Black Leaders Awareness Day

“We are responsible for the world in which we find ourselves – if only because we are the only sentient force which can change it"

Never a truer word spoken, some might say, and a statement that has particular poignancy at this time.

James Baldwin, American novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, and activist said it. He was one of the 20th century’s greatest writers – he broke new literary ground with his exploration of racial issues and was especially known for his essays on the Black experience in America.

Baldwin is one of many notable figures being hailed as part of Black Leaders Awareness Day (BLAD) this Sunday (18th July 2021). BLAD was created to enable people from all cultures to experience the wisdom of past, current and next-generation leaders through the speeches, quotes and videos they or others share.

It’s also an opportunity to introduce and raise awareness of black leaders close to home. None more relevant perhaps than the 3 current and future black leaders of our country, that we have heard and read so much about in recent days – Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford.

The bravery, courage and leadership they each demonstrated when stepping up in the biggest of moments during last week’s Euros final is commendable and something we are all extremely proud of. These men are part of an England team that inspired a nation and brought lots of joy.

Despite that, what followed the Euro 2020 final however, is a sobering reminder of why the fight for racial equality is still ongoing. From booing the players’ taking of the knee to protest against racism, to the vicious attacks on each of these players on social media – racist attitudes reared their ugly heads throughout this tournament.

Like the majority, we hope that one day soon, these outdated and abhorrent attitudes are eliminated. As an employer, as a workforce and as individual members of society, we give our full support to Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford on this Black Leaders Awareness Day.

Marcus Rashford is one of the North West’s own and the commendable leadership he has shown in his campaign against food poverty has been nothing short of heroic. In the space of a year; Marcus Rashford helped raise more than £20 million for the food charity Fareshare and pushed the government into funding a package to support the ending of child food poverty. What an achievement.

Phil Aspin, CFO and co-executive sponsor of the Multi-Cultural Network:

The brutal murder of George Floyd just over twelve months ago was a wakeup call for everyone in society. In the aftermath, we as a company have been asking ourselves difficult questions and challenging ourselves to do more, right across the diversity agenda. So in the run up to Black Leader Awareness Day, I wanted to share my thoughts on some of our journey. I am pleased that John Amaechi and his team at Amaechi Performance Systems have been supporting us on this journey. In recent years John has spent his time helping people understand all about White Privilege but also about privilege more generally and how different groups in society face day to day discrimination be that due to race, gender, sexuality, disability or social background. John has helped our leadership team understand that the worst behaviour we tolerate defines our culture and how it’s important to act in the moment when you observe an injustice so everyone is clear where you stand. He often talks about the need to be “anti-racist” (or any other incivility) as it is not enough to sit passively on the fence in face of injustice – you need to be clear you are firmly on the other side. Our values and behaviours in those everyday moments define who we are – and this defines our culture. In recent weeks I have seen exactly this style of leadership in action from Gareth Southgate – both in defending the taking of the knee – and in his response to the shocking racist abuse of members of his England team.