Mayor Matt Brown’s track record on issues of race came under fire during London’s Community Forum on Racism on Saturday morning.
After Brown addressed the forum, two activists stood up and questioned the mayor’s actions when it comes to issues facing black, brown, and indigenous people.
Forrest Bivens was first to speak.
Bivens specifically pointed to Brown’s “inability” to take a public stance on carding and the City’s poverty panel as reasons why Brown’s credibility is lacking.
“His response was lacking. I don’t think he gets it,” Bivens told AM980, “He said some nice things in his opening comments about how he doesn’t understand, but we’ve told him, in a not-so-subtle way, that his record has been offensive.”
A second speaker, Rowa Mohamed, spoke when Brown apologized and addressed the work of the poverty panel.
“His apology was, as far as I’m concerned, an attempt to placate people…He said this place isn’t a place for an apology, but this is a place for apologies, and you do need to apologize if you’re in power, but your apology isn’t enough — when we ask for an apology, we want an acknowledgement,” Mohamed said, “They don’t even call it anti-racism — inclusively, diversity, these fluffy words that don’t have any deeper meaning behind them.”
“I’m here today to listen, learn, and take action with the community,” Brown told AM980.
“Just like everyone else, I’m learning each and every day. When I developed a poverty panel a year ago, I received some significant criticism for the makeup of the panel — and I listened to that. I added members to the panel, and it made the panel better — which ultimately made their work better.”
“Certainly, as an ally, I need to demonstrate support to the community and as a leader I need to ensure that we’re moving in the right direction to eliminate racism from our community.”
Approximately 150 people were in attendance at the event at the South London Community Centre.
Panelists at the event included Chief Leslee White-Eye from Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, Leroy Hibbert from LUSO Community Services, Community Leader and Activist Saleha Khan, and Lorraine McNeil from Fanshawe College.
The forum’s objectives were to acknowledge racism in the city, develop an understanding on interrupting it, and to create actions to make London more inclusive.