In the wake of the recent Black Lives Matter protests and the "disproportionate" number of coronavirus deaths among people from a minority ethnic background (Matt Hancock- Health Secretary June 2020). It is hard not to argue this time in history will be remembered and will hopefully start to bring about a more equitable society.
I have had many discussions with colleagues and friends recently from all races who are engaged to understand and actively dismantle systemic racism. But I think we now need to ask ourselves, now that the media hype has died down, what now?
A term (I have somewhat embarrassingly) only come across recently is, environmental racism. This, as the Guardian article highlights includes matters such as air pollution- in the US and the UK, research has found that people of colour suffer more air pollution than their white residents. Poor air quality, which is linked to multiple respiratory and cardiovascular conditions significantly increases the risk of death from Covid-19.
Also discussed in the Guardian article if you look globally at what happened to climate, a disproportionate amount of blame does need to go to the global north, especially former colonial powers.
So how can the real estate industry help? Put bluntly and simply, we need more people of colour in the profession, especially in senior positions, whose lived experience can shape the future of our physical landscape. We have to actively engage with communities who are unrepresented in our profession from a young age to show them how a career in the built environment is both viable and interesting. And inspire them to enter a profession where they can be a part of real change. But it cannot just end there, we must create an inclusive industry, including creating an office environment and networking culture which is comfortable and welcoming for all. We have a long way to go but it is time to take up this challenge.
Tackling systemic racism is fundamental to achieving environmental and climate justice, according to leading activists, as Covid-19 disparities and the global uprising against police brutality lay bare the ramifications of racial inequalities in every sphere of life. One reason why people of color are dying at higher rates in the US? The air they breathe Mustafa Santiago Ali A wave of protests demanding an end to racist policing have taken place in towns and cities across the world amid mounting evidence that brown, black and native communities have also been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Increasingly, experts and protesters have identified racial injustice as the common denominator in police violence, as well as environmental and health inequalities linked to poor Covid-19 outcomes. And on the streets, what started as Black Lives Matter protests have morphed into a movement for racial justice amid growing recognition that systemic racism denies people of colour equal access to economic, social, environmental and climate justice, as well as health equity, political power, civil rights and human rights.