THE past few weeks of global protest for Black lives has driven significant debate in Glasgow, not least around how we begin to acknowledge that our city grew wealthy on the backs of enslaved people.

Greens support the vision of the Coalition of Racial Equality and Rights for a national museum of empire, slavery, colonialism, and migration. So far, CRER have created a virtual Museum of Empire, with online exhibitions, and have called on the Scottish Government to fund a scoping study for the establishment of a physical museum.

It’s imperative we wrestle with the fullness of our history. Not out of guilt, which leads us nowhere, but because we have to understand our past in order to create change.

The ways in which racial hierarchies were invented and used to justify unfair systems like the Atlantic slave trade in the past teach us much about our present, where new versions abound of the same old thing. We cannot dismantle unjust systems without seeing them clearly, and we will never progress beyond collective fear and ignorance until we take our heads out of the sand.

It does take some will, now, to remain ignorant of the extent of racism in Glasgow.

This week a group of asylum seekers protested against their abysmal housing conditions after around 500 people were moved from their flats into city centre hotels. Home Office landlord Mears Group said the moves were justified by lockdown, and yet to be forced from a small household into sharing space with many strangers is clearly less safe in terms of Covid-19.

What’s more, the meagre financial support of £37 per week was suddenly stopped by the Home Office. People cannot buy toiletries, sanitary products, or phone top ups to call lawyers or loved ones – to be left with zero income is to be stripped of agency and dignity.

The mental health impact of living like this has been severe. Having repeatedly raised concerns, people feel they have no choice but to protest. Mears and the Home Office must be held to account for their actions.

In response to this planned protest, a call to “defend monuments” was issued by a far-right group.

The protest had nothing to do with statues – make no mistake, this was a dog whistle to attempt to intimidate black people out of taking up space in public.

These are clear examples of the kind of racism that affects Glaswegians on a day to day basis – from racist creations like the hostile environment policy, to the presence in our midst of a sizable chunk of people who seek to violently uphold their own assumed superiority, to the way the events of Wednesday were described in the media as ‘two rival demonstrations’, as if there can be equivalence between the two groups.

Black people are protesting across the globe because their lives are held to matter less. That’s not a theoretical idea, it’s being lived out right now in the heart of our city.