Recent events have once again confronted us with the reality of racism and sparked renewed urgency to the Black Lives Matter movement for racial justice across the world. At Historic Environment Scotland (HES) we have been using this time to listen to our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities and reflect on our responsibilities as Scotland’s lead heritage body.
When we launched our new Corporate Plan last year, it wasn’t by chance that we titled it Heritage for All. It expressed a guiding principle for our organisation to follow – that Scotland’s heritage should be shared by all without any form of discrimination or inequality and with fairness at the heart of everything we do. We want to widen access to the historic environment, and ensure that those voices that are all too often missing in conversations about history and heritage are heard.
We’re committed to continuing our outreach and engagement work with a range of different groups from Scotland’s BAME community, including BEMIS, CEMVO Scotland and the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER), and are pleased to be partnering with The University of Edinburgh and CRER on a 2-year project to explore the legacies of Empire and the Transatlantic Slave Trade on Scotland’s historic built environment.
As an organisation, we want to make sure Scotland’s heritage is cherished, understood, shared and enjoyed with pride by everyone. We’re looking at what more we can do and how we can adapt our work to make this a reality. We welcome views on this.
The global Black Lives Matter movement has given all of us cause to reflect and consider the role we have to play in tackling racism. We will soon begin consulting on the outcomes for our next Equalities plan, giving us the opportunity to listen, learn and engage with Scotland’s communities at this pivotal time.
Our historic environment is the story of Scotland. It tells us about our past, but it also points the way to our future. We are committed to ensuring that how we tell this story represents all of Scotland’s people.