Blog Archive

Saturday, 20 August 2016

PRESS RELEASE: Petition calling for owners of The Plantation to change the name


BARAC UK launch new petition challenging racist name of new restaurant The Plantation.

“We the undersigned call on The Breakfast Group to change the name of its new restaurant The Plantation at 31 Duke Street London W1 due to open on the 1st September 2016.
We find the name deeply offensive to the millions of Africans who died during the Maangamizi (transatlantic slave trade) and the millions more who enslaved on plantations whose average life span was eight years, usually less.
Africans were literally worked to death working sugar cane to make sugar and rum for their slave masters and colonial rulers.
To therefore name a restaurant selling rum, The Planation is grossly insensitive and constitutes grave offence to the African descent communities in London and elsewhere. Plantation's we're places where people suffered and died, where Africans suffered unimaginable violence and terror at the hands of their slave masters. 
Imagine if you can how African people would feel having to work at this venue much less eat at it? 
We have no doubt that you would not name one of your venues Concentration Camp or one of your cocktails Zyklon B. 
We therefore call on you to urgently reconsider your decision in the light of this complaint and rename your venue forth with.”

Lee Jasper, Co-founder and National Co-Chair BARAC UK said:

“London is one of the most multicultural cities in the world.  That any business man can imagine that he could call a newly opened restaurant the plantation defies belief and constitutes a grievous insult to London’s diverse communities.

 Plantations were the equivalent of concentration camps and the period of African enslavement was one the greatest crimes in human history. They should change the name now. “

Zita Holbourne, Co-founder and National Co-Chair BARAC UK said;
“The decision to call this venue a plantation beggars belief. The enslavement of African people forced to work under threat & punishment was a crime against humanity, not something to be celebrated. This is degrading and an insult to the memory of our ancestors and to those whose fore parents were enslaved and made to work on plantations whilst abused, beaten & murdered who still live with the legacy of racism it created today.

To associate with that horrific era in history by calling the venue this name speaks volumes about the mindset of those who own it & is another example of the state of racism in the UK as documented this week in the detailed report released by the Equality & Human Rights Commission. It has echoes of Brett Bailey's human zoo. I hope the owners see sense & demonstrate some decency and respect by doing the right thing.”



Zita Holbourne & Lee Jasper
Co-founders/ National Co-Chairs
Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC UK)

BARAC responds to EHRC report on deepening and systemic racism in the UK

The  EHRC has produced a  report this week on the level of racism in the UK  - nothing in the report is a surprise because these are all things BARAC has been saying since we were founded 6 years ago but we welcome the EHRC producing the report as it backs up what we know to be true with facts and figures.

What is important now is how that report is used by government to put in place an urgent strategy to address racism which has been amplified by austerity and increased due to  the Brexit campaign. 

Here are some reactions  from co-chairs of BARAC Lee and Zita.

A detailed analysis by Lee and you can watch Zita speaking on this week's Debate Show, Press TV.

Click here to read

Building Black Power; asserting our right to race equality - BARAC at The World Transformed

BARAC UK will be faciliating a session at The World Transformed Conference - a four day fringe conference running alongside the Labour Party Conference with a range of sessions run by grassroots organisations like ours. More info at the bottom of this email about the conference.

Our session: Building Black Power; Asserting our right to race equality
Facilitated by Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC ) UK
Chair: Zita Holbourne Co-founder & National Co-Chair BARAC UK
Speakers : Donna Guthrie; BARAC Women's Officer
Colette Williams; PAC45 Co-ordinator / Founder
Speaker from Liverpool "Black Lives Matter"
Panel discussion followed by audience debate
How do we build a Labour Party & wider labour and social movement that focuses on eradicating racist injustice and race equality?
Austerity has amplified racism over the past 6 years and led to deepening poverty for black communities. Along side this we have experienced increased racism and injustice from discrimination in the labour market to disproportionate stop & search, deaths at the hands-off the State whilst being denied access to justice because of cuts and a failure to address institutional racism by public authorities including the police.
This event will discuss how radical black movements can work together to build a 2020 vision focused on black leadership and anti racist struggle, uniting the Black labour movement & Labour Party , focused on the impact of austerity & Brexit & challenging institutional racism.
We will publish a briefing paper which will form an initial discussion on how we take the strategy forward with the aim of continuing debate after the conference and forming a consensus that brings Black communities, activists, campaigning organisations, the Labour movement , the Labour Party and Momentum together to achieve a common aim.

