#BlackLivesMatter – seeking to amplify the voices of People of Colour in our community

The killing of George Floyd is just the latest chapter in a history of violence and oppression against Black people. At each turn it has been met with loud, clear and brave voices calling for justice. This post is an attempt to listen to those voices and act upon them.

The latest example of extreme police brutality in America has quite rightly shocked people around the world. For many people in our diverse neighbourhood of Balsall Heath, they will be only too aware that the scourge of racism affects those much closer to home as well. Racism manifests itself in so many ways, both explicitly or more subtly. We must tackle the structures and the ideas that allow racism to thrive both here and elsewhere.

Neighbourhood News Online has grown as a community news source and events listing site over the past 18 months. What started out as a short term commission has turned into a voluntary endeavour led by me, Rachel Gillies. I see huge value in sharing the many positive things that are happening in our neighbourhood. It helps to build a narrative of a community which is dynamic, creative and caring – and strong in its diversity. It connects people to services and events that can support and enrich them, and brings new people together. That’s the Balsall Heath that I want to help build.

However, this platform should go further, not just through sharing news items, but by being explicitly anti-racist and through actively championing the work of People of Colour and anti-racists in our area. We can only grow stronger as a community and move forward as a society when we can see and understand one another.

This website is not yet representative of our diverse community. I would like this to change. So this is an invitation for you to step forward with your stories. I have limited capacity and may not cover everything we need to, but maybe this is a step towards changing that by asking for your help and support.

This is a space you can use. It is here to amplify your voices.

Please consider sharing your story, your event, a part of your life, with others. You can upload content directly here, or e-mail me to continue this discussion at contact@neighbourhoodnewsonline.com and I will try and answer when I can. As we try and step up to the challenges we are being asked to undertake, let’s learn together and work together for change.

In solidarity,

Rachel Gillies