The Social Policy Association Executive wish to express our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the violence, hate and brutality towards George Floyd and other Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic men and women in the US, the UK and elsewhere in the world. We recognise the deeply systemic nature of racism and white privilege which create inequalities in all areas of life including health, as demonstrated most recently in the current Covid-19 pandemic. Social policy has an important role to play in both recognising challenges and informing solutions to achieve race equality.
Structural inequalities also exist, of course, in Higher Education, and the SPA has been active in seeking to understand and address these over the last few years though there is much more to do. In 2018, the SPA Executive commissioned Gary Craig, Bankole Cole and Nasreen Ali to carry out an independent audit and to produce a report, The Missing Dimension: Where is ‘race’ in Social Policy teaching and learning? As a first step in response to that report, the SPA organised the opening plenary at the 2019 SPA conference in Durham to focus on ‘race’ and ethnicity in Social Policy, with contributions from Claire Alexander, Gary Craig, Coretta Philips and John Solomos.
But discussion is not enough. Action is needed in relation to increasing diversity at all levels in social policy from undergraduates to senior leaders. BAME writers and topics also need greater representation in our publications and our teaching. As a first step towards action, on 1st June 2020, the SPA launched its BAME Action Plan. This plan, alone, cannot be a panacea to all of these concerns, but it can be a springboard to recognising areas of concern and making a public stand to address them. Not all of the recommendations in the report can be addressed solely by the SPA Executive, and we will seek to work collaboratively with other learned societies, higher education institutions and other stakeholders in doing this work. We call for our members to help us put this plan into action. We all have a responsibility here – particularly those of us in positions of power and privilege.