Thursday, 18 August 2016

Racism is dividing Britain and denial is not just a river in Egypt.

The recent publication of a detailed review: Race Report: Healing a divided Britain that asses race inequality in the UK by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, highlights the extent and breadth of systematic, entrenched racial discrimination that the reports states is deeply embedded within all aspects of British society.

The report cites the huge rise in hate crimes, racist abuse and violent attacks against migrants, Muslims and black people in the aftermath of the EU referendum result as very worrying.

This was a substantive review undertaken by the Commission, focusing on the areas of education, employment, housing and living standards, health, criminal justice and civic participation. The report follows a similar report published way back in 2010 How Fair is Britain ?  

It too came to similar conclusions as the recent review and back then, just like today, we saw no effective response from Government.  Since the publication of that report yet another generations has grown up facing stark racism.

As a long-standing activist this report is most welcome, clearly identifying, as it does the gross reality of racism as it impinges on the daily lives of black and ethnic minority people throughout the country. I am particularly pleased with the Commission's review given the consistent criticism of the Commission in relation to its past failures to highlight the growing problem of racism within Britain under the disastrous chairmanship of Sir Trevor Phillips and the current lack of credible black representation on the Commission itself.

The new Commission chair David Isaacs has returned the Commission to its most essential mission and has refused to be politically intimidated by government to remaining silent on the issue of race. Both he and the Commissioners are to be commended for providing us with the detailed information that gives concrete evidence and credence to the repeated claims that consistently point out the deterioration and toxic nature of increased and widening levels of racism and racial inequality.

The real test of the Commission’s commitment to race equality is whether or not it will take legal action against the government for its repeated and consistent failures in tackling racial inequality and discrimination across major areas of British society. Otherwise whilst this may be an interesting debate it will fade as quickly as its resonates simply adding to the litany of failure that constitutes 'success; in this area, After all wasn't much the same said ben the Comission in 2010 ? 

The review highlights our ugly and brutal reality, a reality that denigrates and destroys the lives of millions of black ethnic minority peoples who face systemic racism on a daily basis. This real reality in Britain represents the destruction of hope and opportunity of millions of black Britons whose only crime is the colour of their skin and being a British citizen.

No doubt we will now hear much in response labelling black communities as 'morally, intellectually, culturally deficient' by way off explanation of their evident lack of success. The voices they will send to deliver such messages will be black. Take this exchange between Mishal Hussien on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme broadcast Thursday morning18th August, including David Issac EHRC Chair and Black Conservative, Shaun Bailey to get a full appreciation of the extent to which some black people will go to seek assimilation. Both Misha and Shaun are abysmal. The only voice of sanity is that of Birmingham's black community activist Desmond Jadoo.
Britain: The most ‘tolerant’ country in the world.

We are repeatedly told Britain is a post-racist country and the most ‘tolerant country in the world” where the scourge of crude racism has largely been removed from society. In reality, the truth is today; we are witnessing the worst racism we’ve faced in a generation.

A tolerant country 
Personally, I’ve never been comfortable with that phrase. You tolerate a virus, a foreign invading body or an abhorrent sickness. You do to not tolerate your fellow citizens. I don't want to be tolerated. I don't see it is a virtue, I see it as vice.

I’ve had all the British tolerance I can handle. The very notion that I as a black man should be tolerated in the country of my birth and be thankful is frankly reprehensible and a fundamental insult to my birthright.

I along with others have written many articles seeking to highlight the reality of worsening racial inequality for black and ethnic minority communities in the UK. I have sought to issue warnings to government, local authorities and institutions about the real and present dangers of leaving festering racial injustice, sweltering in the fetid heat of massive and disproportionate discrimination, poverty and police violence.

Condemned as a ‘professional race baiter’ by white and black liberals alike, I like many others have maintained my position under constant fire, whilst being routinely attacked and cast as an extremist comparable with the odious former British National Party fascist, Nick Griffin. That's how absurd and perverted debate about racism has become. Those that raise issues of racism are now the new racists in post Brexit Britain.

When accused of racism deny, deny, deny.

We should be worried. Racism is routinely denied in this country. Let me ask you this real quick, just take a moment to think back to any major allegation of serious racism to which the response has been serious acknowledgement, apology and remedy? I’ll wait…..

In Britain claims of racism are routinely denied and that runs deep. So embedded has racism become within the cultural fabric of the nation that racism has now become ‘normalised’ and almost routine. 

So endemic is this racism, that some black people now echo these sentiments or worse. A minority becoming violent bigots themselves, attacking Muslims and migrants. Such is the power of racism that none ( neither Muslims, migrants or Blacks) can escape its insidious effects to the extent that even its victims can become infected in misguided attempts to seek white approval and acceptance. These are that people quite literally out of their minds.

