Glasgow councillors say city should focus on education about racism rather than renaming streets named after slave traders

Councillors say the city should focus on educating children about racism rather than change street names named after slave trader
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Glasgow councillors say the city should focus on educating children about racism rather than changing street names and ‘focusing on the past.’

Anti racism protesters have previously campaigned against street names like Buchanan Street, Jamaica Street and Oswald Street which has links to the slave trade. Others have demanded the Sir John Moore statue in George Square and Lord Robers in Kelvingrove Park which “celebrate brutal colonialists” be removed.

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During the most recent wellbeing committee, a report detailing how the local authority could increase the diversity of staff and teachers to help tackle racism as part of its Black Lives Matter commitment was presented to members.

A cross party working group, established in 2020 by the council, discovered that there was a mixed level of knowledge and understanding of colonialism and slavery present within the city.

Councillors now believe that challenging modern racism and educating future generations is more important than changing street names and removing statues linked with Glasgow’s ties to the transatlantic slave trade.

Baillie Margaret Morgan said: “For Glasgow’s BME community, challenging racism is arguably more important than dealing with the past, statues, names and that sort of thing.

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“I would like to bring to the committee’s attention two recent initiatives in Glasgow, related to anti-racism work.

“There was a three day event, planned by Glasgow Schools forum where 30 schools, primary and secondary attended day one and day two workshops.

“Day three celebrated the depth of anti racist work taking place across city schools. Just under 1000 young people visited the showcase along with practitioners.

“Party 22 at the GFT (Glasgow Film Theatre) attended by 1400 young people and practitioners from Glasgow schools. Promoting anti racism together in schools was co designed with the Glasgow youth forum and its an excellent example of anti racist work happening across our schools.

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“Thousands of young people participated in exploring the effects of and how to stand up to racism. I think that shows that it seems to be more interested in learning about current racism and racism of the past.

“The Scottish Government funding for school libraries focussed on anti racism, diversity and racial equality. I feel this has been a tremendous achievement as tackling racism is more important than looking at statues and streets because it is the young people who are the citizens of the future and hopefully they will learn not to be racist.”

Members of the committee agreed that educating children and young people about the challenges racism presents in the city was more important. The council had hoped to introduce a community engagement officer but this is not possible at the moment.

Councillor Ceclia O’Lone said: “My main question was about education and whether that was going to be in schools.

“In an ideal world where we are looking to fill a [new] post, it would be so fantastic to support that, but we are not there yet.”

The working group will continue its work to tackle modern day racism.

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