We have initiated a United Black Labour in support of Jeremy Corbyn Platform to aid discussion in the lead up to this event which can be joined here:
Follow on twitter here: @UBL4Corbyn
Speakers will set out their 2020 vision & this will be followed by contributions from the audience. The briefing paper will be available on the day & prior via the event website, BARAC UK website and facebook group above.

To faciliate discussion an online platform has been initiated by some of us  and we will post the briefing paper on here.

We welcome your contributions and ideas on the theme on here - see facebook link and twitter handle below:

This is a platform for discussion on the following:

Coming together to unite black* people around supporting Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leadership and more widely a platform for an exchange of ideas, discussion and development of a political consensus around race equality for black members of the Labour Party.

United Black Labour is initiated by Labour Party members of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK, who support Jeremy Corbyn.

Our objectives are to:

1. Bring black Labour Party members together who support Jeremy Corbyn to build consensus
2. Offer a platform for creative discussion on race equality legislation and policies we would like to see reflected in Labour Party policy arenas.
3. Bring people together who share a common vision of supporting Jeremy Corbyn for leader whilst building our agenda on race and black communities including those who face multiple discrimination such as young black people and black women. 

We want to work with existing black structures within the Labour Party and the wider labour movement. 

*We define black as all those who come from the African and Asian diasporas.

Twitter @UBL4Jeremy

Momentum announces four day Politics, Art and Culture Event
The World Transformed will take place in Liverpool alongside the Labour Party Conference 24 - 27 September.
As part of the Labour Party Conference fringe, Momentum will host four days of politics, art, music and culture, with the support of contributors
The event will be a space of inclusive and respectful debate, discussion and ideas where attendees have the opportunity to contribute to a radical, positive vision for the 21st century. Attendees of The World Transformed will find contemporary struggles in conversation with new ideas. The event will also be an opportunity for often unheard grassroots voices to connect with the Labour movement.
With over 150 hours of workshops, talks, gigs, film screenings, art exhibitions, book launches, children’s activities, we aim to inspire all to take part in the new politics with their own ideas and contributions.
Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, said in a promotional video for the festival: “I’m going to be there, because I want to see a world transformed. All those people, with all those ideas, ambitions and energy, are going to be there as well. Come along and join us - you’ll have a great experience… Doing things together benefits us all, educates us all, makes us strong, and does change the world
1) Full Listings
Speakers: Aaron Bastaani, Alex Nunns, Alex Scrivener, Alex Williams, Amina Gichinga, Ana Terriente, Andy Green, Ann Pettifor, Anthony Barnett, Assad Rehman, Barbara Jacobson, Ben Chacko, Bice Maiguashca, Cat Boyd, Cat Hobbs, Clive Lewis MP, Colette Williams, Diane Abbott MP, Ellen Clifford, Emma Rees, Faiza Shaheen, Heather Blakey, Helen Hester, Hillary Wainright, Ian Hodson, Jacqui Howard, Jeremy Gilbert, John Christensen, John McDonnell MP, Jon Cruddas MP, Jon Lansman, Kara Wayland Larty, Kate Shea Baird, Ken Loach, Laura Parker, Laura Williams, Leo Panitch, Mark Serwotka, Matt Wrack, Neal Lawson, Neil Lawson, Nick Dearden, Nick Srnicek, Owen Jones, Paul Mason, Paula Peters, Pragna Patel, Rachel Shabi, Richard Seymour, Sarah Jayne Clifton, Selina Todd, Shelly Asquith, Simon Parker, Tatiana Garavito, Vanessa Olonenshaw, Zita Holbourne & more to be announced.
Groups: Again Again, Alborada, Barcelona en Comu, Basic Income Network, Black Activists Rising Against The Cuts, Black Lives Matter Manchester, Brick Lane Debates, Compass, Disabled People Against the Cuts, Global Justice Now, Hillsborough Justice Campaign, IO Publishing, Jacobin, Jubilee Debt Campaign, the Labour Representation Committee, Momentum, Momentum Football, Momentum Women, Momentum Youth and Students, Morning Star, Novara, Podemos, Red Pepper, Talk Socialism & more to be announced