This is not just the denial of racism or political spin it’s much more insidious than that, its a form of white supremacy madness, a profound cognitive dissonance that defies any logic and is designed as  psychological destabilisation to deny black reality in favour of maintaining white privilege and destroy black resistence and resilience. 

Racism and riots. The fire next time.

I’m on record having predicted 2011 disturbances following killing of Mark Duggan by Metropolitan Police Service as early as January of that year and in the immediate aftermath of the killing of  first legendary reggae MC star Smiley Culture and then again in April in relation to the death of Kingsley Burrell in Birmingham. 

In the aftermath of those widespread disturbances in 2011 I made my views clear on Sky TV much of what I said is now echoed in the Commissions review.

In response to this hugely important report I issue a new stark warning and one that is repeated in the report by the Chair of the Commission citing ‘ increasing racial tensions’.

I’d put it much more strongly than that, I say there will be widespread and ferocious urban uprisings in reaction to the constant political failure of successive Governments and that of British societies to recognise racism and adopt policies and strong ant discriminatory legislation to ensure its eradication. 

Black communities are under no illusion that they are discounted and discarded as equal citizens within this disunited kingdom. We have made the political calculation that Government will only offer cosmetic and tokenistic solutions and will consistently refute the disturbing reality identified in this report, that  racial inequality is widespread, growing and systemic.

Findings of the report conclusively prove that black people in United Kingdom are living their lives, as third class citizens in a supposedly first-class democracy.

The report condemns government policy and legislative responses to racism as patchy and inconsistent, yet another consistent criticism levelled at government by black communities and one that has been consistently denied.

It is remarkable that the vast majority of such criticisms and claims have been flatly rejected and those that have been accepted as genuine cause for complaint by government are highlighted but for a fleeting moment, subject to a token policy response and then routinely ignored. 

That‘s the stone cold black reality we face. I can already hear the banshee wails of reactionary white discontent reading this, so let me make this crystal clear.

 Can’t we all just get along?

Racism evolves, its changes shape and focus to fit the circumstances of the day that why its survived the last 5oo years. Contemporary British racism is not the brutal legal apartheid of South Africa. Britain’s pre Brexit racism was much more nuanced, usually polite and smiling in its countenance, almost pleasant in its demeanour, whilst wrecking havoc, tragedy and misery and all with a smile, an apology and warm reassurance using words such as ‘ deep regret, isolated incident, learning the lessons and moving on’.

Despite this wonderfully polite appearance, racism in Britain is no less deadly, no less a destroyer of people lives, for all its apparent lack of offence. Post Brexit the mood music for black people, migrants and Muslims in Britain has become distinctly hostile. Gone are the polite pretences of an inclusive Britain, the newest racial epithet/insult directed toward us is “ You’re next”.   The racism we face destroys talent, eviscerates hope and aspiration, rejects meritocracy and replaces it with a pigmentocracy, a society, where colour and ethnicity, race and religion all determine your life chances, not industry and talent

Racism is systemic.

This report is not alone in identifying such gross racial inequality. The Runnymede Trust and independent race equality think tank published its second annual report entitled "Ethnic Inequalities In London: A Capital For All” captured racial inequality right across the capital.

Its findings were equally conclusive that "ethnic inequalities are persistent and widespread, particularly in employment and housing."  The report also found, as did the Commissions review, that black and ethnic minority pupils were out performing their white counterparts, and yet suffered huge discrimination within British labour market.

Black young people qualified, ambitious and ready to work are finding themselves unemployed, on the streets unable to get a home, unable to get a job and racially profiled and harassed by the police.

The combination of widespread systemic poverty, racism and discrimination means our communities are both contained and under pressure, with no obvious routes out of this incredibly hostile environment.

As a result we are not simply denied opportunity as a consequence of these circumstances, our communities, particularly our young people also live in fear of crime, facing an epidemic of violence that comes in the wake of acute poverty one that has seen the explosion of open drug markets, controlled many instances by violent young men who, given the opportunity would take a job in the city any day, over a life plagued with stress and violence.

Too many of our young people have nowhere else to go, nothing else to, see no incentive to achieve because of the relentless racism they face on a daily basis.

A recent report by the UK newest social movement Blaksox has eloquently and succinctly highlighted this problem of poverty, racism, drugs and rampant violence in Black communities.  The Commissions report captures our vulnerability as victims of crime, poverty and racism.

