Sunday, 20 March 2016

Elstree UTC: School appoints Head who admits to calling his friends ‘nigger.’

I'm not sure what passes these days for the required level of qualifications necessary to become a head teacher, but I would have thought that one of the most essential characteristics ought to be to treat everyone fairly. 

Certainly multicultural competence and ability to understand the sensitivities in relation to diverse pupil populations would be essential

So you can imagine my surprise when a teacher who has publicly stated that it is perfectly acceptable to call his black friends, "nigger” is appointed Head of a school. If that’s not bad enough, it gets worse because just such a man has been ‘appointed’ Head at one of the worst performing schools in the country.

Mr Chris Mitchell Headmaster Elstree UTC 
University Technical College (UTC) Elstree is in Borenhamwood, Hertfordshire and is part of The Mellor Educational Trust, whose head offices are in Milbank Tower South London.  

A parent, who did not want to be named to protect his own son still at the school, had read my original article on this debacle. He contacted me to say they were disgusted by his appointment.

When I read the letter to parents I was flabbergasted. Its is beyond understanding that a person who says its fine to call black people “niggers” and who was part of the Senior Management Team at Elstree UTC, that was rubbished by Ofstead, and rated as one of the worst performing schools in the UK, can then go on to be appointed Head teacher!”

He continued,

The Governors have let down the pupils and the parents. UTC Elstree needed a fresh start, not fresh controversy.”

The teacher in question is Mr Chris Mitchell who was Acting Principal and was now been appointed head teacher against the backdrop of a raging controversy.

Mr Mitchell personally supported an UTC Elstree Art teacher Mr Ferguson, where he targeted the only black boy in his class by asking him,

"How would you feel if I called you nigger?”

Mr Mitchell, responding to the complaints of a handful of black and white pupils defend Mr.Ferguson’s use of the word ‘nigger’ and old the students that he uses the word all the time to refer to his black friends.

This is, of course, entirely unacceptable. Since these revelations were made on this blog, the school has maintained and an undignified radio silence, refusing to comment on an issue that has huge implications for the teaching environment of pupils and the working environment of black teachers at the school.

My information is the school is a hotbed of opposition to Mr. Mitchell’s appointment. Pupils at the school are sharing information published by this blog through social media. The senior management team has become deeply paranoid about any discussion relating to these issues. This must have a hugely negative effect on the quality of the teaching environment within the school.

The Board of Governors have appointed a man whose teaching skills and ethical judgments ought to disqualify him from the position of head teacher.

Instead, the governors have not only chosen to ignore this crisis, but have gone on to appoint Mr. Mitchell as Head, with a blatant and dangerous disregard for the considerations of parents, black pupils, teachers or the public reputation of the school.

I do not believe that Mr Mitchell or indeed any teacher using the word ‘nigger’ in everyday conversation, who under strong challenge, then subsequently refuses to apologise for offence, in the face of challenges by both black and white pupils, cannot be considered a fit and proper person to become a head teacher of any British school.

I’d go further and say no parent of a black or ethnic minority child should consider sending their child to this school or keeping them in such as school, whilst Mr Mitchel is head,

That's why today I'm launching a petition calling on the Board of Governors to immediately rescind Mr Mitchell's appointment as head teacher, with immediate effect. I believe, if this appointment is allowed to stand, then racism will no longer be considered unacceptable and pupils will be left vulnerable to routine racial abuse and oppression in schools. 

I'm seeking broad support from all of those people who believe its unreasonable for UTC Elstree to appoint as head. a teacher who refuses to apologise, for using a racially derogatory term and then has the gall to then tell young people, why its entirely acceptable for him to use such a term, as form of endearment.

I say it’s entirely unacceptable. I hope you do too.

Over the coming weeks I will publish more stories on Elstree UTC. Stay tuned and stay awoke.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Pan African Youth Consultation Manchester 6th April 2016

An exciting opportunity to attend a new consultation with young black people. 
This event is focused on developing a 21st-century vision of Pan Africanism, what a new movement should look like, what should be principles and priorities. 