Monday, 8 August 2016



zh 1

high court
UK High Court

A High Court judge has ruled 130,000 new Labour members who signed up between 12th January and 12th July this year should be allowed to vote in the leadership election.

The ruling comes after 5 Labour members crowdfunded a legal case to challenge the Labour NEC’s decision to block new members from voting.

A Labour party spokesman has suggested the party may appeal.

It is widely believed the NEC voted last month to limit who could vote in order to curb the chances of Corbyn winning another resounding victory following the 59% secured last year- the largest mandate ever won a by a political party leader.

Today’s ruling raises important questions about how Labour uses members’ money.

John McDonnell is angry about his party’s consideration of appealing the High Court ruling.

If the NEC appeals, then, as Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has said: …”the Party will be using members money to try to stop members from voting”.

Another not so obvious question is what happens to those members who had to pay a fee of £25 to escape the 12th July freeze date?

Many of them are on benefits and/or low incomes. For them £25 is a lot of money.

Zita Holbourne, Black Activist Rising Against Cuts

Wrath & Rye asked her a few questions about the petition, the High Court ruling and austerity…

W&R: Why is reimbursement so important?
ZH: Because that money is stolen money, taken as part of the attempted coup against Jeremy Corbyn, deliberately set so high so as to deter or bar people who can least afford it signing up. I know people who are forced to go to food banks, families having to choose between paying a utility bill or putting food on the table.
£25 is more than some people have to feed their entire family for the week; it’s a shame and stain on the Labour NEC, a party started for working class people. Last year supporters paid £3. Imagine if inflation went up at this rate.
If there is no reimbursement for members it makes a mockery of democracy and the judicial system because we never should have had to pay £25 in the first place. We already pay our membership fee to Labour, we have a contract of agreement with them that includes our democratic right to vote. They have stolen from the poor.
W&R: Is it a success for those who are anti-austerity that the High Court has ruled the way it has today?

Austerity protestors, London

It is a success for all those who believe in democracy & many Labour Party members who joined Labour as members after the January cut off point who support Jeremy Corbyn will be against austerity and cuts.

I believe a substantive number of those people will be disproportionately impacted by austerity because of race, age, gender, disability.

One of the 5 in the court case was a young person who was also barred from signing up as a supporter because of age.

However this success in the court case does not address the £25 paid by members & non-members as the only way they could vote.

If the Labour NEC do not do the right, decent and democratic thing and refund the £25 paid by new members then there will still be a further legal challenge required. The actions of the Labour NEC fly in the face of democracy.

W&R: What will it say about the PLP if they push ahead for an appeal on the ruling?

JC 1
Jeremy Corbyn

ZH: That they have no shame, that they are corrupt, that their real intent is to support the coup against Jeremy Corbyn because they do not want a party run by the people for the people but an elitist political party out of touch with ordinary people which is why the numbers are growing in their thousands in support of Jeremy Corbyn. We are crying out for a leader and future PM who stands with us not against us.

W&R: We don’t hear much about austerity at the moment as the news is taken up by Brexit. How is it still impacting BME communities specifically, and how will that impact continue?

