another.