If you live in the North West area then do attend  and take part in our discussions focusing on youth engagement in our conference that is taking place in October 2016.

Share among our networks. 
One hand, washes the other.

Monday, 14 March 2016

UK Senior Black Judge Sues Ministry of Justice Over Racism

PRESS RELEASE            


Judge Peter Herbert 
D. PETER HERBERT O.B.E., a practicing human rights barrister, and Chair of the Society of Black Lawyers, who sits as a Recorder, part time Immigration Judge and Employment Judge has today launched an action in the Central London Employment Tribunal after conciliation efforts with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), failed to produce any response from the Respondents. 

The MOJ currently face 5 cases alleging race discrimination and victimisation.

The complaint against Judge Herbert arose after a short speech he gave at a meeting protesting the judicial decision to bar the former Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman from holding public office for a period of five years. Herbert was introduced as a human rights barrister but inadvertently referred to his being a Judge in a humorous aside in the context of speeches criticising the Judiciary as being all “white, male and middle class”. 

Herbert mentioned racism by his colleagues had in the past been a problem and questioned in general terms the judgment of the Electoral College Judge decision as being discriminatory on racial grounds without naming the Judge.

The matter was identified by the JCIO when it appeared on a You Tube video and was subsequently subject to a complaint by two individuals purporting to be independent members of the public.

Judge Herbert, represented by solicitors, Mishcon de Reya, alleges that the decision by Justice Undersell to refer this matter for misconduct, and his subsequent decision as the Nominated Judge to recommend a formal warning against Judge Herbert is discriminatory on racial grounds, amounted to victimisation, and was fundamentally flawed as it failed to consider the protection offered by s27 of the Equality Act 2010 which prevents victimisation for those that raise racial discrimination under the EqA. Neither the JCIO, not the Nominated Judge appeared to consider or even mention the provisions of the EqA, not the right to freedom of speech under Article 9 read together with Article 14 of the ECHR.

Judge Herbert alleges that there was an attempt to suspend him from all his judicial sittings on November 6th, for no apparent reason, as this matter was first brought to his attention on 12th July. The President of the South Eastern Circuit, Lord Justice Sweeney signed the letter requesting he voluntarily suspend himself after consultation with Bran Doyle, the President of the Employment Tribunal and Michel Clements, the President of the Immigration Tribunal. This request to suspend is believed to have originated from a report made by Ms Joanna Holmes, a civil servant at the JCIO.

Judge Herbert was informed of this in person at a Criminal Judges Judicial training course by Sweeney, who stated he was only the “messenger’ and that he would be “turned away” if he attempted to sit at Harrow Crown Court on Monday 8th November. After written representations Sweeney lifted this suspension and the matter allowed to proceed on an undertaking the Judge Herbert would not make any “controversial comments”. 

It is believed that the suspension was only lifted after Judge Herbert pointed out that three white male Judges at the Immigration Tribunal had been allowed to continue in office despite a far more serious allegation of racism and on-going victimisation and bullying against a colleague of African descent. Despite the case being lodged in the ET the victimisation has continued against this Judge.

In a recommendation to the Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chancellor, the Nominated Judge acknowledged Judge Herbert’s 20 years of holding part time Judicial Office and his contribution to equality and diversity recognised by the award of the O.B.E. in January 2010. 

He also made a distinction with the absence of any misconduct if the criticism had been made in a “forensic setting”. Judge Herbert’s alleges this is a false distinction and was made to protect the many white Judges who do criticise the decisions of others at a range of legal conferences. The rules them selves make no such distinction.

The Lord Chief Justice, and Lord Chancellor, has the power to suspend, reprimand or even disbar Judge Herbert from judicial Office. Judge Herbert is of the view that neither will wish loose face by admitting a fundamental error by the JCIO or a failure by a senior Judge to apply the Equality Act 2010.

