Black Lives Matter: Did It Change Anything?

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In 1991, Rodney King experienced police brutality that sparked uproar amongst the black American population. 

Not 30 years later, George Floyd died of police brutality in 2020. Both these men experienced abuse and mistreatment because of their race at the hands of the American police force. 

Back then, in 1991, social media platforms weren’t available to publicly showcase the movement, but riots were held in the name of King. 

Have we moved forward from this? 

It has been almost 40 years, and the same thing happened, this time with social media to show the world the brutality of the police force. 

This is why it is essential to never stop pushing the agenda and talking about the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. 

We as individuals need to be aware and we need to look at what we have to do to change and keep it in the forefront, in terms of public, to continue to drive the movement.

In an online event The European Coworking Assembly chatted to:

Kofi Oppong Founder of Urban MBA

Carmen Lecuane Software Specialist at Nexudus and Founder of KMABEL

Aiden Saunders Founder of Ailey CIC on the subject. 

The three of them are connected to the coworking industry in London business and are founders from the BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) community in the UK. 

They shared their thoughts with us as to how the BLM movement has been perceived in the UK and which changes have been visible. 

How has the BLM movement driven change? 

Kofi:

Kofi believes that some change can be seen when looking at brands and organisations. “I’ve never seen so many different minorities in adverts as I’ve seen over the last year. 

But, brands are doing it really from a monetary perspective, because they realise that they have to face cancel culture,” says Kofi.  

But, the small changes we see on the surface, does not mean that the deeper roots have been touched by the movement. 

“We need to think about how we really change this for the future and what the future holds. 

We can start looking at education and changing what’s happening within the system, such as having more focus on minorities. 

Wales is due to start a curriculum in 2022, that focuses a lot more on minorities. 

That’s the first time anybody’s really put that into their curriculum. “Until we move forward in society, the problem will still exist. 

And the same situation may come in 30 years time like what’s already happened, because the change has to happen at the younger level,” says Kofi. 

Carmen:

Carmen believes that change takes time and that it is too early to see the changes that the BLM movement has brought. 

“From a corporate and industry perspective, change has to be done internally. 

If the change is not being made internally, there will be no demonstration of any policy changes, or different communication styles, or even the acceptance of different cultures,” says Carmen. 

It is not just about having diverse adverts or a diverse director board, it is about having internal staff that run places that are diverse and inclusive.

“They are the ones who will be driving the BLM movement and ensuring that awareness is created.”

She says that the coworking space she made us of, the community that she was part of, did not show a lot of awareness for the BLM movement.

“I felt heavy silence the day that George Floyd’s death was televised. 

There was not a lot of awareness, there was not even a sentiment of empathy demonstrated in the industry.” 

To Carmen, it is important that the younger generation step in and help with automating processes to ensure that spaces are inclusive and diverse. 

“If the younger generation can ensure that the coworking process can be changed from Excel spreadsheets and manual labour, to making use of automation software, why can’t that be done for inclusivity?”

Aiden: 

Aiden points out that the incidents that happened with Rodney King in the 90s has opened up the eyes of some, especially considering the limited amount of platforms people had at the time to drive the movement. 

“For it to happen again, with George Floyd, has shown brands and people that it is a serious issue. 

Now with our technological advancements, we can reach more people and organisations purely because of the platforms we have,” says Aiden. 

The movement has attracted a large following. And Aiden believes that through protest, new business, cancel culture, and through noise the movement can live on. 

“Everyone’s trying to push the energy, and they don’t want it to die, because they don’t want a repeat of what’s been happening for decades. 

Through this noise we can help make a difference.” 

According to Aiden there are some industries and businesses that actually care, but the amount is relatively small. 

Then there are organisations and businesses who join on the bandwagon simply to attract more customers and to avoid cancel culture. 

Those types of companies don’t really care, and unfortunately it is part of our society. 

Coworking spaces can support this movement

“Usually, coworking spaces don’t target minorities,” says Kofi, “which means that cancel culture and boycotting doesn’t affect them monetarily.” 

So, for coworking spaces there isn’t a real loss at stake and some just don’t care. 

Coworking spaces should be a community space that allows minorities to make use of the spaces. 

In order to do that, coworking spaces should consider making use of external elements to guide them through having an Inclusive, Diverse, Equitable, and Accessible (IDEA) space. 

The European Coworking Assembly is working on creating an IDEA handbook that will guide coworking spaces and managers through the process of creating an IDEA space. 

The handbook will launch early 2022. Sign up for early access and be the first to know when it will be launched and other news surrounding coworking spaces. 

Hard work is what is needed for the movement to reach all corners. 

To show that being empathic is human nature and that all human beings should show emotion towards inequality and injustice.

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