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Figures from Home Office reveal more than 70% of hate crimes are racially motivated following Black Lives Matter protests


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The Home Office has revealed that more than 70% of hate crimes in the past year were racially motivated.

Racially motivated crimes increased by 12% amid Black Lives Matter protests and the subsequent backlash from far-right activists.

Protestors gathered in Rochester on the anniversary of George Floyd's death earlier this year
Protestors gathered in Rochester on the anniversary of George Floyd's death earlier this year

And during Black History Month black members of the community in Kent have spoken out on what we can do as a society to become more racially equal.

Christine Locke from Diversity House in Sittingbourne has been involved in community efforts to make the county more diverse and inclusive.

She said: "We are not just race. We are not just colour. We are human beings.

"Every single person has an overlapping social segmentation that makes up a human being. You have race, ethnicity, tribe, gender, sexual orientation, education and class.

"All of these things overlap and roll together to make you a human being. So if we keep talking about race and ignore the other issues then that's a problem.

"We are always doing this divide - white, black or brown. Life is not about the pigmentation of our skin."

Christine Locke from Diversity House wants to see polarised communities included in society
Christine Locke from Diversity House wants to see polarised communities included in society

Christine is calling for more education in schools and a move away from an ethnocentric curriculum.

She added: "Let our curriculum reflect the inter-cultural society that we live in. If we can do that, the young people can go home and educate their parents and family.

"In the same way that we have digital inclusion - my children will come home and teach me about Instagram and all that.

"Let's teach everybody and stop pointing fingers. Let's learn to live in harmony.

"Black history month shouldn't even be just a month. It should be every day that we are using opportunities to bring these polarised communities together."

Gillingham FC players take the knee before a match
Gillingham FC players take the knee before a match

One of the big events in the past year which fuelled a significant number of racially motivated hate crimes was England reaching the final of the Euro 2020 football tournament.

Following the loss on penalties vile comments were directed towards black players Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho.

All players would take the knee before matches to a mixed response in the crowd, but other teams followed with Gillingham also taking the knee despite opposition from chairman, Paul Scally.

Kayne Lee Harrison, an actor from Kent who featured in the Alicia Keys Netflix production Resort to Love this year, was in a local pub during the game.

He said: "I've got to be honest that did upset me. I watched that England game in the pub and there weren't many people of colour."

Actor Kayne Lee Harrison hopes the next generation will lead the change against racism. Picture: Rosie McDonald
Actor Kayne Lee Harrison hopes the next generation will lead the change against racism. Picture: Rosie McDonald

He continued: "It was very clear what was happening and there were words that were said. I knew instantly that it was going to be a problem in the media.

"I struggle with it because I've had conversations with people and they still don't understand why people would take the knee.

"You try to calmly explain to them the reason why and they're just not having any of it - it's going to be a difficult one.

"However the children that are coming up are understanding it and it's easier to build those strong children than to fix the broken men of society who do not get it.

"The youngsters that are coming up are being more aware of race and sensitivity to the issue."

14-year-old Elsie Hehir was one of the youngest to take the knee in Rochester this year
14-year-old Elsie Hehir was one of the youngest to take the knee in Rochester this year

Some people are now calling on the government to make changes from within with more representation for the black community seen in parliament and councils.

The number of MPs elected into government from black and minority ethnic backgrounds has been steadily increasing, but is still no where near representative of wider society.

Cllr Siju Adeoye from Medway Council said: "It's something that we need to see in councils and parliament. It's a message that I've been trying to get out into the black community that they themselves need to come forward and be counted for and sit at the table.

"The thing is that when they do show up they are not given the opportunities, so as a result they are discouraged.

"The amount of times I was due an opportunity but I didn't get it - I know it was because of the colour of my skin or my background. I will continue to press, I will not let it discourage me."

Cllr Siju Adeoye hopes the black community won't be discouraged to have their say in council meetings
Cllr Siju Adeoye hopes the black community won't be discouraged to have their say in council meetings

Many organisations are now working to see more inclusivity in the workplace, to allow people of colour to feel more welcome and see them given leadership positions and fair opportunity.

Jemma Fairclough-Haynes at Orchard Employment Law said: "Of course, in business representation matters. When people are interviewing and selecting candidates we all have this bias - people like people like them.

"Sometimes it's not about their skin colour - it could be the way they talk or certain idiosyncrasies that they have.

"It is so important that we have diversity in the workplace and see that representation because ultimately that makes for a better society."

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