Judge Herbert, who is a member of the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association, the Pan African Lawyers Forum and the National Bar Association (USA) has the full support of a range of legal and community organisations in the UK including the Society of Black Lawyers (SBL), the National Black Police Association, the Association of Muslim Lawyers, the Association of Black Probation Officers and variety of community organisations across the UK.

 D Peter Herbert O.B.E., commented,

“It is a sad day for me personally and for the Black and minority community generally when we are treated with such a blatant disregard for the law in a manner that seeks to control our right to freedom of speech. This is reminiscent of the worst colonial excesses that our forefathers were subject to in the days of empire. The suggestion that we are equal under the law remains an illusion when our colour determines our professional lives. This is exactly the same way my people are treated on the streets and in the Courts themselves. I will fight this action for all those that follow me.”

David Neita, spokesperson for the Society of Black Lawyers commented,

“We are all told that we are all equal under the law. It now seems that Judges in England and Wales are above the law, at least if they are white, male and middle class”.

Courtney Griffiths Q.C. commented,

Given the under representation of BME Judges in the Crown Court @ only 7% (60 out of 840 Recorders), the targeting of Peter Herbert appears to be founded in a rather colonial and myopic view of who is entitled to speak out on race issues. Cases such as this are a clear message to BME lawyers not to take judicial office and to remain invisible to our communities.

Imran Khan solicitor for Baroness Doreen Lawrence commented

“Peter has been known as one of the leading advocates for social justice over the years and this attempt to silence him harks back to the days before the murder of Stephen Lawrence where race was a four letter word that simply could not be uttered by anyone in authority”.

Baroness Doreen Lawrence,

“The targeting and victimisation of Peter Herbert is a clear demonstration that no matter what your achievements or expertise your experience is no better than a young black man on the street who is seen as a threat to the justice system simply on account of the colour of their skin.”

Michael Mansfield Q.C

‘In a world where free speech is being eroded from all quarters, the freedom to identify and comment upon perceived racism is vital. Discrimination is not always writ large, it is often elusive and masked. Without the facility for robust critique we will be a poorer and less fair society '

Milton Grimes Esq, based in Los Angeles, the lawyer for the late Rodney King commented,

“Having been to the UK on several occasions to speak out against racism in the criminal justice system it seems that the British establishment cannot tolerate or accept the presence of black Judges, let alone acknowledge their contribution to the system of justice”.

Lee Jasper, Chair of the London Race and Criminal Justice Consortium, commented,

Institutional racism in all its repugnant and toxic glory, continues to effect British black people, whether as suspects, defendants, defence solicitors, prosecutors or judges. 

The Prime Minister, David Cameron agrees there is a problem, citing disproportionality in sentencing, he recently announced a Government review into the issue of racism and criminal justice administration.

Both he and the Home Secretary Theresa May have now highlighted the scandal of racism in policing and the judicial process. This action against Peter is an attempt to silence and intimidate a UK black judges from highlighting racism, pure and simple. 

Peter is a leading community activist who has an exemplary record of public service and would not face this action if he was white, male and middle class. This highlights the continued racial bias that exists in the British Judicial system which gives significantly longer sentences to African, Caribbean men and women, denies them bail has been allowed to exist for over 25 years since statistics were first published pursuant to s95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991.

Benjamin Crump, the President of the National Bar Association (USA), commented,

The NBA is appalled at this attempt to discipline the leader of our sister organisation in the UK. We have worked with Peter since we visited the UK in 1992 and stand shoulder to shoulder with him in fighting this disgraceful attempt to silence him in a manner not applied to his white colleagues. We will take this matter up with the President of the American Bar Association, Ms Paulette Brown, the first African American President of the ABA.”

If the matter goes for trial and any misconduct is upheld against Judge Herbert it will almost certainly result in the cross examination of Underhill J, the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor on issues of race discrimination.

Ironically, that is likely to provide all three individuals with more training then either has ever had to experience in their careers to date.

The case is due to be heard later in 2016 and estimated to take some 5 days.

