Friday, 7 September 2018
|Mary Carty 10 years driving London buses.|
54-year-old Londoner and Jamaican, Marcia Carty has worked at Metroline buses for the last 11 years; she is part of the much talked about, magnificent, Windrush generation, a Jamaican woman who has lived in the UK since she was a child.
The recent, deplorable and illegal deportations of black British pensioners is indicative of a change in atmosphere, a change in the mood music, here in the England. Post the Brexit referendum, black people across the country are reporting seeing huge increases in hate crimes and this is further validated by a massive upsurge in the anecdotal reporting of increased racism targeting black British people.
Whether it's immigration officials, police officers, schools or employers, black people are witnessing their rights constantly being undermined, ignored or simply taken away. This is particularly galling when one considers the enormous contribution of the Windrush generation and our fore-parents, contributed to the making of modern Britain.
Marcia is part of that golden generation and is a proud Rasta Queen. She has worn her head wrap and Rasta colours of red, gold and green, now for over a decade, whilst working as a public servant as a London bus driver. Eleven years of good service, wearing her head wrap and her colours, and all without any problems, that is until now.
I recently met her, and her brother, on a busy summer afternoon in central Brixton. I wanted to hear first-hand, her story. What promoted this meeting was the fact that Marcia so you are a lover, had over the last few weeks, been featured in several news articles, after her trade union, Unite warned the Metroline Bus Company, to end, what it called ‘religious discrimination’ against
her and potentially other London Rastafarian bus drivers.
|Mary Carty and brother.|
Typical of that generation, Marci of all and her Rasta brother, are hard-working, law abiding people, both polite and with a quiet, modest, but steely determination to secure her religious rights and the rights of all fellow Rastafari in London, to practice their spiritual faith, without undue and discriminatory, interference or intimidation from wider society.
Rastafarian’s have long been a part of British culture and thankfully, gone are the days when dreadlocks were seen as unusual, however the status of this spiritual movement has, routinely met with resistance and dismissal from British society at large.
From the days of slavery, to the fight against British colonialism, and coming right up, to the Windrush scandal today, Rasta has always been at the centre of our historic resistance and rebellions against against racism and oppression.
Organised ‘religion’ is an rejected by the Rastafarian faith. They believe all Africans are born Rasta’s and that his Imperial Majesty, Haillie Selassie I, is the one true living God, Jah Rastafari. Dreadlocks are also deeply symbolic, in a complete rejection of western aesthetic, norms and values; dreadlocks can also be, like a Nuns habit or the hijab, an outward sign, of inward piety and devotion.
While Britain loves Rasta Mouse, and most are more than happy to have funky dreads on their MTV flat screens, they often baulk, when real Rasta turns up at their school or work place.
It’s long been argued by westerners, that Rasta does not constitute a ‘real religion’, and as a consequence does not enjoy the protection of Human Rights legalisation that seeks to protect, only those ‘traditional’ faiths, considered to be the worlds mainstream religions.
Marcia, surprised at being asked to remove her red, gold and green head wrap, after a decade of no complaints, responded to management instruction to stop wearing the colours, offered a compromise solution. She suggested she wear a blue head wrap, requested by the company with a small red, gold and green coloured badge. After being approached several times by her manager demanded she remove her colours, Marcia was forced to take time off with the shear stress of the situation.
Marcia sensible compromise was refused by Metroline, so Mary appealed the management’s decision and that appeal was heard in recently, and sad to say. that appeal was rejected. The situation today is that Marcia has to stop wearing her colours or face future disciplinary action.
Of course, the obvious problem here is that historical development of international and domestic law and jurisprudence on the issue of religious freedoms and universal human rights, has always been an exercise in maintaining the status quo and confirming the total marginalisation of Africans' around the globe.
There is not one, original spiritual African faith recognised as a major world faith, anywhere in the world. This reality simply reflects, the deep racism and prejudice that exists right across the spectrum of Western legal, political and theological thinking, the legacy of which we still discern today, and can be seen reflected in Metroline’s decision to demand that Maria remove her Rastafari colours.
