Faith in Black Lives Matter was a conference run by the Faith Network for Manchester that took place via Zoom in November. Here are links to some of the topics it looked at. Thought-provoking, honest and robust content (let the listener understand), but shared in a context of humility and desire to learn and change.
In an interview, former Home Office immigration minister Caroline Nokes has called the her former department's approach to immigration “inhuman”, “profoundly depressing” and at times “hideously wrong", warning it will only cause further problems that will end up costing the taxpayer more money. Nokes accused ministers of “paying lip service” to Wendy Williams’ Lessons Learned report on the Windrush scandal – which broke while she was in office – and said they were failing to put people at the heart of Home Office policy, as was recommended in the review. Commitments to change the Home Office following the Windrush scandal had been “torn up, disregarded and rendered clearly completely irrelevant” when making decisions about asylum seekers. Read the full interview.
One of the reactions to the mass-break-in to the Capitol Building in Washington last week has been to contrast the police response and numbers arrested or charged with the Black Lives Matter protests last June. The Black Lives Matter Global Network commented: "Make no mistake, if the protesters were Black, we would have been tear gassed, battered, and perhaps shot."
Former First Lady, Michele Obama released a statement pointing out the discrepancy between "these rioters and gang members ... led out of the building not in handcuffs, but free to carry on with their days" and the summer's "overwhelmingly peaceful" Black Lives Matter protest movement which saw "peaceful protesters met with brute force. We saw cracked skulls and mass arrests, law enforcement pepper spraying its way through a peaceful demonstration for a presidential photo op". Read the full statement here.
As well as his own statement describing "a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation", former president predecessor Barack Obama has also Tweeted links to several articles further analysing the gulf in response between mostly white and mostly black protests. These are:
A report today in the Independent states: "Windrush victims are yet to receive compensation despite the Home Office announcing last month that all eligible claimants would be granted a 'fast-tracked' payment." A letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel on 1 January, signed by 31 Windrush victims and claimants to the scheme says: “We are left with the hollow sense that the ‘overhaul’ you announced on 14 December – in the lead-up to Christmas – was no more than a publicity stunt. This is the same dynamic we have faced from the beginning: we are told that changes are coming, and we will hear soon; we wait for open-ended periods, suffering all the while, some among us dying while waiting; and we are ultimately presented with something far deficient to what was promised, and expected to be thankful for it.” So far nine Windrush victims have died while awaiting compensation.
Read the full article,
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) equalities watchdog has found in its "Assessment of hostile environment policies" that these policies that caused the Windrush scandal broke the law and are “a shameful stain on British history”. The damning report concludes that the Home Office failed in its “legal duties” towards black Britons, and that the harsh effects of the crackdown were “repeatedly ignored, dismissed, or their severity disregarded”. Ministers failed to listen properly to protests from members of the Windrush generation, “even as the severe effects of hostile environment policies began to emerge”. The EHRC said its findings endorsed the conclusion of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review that the experiences of victims of the scandal were “foreseeable and avoidable”.
The Windrush compensation scheme has paid just £1.6m to 196 people in 18 months when a bill of between £200m and £570m was expected. At least nine people have died before receiving the compensation they applied for. A black official helping to run the scheme resigned last week over “racism” and the government’s failure to help victims.
The EHRC concluded that the Home Office did not comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED), which requires all public authorities to consider how their decisions affect people protected under the Equality Act. Impact assessments were “often considered too late to form a meaningful part of many decision-making processes”. Exceptions to the PSED for immigration were “in many cases interpreted incorrectly or inconsistently, and there was a general lack of commitment within the Home Office to the importance of equality”.
Read more here and here. Download the report here.
"Is Covid Racist?" is the title of a recent documentary on Channel 4. Presented by Dr. Ronx Ikharia it is a full investigation into why the coronavirus has disproportionately affected BAME frontline workers in the UK, and pays tributes to those who have lost their lives. The programme states that: "over 60% of NHS frontline health workers who have died of COVID-19 are also people of colour, despite making up only 20% of the NHS workforce" and looks into the socioeconomic inequalities that may have caused this to happen.
