For the first time in history, Black folks in the UK are organizing to tackle the issue of systemic racism in their country. Created by Black leaders from various industries, including business, law, arts, and social justice, the Black Equity Organization (BEO) is looking to be in the UK what the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is in the United States. The organization will work to improve outcomes for Black British people, and they will focus on key issues, including economic empowerment, improving health outcomes, and securing better access to education and housing.
The idea for the BEO was developed in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the protests that ensued. It was a moment, Black leaders felt they needed to organize and act. “This is a generational moment; history will view us harshly if we don’t do something,” the actor, director, playwright and BEO board trustee Kwame Kwei-Armah told the Guardian in an interview.
Racism in the UK is just as prevalent as it is in the United States. In October 2020, the YMCA released its Young and Black report which analyzed the experience of young Blacks in the UK between the ages of 16 and 30. The study revealed that most Blacks in the UK encounter racism regularly. An overwhelming 95 percent of young Black people have heard racist language at school. And over 50 percent of young Black people said they don’t trust the police to “act without prejudice and discrimination.”
Dame Vivian Hunt, a member of the BEO board of trustees, is hopeful that the BEO will help bring about the change Black Britons seek. “I’ve seen the highs and the lows of the Black experience in Britain. And so my faith is with the British people, that they have a huge sense of fairness and equity, intrinsic in everything we stand for and our values. What Black families want for their children is what all families want for their children,” she said.