Young Eyes are Watching
Written by ELBA CEO Ian Parkes
ELBA is from, and serves one of the most, diverse communities in the country – if not the world. We have been proud to talk about how our communities here reach out across an interconnected global community. Despite the quarantines and barriers thrown up by the Coronavirus, we have remained connected to each other via the internet, social media, and our common humanity. At a time when black people here in the UK were already deeply concerned about the differential impact of the Virus on their health, and on their livelihoods, now comes the news from the USA about the latest unlawful killing of a black man in police hands, George Floyd.
Speaking as a white man, I can say you don’t have to be black to feel a sense of outrage. Everyone can understand the injustice. But can those like me who are not from the black community really understand the hurt and anger felt by our friends, neighbours and fellow citizens. Speaking to my colleagues this morning, that’s the overwhelming emotion I see in their eyes – hurt, a loss of hope, a backward step. Maybe we cannot truly appreciate that – but we can stand in solidarity and we can bear witness.
We all want to give children and young people hope. We all want to help them believe that the world can be better, that there will be increasing equality and justice for everyone. Small steps are achieved, here and abroad. And now this. We are catapulted back decades in one week – a stark reminder that perhaps there has been less progress than we think.
The impact of this moment in our history on children and young people should concern us all most. Inequality and injustice both leave scars. Sometimes the wounds are so deep that they remain open. Young people look and consider the world in which they are growing up. They will judge us on how we answer the questions about why black people are impacted more by such heinous acts and on how we react to the pernicious sense of injustice, as shown by the case of George Floyd.
We, the collection of charities, grassroots organisations, businesses, civic bodies and people that comprises the ELBA family, will continue to work with children and young people, to give them hope. We will continue to bolster any organisation that’s tackling inequality wherever we can and we will try to make sure young voices are heard.
We need all our leaders to stand up and say we will not turn our back on progress. Hopelessness and hate have no room in today’s society. We will continue to campaign and fight for equality. Young eyes are watching.