For further comment please contact:

Lee Jasper Campaign Co-ordinator and Press Spokesperson: 

Tel 07984 181 797; email:;

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Death of a Mad Black Woman: A reflection on the death of Sarah Reed

It has long been the case that the maltreatment of black women is a constant component of colonial power. In the history of our arrival upon shores unknown, one single element was crucial to our   enslavement: the domination of the mind. After all, something that is dominated can be owned and thus controlled and manipulated.    
I have a word for you and a little something to say about it. Drapetomania. 
Drapetomania. This, was the name given to the ‘mental illness’ that enslaved Africans demonstrated whenever they endeavoured to escape the slave-masters. As far as white doctors in the 1860’s were concerned, black people were diagnosed as mentally ill if (when physically abused and tortured) they chose to escape. To abandon the shackles of enslavement showed a strength that had to be quashed in order for slavery to flourish. 
Muck-raking and mud-slinging is at the core of the Western approach to control. The cementing of the polarisation between black women and white has been expertly poured and placed, for centuries; slowly erecting the microstructure of black women and madness. 
The colonialist agenda took all of their fears upon first seeing us, cornfed them, beefed them up and set about propagating the hype. The hype was of the oversexed, rabidly murderous black man whom would rape white women. The other was of the crazy black woman. She was irrational, violent, angry, she could lash out at anytime with brute and manlike strength. 
It was the perfect stalking horse; to harm a woman might be cowardly and weak. To silence a Mad Black Woman? A stereotype developed and propagated for centuries. Well now that is an entirely different game. 
Allow me to tell you a true story. In 2003, a doting young mother lost her 9-month old baby girl.  The baby had suffered a short bout of illness before dying in a hospice with her loving parents at her side. 
In a bizarre turn of events she and her child's father were asked to  transport their deceased baby from Beckton Children's Hospice to a Woolwich undertakers in a taxi. I can only imagine the horror of that journey as she cradled the limp body of her beloved baby in her arms. It was a nightmare sojourn from which she would never fully return.  The torture of losing her child compounded by the memory of that harrowing journey haunted her relentlessly. 
She wouldn't be the first woman to have lost a part of her luminosity to bereavement. Throughout the next decade she would go on to suffer periodically from bouts of mental ill-health. 
Almost ten years on, this young woman, still reeling from the death of her girl child, was approached by police officers in a Uniqlo store who accused her of shoplifting. Cornered into a claustrophobic changing room area she lashed out defensively. A well-trained police officer would have seen the fear in this young ladies eyes. He might have utilised this training to reassure her. He might have seen  behind her defence mechanisms and communicate sensitively and with professionalism. 
Instead, Police Constable James Kiddie brutally dragged and punched her in a ferocious onslaught. He issued a series of punches to her head. You see, when Kiddie looked upon this young woman he did not see her vulnerability. He saw, a rabid animal; the consequence of centuries of patriarchal conditioning. Where others would see mildness, he saw hysteria. 
Let us for a moment look at that word.  Hysterical. It's a word with a deeply misogynist history, derived from the Latin hystericus (meaning "of the womb"). In days of old, this was a condition exclusive to women. It might send them frantically and uncontrollably cuckoo at any given moment. Why? Well of course it was due to an inherent dysfunction of the uterus (the excision of which is still called ahysterectomy). These etymologies have cemented a hatred for women as prone to unpredictable emotions and outbursts. Now, add into this patriarchal mixing bowl the word Black and something darker emerges. Something that must be put down. Stifled. Kicked. Punched. Erased. 
The assault had a profoundly negative impact on this young woman's already fragile state of mind. The horrific ordeal was caught on CCTV camera and resulted in the dismissal of PC Kiddie who was blithely handed 150 hours of community service and a fine. She in turn became frightened of tall, Caucasian men. At times she felt so vulnerable that she would return to the sanctuary  of her family home to sleep beside her cherished mother.
Such was her trauma at having been treated with such brutal malice, she spent phases of the proceeding years sectioned in hospital as she struggled to rebuild her life.
The story does not end there. It was whilst she was spending time as a patient detained under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act (the very act designed for the health and safety of human beings) in Maudsley hospital in October 2014 she suffered a sexual assault.
A born survivor, she fought off her attacker, injuring him. The staff called the police. 
They arrested her. 
If this concept is hard to understand then it is just one example of the vagaries of a mental health system designed from a western perspective and used to diagnose black people.
The fact that she had previously dared to challenge a violently Metropolitan Police Officer leads one to imagine she was arrested as an act of retribution. Or, to set an example. 
Mental health is still a taboo. It is still a dirty word despite what statistics may tell us. People still fear it makes us erratic, impossible to control, understand, a danger to others and themselves. 

