Has the BLM Movement brought any Changes?

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182 people of colour were shot to death by police in the United States in 2021, alone.  

This statistic by Statista shows that hate crimes in the United States, and worldwide have not come to an end. That is why movements like the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM), that started in 2013, are important for the future of equality, diversity, equity, and inclusivity. 

Other countries have also experienced hate crime on minorities, when looking at the UK and the BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) community, it is easy to see where they get left out—they are not offered the same opportunities. 

A report published by the UK Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, declared that “family structure and social class had a bigger impact than race on how people’s lives turned out”. 

This statement has received a lot of backlashes as many pointed out statistics that showed that the exact opposite is quite true. For example, black women in the UK are four times as likely to pass away from childbirth than their young, white neighbour. Or that six out of 10 of National Health Service workers who died from Covid and were from the BAME community. 

Sure, there has been an increase in representation of people of colour on billboards and adverts, but has it been enough? 

Aiden Saunders, Founder of Ailey CIC, shared his experience and insights, as well as his life’s journey and his view on the BLM movement, with us. 

Aiden’s journey in life

Aiden, born and raised in East London Leytonstone, moved to the United States due to his basketball talent. He spent eight years in the United States. 

“Coming from a lower class area in the UK,” says Aiden “and being introduced to the way people in the States interact, has been an eye-opener for me.” 

His experience in the United States allowed him to interact with people from all walks of life. He met and spent time with celebrities and saw their point of view. But, he also spent time with people from lower class areas, including gang members as well as people who were committed to their community. 

“By learning their values, how they speak, what they spoke about, and how they live their lives,” says Aiden “has shown me that America is more aggressive in their approach of wanting to achieve things.” 

Aiden points out that London approaches things differently from America. “Yet for me in comparison to London, they were way more audacious in the things they did.”

When returning to the UK, Aiden founded Ailey on the basis that it would help people no matter their race or class. Ailey collaborates with businesses and organisations to create environments for people to learn sets of values that develop their character to hold the good fruits of life such as; mentality, family, finances.

Experience with different cultures

During his time in the United States, Aiden saw a lot of similarities between the US and the UK, but he also noticed some differences. 

When Aiden went to the US for basketball, he was in his 20s. Most of his experience in the UK was while he was still young and so had no experience with the business side of the spectrum. However, one similarity that he picked up on, was that black people are more reserved in both countries. 

He explains what he means by that: “There are many people in the black culture who share some brilliant ideas and visions. The problem I’ve seen was that the ones closest to us can reject and belittle each other. Naturally, people then want to keep their seed of a vision buried without having a good environment to cultivate it. 

Furthermore, because of the result of oppression, we are already dealing with generational anxieties. The BLM movement has helped us grow in confidence to build what we once wanted to hide away. This is also why co-working spaces are needed,” says Aiden.  

The difference, for him, however, came when he noticed how determined and assertive Americans are with regard to things they feel strongly about. “Where I saw this most was within lower class. They were determined to fight towards what they believed was right and what they wanted. I admired this part of their mindset but not all the methods. People literally were willing to die for theirs. Imagine the same people using the energy for justice instead.” 

Aiden realised something about himself, that he was able to be comfortable in any circle. And he appreciates the time he spent in America, where he got to be part of many sides of the spectrum. “I am grateful that I got to spend time with people from all walks of life and ethnicities the way that I did, it showed me a different side of life.”  

Has BLM made a change?

The BLM movement has brought racial inequality to light and since 2013 has worked to decrease the weight of an undiverse, racist society. 

In 2020 the movement received extra attention and global coverage with the murder of George Floyd. It has seen global protest and a call for an end to police brutality against Black people. 

Even brands like Nike showed their support for the BLM movement. But has it been enough? 

Aiden answers this question by saying that: “I believe that the awareness that businesses are creating aren’t all genuine. When October, Black History Month, is over they will move onto their normal branding and pretend it never happened.” 

He says that it is usually obvious whether brands are simply following the trend or are supporting the movement from their core. “It is not about having adverts with people of colour, it’s about supporting all communities from the core and standing up for their rights, not only when BLM is trending, but all the time.” 

How BLM should be approached

There are many ways that coworking spaces can support the BLM movement. Making it part of the space’s core will allow the message that is sent out to be genuine and sincere. 

Aiden suggests that coworking spaces, and businesses in general, stay away from trends and make sure that diversity and inclusion are part of their business culture, strategy, and plan. According to him, supporting the BAME community should be done 365 days a year, not only when it is Black History Month. 

It is never too late to make this support part of a business model. Ensuring that everyone is treated fairly within the coworking space and in business settings is far more important than supporting a movement and plastering it all over social media. 

The European Coworking Assembly is here to assist with Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) in the form of a handbook that will be launched early in 2022. This guide is aimed at anyone who owns or manages a coworking space and wants to ensure that the space supports IDEA principles and values.  

When making a coworking space – or any business for that matter – inclusive and diverse, it is sure to attract talented people who will spread the word. This allows people to see that the coworking space has IDEA at its core and isn’t just jumping on the bandwagon. 

“There is still a lot to be done to further the growth of the BLM movement support, but also inclusivity for the BAME community in all of the UK. It’ll take some time but we must begin by being patiently assertive in what we do,” says Aiden.

The fight for equality is far from over. It is the responsibility of those who have the power to step up and fight for the inclusion of all races, for a diverse future. Equality should be at the heart of everything that we do, and the fight should never stop. 

Remember: “there comes a time when silence is betrayal” – Martin Luther King Jr.

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