REPORT OF THE LAUNCH EVENT FOR THE BARAC
MLK50; EQUALITY IN OUR LIFETIME CAMPAIGN
from left to right; Cordell Pillay, Greg Morris, Zita Holbourne, Lee Jasper, Donna Guthrie, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Khi Rafe, photo by Rod Leon, all rights reserved
The launch in Parliament of MLK50; Equality In Our Lifetime took place on March 11th 2013.
The aim of the year long campaign is to generate a national dialogue on race and racism including a national conference to form a strategy going forward to respond to increasing race discrimination and economic injustice created by the government’s programme of cuts and policies. Also a march on Westminster for jobs and justice is planned on August 31st 2013.
The launch event began with 1 minute silence in memory of Hugo Chavez and was chaired by Zita Holbourne and Lee Jasper, the two co-founders of BARAC UK.
Zita gave an introduction to BARAC explaining that it was established to campaign against the disproportionate impact of cuts on black workers, service users and communities and deprived communities.
Lee Jasper, photo by Rod Leon, all rights reserved
Lee gave an overview of the MLK50 campaign, marking the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington and Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech and why we should have equality in our lifetime. He explained the state of race inequality in the UK today and how people could get involved in challenging this through the campaign.
Speakers at the event included:
John McDonnell MP who spoke about bankers causing the economic crisis and the links between austerity and racism and the need for black self-organisation to resist these attacks.
Cordell Pillay, Chief Executive of Race 4 Justice spoke about racism in the criminal justice system and the role trade unions must play in fighting racism.
Bellavia Ribeiro-Addy from the Society of Black Lawyers steering group spoke about the need to challenge racism whilst defending multiculturalism and fighting fascism.
Khi Rafe from the Mary Seacole campaign spoke about the success of the campaign to keep Mary Seacole on the national curriculum and the need to continue campaigning for a curriculum that reflects the historical record of black civilisations and the role of black women throughout history.
Donna Guthrie trade union activist and BARAC Steering Group member spoke about the disproportionate impact of austerity on black women and the need to campaign around the multiple impact.
Greg Morris from Black Men In the Community spoke about the work of black men in communities and their role in supporting black women.
There was also poetry by Zita Holbourne, who performed two pieces, ‘Tell Me About Racism’ and ‘Progression’.
TELL ME ABOUT RACISM
A poem by Zita Holbourne, Copyright March 2013
They tell me we’re living in a post racial Britain
When the Government are undoing race laws written
They tell me Britain’s a land of equal opportunity
Then in the same breath discriminate against me
They tell me I have a chip on my shoulder
Whilst they barricade doors with a heavy boulder
They tell me we have a very tolerant society
Then say they agree with the EDL and the BNP
They tell me that diversity’s always embraced
Then tell me I don’t fit in, I’ve got the wrong face
They tell me they’re not racist, some of their best friends are black
Just before they embark on a verbal racist attack
They tell me I should be grateful to be living in the UK
And even though I’m born here, they still ask how long I’m planning to stay
They tell me they can’t understand why there’s a black history month
It’s not like white people expect to have a white history month
They tell me you people are always wanting something more
Isn’t it enough that Britain generously opened its door?
They tell me they’re interested to know where I come from
Then go on to ask me if I’ve been here long
They tell me that political correctness has gone mad
Can’t say anything for fear of offending, it’s really sad
They tell me if we don’t like it we can go back where we came from
If we weren’t willing to fit in why did we come?
They tell me there’s simply no racism here
So please can you stop your complaining dear
They tell me that it was nice to meet me
And they’re sure now that I can see
That we’re living in a post racial society
Blissfully unaware of their own hypocrisy
We hope to provide a fuller report in due course including some of the speeches made at the launch.
Our thanks go to all those who attended the launch and / or have signed up to the campaign.
To sign up and join the campaign please email firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘mlk50’ in the subject box.
some of the participants
MLK50; Equality In Our Lifetime is supported by the following organisations:
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