It is still an effective brush to tarnish black women with; take 500 years of myth making, blend it carefully with attributes common (but far from exclusive to) black women - bind them - label with those magical words 'mental health' and what do you have? Something that must be put out. 

Held down. Locked away. Medicated. Hunted and billeted like an escaped zoo animal; pleasant to look at and be entertained by, but a danger to all society if unleashed without supervision.
We cannot survive in an environment of male sadism mostly because the psychological process is too abiding. 
On the 11th January 2016 Holloway Prison telephoned the young woman's family and informed them that their daughter was dead. They were told they couldn't see her body. They were told that she had 'strangled' herself whilst lying on her bed. Her name, was Sarah Reed. 
They say Sarah Reed 'strangled herself in her bed.' I say, the police began her lynching that day as they laid blows into her fragile head with hateful fists. It simply took two years for those blows to arrive at her cerebral cortex where it finally took hold and dulled her luminosity. It took two long years for the anguish of his heavy handed flogging to shackle itself around her weary heart and stop it's beat. 
I've no doubt in my mind that Kiddie enjoyed the spectacle of watching a fragile young woman cower at his feet. Most bullies do. 
I balked at every blow; raising my own hands defensively. I wept as they crouched down to cuff the hands that had held once her child's lifeless body. I laid down as she took her final sigh, vilified and swept aside. I felt her pain as my own. 
Drapetimania: In America, Tinisha Anderson, aged 37, died after her concerned mother called 911 while Anderson was experiencing a meltdown.  Officials say when officers tried to take Anderson to a treatment facility, she struggled and then went limp. The truth was  that police slammed her to the ground and put a knee in her back. Her death was ruled a homicide. 
Only in a world driven by the white patriarchy that established slavery could mental health be used as an subterfuge to lynch black women. Only in a racist world could black women be so easily discredited and discarded, their voices invalidated and unheard. 
Now is the time to speak loudly. Above the din and ballyhoo of a system that seeks to malign and crucify us. 
It is with pride and solidarity I will stand up and say in a loud and undimmed voice: I Am Sarah Reed. 
And so are you. 
Over a hundred years ago in 1918. Mary Turner was chased by an angry lynch mob of several hundred men. Eight months pregnant, she fled, driven by her maternal determination to protect her unborn child. The mob pursued her and found her the next morning. They took her to a stream, tied her ankles together and hung her from a tree upside down. They finished Mary off by riddling her body with bullets – to teach her a lesson.
Part 2: I Am Sandra Bland
Part 3: I Am Miriam Carey 

#SarahReed #SayHerName #BlackLivesMatter #WearRed
Sat 19th March 2016 
 #M19 National Demo; 
Meet at 11.30am at the foot of the stairs of All Souls Church, 2 All Souls Place, London, W1B 3DA 
Black Lives Matter - Refugees Welcome Here - Stand Up To Racism . 
Speakers at the demo will include Marilyn Reed, mother of Sarah Reed, Blaksox and BARAC UK.

This Bloc Is Organised by Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK, BlakSox and the NUS Black Students Campaign . 
We oppose deaths at the hands of the State including the catalogue of failures by public authorities experienced by #sarahreed #sayhername , institutional racism, race discrimination in education and employment, the disproportionate impact of austerity and much more are all contributing to deepening racism faced by Black Workers, Students, Service Users and Communities. 
Join the Black Lives Matter Bloc on the demo, wear red clothing, bring home made solidarity placards, whistles, drums,horns.