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Now & Next: How to make Black lives matter more – in partnership with The Economist

Posted on 14 January 2022

George Floyd’s tragic death led to promises to tackle structural racism across the world, and in particular to improve equity for the Black community. But over a year later, what progress has been made in tackling racism amongst the police? What is required to address racial injustice in the education system? And why is there still not enough Black representation in positions of corporate power?

Get in the car.

Please man, please, please.

George Floyd’s tragic death led to promises to tackle structural racism across the world and to make Black lives better.

Black lives matter. Black lives matter.

So over a year later, what progress is being made in tackling racism amongst the Police?

Two Chicago Police officers ran up to him, slammed him against a brick wall and smashed his head onto the sidewalk more than once.

We have to make sure that this Police department reflects the needs of the community.

What is required to address racial injustice in education systems?

Black students are three times more likely than White students to be suspended or expelled from school and this has serious consequences.

And why are there still not enough Black faces in positions of corporate power?

It’s completely inefficient to exclude 40% of the labour market from your management jobs because you are going to be excluding very good people.

Ivor, can you hear me? My name’s Gerry. We’re the Madison Police Department.

These offices from Madison’s Police force are being trained in de-escalation techniques.

Can you come out and talk to me a little bit?

I’m in my house. I’m not bothering anybody.

Black Americans are nearly three times more likely than Whites to die at the hands of the Police. Many in the US see policing as the front line of racial injustice and believe improving Black lives starts with improving policing.

You seem like you feel like you are being taken advantage of?

Pissed man, I’m pissed, because they wander in my house, stand for me, do you know what? The phone, they say you call me on, I pay for that. I paid for that phone.

Dr Shon Barnes, Chief of Madison Police
There’s been many incidents that have occurred here in America that has really caused policing to take a second look at itself and quite frankly, it’s long overdue.

Traditional policing tactics have prioritised the safety of officers and the need to seize control of situations quickly.

It was a little different twenty years ago when we started.

We were told you gotta get control of the situation as soon as possible.

But now these officers are learning to pause and assess situations before taking action.

Sergeant Nate Becker, Madison Police
The biggest thing I want our law officers to learn and to know is just to focus on slowing things down.

Research by psychologists at Stanford has found that slowing down can reduce the harms caused by implicit bias.

Tamara Gilkes Borr, US Policy correspondent, The Economist
In Police departments snap judgements can be made when things are going quickly and by training Police officers to slow the moment down, to slow down the events, we can actually help reduce implicit bias and reduce negative instances.

The strategy of pausing to reflect has produced positive results. The year after its introduction in Oakland, California, the number of Black drivers stopped by Police dropped by 45%.

Morning.

Stronger relations with Black American communities also require Police training that better reflects the demands of the job. The majority of policing situations demand an ability to communicate effectively.

I’m trying to talk to you dude.

Okay.

You just come on man.

No, I’ve not come to hurt you Andre, I just… I want you to be okay, I don’t want you to get injured at all. Andre, can you come out and talk to me for a second. Step away from the hammer?

From Police dramas to westerns, American popular culture has a long history of glorifying the gun toting law and order cop. But an analysis of three Police forces found that on average only 4% of their time was spent dealing with violent crime.

He’s concerned about you right now.

Where is he? Can I see him?

And 30% of Police time involves incidents where no crime has been committed such as domestic disputes.

But I understand that the situation that you are in.

No you don’t.

Around 10% of Police cases relate to people suffering a mental health crisis.

Is it possible for you just put the knife on the ground now? Maybe you feel safer.

I can’t, I’m not going to hurt anybody else. I can’t, I can’t do that.

Well I hope that the public would appreciate how deliberate we are trying to be with respect to active listening, recognising a lot of calls that Police officers go to are not quick fixes.

Get out. Get out the car. Get out now.

I have not committed any crime.

But changing the attitudes of Police towards Black communities will be hard. Compared with Whites, Black Americans are five times more likely to get arrested. They are three times more likely to get killed by the Police.

I’m honestly afraid to get out.

Yeah, you should be.

I have a 12 year old son and the reason I wear this uniform, the reason I took this position, is because I need to ensure that no parent feels what I’m feeling right now. There are parents having a conversation with their child and thinking if they’re ten minutes behind curfew, are they okay? And they’re not worried about being robbed or they’re not worried about a car being stolen, they’re worried about what will happen if their son is stopped by the Police and that is a reality for Black people in America.