For those with little or scant understanding of the movement, I shall explain the significance of their colours to Rastafarians and black people worldwide.
These colours adopted by the Rastafarian movement and many African nations are seen as being deeply symbolical of the central tenants of their faith and pan African politics.
Red; to symbolise the blood of our people, those alive today and our ancestors who suffered the indignity and brutality of 400 years of slavery and colonialism.
Green; to symbolise the earth, the glory of natures bounty and and the necessity for humanity to live in harmony with the natural environment.
Gold; to represent the sun and all its life-giving properties.
Consider these colours as equivalent to the Jewish Star of David or the Cross in Christianity. These colours are believed to provide a link to our past and given related to African independence, the optimism of the future.
But, first let's distinguish the wheat from the chaff. There is a Rasta; a spiritual movement, a grounded in faith and spiritual belief around the tenants of ‘one love’ and repatriation to Africa, and then there are people who wear dreadlocks, but who are not practising Rastafarians, everybody from follow fashion, funky dreads to Christafarians.
|Tube driver Harvey Mitchell wearing his red, gold and green tam.|
Its important you know the difference, because the wearing of dreadlocks for purely religious reasons is a fundamental human right, whilst wearing dreadlocks to look cool, is not. Marcia Carty is a devout Rasta, and there are many Rasta’s and supporters working on London’s public transport day in day out.
Remember Tube driver Harvey Mitchell the tube driver that stopped his tube, on the anniversary of the Grenfell fire. Harvey halted his tube on Latimer Road Bridge, North Kensington, London to wave his green Grenfell flag in salute of the Grenfell fire victims?
Other London bus companies or London Transport do demand that Rasta’s hidden their colours. In these companies Rasta’s are free to wear their colours with pride and without fear.
In a multicultural city like London, the prevailing culture is one of live and let live. London Transport and the Mayors Office need to intervene now and instruct Metroline to fall in line with other London bus companies, and allow Marcia to wear her colours.
It is unacceptable in 2018, in a multicultural city like London, that a worker who otherwise has an impeccable record of professionalism and public service, should be threatened with losing her job simply because her particular faith is not recognised or valued by this employer.
Marcia however is not the 1st to feel the backlash against Rasta. From police harassment, to school exclusions to workplace disciplinary’, Rasta’s have being the subject of abuse and oppression. That cannot continue or at the next generation and all Rasta’s must be respected as any other religion working on London transport systems.
In 1993 Trevor Dawkins was refused a job as a van driver after being told to cut his dreadlocks. Trevor refused and won his case after the employment tribunal ruled that Rastafarians constituted a distinct ethnic group. This decision was appealed by the Department of Environment, in the Court of Appeal.
Lord Meston, representing the government, was reported in the Independent newspaper as saying, in open court that Rastafarians were no more than a relatively short lived “sect, cult or movement” with “quasi political and religious tenants.”
Then, much more recently, there was the case of Chikayzea Flanders a 12-year boy who was told, by Fulham Boys School, to cut of his dreadlocks, as reported in the Metro.
And, more, recently, in the House of Commons. Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) MP, Anne McLaughlin, whose partner is a Rasta, called for Cannabis to be legalised in recognition of the importance and sacrament of Marijuana in Rasta faith.
Surley in a modern, multicultural, democratic city like London, we should be leading the world on innovative equality policy.
Thankfully, this a simple matter that can be resolved at the stroke of a pen by the Mayor of London.
All that Sadiq Khan has to do, is issue an instruction to Transport for London to instruct Metroline, to change its policy or lose its contract. It's that simple. We are asking that you sign, share and support this petition, to the Mayor demanding equal rights and justice for Rasta's working for London.
And surely in a progressive, modern city like London, we can reflect the reality of our hyper diversity by ensuring, that as far as practical, employment policies in London should not seek to discriminate, marginalise nor opppress public sector workers who choose to express their faith.
This law already applies, to various other mainstream religions including Muslims, Sikhs and Jewisih ardherehts to the faith. There is no reason why a policy accommodation cannot be made for the thousands of public sector workers, many of them working on London Buses and Tubes, are either Rastafari themselves, or, have Rasta in their family or are sympathatic to Rasta faith.
