Like many people around the world, I was horrified by the murder of George Floyd.
Kneeling with impunity on someone’s neck as they shout “I can’t breathe; I can’t breeze” until they die shows a total absence of care or compassion for a fellow human being. It was shocking and abhorrent.
Like many people around the world I completely understood the wave of anger of the Black Lives Matter protests.
The murder and the outpouring of justified rage over it has led me into a long period of serious reflection – I am sure I am not the only person for whom Black Lives Matter has had that impact.
Do I actively practice the values I espouse?
Do I role model that diversity and tolerance in which I so passionately believe?
Have I turned a blind eye to intolerance and, in so doing, had I condoned discrimination?
Have I behaved in a way that did not passionately support diversity?
Have I led the Embassy in a way that promoted and encouraged open conversation and debate about discrimination no matter whether on the grounds of skin colour, gender, age, weight, religious belief or sexual orientation?
I am proud to represent an organization which now defines itself as ‘vehemently anti-racist’. We should all be vehemently anti-racist. There is no space here for half-measures. And we should be passionate advocates for applying that vehemence whenever and wherever we see discrimination or intolerance.
Last week in the Embassy we had a very good conversation about how to encourage and foster tolerance and how to reject intolerance. We discussed how accepting discrimination in one part of our lives facilitates or condones it in another. We discussed the difficulty of respecting other people’s views when those views disagreed with our own values. It was not an easy conversation: such matters are always very sensitive. But it was an essential conversation.
As I leave Morocco I am determined to carry forward that and the positive constructive spirit in which it was held to whatever my next job maybe. And I resolve to confront prejudice, discrimination and intolerance wherever I may find it.