With the past fortnight’s news being dominated by UK Black Lives Matter protests, I caught up with local equality expert Jake Furby to get his take on things. Jake is a champion of equal rights – from his role in setting up York’s major LGBT organisations, to his representation in forums like York Racial Equality Network, through to his support for our city’s refugee and migrant communities. Here’s a few thoughts from Jake:
The death of George Floyd is tragic, sadly he was not the only one and there will be many other George Floyds if we do not change society for the better. We need to engage in the understanding that we still have systematic oppression of Black people in our society. This, for some, is a difficult conversation to have, as many see themselves as liberal people who treat everyone the same.
This is the crux of the issue. We need to educate people about the difference between equality (treating everyone the same), equity (adjusting services so people can participate) and liberation (the removal of all barriers).
But how do we do this? How do we liberate society for the better? I do not have all the answers, but a good place to start is yourself. I deliver equality training to various organisations across the UK and many people find it difficult to breakdown their “professional barrier” and be their true selves. It is only by being your true self that you can start to challenge any bias you may have against different races.
Another way of influencing society is by unionising together. This can take many forms, including protesting. The protests (which have been mostly peaceful) have magnified and put a spotlight on the racial injustices of black people across the world. I have been advocating for the liberation of black people for over 10 years (I come from a mixed race background with a black mother and white father, so you can argue actually that my mere existence is a protest). These protests feel quite different to other anti-racist protests I have been on. There is more energy and you feel there are more people than before supporting the cause.
In a historical context these protests are not new – from black slave uprisings to the civil right marches – we have been protesting racism for hundreds of years. We as a country need to implement vast changes from housing to healthcare (the Covid-19 pandemic has shown how racism can kill more people in a global pandemic based on race). It is only through changes in policy and legislation that we can profoundly change people’s lives in this country.
Jake Furby Biography
I am a mixed raced person born in the UK. An interesting fact about me is that I have ancestry from every continent (except Antarctica). I have helped set up 3 equality charities in York: York LGBT Forum, York Pride and York LGBT History Month and I am currently a trustee of two of these charities. I have also set up projects in Mental Health Peer Support and offer support to Asylum Seekers and Refugees. I guest lecture at the University of York on the MA and BA Social Work Course. I have worked with disabled people, people who experience mental-ill health and helped York become a Human Rights City. I have also advocated for People of Colour.
I have 10 years’ experience delivering training in York and North Yorkshire to businesses, public sector organisations and charities. I have also written policies and procedures focusing on Equality and Data Protection for different organisations. I have a BA (Hons) Counselling Studies Degree from York St John University. During my degree I developed my training skills by offering my experience and knowledge of LGBT and BME issues. This inspired me to develop training on these subjects.
After my counselling degree, I worked for several organisations which supported people with Mental Ill-Health, Learning Difficulties and Sexual Health needs. From this I have developed bespoke training covering many topics.
When I am not working, I like to paint, write poetry and visit historical buildings.