In short we we’re under policed as victims of crime and over policed as law-abiding citizens,

Add to this hellish context the reality of police brutality, deaths in police custody such as those of Sean Rigg, Sarah Reed and Dalian Atkinson, stop and search harassment and the constant Metropolitan Police Service covert campaign to undermine and close down black cultural events like Brixton Splash  , Notting Hill Carnival and black-owned night clubs then you have an inflamable cocktail of toxic issues simply awaiting a spark to ignite.

Final Call. It’s Justice or Else.

The Commission concludes if the government is to heal a divided nation then they need to take these issues seriously publish a robust and comprehensive race equality strategy and put race back onto the agenda.

This is a call that has been echoed by many over the last eight years and has been consistently ignored and rejected by government even in the aftermath of August 2011. There can be no escape from the conclusions of this report that will, if ignored lead to white widespread civil urban uprisings in response to the constant denial of both justice and opportunity. I foresee no other outcome if things remain the same. There is no other possibility other than this stark inevitability. Left unattended these issues will erupt making 2011 seem like a walk in the park. 

Britain has to decide whether it's rhetorical paper-thin policy commitments to race equality are sufficient to meet this crisis or whether it is intent on ignoring racism and is happy paying the exorbitant costs such malign ignorance will incur.

Racial profiling by the police of black communities within the context of an increasingly privatised prison system has lead to huge increases in the number of black people arrested, charged and jailed for offences for which white Britons receive cautions, suspended sentences or community orders.  

This reality was highlighted by the recent research conducted by the Young Review and Release: The Drugs Charity.  Though not touched in by the review its important to state that there is a growing perception that black youth are seen as nothing more than commodities, low hanging fruit for a rapacious criminal justice system driven by profit, a trend identified by African American academic Michelle Alexandra in her seminal work exploring this issue in the U.S. entitled; The New Jim Crow.

The challenge we now face is how do we collectively respond to this devastating review?  It is incumbent upon us all as fully awoke, sentient human beings to secure the future for our children.

What has been demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt, is that our children's future as black citizens in Britain, is one that will inevitably require a gargantuan effort akin to the Civil Rights struggle in 1960’s America, in a determined effort to secure real sustainable equality and justice through community protest, pressure politics and civil disobedience.

This cannot be simply a repetition of the failed tactics of the past.

The politics of state sponsored grant aid. Divide, silence and rule.

The black voluntary sector decimated as a consequence austerity, intimidated silenced by grant aid organisations and local authorities willing to pay a quick buck to anyone prepared to collude with their pernicious and systematic racism. Grant aid funding from state institutions to organisations that claim to be fighting racism has resulted in the context that we see today where racism has thrived and succeeded despite millions of pounds being given to these organisations. In turn these organisations lost site of their essential mission that is to mobilise communities in a mass campaign exposing discrimination rather than being than being a funded fig leaf for institutionalised racism and casual racism.

This important sector, once a radical mouthpiece for equality  black aspiration is now become silent witness to our tragedy. Content publish reports nobody reads, sit on a range of government taskforce’s, conduct academic research no one ever reads, mouthing mild critique of Government scared of biting the hand that feeds it and refusing to lead the fight against racism.

The reality is in my view we have far too many disparate organisations. Black organisation serving the same clientele in different towns less than 10 miles apart don’t have a clue what each is doing, hell sometimes even in the same town.  How the Asian elders organisations fairing? Unless we are Asian we have no clue.  Surely if were all facing a common problem we should agree a common solution?  If we’re all facing austerity cuts maybe we should merge these organisations, consolidate our strengths and fight together?

Racism in the workplace. Trade Union Congress absent without leave.

Trade Unions (TU) are also falling to tackle racism in the workplace. When is the last time you heard of a Trade Union taking legal action against Government or an employer, challenging work place racism?  The fact is like Government itself Trade Unions are strong on rhetoric and weak on action. Black members groups are cowed and intimidated refusing to challenge the lack of black representation at all levels of the TU movement and incapable of being able to challenge the institutional racism of their own TU much less that of Government.

The charge is that the TU's much prefer the issue of gender to that of race. Race is just too difficult, in their eyes, for them to deal with. We should also note that the TUC representation on the Equality Commission had consistently supported Sir Trevor Phillips's (Its only a matter of time, grease and pole) deprioritisation of race equality as an issue and had colluded with the disproportionate sacking of black workers at the Commission without so much as a whisper. While the TUC highlights terrible effects of austerity on countries like Greece, they seem to ignore the fact that UK black youth suffer the highest youth unemployment rate in Europe.  Meanwhile post Brexit racism in the workplace is going through the roof and with each separate race employment tribunal case costing £1,200 to submit the number of workplace racism cases brought by black workers has collapsed by around 85%

When al; said and done, the conclusion  I draw from both the Commissions and Runnymede Trust research is that austerity economics amplified racism and inequality and the Brexit vote has put racism on blast.  Right now were moving towards approaching peak racism. This has been BARAC’s main campaign priority since 2010 that austerity promotes racism as public sector cuts if they’re to be accepted by Britons have to readily identifiable scapegoats. The sentiment that targets Migrants, Muslims and Blacks is the new No Dogs, No Irish, No Blacks. 