This case has the potential to become a huge problem for the Mayor and Metroline. In many ways in refusing to take off her colours, Mary is echoing the definiant resistence of black women from Nanny of the Marrons and more recently, Rosa Parks.
I believe this case cannot stand and good sense should prevail, to that end we are asking you to sign a petition in support of Marcia and requesting the Mayor to intervene. We hope you will stand with Marcia and defend Rasta livity.
Momentum Black Caucus.
Sunday, 2 September 2018
Saturday, 1 September 2018
Dear Prime Minister,
I'd like to personally invite you to, provide the keynote speech and answer questions at our national Windrush Justice Conference that will be held on Saturday 27th October 2018 in Nottingham.
When it comes to all things Windrush Prime Minister, there is some things you should know, the when it comes to the Caribbean descent communities resident in the UK, we don't come to beg for equality, far from it, we come to demand that which is rightfully ours.
Britain historically profited on a gigantic scale from, 400 years of forced labour, through the enslavement of millions of Africans, 100 or so years of land and resource theft, through settler colonialism. Today when we seek to enjoy our five minutes of so-called "freedom”, as free born, British citizens Prime Minister, we are denied out inalienable human rights.
Prime Minister, be advised that we, the black and brown peoples of Britain’s former colonies, have already paid an enormous cultural, economic and psychological, price for our British citizenship and passports. Most of all we have paid a heavy blood price for our citizenship. We have being murdered, raped and sometimes even sacrificed our lives, blood, bone and suffered ignoble humiliation and permanent pain of British enslavement that saw the massacre and capture of millions of freeborn Africans. No one has a greater price of this entitlement
investment necessary, for the rapid expansion
and development of this country throughout
the Industrial Revolution, and beyond.
Prime Minister, let me remind who we are; we are the people who suffered the greatest crime in human history, centuries of sadistic, psychological and sexual violence. We are the people who were sold like cattle, whose children and cultures were scattered to the wind, and who endured unbearable torment at the hands of the agents of the British state, and all without apology, acknowledgement or reparation.
When it comes to reparatory justice for the Windrush victims, listen to me and listed good, we don't come begging for justice, we come to take it.
I want you to be very clear about what I’m saying Prime Minister, the right to citizenship, of every British black and brown person in this country, whether born in Britain or in a former British colony, prior to that country's independence, should be granted automatic citizenship.
And quite frankly , Prime Minister, we don’t care what the law says; clearly the law doesn’t apply to us. We live in a parallel universe, where our ‘blackness’, excludes us from being considered to be ‘authentic’ British citizens and when we challenge the profound discrimination and inequality that results, then our third class citizen status is doubly confirmed, when we are consistently and routinely denied access to justice.
So whatever the law says, British history and the Windrush scandal dictates that your government, has an implicit moral duty to award automatic citizenship to the Windrush generation, and all their descendants, and beyond that, all those living in Britain, born in former colonial nations, prior to their country of origins independence.
Prime Minister, what is clear is that Britain refuses to remember the atrocities and brutal exploitation of its colonial past and we refuse to forget.
We financed the building of British armies, navies, schools, council houses, hospitals, cemeteries, palaces and pavilions from Lands End to John O'Groats. The great building of state, the Queens Royal palaces, the parks, roads, motorways and rail network were all design, developed, financed and built with the iniquitous profits of our forced labour and hundred of years of our ancestors sweat equity.
The success of modern Britain is deeply cemented in the historic and contemporary blood sacrifice of millions of oppressed and exploited African and Asian peoples. However reading curriculum notes on this period in British history that is presented as "education" in our schools, it is no wonder so many are confused and ignorant the black contribution to m making modern Britain.
We have earned the right to British citizenship, whatever the particulars of our wretched, domestic politics, which saw the ruthless political exploitation of popular racist sentiment, to achieve cheap, short-term election success.