Experts featured include Dr Chaand Nagpul, chair of the British Medical Association Council and Halima Begum, of race equality think tank, the Runnymede Trust. All reach the same conclusion: black and brown healthcare workers were at far greater risk than their white colleagues. Five themes are investigated: genetics, pre-existing medical conditions, wealth, health, and institutional racism. Though recent government research dismisses structural racism as a contributing factor, Dr. Ronx allows the "hard facts" to speak for themselves.
Read more here and a review here. Watch the programme here until December 23.
The Interest: How the British Establishment Resisted the Abolition of Slavery is a new book by Michael Taylor. After the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, 800,000 enslaved people continued to work in the British colonies producing sugar and other commodities for the home market. Slavery remained central to Britain’s economic and strategic interests, and resistance to further reform meant a 26 year delay to the abolition of slavery in the colonies. This was led by “The West India Interest”, a pro-slavery elite involving wealthy planters, hundreds of MPs, civil servants, financiers, landowners, clergymen, judges and military chiefs, including publisher John Murray, The Spectator magazine, William Gladstone, the Duke of Wellington, Robert Peel and George Canning. Taylor explains that racism went hand-in-hand with the business, because people needed a way to rationalise slavery to themselves. They were helped by clergy who associated white and lighter skins with Christian concepts of “goodness” and purity and black skin with darkness and evil.
This review says: "Taylor’s magnificent book opens a window onto a most shameful commerce." Another reviewer comments: "In an era when black history is at last being given its rightful due, Taylor’s potent book shows why slavery took root as an essential part of British national life and why to remember it otherwise is 'misleading and self-serving'”.
Read more here.
Two more reports have been added to the growing pile of research showing that minority ethnic communities have been hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, this time revealing that little effort has been made to address the issue.
A joint report from IPPR and Runnymede trust states: "there has been little effort to stop Covid-19 hitting minority ethnic communities hardest as we enter the second wave". It estimates that over 2,500 deaths could have been avoided during the first wave in England and Wales if the black and Asian populations did not experience an extra risk of death from Covid-19 compared to the white population (after adjusting for differences in age and sex). Put differently, over 58,000 and 35,000 additional deaths from Covid-19 would have occurred if the white population had experienced the same risk of death from Covid-19 as the black and Asian and populations respectively. The inequalities are not explained by underlying diseases (such as heart disease, diabetes) or genetics (as there is no genetic basis for race or ethnicity). The report says: "this inequality is likely to be driven by structural and institutional racism that results in differences in social conditions (such as occupation and housing) and differential access to healthcare". Read more here.
The second report is a follow up by The Independent to the Government-commissioned review from Public Health England in June into inequalities in Covid deaths. It states that: "four months on, as the country heads towards another peak of cases, the government has been unable to provide The Independent with details of any action taken to address the issue". It quotes Marsha de Cordova, Labour’s shadow equalities minister: “Ministers’ failure to prevent the disproportionate impact of Covid is negligent, discriminatory and unlawful.” Read more here.
The cartoon, from The Independent in June, sums it up well.
Covid-19 restrictions have meant several bookings for our exhibition have had to be postponed or cancelled. So we have filmed it. While not quite as good as the real thing, especially the interactive part, here is our digitised version of 'Colonial Slavery and its Legacy.' Feel free to use and share.
With the help of advisor and founding trustee, Dr Clifford Hill, MJR has written a response to the recent publication by the National Trust of a report showing connections between 93 of its historic places and colonialism and historic slavery.
The report is welcomed, particularly the statement: “We believe that only by honestly and openly acknowledging and sharing those stories can we do justice to the true complexity of past, present and future, and the sometimes uncomfortable role that Britain, and Britons, have played in global history since the 16th century or even earlier.”
The National Trust say that 29 of the properties now in their care have direct links with colonial slavery and the slave trade, and about one third of all their properties have some kind of connection to colonialism. The hope is expressed that the National Trust research will lead to the establishment of a positive programme of dealing with the vast number of buildings, statues and plaques that have links with British colonial history and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
Read the full response here. Read the National Trust report here.
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