In 2017, a fire broke out in the Grenfell Tower residential complex in West London. The fire caused 72 deaths and over 70 injuries, the deadliest structural fire in the UK since WWII. After three years, inquiries into the tragedy are set to resume next month.
During this time of increased focus on racial justice due to the death of George Floyd, many believe that the tragedy will come to be understood as an example of racism as the residents were disproportionately black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME). Nour-eddine Aboudihaj, the founder of the Grenfell Tower Trust, has claimed that residents of the tower were made to live in a “death trap. There were a lot of complaints about electricity cuts, gas, all these issues, but they were not listened to. The fact residents were from immigrant or BAME backgrounds means they weren’t listened to and they were treated unfavorably.”
Representative Imran Khan is pushing for a broader concept of racism to be applied to the understanding the tragedy. “That’s what institutional racism is about,” Khan said. “It’s not some individual deliberately doing something in a racist fashion. It’s whether any policies, procedures, acts or conduct directly or indirectly led to consequences.”
Khan’s push for recognition of a broader concept of racism will find sympathetic ears among those who recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately hurt minorities around the world.