Trust in the Police has long been lower amongst Black Americans than Whites. After the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a Police officer, Black Americans’ confidence in the Police fell to an all-time low of just 19%. This helped fuel a campaign to defund Police forces.

Tonight with a mounting national chorus decrying Police brutality against Black Americans, there is a new call for deep structural reform of policing across the country. Many are now demanding departments be defunded, dismantled or outright abolished.

Only one city, Camden in New Jersey, has abolished its Police force and started from scratch and many ‘defund the Police’ advocates are not arguing for this. They want resources diverted away from the Police towards tackling the root causes of crime.

Kendrick Sampson, Actor
It does not give our communities the resources that they actually need from the things that would actually keep us safe, not cops.

Tamara Gilkes Borr, US Policy correspondent, The Economist
The Defund the Police Movement is a movement that is probably better described as a reallocation of funding rather than a taking away of funding. Many advocates in this movement want those funds to go to the community, to focus on other things like mental health and homelessness and housing.

The idea behind this reform is to empower communities to live lives where they are less affected by Police interventions.

Professor Barry Friedman, Professor of Law and Affiliated Professor of Politics, New York University
Well, the United States has vast problems with racial relations and they permeate almost every aspect of our society from fair housing, integrated housing, equality schools, it’s just essential that we not lose sight of the fact that we are trying to solve the country’s problems with the Police and badges and guns don’t solve social problems.

Back in Madison this is an approach favoured by local activist, Brandi Grayson.

Brandi Grayson, Founder and CEO, Urban Triage
I have a pessimistic view of policing as a model for serving our people. We need a system that’s for the people, by the people, that consider the people that’s most impacted and vulnerable to poverty.

But with 18,000 different law enforcement agencies in the US, pushing through reform is a tall order.

Fox New alert: Minneapolis voters say No to a measure that would have dismantled their Police department.

The climate has changed since the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in 2020, with resistance to change emerging.

So, cities across the country are seeing a major spike in violent crime now.

There was a rush of enthusiasm to do something that needed to be done but now with rising crime rates, with pressure from Police unions, from uncertainty in the public about what the right answers are, I think it’s getting a little harder to affect some of the reforms that are desperately needed.

It’s not just America where Black people are overrepresented in the criminal justice system. In England and Wales just over 3% of the population are Black yet nearly 13% of people in prison are Black. One way to address this over representation is to reduce the number of Black students who are excluded from schools.

Tamara Gilkes Borr, US Policy correspondent, The Economist
People who drop out of school or are pushed out of school are more likely to become incarcerated. So when we talk about the school to prison pipeline, what we are saying is that when Black students make the same mistakes as White students, they are more likely to end up getting involved in the criminal justice system. That is an example of structural racism that has an impact today.

In 2018 89% of children in young offender institutions in England and Wales had been excluded from school and in England, if you are a student from an Afro-Caribbean background, you are four times more likely to be excluded than a White British peer. Kiran Gill advised on a Government report about exclusion.

Kiran Gill, Founder, The Difference
Even when statisticians can trawl for other factors that are at play for those young people, like poverty or geography, they still find a statistically significant disproportion for certain ethnic groups.

Stefan Brown, Campaigner, Just for Kids Law
People are changing all of our peers, this feeling on the outside.

Stefan campaigns with the charity Just for Kids Law to end school exclusions.

Can I say hello. Yeah.

Stefan Brown, Campaigner, Just for Kids Law
I feel like I'm being outcast, feeling like we don’t belong in society.

At the age of 12 he became one of the nearly 450,000 children who get temporarily or permanently excluded from English schools each year.

Stefan Brown, Campaigner, Just for Kids Law
I was the kid that learned in a different way and to schools, they see it as misbehaving or badly behaved. You’ve got this Black boy misbehaving and a lot of teachers that don’t come from the place that you come from will say it’s a sign of aggression and they won’t tolerate it.

For many excluded students, their disruptive behaviour often stems from difficult home lives.

Stefan Brown, Campaigner, Just for Kids Law
I never had a childhood. My childhood was based on gang members, drugs, robbing etcetera, etcetera. I was really being outcast by so many different places and being an outcast in school. That is a very terrible thing.

Many of the Black students who get excluded live in high crime inner city neighbourhoods.

Stefan Brown, Campaigner, Just for Kids Law
If they’re not in school, who do you think they are going to be with? They are going to be with the drug dealers, the killers, the whatever you want to name, whatever name you want to put to them, they are going to be with them type of people.

