Blog Archive

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Zimbabwe Mass Deportation on 21st July 2021: Urgent Action & MP template letter


BARAC UK together with 8 other migrant rights organisations  have today launched this petition against a planned deportation  of up to 150 people to Zimbabwe on 21st of July.


Stop the deportations to Zimbabwe




We are calling on our supporters to write urgently  to their MPs.


We have produced the template letter below for you to use:

 Email Subject: Stop the charter flight to Zimbabwe on 21st 2021

Dear [Member of Parliament],

I am writing as a constituent to ask that you urgently oppose the removal charter flight due to deport up to 150 people to Zimbabwe on 21st of July 2021. Mass deportation flights are a breach of human rights.

Amongst those targeted for deportation on this flight are people who have made their home in the UK for decades, who came to the UK as children, who are parents of British born and young children, who came to the UK fleeing persecution, including trade unionists, who if deported are in huge danger of losing their lives. 

There have been outbreaks of coronavirus in detention centres in recent months and those detained have reported a woeful and unacceptable lack of PPE and wider safety measures. People being deported are attached to guards, transported in packed vans, often handcuffed to escorts to airfields then are chained to their seats and to two guards. Given that black people have contracted and died of covid disproportionately, this is irresponsible to put people who are at high risk already in this position.

Tearing parents apart from loved ones including children is inhumane and causes distress and trauma to children with no regard for the human rights of children. 

The fast turnaround of deportations such as this one, leaves inadequate time to access legal advice and representation. 

Once deported, if they escape persecution, they will face destitution and trauma, impacting on physical and mental health.

I am also concerned that the Windrush Lessons Learned recommendations are yet to be implemented, a year since publication.  The report found the Home Office to be institutionally ignorant of racism.  It is irresponsible to target black people for deportation when no lessons have been learned.

 I am asking that you take urgent action, including writing to the Home Secretary calling for the flight to be cancelled and to call for an end to charter mass flight deportations. 

Regards,

[Your Name]


If you do not know who your MP is or their email address, you can find this information  here.


Thank you for your support.


Please forward any replies you receive to us: barac.info@gmail.com 






Saturday, 10 April 2021

An open letter to the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities on its report of 31 March 2021, signed by victims of the Windrush scandal and their lawyers, campaigners, advocates, activists and allies

Open letter regarding the Race Report from  those directly impacted by the Windrush Scandal and individuals and organisations who have campaigned for justice with them. 


Co-signed by BARAC UK and BAME Lawyers for Justice representatives including National Chair of BARAC UK Zita Holbourne and National Women's Officer of BARAC UK Donna Guthrie


Art by Zita Holbourne,  Poet~Artist~Activist 




Read original here


Letter in the Independent newspaper here



 From the Centre for Migration Advice and Research on behalf of the assigned signatories

                             c/o McKenzie Beute and Pope

       The Woodlawns Centre 16 Leigham Court Road Streatham London SW16 2PJ

                       jacqueline@mckenziebeuteandpope.com



Dr Tony Sewell

Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities

10 Victoria Street

London

SW1A 0NN                                                                      9 April 2021



Dear Dr Tony Sewell,

Re: The 31 March 2021 Report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities

We have read the report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, published on 31

March 2021, for which you wrote the foreword as chair of the Commission. We are made up

of, and represent, the victims of the Windrush scandal, as the lead organisations, lawyers,

campaigners, researchers and others supporting those affected by the scandal in a myriad of

ways. We are concerned to find that your report appears to have ignored the Windrush

scandal, exposed in late 2017/early 2018 as one of the most significant instances of group

discrimination of our time. The systematic discrimination of the Black community known as

the Windrush generation demonstrates not only how the acts of institutions and the state

negatively affects the lives of Black people in the UK, but how this has gone onto impact

upon future generations.

The injustices meted out to the Windrush generation are therefore well-known. Why then is

the only reference to the scandal in your report a suggestion that those affected feel let

down? Let down? This is not how we would describe it. Lives have been destroyed. For

example, several claimants to the Windrush compensation scheme, whose stories were

published in the press forcing the government to apologise and take action, died due to

health complications caused in part by the stress of their situation, long before they ever

received any compensation.

In your introduction, you refer to your team having spoken to communities as part of your

engagement. Why then did you not speak to those of us who are directly affected by the

Windrush scandal or who are part of over thirty organisations working to support the

thousands of people directly affected?