The British public, driven by a relentlessly racist media, who over decades, slowly stoked and manufactured British xenophobic sentiment, with lies, smears and racist propaganda, was pummelled into submission over decades., You, and to be fair even the Labour Party whilst in government, aided the development of that false perception that has now become a "social reality" for many. Even areas of Britain with zero diversity now fear being "swamped" by migrants.
This cynical exploitation of the British public, by you Prime Minister, and others, that determined the adoption of the explicit policy of creating a "hostile environment" for ' iillegal immigrants' was a cynical means of electorally, mining the rich British seams of popular racist sentiment, propaganda and xenophobia that ironically, through Brexit, has led the nation to the brink of a catastrophic economic cultural social and political abyss.
Today, with the reality of our unacknowledged grievous historic assault ringing in our ears, and suffering the continuing predations of modern day racism, we now find ourselves concluding that the implicit trust our parents had in Britain being at fair country, being the mother country, has being revealed as nothing more than an illusion, a now shattered illusion.
All the hopes and dreams of being accepted as British, that our parents so yearned for and cherished, are now broken, smashed underneath the jackboot of racism, inequality and injustice, perpetrated by your government Prime Minister.
There can be no more serious an injustice, Prime Minister, than when the state so fundamentally, fails its own citizens. And this is not without serious extraordinary consequences for millions of black people living in Britain, who believed they were British citizens, but who now suffer the psychological trauma, and insecurity that occurs when democratic Governments breach the fundamental ‘social contract’, that results in societal norms and social order breaking down, a nation, undermined having been rotted from within by the implicit and unacknowledged guilt related to its imperial past.
And today contemporary discrimination does not come without cost to the perpetrator, far from it, such lies and deceit begins to eat away at the nations moral centre, leading eventually to collapse.
This all important "social contract" represents the fundamental philosophical and legal basis of most modern liberal, social democracies; in exchange for the guarantee of individual citizens rights and liberties, we the people agree to abide, observe and uphold the rule of law, as determined by government and the courts.
This is the quintessential ‘contract’ between government and citizens, where we agree to obey the law, and government agrees to stand as guarantor of our individual rights and protects us from iniquitous injustice.
Citizens are empowered to go about their lawful business and government has the grateful compliance with the rule of law of the majority of its citizens.
This the perfect functional contract and one that has provided citizens, throughout the ages, with confidence, security of tenure, and freedom from arbitrary abuse of the state and criminals,, freedom of expression and a lawful contacting environment in which to conduct business and ensure democratic accountability. It is, in essence the very basis of one of the world's oldest legal documents guaranteeing the rights of citizens, the British Magna Carta.
British 17th-century philosopher and physician, John Locke, often described as the "father of liberalism" expressed the idea of the "social contract" very well, in stating that ‘citizens gain civil rights when they accept the obligation to respect and defend the rights of others.’This provides the basis and the origin of the legitimacy of the authority of the state overall its citizens
For any state, to achieve a majority consensus among citizens, about the need to observe laws and respect institutional processes of justice, requires strict adherence to this social contract.
“ Any people who are abandoned or targeted by the state, whose liberties are endangered by institutions that are designed to protect them, and who are routinely subject arbitrary arrest, detention and malicious prosecution, cannot consider themselves, neither are they considered in reality, to be citizens in the formal sense of the word.”
What we see today Prime Minister is the idea of an inclusive modern and diverse Black British citizenship is in fact, no more than a legal for romantic fiction.
The concept of being Black British and equal before the law, is a theoretical legal concept, with no application outside confines of politics or academia and with virtually no or very little application in the real world.
We are Prime Minister, by definition of our experience, no more than third class citizens, living in a supposedly first class, democratic meritocracy.
The implications of this implicit breach of the "social contract " are far-reaching and profound; respect for the rule of British law and its legal agents, respect for the courts, civil servants and politicians, are all under threat and with it the promise of inclusive and representative democracy,
Critical race analysis of British society and the classic “social contract” model, actually reveals the underlying nature of British society, Prof Charles W Mills in his seminal book "The Racial Contract" argues that racism, not equality, is at the core of the modern day "social contract".
