ONE year ago Scots took to the streets to declare Black Lives Matter (BLM) as the global movement, which originated in the US, entered public consciousness here.

Monuments were toppled as citizens reconsidered the UK’s relationship with slavery, exploitation and racism. The marches and rallies – which often drew counter-protests – responded to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The police officer who killed him, Derek Chauvin, was convicted on murder and manslaughter charges in April.

This week the continued response to the BLM movement has been a major story in Scotland due to the decision that the national men’s football team will stand, rather than take a knee, before Euro 2021 matches. On Friday they said they’ll make an exception for the game against England, who will kneel at all ties.

The Sunday National asked experts from sport, law and business about what has changed in the last year – and what should happen next.

The National:  Kieron Achara Kieron Achara

OLYMPIAN Kieron Achara played at the highest levels before retiring from basketball in 2019 and is now a mental health ambassador. The former Glasgow Rocks star, who also lived in the US, says BLM has been pivotal for him. “It was like I was living in a box and trying to do everything in the way I thought people wanted me to do things to fit in,” he says. “BLM allowed me to be me.

“Even my closest friends were asking questions they never asked before, and they’re still doing it – ‘how did it make you feel to see Derek Chauvin being sentenced?’ To this day, there is awareness that’s sticking.”

However, Achara says he’s also “sceptical” about the extent of social change, even in sport.

READ MORE: Why Scotland have decided not to take the knee at the Euros

“For me, it’s about what are the next steps?” he says. “I’m so proud of the awareness-raising that’s been done, but how do we actually create a more equal and equitable society? A lot of people are not willing to take the next step.

“I look at sport in Scotland right now and there aren’t a lot of people of colour playing. You can get the response that that’s because there aren’t a lot of people of colour in Scotland, but that’s not actually the case. It comes down to pathways – I don’t think there’s enough young athletes of colour coming through those pathways. There’s a very classist system in Scotland and we don’t recognise how that affects people of colour. We say sport is inclusive – is it? Prove it.

“When I look at Scottish football, I have no problem with them not taking the knee, I have more of a problem with people taking the knee as an empty gesture.”

The National: Pheona Matovu said before 2020 there was a denial of racism in ScotlandPheona Matovu said before 2020 there was a denial of racism in Scotland

PHEONA Matovu teaches employability and leadership skills to people from BME and migrant communities and trains companies on diversity through her social enterprise Radiant & Brighter.

She says businesses must be at the forefront of social change and describes BLM as the “grit” that’s driving that. “For the first time we have been allowed to name the cause of the inequality for racialised communities,” she says.

“For the first time we are naming it as racism. Organisations are keen to take an anti-racist approach, which I think has been one of the most key elements of the past year.”

Before 2020, “there was denial because Scotland is a successful and friendly country”, she says. “There was a lack of understanding that friendliness can coexist with racism.

READ MORE: Show Racism the Red Card warns of 'widespread' racism in Scottish schools

“We’re at a key stage when Scotland is starting to work towards being a global player and so needs to be thinking about what choice we make – whether we want to be seen as a progressive country that brings about change or to continue the way we were before the pandemic, as we have done before.

“Businesses need to ensure that they’re acting. I would be asking, where are the people of colour in your organisation and where do they sit – are they players who influence decisions?

“Some conversations are difficult but for the organisations that choose to take our training they have become comfortable with the uncomfortable. We need to be like that. It’s never going to be easy or comfortable.

“I have got to believe that something will change. How it changes is the question. Everybody can take action. I always use a quote – if you think you’re too small to make a difference then you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito.”

The National: Lawyer Tatora Mukushi Lawyer Tatora Mukushi

SOLICITOR Tatora Mukushi is the convenor of the Law Society of Scotland’s Racial Inclusion Group. He’s troubled by the “backlash” to BLM and the rise of “Trumpesque” voices on mainstream media who’d rather say “all lives matter” than tackle racism. “It doesn’t come from a place of credibility,” he says of commentators like Laurence Fox, who has used the phrase often used to counter BLM. “It seems superficial. There is a war of ideas.

“If you were to go into half the pubs in Glasgow and talk to people, they’d probably have a negative impression of BLM or be ambivalent,” he goes on. “They don’t know enough about how it fits in the Scottish context.”

The legal world, he says, recognises it has a problem. “It’s not a profession that’s stuck in the past but it’s a profession that has a lot of baggage.

“We are talking about one of the oldest professions in the world, about a profession with a particular place in Scottish society – it sits right within the establishment.

READ MORE: Kenmure Street: The lessons to be learned from Glasgow's Home Office stand-off

You wouldn’t expect it not to have all the artefacts of the establishment attached to it.

“I’d like our government to take up the cudgel and say ‘we are going to address this, here’s our next action plan and we are going to incorporate the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and this is what it means for our institutions’. That would be the right response to BLM – much more public action, public awareness, all the MSPs, all the councillors open to talking about it and looking for knowledge and making it a part of everyday discussion. Otherwise we’ll just follow in England’s furrow.

“Racism hasn’t gone away but we’re setting about it.”