Where do we go from here?

With black communities facing such an uncertain future, a post referendum racism a possible economic recession and Government intransigence on race it is time for community, the voluntary sector, progressive trade unions and campaigning organisations to agree to back a campaign that targets the elimination of all areas of substantive race disproportionality and racial inequality by the year 2025. This gives us a pragmatic strategy that can be achieved in a realistic timeline that can dramatically reduce racism provide a level playing field all sections of British society for all Black and ethnic minority citizens.

I'm suggesting a national race equality summit in UK is convened to in order to develop and agree a comprehensive race equality strategy that can be the focused priority campaign of all black and minority community organisations, trade union's and wider civic society. In order to achieve its goals such a campaign would need to significantly resources.
We need a nationwide campaign that may take 2 to 3 years to emerge as a substantive issue on the political agenda. The very future of our children and the social fabric of Britain is now entirely dependent on the extent to which we, this generation can come together in a unified attempt to secure a future free of racism, a future all British citizens deserve regardless of their race or religion.

Britain is a multicultural democracy, however not all citizens are equal. If we Britain it is to avoid the tragic history of major black cities in the United States then the country must prioritise the elimination of racism, race inequality and injustice.

These goals will not be achieved easily. As the great African-American abolitionist Frederick Douglas in a speech entitled ‘If there is no struggle, there is no progress’ given on the August 3rd 1857 where he stated,

Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.’

If you’re interested in being involved in organising or would like to register an interest this summit email us on using Race Summit in the title.

Lee Jasper Co Chair of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC)

Here is a quick summary of the reviews key findings:

Black Unemployment

·      Unemployment rates were significantly higher for ethnic minorities at 12.9% compared with 6.3 % for White people.
·      Black workers with degrees earn 23.1% less on average than White workers.
·      In Britain, significantly lower percentages of ethnic minorities (8.8%) worked as managers, directors and senior officials, compared with White people (10.7%). This was particularly true for African/Caribbean/Black people (5.7%) and those of Mixed ethnicity (7.2%).
·      Black people who leave school with A-levels typically get paid 14.3% less than their White peers.

Black Education

·      Just 6% of Black school leavers attended a Russell Group university, compared with 12% of Mixed and Asian school leavers and 11% of White school leavers.

·      Black Caribbean and Mixed White/Black Caribbean children have rates of permanent exclusion about three times that of the pupil population as a whole. 
Black Crime
·      Rates of prosecution and sentencing for Black people were three times higher than for White people –18 per thousand population compared with six per thousand population for White people. For sentencing it was 13 per thousand population for Black people and five per thousand population for White people. 

·      In England and Wales ethnic minority children and adults are more likely to be a victim of homicide. The homicide rate for Black people was 30.5 per million population, 14.1 for Asian people and 8.9 for White people.

·      White women are more at risk of domestic abuse than ethnic minority women.  7.4 % reported being victims of abuse compared with 4.4 % of ethnic minority women.

·      Race hate crimes on Britain’s railway networks have risen by 37 %.

·      In England, 37.4% of Black people and 44.8% of Asian people felt unsafe being at home or around their local area, compared with 29.2% of White people.

Black Living standards

·      Pakistani/Bangladeshi and Black adults are more likely to live in substandard accommodation than White people. 30.9 % of Pakistani/Bangladeshi people live in overcrowded accommodation, while for Black people the figure is 26.8% and for White people it is 8.3%.

·      If you are an ethnic minority person, you are still more likely to live in poverty.  Our evidence shows that 35.7% of ethnic minorities were more likely to live in poverty compared with 17.2% of White people.

·      In Scotland, ethnic minority households are more likely to experience overcrowding. This was 11.8% for ethnic minority households compared with 2.9% for White households.

Black Health and care

o   Black African women had a mortality rate four times higher than White women in the UK.

o   There is a significant disproportionate number of ethnic minorities detained under mental health legislation in hospitals in England and Wales – Black African women were seven times more likely to be detained than White British women.

o   Gypsies, Travellers and Roma were found to suffer poorer mental health than the rest of the population in Britain. They were also more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.