There does not appear to be much support for your report and generally we agree with the

criticisms levelled against it. We are at a loss to understand how you arrived at the

conclusions you did with the vast amount of independent data available to you. Intrigue on

your method of scholarship aside, we are stunned and heartbroken at your attempt to defile

the memory of those who were subjected to the brutality of the transatlantic slave trade

and the systematic oppressions that followed it, by recasting their experience, and your


1.

 ignorance  of the impact on subsequent generations. There is no experience of that Maafa1

other than an honest admission of how people were dehumanised and subjugated purely

because of their race.

From the report, we were looking for an appraisal of how the racism that dehumanised

during the slave trade, continues to blight the lives of its descendants, and what you

planned to do to tackle the intergenerational consequences. Instead, your report is a

dreadful attempt to rewrite history and denigrate it to a footnote. You are effectively

denying the true experiences and existences of Black people, so that the annals of history

will once again favour the oppressors.

You say in your report that historic experiences haunt the present and that there is a

reluctance to acknowledge that the UK has become open and fairer. Are you not aware that

despite the aggravating features of the hostile environment, the current injustices are

historic in nature? The origins of these more contemporary injustices are steeped in historic

legislation fuelled by people like Enoch Powell, Oswald Mosely and Margaret Thatcher, the

latter of whom referred to this country as becoming swamped by migrants. Do you think

that these injustices are imagined? Do you think the lived experience of the victims of these

injustices should be ignored?

Some of us and people we know have been denied lifesaving medical treatment, lost jobs

and houses, have been detained, removed and deported from the UK. People we know

have died and large numbers are affected by ongoing trauma – an intergenerational trauma.

Have you noticed that the victims of the Windrush scandal are mostly people of African and

Caribbean descent?

You find that an unexplained approach to closing disparity gaps is the extent to which

individuals and their communities ought to help themselves through their own agency,

rather than waiting for “invisible external forces” to assemble to do the job. Are you saying

then that those affected by the Windrush scandal brought the problems upon themselves?

Do you think that there is something that could have been done to have stopped the state

from destroying landing cards and records of those who arrived from Commonwealth

countries in the Caribbean? Or from demanding that people pay thousands of pounds that

they did not have to obtain a status that they already held?

Do you know how hard this community has worked to support itself? Though you allude to

knowledge of the role of supplementary schools as a positive force, you appear to have

failed to understand that the need to establish these schools was because of structural,

systemic and institutional racism in the mainstream education sector.

You ascribe a new era to the presence of the Windrush generation in the UK. The historical

one has gone apparently, and you define an era of rebellion which you say has also passed.

According to you, we are now in an era of participation. We are having to second guess

what you might mean by this, but in terms of the Windrush scandal, the one initiative set up

by the Home Office which was meant to involve the meaningful participation of those

affected – a stakeholder group - was dismantled by the Secretary of State just last month,


1Maafa is a term derived from Kiswahili meaning ‘a great disaster or tragedy’ or ‘terrible occurrence’. It is

used to describe the Transatlantic slave trade and its lingering effects.




                                                                                                                2

on the basis that a new Cross-Government Working Group chosen by her would assume the

role.

You say further that you want the children of the Windrush generation to discover their

British heritage. What do you mean precisely? That they are ill informed about their

history? Why do you think that might be? Which child in the UK, of any background, knows

less about the true and complex British history and heritage than any other? Have you read

Wendy William’s Windrush Lessons Learned Review? As you do not appear to have referred

to it in your report. She found that the history of the Windrush generation was

institutionally forgotten and specifically recommended that:


 “6 a) The Home Office should devise, implement and review a comprehensive learning and

 development programme which makes sure all its existing and new staff learn about the

 history of the UK and its relationship with the rest of the world, including Britain’s colonial

 history, the history of inward and outward migration and the history of black Britons. This

 programme should be developed in partnership with academic experts in historical

 migration and should include the findings of this review, and its ethnographic research, to

 understand the impact of the department’s decisions.”


The mistreatment of the Windrush generation started on 22 June 1948, when HMT

Windrush anchored off Tilbury Docks, and several MPs at the time sought to turn away free

women and men who had been invited to the UK, sending them to work on a peanut

plantation in Africa instead. Though people thereafter could stay in the UK to work

predominantly in the public sector, they were also subject to everyday racism and

discrimination. Can you not see that their experiences and subsequently those of their

descendants, have been plagued with inequalities and subsequent disparities of

achievement? Despite all the hard work of the Windrush generation to better themselves,

their families and support British society, the evidence shows that the systemic inequality

that plagued the first generation and their descendants continue to suffer worsening

outcomes in almost every area of life including education, health, mental wellbeing,

housing, business ownership, employment and criminal justice.


