Shabana has written to constituents who have been in touch regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.
Her response comes after many constituents contacted her in light of recent events in the USA and the global movement for racial equality.
You can read her letter in full below.
Letter to Constituents
Thank you for contacting me regarding the Black Lives Matter movement, in light of recent events in the USA and the global movement for racial equality.
Many constituents have been in touch with me regarding protests across the United States after the murder of George Floyd by an American police officer in Minnesota. I share their anger at this unspeakable outrage.
Since his senseless killing less than a fortnight ago, people are rightly concerned about the British Government’s involvement in the sales of UK arms and security equipment to the USA, the Public Health England report into the link between those affected by Covid-19 and ethnicity, and the treatment of Black British people in the United Kingdom.
Like you, I have been left horrified by the shocking images of US police and National Guard using excessive force against Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis and other US cities. The appalling scenes of police violence across the US must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. I condemn the divisive and abhorrent rhetoric from President Donald Trump, that no doubt will cause greater suffering to Black Americans, their families, and communities.
I absolutely agree that arms sales should be stopped, and any new licenses for the export of riot control projectiles and equipment to the United States, until it can be determined whether any of these items are being used in response to the ongoing protests. I have a strong track record of opposing arms sales used to inflict damage upon oppressed peoples. I fully support the calls from Labour’s Shadow International Trade Secretary, Emily Thornberry MP, for Government action on this issue and have signed other cross-party letters to this effect.
You can read Labour’s letter to the Government in full at the following link: https://labour.org.uk/press/emily-thornberry-demands-action-on-us-riot-control-exports/
I understand that many who have been in touch regarding the Black Lives Matter movement in the US share a passion for addressing racial injustices in our own country. The number of emails I have received from constituents present the real depth of emotion and purpose on this issue.
Representing a constituency where two thirds of people come from an ethnic minority background, and over a quarter are of black or mixed heritage, I am particularly concerned with ensuring the voices of those from minority backgrounds are heard, and that my work deeply reflects the cause for social and racial justice in Birmingham, our region, and beyond.
I feel just as strongly about these issues as you. I have previously spoken out against the way police stop and search powers are disproportionately applied to people of Black and Asian backgrounds, I have campaigned on behalf of constituents with family members affected by deaths in police custody, I have raised the issue of surveillance of minority communities, and I’m currently working to expose the covert racism that takes place in the modern economy, for example in the insurance industry.
Regarding the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities, I was one of the first Members of Parliament to raise this issue in parliamentary questions and correspondence with the Government. I have consistently called for a breakdown of Covid-19 impact by ethnicity, and have amplified work led by Doreen Lawrence in calling for swift action to protect Black, Asian and minority ethnic workers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
You can read Keir Starmer and Doreen Lawrence’s letter to the Prime Minister here: https://labour.org.uk/press/keir-starmer-and-doreen-lawrence-call-for-swift-action-from-government-to-protect-bame-communities-from-covid-19/https://labour.org.uk/press/keir-starmer-and-doreen-lawrence-call-for-swift-action-from-government-to-protect-bame-communities-from-covid-19/
As you may be aware, I recently tabled a Parliamentary Question on the matter and was informed by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care that Public Health England have been asked to complete a rapid review to understand how COVID-19 may be having an impact on different ethnic groups, and other groups of concern.
Now that Public Health England have finally released their report into the impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities, it is clear that the virus is not ‘the great leveller’ we were led to believe it was. The report raises even more questions than it answers regarding the risk to ethnic minority communities in Birmingham, particularly from Black and Asian backgrounds, and it is time the Government offer proper solutions to this public health crisis.
My work has also covered the risks faced by multigenerational households, which predominately affects my constituents of Black and South Asian descent. I still have serious concerns that the Government has not put a proper plan in place to protect Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities from risks associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. Most recently, I have written to Dr Justin Varney, Director of Public Health at Birmingham City Council, asking him to outline what, if any, support they have received from central Government to mitigate this risk.
You may also be interested to read the letter I sent to the Home Secretary regarding the status of migrant workers in the NHS. In light of the extraordinary contributions that have been made by migrant workers in the NHS, many of whom are of African or Caribbean heritage, it is only right that we repay their tireless commitment with safety and security for their families living in the UK.
You can read my letter to the Home Secretary on this particular issue here: https://www.shabanamahmood.org/2020/04/08/shabana-writes-to-home-secretary-on-nhs-migrant-workers/
For an overview of my work during the Covid-19 pandemic please visit my website: https://www.shabanamahmood.org/category/covid/
As a country, it is clear that we can and must do better to tackle the racial injustices that scar our society. As your Member of Parliament, I will carry on working with parliamentary colleagues and the local community to ensure Black voices are heard at the heart of our democracy. I am so proud of our brilliant city, and I want to make sure that my work continues to be reflective of black and ethnic minority experiences in Birmingham.
Rest assured, I will be monitoring this issue closely to ensure that the Government is properly held to account for its actions.
Thank you again for getting in touch with me regarding this incredibly important issue.
Shabana Mahmood MP