Sadiq Khan calls for all recognition of slavers to end in the UK

8 June 2020, 16:55 | Updated: 8 June 2020, 18:48

By Seán Hickey

The Mayor of London said that the toppling of the statue of George Colston in Bristol has shown the need to strip slave traders of their glory.

Following anti-racism protests last weekend which saw the statue of a slave trader in Bristol toppled and thrown into the harbour, the question of racism and race relations in the UK has been the main topic of discussion. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan spoke to Shelagh Fogarty to reflect on a weekend to remember.

He told Shelagh that the elation in ethnic minority communities for the topic being moved into the mainstream is visible today. Mr Khan told her that many people have told him today that they've "been wanting to have these conversations for decades."

The Mayor of London pointed out the relief of many Bristolians at the loss of the statue of Edward Colston, noting that "they've been complaining about the statues of Colston for decades now" and the removal of the monument has hopefully become the start of a wider trend.

Mr Khan noted that in London "there are statues of slavers as well" and hatched an idea that would improve race relations greatly. Sadiq Khan suggested that towns and cities start to build "statues and squares and street names not named after slavers, but people that reflect the diverse nature of our cities" adding that it would serve the UK well to have cities filled with the memory of "icons we can be proud of rather than being ashamed of."

The toppling of the George Colston statue highlighted untapped racial conversations in the UK
The toppling of the George Colston statue highlighted untapped racial conversations in the UK. Picture: PA

Shelagh began the conversation by asking for Mr Khan's view on whether or not the UK is a racist country, whereby he conceded that "there is racism in our city, in our country."

The Mayor of London spoke of "catalysts for change" being the killing of George Floyd in the United States and proof of disproportionate deaths of UK minorities because of Covid-19 which have brought race relations in the UK to the front of our minds and to be the main topic of conversation.

Mr Khan accepted that he and Shelagh "can't really understand what it is like to be a black person on the receiving end of racism on a daily basis" although he admitted that he "suffered racism, islamophobia, a whole host of things" himself.

Sadiq Khan told Shelagh that the reason why the death of George Floyd hit home so strongly was because many black people could put themselves in the shoes of the man himself, and they were fed up with seeing the obvious brutality occurring in the US and not addressing the issues that are clear on UK shores.

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