THIS week's Councillor Column is written by Cllr Lorna Douglas, SNP representative for Helensburgh Central.

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THIS is Black History Month 2020, a month which celebrates black history; philosophically, culturally, educationally and geographically.

On the Black History Month 2020 website, Ije Amaechi, a young singer songwriter, has written an article about the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement during the coronavirus lockdown.

She writes of the need for there to be more awareness and open dialogue around matters of racism and inequality and the need for people to speak up and speak out.

She says: “Silence no longer feels like an option. We cannot let comments ‘just slide’.”

So, I will not.

READ MORE: Argyll and Bute councillors call for unity with anti-racism motion

At the most recent Argyll and Bute Council meeting, held via Skype on Thursday, September 24, a motion was put forward to council on the subject of racism, hate crimes and inequality.

Two amendments to the motion were also put forward – one (Amendment 2) by me, which was finally voted through at the meeting, and the other by a Tory councillor (Amendment 1), which lost on the first round of voting.

Much debate was had, and comments which I found worrying were made, by some of the councillors who backed Amendment 1.

The comment which caused me greatest concern was that they could not support any motion or amendment that had the words, or links to, Black Lives Matter in them.

The remaining motion and Amendment 2 both had Black Lives Matter in their text. This led to several councillors abstaining when the final vote was taken.

READ MORE: Your letters to the Helensburgh Advertiser: October 8, 2020

In Amendment 1 there was no mention of Back Lives Matter. In fact, the amendment basically said that (1) this wasn’t the right time to be addressing matters of racism and prejudice, and that (2) there wasn’t really a problem of racism and prejudice in Argyll and Bute.

In my opinion, the mere fact that this comment was made shows us that there is a problem.

There has also been silence around this comment since it was made. It was not in the minutes of the meeting, it has not been reported (as far as I’m aware) in the media, and I have no way of knowing if this has been discussed within the Tory/LibDem administration.

It would seem the ‘silent option’ has been taken, and that this comment has been allowed to “just slide".

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