We believe that sometime in the future, racism – as we experience it now, in all its guises – will not exist.
We don’t believe this is a whimsical notion. On the scale of human history racism is a relatively new invention. This is not to say that humans didn’t find other ways to discriminate against each other before. But the creation of false biological categories and their use to demonise one group of people, whilst elevating the status of another group, was not one of them.
We have noticed, however, that we appear to have accepted the outcomes of racism, and in doing so accepted the thinking on which these are based.
We can’t change our futures unless we accept the possibilities of change. Unless we imagine a future where working actively towards anti-racism brings us closer to an anti-racism reality. These, in our view, are dreams worthy of pursuit. Racism is a disease. It destroys lives. And whilst its devastating impact is faced by those who are negatively racialised, all of us face the consequences of a world where routine discrimination is ‘accepted’. One of the worst consequences of our belief that racism is inevitable is the transmission of racist ideologies to young people. Our society is built on the notion that we gift each generation something better. But evidence tells us that not only do we pass on our racist beliefs to young people, but that they begin to notice false racial hierarchies around the age of three. For cities like Birmingham, this is a disaster.
Building an anti-racist future is something each citizen deserves. Living free of this form of discrimination is as fundamental as any ambition we have for a society which is committed to principles of social justice. We need a route map for fundamental change. We need to create a future that is not dealing with the consequences and outcomes of a discriminatory society – but instead is addressing how we take racism off the table.
We will use this conference to explore this ambition. To share some dreams from young people, community organisations and public sector organisations, who have begun to imagine an anti-racist future for their city. We know this will not be quick. We know it will not be easy. But we know if we are to survive and thrive together, then we have to make this possible.
Thu, 20 May 2021
09:30 – 12:00 BST