What that means, in effect Prime Minister, is that many whites will act in a racially discriminatory manner, whilst at the same time fully believing that are acting in accordance with moral principles. This means whites acting in a racist way, will at the same time believing they're doing the right thing. Because of the all-consuming power of racism many whites experienced genuine cognitive difficulties in recognising racist behaviour.
Prime Minister this is a book you should read, as Mills argues that;
"Racism and racially structured discrimination have not been deviations from the norm; they have been the norm." He goes on to argue that the racial contract actually underwrites the social contract so as to ensure but all duties rights and liberties are routinely assigned on the ethnicity and race.
His argument Prime Minister, and US President Donald Trump is but one example of the rising incidence of the election and popularity of openly racist and fascist, ‘social democrats’ right across the countries of Europe. He argues that there exists a tacit, open agreement, sometimes covert sometimes explicit, among most European and North American leaders to maintain and promote the idea of global white supremacy.
Prime Minister, here in the United Kingdom, even you have acknowledged the burning injustice of racism, extending from unfair exclusions of black children from school, to the iniquities of racist stop and search by police officers, and the apartheid culture of differential and disproportionate justice identified in David Lammy MP’s critically important report on racism in the criminal justice system.
However Prime Minister, the real reality is that the culture and nature of British popular racism is overarching and omnipresent in all branches of government and civil society.
We suffer racism everywhere, retail shopping, on public transport and from immigration deportations to job interviews, these are the grave realities that black British citizens have to face, time and time again, realities that deeply corrode and undermine the extent to which we, and our children can truly feel British.
And one of most dangerous and subversive implications of this reality, is that the routine denial of justice, in the end, always invites resistance and sometimes extremism.
Prime Minister, I'm not sure you've read the recently published House of Commons, Home Affairs Committee report entitled "The Windrush Generation" that summarised the situation faced by many of the Windrush generation;
"Members of the ‘Windrush generation’—people who came to the UK from Commonwealth countries after the Second World War and before 1973—have been denied their rights. Many have been treated as if they were in the country illegally despite being lawfully resident for many decades.
People have lost their homes and their jobs and been refused healthcare, pensions and access to social security. In some cases, people have been subject to immigration enforcement measures and held in immigration detention; others may have been removed or deported from the UK.
Some, having left the UK on holiday or for a similarly short period, have been refused re-entry and had their settled life in the UK unjustly taken away from them. Many of their children and spouses, who joined them in the UK after 1973, or who were born here, have also been affected."
|Manchester Windrush Meeting Tues 11th September 2018|
No one believes that for one moment Prime Minister, such a uniquely targeted policy approach resulting in so many black deportations, points to high-level coordination, and this I believe came from the very top, you Prime Minister.
We note, as I'm sure you have Prime Minister, that there have been no reports of any white former Commonwealth citizens being stripped of their citizenship and subject to deportation. This policy of the detention and illegal removal of British citizens appears to be a policy specifically reserved black people.
You chose to employ old President Clinton political tactic of triangulation. You knew austerity had ramped up racism and that this was becoming problematic, so you chose to highlight the issue of stop and search as a means of demonstrating your commitment to equality and justice.
This, Prime Minister, provided you with a convenient two pronged strategy that allowed you to cynically use the issue of stop and search as a battering ram to bludgeon the police in order to drive through huge cuts to service, and at the same time provided political cover, from the fact, that your government was cheerleader in chief, leading the public scapegoating and demonisation of asylum seekers, black people, immigrants and refugees.
In short Prime Minister, you used the fig leaf of stop and search for political cover, whilst you unleashed immigration deportation squads and your now infamous "Go Home vans”. I believe, though I have no concrete evidence as yet, that you gave explicit instructions to civil servants, to target black people; those people that you calculated would be least believed by the wider community and in the courts.
And despite, a whole tranche of apologies from Home Office Minister Sajid Javid, and notwithstanding the fact that, some small progress has been made in resolving, what can now be described as catalogue of injustice, the culture of marginalisation, disbelief and mendacity of your government continues to prosecute Windrush injustices, to this very day.
We have countless examples of your government's failures in this regard; chief among them is the fact that, after "investigations" your government claims to have found less than 20 people, that you claim were affected by these illegal deportations. Quite frankly Prime Minister we think that figure is a joke.
