How outrage at George Floyd’s death turned to ’smiles’ in the black community
A year on from the murder of George Floyd, ITV News has been checking in with those who came into prominence for their actions and activism following his killing, as part of our series George Floyd’s Death And The Lives It Changed.
Swiss, a member of pioneering British group So Solid Crew, had for years been pondering a valuable way to uplift black Britons. Last summer, George Floyd's murder sparked global protests and also, a moment of clarity for Swiss. The time to act was now. He launched Black Pound Day - an initiative that encourages people to spend their money with black businesses on the first Saturday of each month.
With Black Pound Day, Swiss hopes to remedy the economic inequalities impacting black businesses. A study from state-owned bank the British Business Bank found black entrepreneurs face worse business outcomes than their white counterparts, with systemic disadvantage playing a key role.
Swiss and Black Pound Day show no sign of stopping 12 months on, and continue to engage via social and traditional media.
Yourself and Black Pound Day came into prominence so suddenly following Mr Floyd’s murder and the ensuing protests. What has the past year for you been like?
A whirlwind. Very busy mentally, emotionally and project-wise. It's been a transition for me and our community. Black Pound Day has two great partnerships at the moment. One is with Google, where we're upskilling black businesses digitally.
In terms of community, I see smiles around from business owners. I see smiles from consumers within our community that are happy to discover, celebrate and spend with black businesses. It's been a really good outcome from a negative situation because as we know the idea came out of the anti-racism protests off to the murder of George Floyd.
During the past year, your Black Pound Day has been widely promoted and celebrated. Have you received any negative attention?
Not really. I've been on Twitter and seen the bots at work but I don't really spend too much time on there. In the real world, I wouldn't say I get any negativity at all.
Some people say Black Pound Day should be everyday, not just one day, but we're not telling people to just spend one day a month. The day is a reminder to spend black.
Swiss explains what drives him to advocate for racial equality
What impact, if any, has Mr Floyd’s death and the BLM protests had in Britain?
I feel there's been a significant mentality shift in some spaces...the open discussions happening to the small, infrastructural changes. But there needs to be a lot more work done.
I think one thing that needs to happen, is that people in positions of power in institutions shouldn't get pay raises or shouldn't get bonuses, or shouldn't get get to move upwards within their field, unless it is dependent upon the diversity of their team. A year on from George Floyd's death, what compels you to continue with Black Pound Day and speaking out about race issues?
The fact that I've been coming up against racism practically all my life. I can remember when I was seven-years-old, playing with one of my friends and a little incident happened with a ball. She ran in to her Nan and her Nan came out and called me a black sultana.
I feel like since then, I've connected that to other racial experiences that I've had in society. There are many people that have similar stories. So because these things are continuous, I need to make sure that my fight is continuous.
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