Tel 0300 131 7300
Islington & Shoreditch Housing Association (ISHA)
102 Blackstock Road
London N4 2DR
0300 131 7300
I am hugely privileged to lead ISHA, a fantastically diverse organisation serving the diverse communities of north and east London, where more than 50% of colleagues are from black, and other minority ethnic, communities. But I am a white woman. I have never experienced racism. So although George Floyd’s death has caused me to reflect on what more we must do at ISHA to combat the blight of racism, what can I say?
One of my favourite poets is the incomparable Benjamin Zephaniah. I heard him interviewed and he said two things which struck me very strongly. The first was that we kid ourselves if we think this is an issue mainly in the US, it is not. His own cousin died of asphyxiation in the back of a police van some years ago. The real issue anyway isn’t police brutality, but racism and the blatant and insidious and unthinking ways that it insinuates itself into daily life. The fact is that throughout the UK, people from BAME groups are much more likely to be in poverty (i.e. on an income of less than 60 per cent of the median household income) than white British people – something we are even now seeing play out in deaths from Covid 19 – and racism affects every area of people’s lives.
The other thing Benjamin said was that he was just tired, now in his sixties, to be still fighting the same battles as in his teens.
One of ISHA’s four core values is respect for everyone. Now is a time to live our values more than ever. It shouldn’t take a death to prompt action to ensure greater equality and respect. At ISHA we are using this time to listen to colleagues and residents, to commit to further actions to improve inclusivity and opportunity for all.
We are already intensifying the conversation with our colleagues about what more we should do, and setting up, at the request of staff, separate focus groups for black staff and those of other ethnicities. We are also speaking to you, our customers. How can we fight racism? To have your say, and let us know your thoughts, email email@example.com. And we will make sure, once we have listened, that we take further action.
Simply thinking we are not racist is not enough. As a provider of homes and an employer we must fight racism and discrimination of all types, be open about discussing our own challenges and address inequality.
We stand with you.