‘We don’t listen well enough’ – High Sheriff on importance of anti-racism
- Credit: BRIDGET MCINTYRE MBE
High Sheriff of Suffolk Bridget McIntyre MBE has called for more people to stand up against racism after completing a cross-county tour.
Mrs McIntyre met with various people and community leaders during her journey across the county, in a bid to “put herself in their shoes” and understand life as someone of a minority ethnic background.
Mrs McIntyre started the walk in Lowestoft on September 7 after being inspired to do more to combat racism thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement, which locally has led to equality protests being held in Ipswich, Felixstowe and Woodbridge.
On her journey Mrs McIntyre met with Urmila Rason, deputy CEO of East Coast College, to learn about the hurdles faced when looking for a better life in the UK, while she also met with black American servicemen and women from RAF Lakenheath to hear about life in America.
She said: “More recently racism has had a higher profile in the media with the Black Lives Matter campaign. As High Sheriff of Suffolk, I have realised that it is not enough for me to say that I am not racist – I need to become anti-racist to be able to have a positive impact.
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“I have learnt that one of the issues is that we don’t listen well enough and we don’t put ourselves in other people’s shoes to understand what life might be like for others.
“My aim is to be able to learn and understand more about what I could do to help and to promote the concept of listening without prejudice.”
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She also met with Tim Holder of Suffolk Community Foundation and his sister Karen Culham to learn about their upbringing in an adopted family with children of different races, as well as a member of the Suffolk Ethnic Police Association.
On finishing her journey Mrs McIntyre said she has learned the importance of building relationships, while stressing organisations should do more to combat racism and promote equality.
Mrs McIntyre added: “We need to get to know each other as individuals, it helps remove prejudice.”
It is not the first time Mrs McIntyre has taken to promoting equality since being sworn into the role in April, having already met virtually with the leaders of the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality and Suffolk Refugee Support.