Kiran Gill, Founder, The Difference
In the majority of cases, falling out of education potentially means a long life of challenge, of interaction with crime, of mental ill health and of struggles in interpersonal relationships, it’s just too important an issue to say we can’t do anything about this.

One city in Britain has done something about reducing exclusions. This is St Roch’s School in Glasgow. Fifteen years ago it excluded around 300 pupils a year.

Stephen Stone, Head Teacher, St Roch’s Secondary School
If there’s something we can do, you need to let us know and then we’ll try and do what we can to help.

But then a new policy was implemented, with the agreement of the headmaster and in recent years only a handful of students have been excluded.

Stephen Stone, Head Teacher, St Roch’s Secondary School
It’s important that you get all your homework done and get studying but you need to take time for yourself as well and you’ve got to the balance right so you get some time to relax. Exclusions for us are very much an absolute last resort and the reason for that is because we don’t think that exclusions solve any problems.

The school has invested in training its teachers to better understand and support students displaying behavioural issues.

Stephen Stone, Head Teacher, St Roch’s Secondary School
We have a real need to find out what is lying behind poor behaviour and if we can understand what is leading to that then we can tackle the root cause rather than the symptom of the bad behaviour in school.

You can kind of see some of the kids who come in from more challenging backgrounds or kids who have more confidence and more self-esteem really struggle early in the morning.

This approach was implemented systematically across Glasgow’s schools in 2010. The results for children of all ethnic backgrounds have been positive. Between 2010 and 2015, youth crime in the city fell by 50%.

Maureen McKenna, Executive Director of Education, Glasgow City Council
I don’t have any evidence to say well because you’ve reduced exclusions, that’s what’s happened with youth crime but they must be linked. If we have more young people getting more qualifications, able to make more positive choices in their lives, able to be the next generation of positive families, then everybody wins, don’t they?

Reducing exclusions can help tackle structural racism within education systems and it can save Governments and tax payer’s lots of money. In England, each cohort of permanently excluded pupils costs an extra £2.1 billion over their lifetime, in education, health, welfare and criminal justice costs. It costs £18,000 to send an excluded child to an alternative provision school, compared with around £6,000 in mainstream education.

Kiran Gill, Founder, The Difference
I’ve heard from everyone’s tutors and it’s really clear that all of you are already making a difference in ways big and small.

Kiran Gill runs a charity which aims to bring the benefits of Glasgow’s policy to the school system in England.

Kiran Gill, Founder, The Difference
We run programmes with teachers who want to become heads one day and we take them for two years to work in a school for excluded students, in leadership position, and they also learn so much more about multi-agency working, mental health, effective support for families and after two years they take that expertise back to a mainstream school in a senior leadership position, where they can shape the strategy of what that school is going to do.

Improving the experiences of Black children within education systems will have far reaching benefits. It could help give Black people a better chance of getting ahead in the corporate world. While Black workers make up 12.9% of the labour force in America, at the senior manager and vice president level, they make up just 5% and at the senior vice present level, just 4%. At the very top, only around 1% of Fortune 500 CEOs are Black.

Frank Dobbin, Professor of Sociology, Harvard University
There’s been very little progress on diversifying the corporate managerial workforce since the late 1980s. The numbers are, they’re just, they’re so depressing.

The solution may not be the one many companies turn to after George Floyd’s death.

This afternoon 8,000 Starbuck’s stores across the country will close to train employees on racial bias.

If you are a racist barrister at Starbucks, good news, you’ve got about a month left to while out.

Unconscious bias training may sound like the right policy for companies to adopt but it has long proved to be ineffective.

Frank Dobbin, Professor of Sociology, Harvard University
What happens is that some people think okay we’re fixed and so they don’t pay attention to the problem anymore and other people are aggravated and they think that they’ve been unfairly blamed for being racist or sexist. Astonishing to me that companies are still throwing so much money at this clearly failed approach.

Tamara Gilkes Borr, US Policy correspondent, The Economist
For us to actually see progress being made, we have to step away from easy banding solutions and focus on root causes for this disparity.

The evidence shows that trying to change the attitudes of individuals within companies doesn’t work but changing systems does.

Frank Dobbin, Professor of Sociology, Harvard University
Companies that put in formal mentoring programmes that are open to everybody, they see huge increases in the diversity of the management population after five or ten years. We looked at Black men and women, their numbers in management increase after companies put in childcare programmes, flexibility programmes and a parental leave perks.

