A protest has been held to amplify young Black voices in response to a series of injustices against Black children across the UK.
Organised by BLM New Gen, the demonstration took place outside of the Council House on 16th July and featured speeches from influential figures within Derby’s Black community, with a view to turn the city into a safer space for all young people.
Sophie Nelson, Chair of BLM New Gen, said: “We are standing here today in solidarity to take a stand against racism, to amplify young Black voices and to ensure that Derby does not stay silent when racism occurs.
“We at BLM New Gen are set on creating a safe space out of Derby where everyone can feel safe to walk on their own, to go and play football with friends, to go to school, to sit exams, to comb their hair with an afro comb and not have it mistaken for a knife, and not have to worry that the colour of their skin will impact their safety or opportunities.”
Sophie’s speech made reference to a number of recent tragedies involving Black teenagers, including the illegal strip-searching of Child Q by the Metropolitan Police, the merciless bullying of 11-year-old Raheem Bailey in Wales, and the fatal stabbing of 14-year-old Dea-John Reid in Birmingham.
Deputy Youth Mayor Gloria Osei Bonsu was one of the many participants showing their support, and spoke about the impact that these incidents have on the mental health and outcomes of young Black people across the UK.
“Looking through the statistics, you can see that among young people between the ages of 16 and 24, unemployment rates are highest among young Black people,” she said.
“This is unfair, as it is due to racism that young Black people do not feel confident enough to undertake those job roles. I would encourage you all to come together as a community to tackle racism so young Black people can feel confident to achieve their goals.”
People from all walks of life came together for the protest – something remarked on by local entrepreneur Emeka Ejiofor in his speech.
“This isn’t a Black people’s fight – this is humanity’s fight,” said the True Colours Clothing founder.
“One of the things that the system always does is bring everything down to law, but one thing they never do is bring things down to what is wrong and what is right. That, to me, is all that matters.”
In addition to the numerous guest speakers, the gathering featured evocative performances from local talent, including the Nadia Dance Group.
Sophie added that she hopes the event will signal to people that the Black Lives Matter movement is still going strong within Derby, and that BLM New Gen remains a pillar of support within the community.
“We are here for you to talk to, to bounce ideas off or to simply sit with, and we will be the ones that keep pushing for change if you get tired and deflated by it all,” she said.
“We are also making our stand today to demand justice for Dea-John Reid, because in no world should a racist attack be called self defence just because the victim is not White. Today is a reminder that Black lives matter, now and always.”
Follow @blm.derby on Instagram to find out more about future events
By Jamie Morris