Back in June we saw cities around the world take part in protests in support of Black Lives Matter and the anti-racism movement, a movement reignited by the tragic killing of George Floyd, a black man, by a police officer in Minnesota, USA. The show of solidarity amongst communities was huge, but it’s just the beginning; there’s so much more work to be done in the fight against racial injustice, as proven by the events on Sunday 23 August in Wisconsin, USA, where a 29-year-old unarmed black man identified as Jacob Blake was shot in the back several times at close range by a police officer.
It’s crucial that we don’t lose the momentum the cause saw over the summer, as it’s clear these systemic problems don’t go away overnight, nor are they exclusive to the US. One of the most accessible methods of activism you can take part in is to sign petitions that draw attention to the cause.
There are a number of petitions calling for justice for individuals – if you haven’t already, please take the time to look into the cases including Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Belly Mujinga, Shukri Abdi, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee and Ahmaud Arbery. However, if you’ve already done this and are looking for even more ways to support Black Lives Matter with your signature, these UK-specific petitions are a good place to start.
Black Lives Matter petitions to sign in the UK
Suspend UK Export of Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets and Riot Shields to USA
Oliver Feeley-Sprague, Amnesty International UK’s military, security and police programme director, says: ‘After the shocking images of the police and national guard using excessive force against Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis, the UK should immediately freeze all policing and security equipment export licences to the US where there’s a clear risk of further misuse – something the UK is obliged to do under its own laws. Given the evidence emerging from numerous US cities, there’s a very real risk of UK-manufactured tear gas or rubber bullets being used against George Floyd protesters in dangerous and highly inappropriate ways – something that ministers need to respond to.’
The UK Government Must Condemn Trump’s Response to George Floyd’s Murder #speakupBoris
This petition, started by Sasha Lawson, directly addresses our prime minister’s reaction the murder of George Floyd, a man who was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. ‘We must not only condemn Floyd’s death but also Trump’s threats to protestors, and the sales of riot gear to the US,’ she says. ‘Boris should not be congratulated on simply being able to admit that Floyd’s murder was appalling when asked directly. The UK continues to turn a blind eye to racial hatred in the country of one of our closest allies.’
Improve Maternal Mortality Rates and Health Care for Black Women in the UK
In the UK, black women are five times more likely to die during pregnancy and after childbirth compared to white women. This petition to parliament requests that urgent research is done into why this is happening, to inform recommendations to improve health care for black women and address this disparity.
Medical Schools Must Include BAME Representation in Clinical Teaching
This petition is designed to advocate that ‘course material in all medical schools must include ethnically diverse examples of case presentations – especially in clinically relevant instances where disease presentation differs between white and black and minority ethnic (BAME) patients. The duty to deliver the highest quality of care extends to all members of the public and if medical education does not actively prepare students for this, this is inconsistent with such values.’
Anti-Racism Education to be Compulsory in UK Schools
‘On June the 2nd 2020 it seemed the world took part in #blackouttuesday to take a day off of posting personal content and spread the word of the Black Lives Matter movement. Many took this day to educate themselves on Black history, political events and learn of individuals personal experiences of racism. However, it became apparent that much of what we learnt had not been taught at school,’ says Liv Parker, the creator of this petition. ‘We should all be taught from an early age how to respect one another, the struggle the black community has faced throughout history and why racism should be completely intolerable.’
Teach British Children About the Realities of British Imperialism and Colonialism
The Department for Education says that the curriculum is intended to for pupils to ‘know and understand the history of these islands as a coherent, chronological narrative, from the earliest times to the present day’. However, those behind this petition argue that ‘by excluding the evils of British Imperialism, along with how members of the African Diaspora contributed to the British nation-state, British children are robbed of understanding how colonialist ideology was implemented. This stunts the growth of racial equality in the UK and hinders the racial esteem of Black British children.’ The petition is directed to Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education.
Battle Racism by Updating GCSE Reading Lists
Replace the Colston Statue with Paul Stephenson
After the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was toppled from its plinth and pushed into the river by protesters in Bristol, suggestions have emerged that a tribute to Paul Stephenson should replace it. ‘He led the 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott, started because Bristol Post annouced in 1961 that black workers were refused work despite a worker shortage due to a resolution from the Transport and General Workers’ Union. The Boycott influenced the creation of the Race Relations Act,’ the makers of this petition explain.
Protect Afro-Textured Hair
‘The exclusion of black and mixed children from British schools is reaching epidemic proportions,’ says Emma Dabiri, the creator of this petition. ‘Recent high profile cases have seen pupils excluded from school for their hair being too short, too long, too big and too full. To combat this institutional discrimination, the 2010 Equality Act needs to include explicit protection for afro hair.’
Include Afro Hair Education In The Hairdressing NVQ
In hairdressing NVQ courses in the UK there are currently no modules dedicated to afro hair, and this needs to change. Those behind the petition say that if you sign ‘you are helping to start a brighter, more equal, more educated industry.’