Prime Minister, on the issue of immigration, we trust neither you nor your government. For justice to be done and to be seen to be done, what we now need is a an independent, public enquiry that will shine the light of transparency of how black British citizens were illegally rendered from the streets of Britain, held in detention and then deported to a country of your choice.
Prime Minister, that you and your Ministers can so cynically play with Black people's lives, offering apology without justice, simply constitutes the repeat victimisation oh black communities.
What this illustrates, is that despite your warm words on tackling racism, what we have seen is the profound moral bankruptcy of your governments position on this issue.
‘What the Windrush scandal illustrates is that unacknowledged racism is a moral cancer, at the heart of government and is sapping the moral authority of British government and its many institutions.’
Prime Minister, we've also learned that at least three people, who were wrongly deported, have subsequently died in Jamaica alone. People deported without any money, with no recourse to public funds, denied of their citizenship, denied their passport and country, they were slung out, like the garbage and left destitute to die in foreign lands.
These three cases should be considered, alongside the case of Dexter Bristol whose Inquest procedure resembled a Colonial corners court in Jamaica circa 1865 not London in 2018. The coroner’s actions further reinforce Black perceptions, that justice in Britain remains resolutely white and implacably opposed to acknowledging institutional racist policy and its effect.
The treatment of the Bristol family by the coroner Prime Minister was an abomination.
We believe that coroner concerned should be subject to immediate disciplinary action and investigation, and if found guilty (highly unlikely given the institutionalised racism of the judiciary) should be sacked.
In a racist society, no one hears black people screams for justice.
We live our lives in Britain Prime Minister, our ensconced in permanent stereotypical context, surrounded an enveloped by a culture of disbelief, in which our very identity, personal integrity, authenticity, credibility, legitimacy is constantly, critically questioned and disbelieved.
|Rashan Charles: Still no justice|
Even when we bring substantive evidence, to support our claims of citizenship, or evidence of racism and discrimination, what we see, Prime Minister is the soulless eye’s of white officials, staring at our documents, looking at us and blinking their soulless eyes in obvious and contemptuous disbelief.
Have we not witnessed the recent coroners inquest verdict on the young Rashan Charles which found the officer involved in his arrest to be acting lawfully, despite compelling video evidence that to the ordinary lay person on the street points to totally different conclusion.
These matters are not unrelated Prime Minister they form part of the on-going black narrative of discontent and anger that is rising day by day. That we are not believed is a constant theme.
No one believes us in the police station, no one believes us in school, no one believes us in the courtroom, no one believes is in the job interview room, no one believes us, when we say we did do it, and no one believes us, when we say we didn't do it.
We are British citizens, in name only, unable to access law, justice and equality, and unable to rely on the state to protect us from abuse, and largely unable to rely on our fellow white citizens to fully support our call for justice
Prime Minister and ministers of government, this issue has without doubt provided the most serious existential threat to the 'on nation" idea of a modern, inclusive, diverse and representative British democracy, where fair play and justice before the law are applicable to all.
That Prime Minister is a damnable lie, a malicious falsehood, a romantic dream.
The only path to begin the process of serious reconciliation, proper reparation and affected justice requires you to do two things, not which will have the moral courage to deliver; one you should formally apologise and begin the process of consultation on the payment of reparations for the enslavement of millions of Africans; secondly you should announce, with immediate effect a fully independent, a public enquiry that can identify and hold to account all those responsible for the illegal deportation of black British citizens.
And so Prime Minister, we cordially invite you to our national conference, in the hope you will respond to, and answer these and many more questions.
BAME Lawyers for Justice.
Sunday, 29 July 2018
Raise your hand, if you believed the promises made to the Black community from both @sajidjavid and @theresa_may to urgently tackle, regularise and compensate victims of the ? Fact is - things are getting worse. Join us to get updated and hear the latest legal advice and discuss taking forward the campaign for justice. We need your support in advertising, as we are aware of Government efforts to frustrate the promotion of this important event. So please do share with your networks.
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