“Now we are also suffering more under Corona Virus. Our people are more likely to become infected, more likely to die & more likely to be in front line posts, putting us more at risk every day.”Roger McKenzie.
Far too many of us people of African and Asian descent still endure the indignity of racism within our workplaces. The bullying, the exclusion from conversations, our voices being silenced, and the denial once again of that promotion opportunity that you’re more than qualified for, or being spoken to like a naughty child by people often junior to you.
Now we are also suffering more under Corona Virus. Our people are more likely to become infected, more likely to die and more likely to be in front line posts, putting us more at risk every day.
We know that our employers and the Government do nothing to deal with this – so we need our union to do more.
We are often accused of playing the race card when we raise these facts of life – as no doubt I will be told by writing this letter – or told by the person talking to you that they don’t see colour and they are offended by any suggestion of racism. They apparently can’t be racist because one of their best friends is Black and sometimes they manage to find a compliant Black person to wheel out to vouch for them.
We have all faced racism in the workplace, and that is part of the reason that Black workers are more likely to join a trade union than white workers – but we have to ask why then are Black people less likely to take part in union activities?
There are many barriers we have to overcome, and we must challenge the racism within our own union movement.
We can start this change by making sure we all vote.
Our Black votes matter – and with only 10% of union members voting in the last election for General Secretary – our votes make a difference.
Like you I have had to deal with everyday racism and had to face down victimisation, both as a black worker and as a trade union activist. I have nothing to prove in my record as an activist. As Dawn Butler the Labour MP and black activist has said ‘do you want to do something about the Black Lives Matter campaign? Its easy, vote for Roger McKenzie for General Secretary.’
We need to take on those people who can’t or won’t see the hardship experienced by Black people in work – but also in the union. As in most workplaces our mere existence in the trade union movement has often been a struggle. Things have only ever changed for us as Black people when we have forced that change to happen. Too often it is dismissed as but they weren’t disciplined because they were black – when actually that is precisely the reason.
You can help to be part of making change happen by voting for me as a proven anti-racist campaigner and organiser who has always spoken truth to power and placed myself in the firing line against racism.
I’m not going to sit around and wait for the inevitable backlash to this letter – I will be out campaigning alongside you to challenge racism wherever it exists as I have always done.
I am unapologetically me – and I will continue to speak out against racism and for a better society.
Black votes matter in this election more than they have ever mattered in a UNISON General Secretary election. This is a chance for Black members to step forward to not just demand change but to actually make it happen.
Be part of the change by voting for me to be the next General Secretary of Unison.
- We reproduce above the Black Votes Matter letter Roger McKenzie’s campaign for General Secretary recently circulated in UNISON.