Protesting against cuts
Protesting austerity

There is a clear disproportionate impact of austerity on BME communities – austerity is amplifying racism and is closely linked with BREXIT. This was a toxic xenophobic racist campaign to demonise, label and scapegoat migrants as the cause of no jobs, lack of affordable housing, reduced services etc. In reality all these issues are caused by Tory cuts, not by migrants who contribute to the economy and aid economic recovery.
It will continue to impact because the government programme of cuts is continuing. If Brexit causes another recession then it will get dramatically worse. They’re impacting on us now- a whole generation is barred from jobs and housing, living in deprived conditions. The UK has one of the highest BME child poverty rates across Europe. The knock-on impact of cuts, racism, Islamophobia, injustice etc is on mental health and physical health. It creates a vicious circle.

W&R: What do you think people should do to stop austerity and create a more economically equal society?

ZH: Vote vote vote for Jeremy Corbyn. Get involved, campaign, join protests, challenge cuts and discrimination, be politically active, do, don’t just say; be part of the solution not part of the problem. Unite with like minded people.

We also need to create our own opportunities, we can’t rely on institutionally racist public bodies but we also need to hold them to account. Defend our hard gained equality rights and protections. Do not be complacent, strive for better.

First published here,   

BARAC to speak at 2 day conference: Blacklisting, Bullying and Blowing the Whistle

It's time to stand up to injustice in the workplace. Come to a two-day conference exposing the hidden underbelly of the modern workplace, with
John McDonnell MP
Helen Steel, blacklisted McLibel activist
Zita Holbourne, co-founder of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts
Dave Smith, Blacklist Support Group
and key union leaders, academics and lawyers.
Sessions and workshops will explore blacklisting and victimisation of whistleblowers and activists; bullying of workers by intense monitoring and measurement; and surveillance in employment and in civil rights activism.
The conference brings together academics, politicians, lawyers and activists with a view to develop practical next steps for a programme of policy and action that restores workplace rights and fairness at work.
Organised by
Blacklist Support Group (BSG) and the Work & Employment Research Unit (WERU) at the University of Greenwich supported by New Internationalist and Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust.

Further details here

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Representing BARAC UK at Glastonbury 2016; a report by Parisce Francis

BARAC team at Glastonbury with left to right Parisce Francis, author of this article, Felicia OluTease, Barbara Ntumy (Team leader) and Aaliyah Oke 

Team member for this year's BARAC team for Workers Beer at Glastonbury writes on her experience.

If you are interested in volunteering next year get in touch or watch out for updates. 

Glastonbury 2016 by Parisce Francis

I had told myself that 2016 was going to be the year that I finally go to Glastonbury, but I didn’t get

tickets. They sold out in a stupidly small amount of time and I missed out even though my mum, my

friends and I all tried. Needless to say when I saw the BARAC request for volunteers on Facebook I

was beyond happy.

I have been to a few festivals before in the UK and around Europe but I have never worked one

before. Let me tell you I will never be buying a ticket again! Volunteering is the way to festival!

Honestly, my first impressions were not great but that was completely outside the control of BARAC

and Workers Beer Company (WBC). What should have been a 4 hour journey (according to Google

maps) ended up as a 16 hour trip and the majority of that was spent in a traffic jam within 5 miles of

the festival site.

The coach from Manchester arrived in the WBC campsite, known as the village, just as breakfast was

beginning to be served, so my disappointments fell away as my belly filled. During breakfast I met

Aaliyah, a member of my BARAC team. As a group, we had chatted a bit over Whatsapp but not met

in person. Aaliyah showed me about; the showers, portaloos, posh toilets, where to set up my tent

and introduced me to the rest of the team; Barbara and Felicia.

The village is definitely one of the reasons why I’d volunteer again. It is located pretty centrally;

there are hot showers, toilets that flush and somewhere to charge your phone. We were also given

2 meals a day and 2 drinks vouchers after each shift. Within the food/beer tent there was a laid

back, community feel which meant that even if you started off sitting alone charging your phone,

within a few minutes you’d be swapping stories about the crazy people you’d served the night

before. Similarly it was nice to walk around the festival site and see familiar faces.

