“The Windrush scandal didn’t just come out of nowhere. It was born out of decisions made in another age by men who are long dead. But at its heart was a belief. A belief that no matter what the laws of citizenship might say, Britishness was fundamentally a racial issue and the black and brown people could never really be British. It was that belief that led British governments to spy on their own people. It was that belief that led British politicians to draft laws that were deliberately, intentionally, designed to discriminate on grounds of race and those laws became the ghost in the machine that have come back to haunt modern Britain and to wreck the lives of the children of the Windrush.” David Olusoga. The Unwanted: The Secret Windrush Files. BBC 24th June 2019. See it on BBC iPlayer now.
In research to be presented to the Human Rights Council in July, Tendayi Achiume, the UN’s special rapporteur on racism describes the “structural socioeconomic exclusion” of racial and ethnic minorities in the UK as “striking”. Her report claims that race, ethnicity, religion, gender and disability status all continue to determine the life chances and wellbeing of people in Britain in ways that were “unacceptable and, in many cases, unlawful”, and that austerity measures had been “disproportionately detrimental” to people of racial and ethnic minorities. It also highlights that "these groups were also overrepresented in criminal justice enforcement and underrepresented within the institutions that adjudicate crime and punishment." And: "In a broader context of national anti-immigrant anxiety, the predictable result of the UK government’s immigration policy and enforcement is racial discrimination and racialised exclusion. The Windrush scandal is a glaring example.”
This is the second highly critical UN report on UK government policy to be published in the last month, after a UN poverty expert compared current welfare policies to the creation of 19th-century workhouses and said the UK’s poorest people faced lives that would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” unless austerity was ended.
Read more here. Read the UN Statement on the report here.
In an opinion article in Saturday's Independent Kehinde Andrews claims that the voices of the 73% of Black and 67% of Asian voters who opted for Remain in the 2016 referendum are missing from the Brexit coverage and debate. Ethnic minorities for the most part "...were not persuaded by visions of romantic past in which we were colonised and enslaved." Pointing out that the 7.5 million people from ethnic minorities are a larger population than Scotland and Northern Ireland combined, she says: "...it is high time that these voices are no longer marginalised. Unfortunately, as is usually the case, it is the will of white English people that is being represented as that of the nation." Read the full article here.
On BBC's Question Time on February 7, the panel was asked about the recent debate about actor Liam Neeson's alleged racism. The response given by model and author Eunice Olumide included a brilliant summary of the history and legacies of colonial slavery. Eunice spoke eloquently of "the elephant in the room" – the transatlantic slave-trade and colonialism – "which no-one ever wants to talk about, despite the fact that it is one of the most significant and horrifying points of history, probably in the entire existence of human beings." Find the programme here on iPlayer – Eunice's response starts at around 39 minutes.
This article on Jerry Seinfeld calling out some fellow comedians on their use of the N-word makes the important point that "it’s important to realise that non-black people like Seinfeld have a much easier experience when it comes to calling out racism." For starters, non-black people "are less exhausted" because it is black people who "currently bear the brunt of the responsibility when it comes to educating people about racial insensitivity." Non-black people don’t have to address these issues daily or need to "worry about being cast as an 'angry black person' (an insidious stereotype designed to silence righteous indignation)." Non-black people confronting racist behaviour amongst their own means "engaging with issues that don’t affect us, and supporting the arguments of people who experience oppression." It should not be the rare praise-worthy exception as here, but "the very least we can do". Read the full article.
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