Companies with more diverse managerial teams also tend to do better. Management consultancy firm McKinsey found that companies that did best on cultural diversity were 36% more likely to outperform financially those that did worst. Despite this, many companies are reluctant to invest in the necessary reforms.

Frank Dobbin, Professor of Sociology, Harvard University
These things are harder than hiring a diversity trainer who will come in and do a session and who will then just go away and let you continue to do business as usual.

Improving the opportunities for Black people to take up management positions will help close the racial wealth gap. Increasing the numbers of successful Black entrepreneurs will also help reduce this gap across the world. That means White investors in rich countries being more willing to back businesses run by Black people, including those in East Africa. Nairobi in Kenya has been dubbed the Silicon Savannah with its booming tech sector.

Kenya is now cited as one of the most plugged in countries on the African continent.

And Tesh Mbaabu is one of many freewheeling tech entrepreneurs with a drive to succeed and an appetite for risk.

Tesh Mbaabu, Co-founder and CEO, MarketForce 360
Hi, I’m Tesh Mbaabu and even more adventurous spirits and a technology entrepreneur. You have about 1.3 billion people in the continent so it just shows that the potential over the next decade is just unfathomable. So, we’re on our way to Kangemi, which is one of a small ethnic slums with over 100,000 people so, we’ll be meeting Emma who’s one of our merchants, she’s been doing very well in the last couple of weeks, so love to talk to her and hear how she’s doing.

Tesh has launched an app, now used by more than 25,000 retail outlets like this one.

Tesh Mbaabu, Co-founder and CEO, MarketForce 360
So what we do simply is help mom and pop stores to re-order for their inventory, digitally and conveniently through our app, as well as earn extra income by acting as distribution agents for popular financial services like bill payments.

But like many Black entrepreneurs here, he has struggled to attract investment from wealthy countries. In 2019 only 6% of the money invested in Kenyan fintech startups went to those founded by local Kenyans. The vast majority went to startups founded by expats.

Tesh Mbaabu, Co-founder and CEO, MarketForce 360
Yes, I’d say it’s been a challenge for most Africans. There’s quite a gap between the entrepreneur on the ground who’s building, talking to customers and the people with access to capital that are supposed to finance you.

Part of the problem is a lack of Black investors. Most venture capital firms are concentrated in the US and Europe. One analysis found that less than 1% of these firms have Black owners.

Tesh Mbaabu, Co-founder and CEO, MarketForce 360
Raising money is about who do I know because before I invest in the business or the idea, I’m investing in the person.

More bridges between Western investors and Black African entrepreneurs are needed.

Stephen Gugu, Co-founder and Director, Viktoria Ventures
I think that we should also write to investors who are interested.

And that’s the focus of this angel investment consultancy firm in Kenya.

Stephen Gugu, Co-founder and Director, Viktoria Ventures
The markets here are not what they are in the West, Usually have cultural issues, you have challenges with infrastructure and that just means that businesses grow in a much slower pace, one, and it take much more cash to get a business to Unicom status or to that kind of Africa-wide company.

It also trains local entrepreneurs in how to present their ideas to Western investors.

Jason Musyoka, Angel Network Manager, Viktoria Ventures
I would say some of the skills that we think are quite lucky and especially when it comes to very young entrepreneurs, is the whole idea of explaining or articulating their ideas properly.

We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horror of Police brutality.

Racial injustice carries different historical burdens across the world. The solutions are complex and various but the benefits would be felt beyond Black communities. One estimate found that structural racism had cost America over $70 trillion in lost output since 1990. Nevertheless big questions remain about the collective appetite to make Black lives better.

Tamara Gilkes Borr, US Policy correspondent, The Economist
The idea behind structural racism is that racism is built into the systems and policies of a country or a society. When we are asking ourselves how do we get rid of racism? How do we make society more equitable? We have to focus on the people in power, politicians, CEOs, school leaders and others.

It’s those men and women who are key to changing systems and when the systems change, so perhaps will attitudes and outcomes.

Tamara Gilkes Borr, US Policy correspondent, The Economist
Hi, I’m Tamara Gilkes Borr, US Policy correspondent at The Economist. If you would like to read more about race then please click on the link and if you’d like to watch more of our Now & Next series, please click on the other link. Thank you for watching and please do not forget to subscribe.

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