COUNCILLORS are to receive training in “unconscious racism” to better understand the passions fuelling a political campaign.

Buckinghamshire councillors will be educated by external speakers in racial bias and Black history to gain insight into what is driving the Black Lives Matter movement.

The exercise, announced during a High Wycombe Community Board meeting, on Wednesday, September 23, coincides with Black History Month which runs throughout October.

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Cllr Rafiq Raja, who is chairman of High Wycombe’s Community Cohesion Working Group, told members “two or three very good speakers” had been arranged for the talk.

The Labour member added “our fellow councillors in particular” need to know more about the issue.

Cllr Raja’s comments were made during a section of the meeting in which government data showed the coronavirus has ‘disproportionately impacted Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities’.

He added this is “indicative of social and economic deprivation – as well as the fact the government’s message may not have been fully understood by people with English as a second language”.

Literature in various languages was proposed by Cllr Raja, including information targeted at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust.

“Linked to this is our desire to have a free course for ladies, particularly those with English as a second language, where ESL lessons combine advice about healthy living, mental health, pregnancy, childcare, diet and obesity,” he said.

A Wycombe pharmacist present at the virtual meeting supported Cllr Raja’s statement but said that “realistically” the responsibility of health inequality should lie with Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), not the Community Board.

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Speaking to the issue of councillor training, Cllr Raja said: “We have also felt that society at large, and our fellow councillors in particular, need to understand some aspects of Black history.

“In this respect we propose to have a session about racism, and I am pleased to say we have found two or three very good speakers, to talk about unconscious racism and Black history.

“Hopefully, this will give us some insight as to why there is so much passion and frustration associated with the Black Lives Matter campaign.”

Buckinghamshire Council and Cllr Raja have been approached to confirm the names of the speakers.

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