If I had any hesitations about working at the festival before going, it was about working behind the

bar. I have been at festival bars where the queues are 30 men deep and have seen people get angry

with thirst. But that was nothing to worry about; it was really easy and fun. We had a quick brief

before our first shift and were then put to work. We got a pretty good deal; 2 shifts starting 11am till

5pm and 2 starting at 10pm till 3am. Behind the bar you could still feel the party vibes. Our first shift

was in an old school garage tent and when the DJ dropped little man looking at us you would’ve

thought we were on the dance floor.

My time at Glastonbury differed greatly from my previous experiences at festivals, not only because

I was there as a volunteer, but because of the company I was in. Usually I’d go with my friends from

Uni but as the girls I was with this time are political activists my experience differed due to the topics

of the conversations we had. As 4 black women we discussed everything from the transgressions of

white men wearing afro wigs as fancy dress to vintage clothes shopping, to gender identity of/ in

children. Other people in the WBC village were volunteering for a range of social or environmental

causes/groups so conversation was never dull with other teams too. Being around such politically

active and aware people when the result for the referendum was announced was pretty special.

Now I’m home (and mud free) I think Glastonbury definitely lived up to the hype, it was huge! 2016

was not about headliners (no offence Adele) it was all about grime, seeing Novelist get the crowd to

chant ‘f**k David Cameron’ isn’t something I’ll forget. But even if music isn’t your thing there are 

so many other things going on like the cinema, comedy stages, even a healing circle. I definitely

recommend volunteering and  if you are there next year I’ll see you there!

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Race Equality Groups Demand Hate Crime Strategy

Race equality groups demand hate crime strategy


National and local race equality groups have come together to show solidarity with all of those minorities who have been subject to unprecedented levels of racial abuse over the last few months. We have also sought to show leadership including demanding that Government urgently produce a National Hate Crime strategy that both offers protection and sets a standard for the whole of society, including MPs to adhere to.
If your organisation would like to put your name to this statement please let us know, and we’ll do so. Our unity is our strength.
Rise in racial hatred and xenophobia demands a national hate strategy
Britain is a modern multicultural democracy that has benefited tremendously from the historic contributions of citizens from formerly colonised countries and, more recently, the contributions of contemporary migrant labourers. Frighteningly, less than two weeks post-EU referendum, Britain has returned to a level of racism, violence and fear not seen since Enoch Powell delivered his infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in Birmingham in 1968.
A key element of the Brexiters campaign negatively targeted immigration and migrants, thereby legitimising the racial abuse and violence we are now seeing on a daily basis.
The British political class and media have - with a few exceptions – pandered to racism, xenophobia and religious hatred, to the extent that many members of settled black communities and migrants, both black and white, are now living in fear. The failures of those in power to show real leadership is a stain on our democracy.
In the last week alone, according to Sarah Thornton of the National Police Chiefs Council, there has been a reported 5 fold increase -500%-in the incidence of Hate Crime. We believe this widely reported increase merely represent the tip of the iceberg, as the vast majority of these crimes go unreported to statutory authorities.
Whilst we note the Government's announcement that there will be a renewed focus to tackle racial hatred, we believe there is much more that needs to be done. We hereby call upon politicians and the media to firmly reject racism and positively reinforce the fact that Britain is today, and will always be, an inclusive, democratic, multicultural society. Equally, we call on all communities to publically support and stand in solidarity with those communities under attack.
We also demand our Government urgently commit to the development of a comprehensive national hate crime strategy which can both offer protection and provide public confidence and reassurance. It must be made clear that as a Government, and as a nation, we have zero tolerance for all forms race hate.
Despite the racism and xenophobia that has accompanied the referendum we believe the silent majority in Britain still oppose racism and bigotry.
Runnymede Trust
Operation Black Vote
Race On The Agenda
Race Equality Foundation
Society of Black Lawyers
Black South West Network
Croydon BME Forum
Gypsy-Traveller organisation Friends Families and Travellers
The National Resource Centre for Supplementary Education
Peter Tatchell Foundation.
East European Advice Centre
(South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group)
UK Race and Europe Network (UKREN)
Left Unity is a radical left party in Britain, affiliated to the European
Left Party
Unison South West Black members committee
BAME Labour