And how dare you start pitting different nationalities of Black people against another

without doing the necessary work to understand how different histories – histories of

enslavement, for example, and complex migration patterns across different eras – have

impacted on outcomes? Had you spoken to us, or to any academics working in these fields,

we might have been able to tell you this.


You find that Britain is no longer a country with a system rigged against ethnic minorities.

Several reports before yours have concluded that it is. How did you arrive at such a vastly

different conclusion? What do you think accounts for the conclusions you have reached,

when the same data has elsewhere produced vastly different outcomes? What of the

findings of universities, the civil service, the NHS and the FTSE 100 corporations which

confound yours?

We do not think that the UK is a beacon for any other country. It is steeped in a systemic

and structural racism that extends far beyond the Windrush generation. As direct and

indirect victims of the Windrush scandal and supporters of their cause, we stand in solidarity

with those seeking asylum; those whose families are being torn apart by draconian polices




                                                                                               3

and extortionate fees; those women and men who are held in immigration detention

centres deemed unfit for human inhabitation; those who have made the UK their home and

face deportation to countries they do not know; those foreign students falsely accused and

disbelieved, like many of our number; and the holiday makers from many non-visa

Caribbean countries who end up in immigration detention centres because an immigration

officer has decided that their reasons for visiting the UK are not legitimate, to name just a

few. We are astonished that your report is silent on these matters, which form part of the

complex combination of factors that affect how and which communities advance in society.

Who is it that creates the policies, rules and legislation that disproportionately impacts upon

Black people? Who created a right-to-rent scheme, which was found to influence landlords

on whether they choose to rent to people of different backgrounds? Who came up with a

system that required employers, schools, nurseries and doctors to start checking

immigration statuses, and which caused so many to wrongly lose their jobs, livelihoods and

in some cases their will to live?

You state that those from the Black Caribbean ethnic group, which includes the first

generation of Windrush victims, makes up one of the longer-standing migrant groups in the

UK. You then conclude that minorities who have long been established in the country, in a

context of persistent racial and socio-economic disadvantage, may be the least likely to be

optimistic about the potential for social mobility and education to transform their lives.

Again, not only do you ignore your own evidence, especially in relation to the historical and

current role of supplementary schools as one example, but you ignorantly neglect to

consider the aspirations of that first generation. That generation hoped that their children

would have opportunities that they did not, only to discover that the system sent their

children to approved schools, or told their children that they could not aspire to certain

exams, universities or career choices. This broke their hearts.

We were also puzzled by this statement:

   “The Commission further recognises the wisdom and lived experience of the Windrush

   generation that has seen the changing shape of race relations in the UK, from which

   the young can learn. This knowledge needs to be framed into a message that speaks

   more about responsibilities, conflict resolution, and the building of bridges.”

Do you think that members of the Windrush generation have burnt bridges, inspired conflict

and/or are being irresponsible?

Though Wendy Williams did not make a definitive finding of institutional racism in the Home

Office, following her review into the Windrush scandal, she did express serious concern that

the department’s failings demonstrated an institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness

towards race and history, which were consistent with some elements of the definition of

institutional racism.

If you have some of the elements of racism, there is racism. If it comes from an institution,

it is institutional. If there is evidence that a racial group is disproportionately disadvantaged

in and by bodies such as courts and tribunals, schools and universities, hospitals and the

police and in private and social organisations across sectors, then that racism might well be

structural.




                                                                                                4

We ask that you listen to the many experts in race, culture and society who have spoken out

this past week and for many years on these issues. We have listened to them too. You

should look particularly closely at the work of Tendayi Achiume, the UN Special Rapporteur

on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,

who found in June 2019 that the UK Government’s policies exacerbate discrimination, stoke

xenophobic sentiment and further entrench racial inequality. She cited persistent racial

disparities in, among others, education, employment, housing, health, surveillance,

interactions with police, prosecutions, and incarceration. She found:


  “Notwithstanding the existence of a legal framework devoted to combating racial

  discrimination, the harsh reality is that race, ethnicity, religion, gender, disability status

  and related categories all continue to determine the life chances and well-being of people

  in Britain in ways that are unacceptable and, in many cases, unlawful;” and


 "Undoubtedly, the UK’s attempts to collect disaggregated data, review discriminatory

 outcomes, and draft action plans are vital to the realization of the human right to racial

 equality. "However, the Government must not confuse data collection and piecemeal

 reviews for the action it obliged to take under international human rights law. The

 Government has a duty to undertake comprehensive reviews and implement without

 delay concrete steps targeted to ending racial discrimination and ensuring racial equality."


We believe that you must now revisit your work and examine the data more closely, seek

evidence from a wider variety of sources, consult experts in a credible way and start to draw

conclusions based on the facts. If you cannot do that, then you should stand down from a

commission that is meant to be investigating race and disparity to understand the current

issues and how government and society can work together to address them. We look

forward to hearing from you and in the interim, we would be grateful if you could use your

position to ensure that the 30 recommendations of Wendy Williams are implemented in a

timely manner because the issues raised by the Windrush scandal, are ongoing.


Yours sincerely,


[See overleaf for signatories]


CC:

The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP Prime Minister

The Rt Hon Priti Patel MP Secretary of State for the Home Department





                                                                                               5

The people signing this letter all have a connection with Windrush injustice. Some are direct

victims and some are from organisations working with those directly affected. We have split

the list into organisational representatives and individuals signing in their own right.


Organisations:

Jacqueline McKenzie: McKenzie Beute and Pope & Centre for Migration Advice and

Research’s Windrush Justice Project

Michele Beute: McKenzie Beute and Pope

Anthony Hillary: McKenzie Beute and Pope

Jerome Bond: McKenzie Beute and Pope

Arthur Torrington CBE: Windrush Foundation

Professor Gus John: Communities Empowerment Network.

Windrush Lives: advocacy and support group for Windrush victims

Windrush Compensation Project: University of Leicester

Dawn Hill: Windrush National Organisation and Black Cultural Archives

Cllr Sonia Winifred: Cabinet Member Equalities and Culture London Borough of Lambeth

Councillor Patsy Cummings: Race Equality Champion London Borough of Croydon

Councillor Carole Williams: Cabinet member for employment and skills and HR London

Borough of Hackney

Councillor Callton Young OBE, Chair of Croydon African Caribbean Family Organisation, and

Cabinet Member and Windrush Champion London Borough of Croydon

Dr Suzella Palmer: Applied Social Studies University of Bedfordshire

Judge D Peter Herbert O.B.E: Chair BAME Lawyers for Justice & retired Chair of the Society

of Black Lawyers)

Lee Jasper: Vice Chair BAME Lawyers for Justice

Miranda Grell: BAME Lawyers for Justice

Zita Holbourne: National Chair and Founder of BARAC UK and BAME Lawyers for Justice

Donna Guthrie: BARAC UK and BAME Lawyers for Justice

Bishop Dr Desmond Jaddoo: Chair Windrush National Organisation and Windrush

Birmingham

Reverend Clive Foster: Vice Chair Windrush National Organisation and Windrush

Nottingham

Councillor Jacqueline Burnett: Windrush National Organisation and Windrush Luton

Anthony Brown: Windrush National Organisation and WD Legal Manchester

Claude Hendrickson: Windrush National Organisation and Race Card Leeds Project

Glenda Caesar: Windrush National Organisation and Windrush Lives

Jean Prescod: Windrush National Organisation and Septimus Severus Coventry

Glenda Andrew: Windrush National Organisation and Preston Windrush Generation

Descendants

Charlie Williams Windrush National Organisation and Windrush Birmingham

Neil Mukherjee: Windrush National Organisation and Windrush Legacy Oxon

Sibon Phiri: United Legal Access

Melanie Clarke: United Legal Access

Samantha Young: Windrush Legal Angels

Tarjee Clarke: Windrush Legal Angels

Dr Gifty Edila: Windrush Justice Clinic

Anna Steiner: University of Westminster and Windrush Justice Clinic



                                                                                             6

Sally Causer: Southwark Law Centre and Windrush Justice Clinic

Holly Stow: Windrush Justice Clinic

Bella Sankey: Detention Action

Dianne Greyson: Equilibrium Mediation Consulting and Ethnicity Pay Gap Campaign

Carol Cooper: Global Talent Compass

Luke Daniels: Caribbean Labour Solidarity

Kingsley Abrams: Momentum Black Caucus (MBC)

Yvette Williams: Justice 4 Grenfell

Clive Phillip: Mangrove Community Association

Ngoma Silver: Leopold School (Harlesden) Renaming Group

Bob Foster: Windrush Nurses and Beyond Foundation

Nana Asante: IPAD Coalition UK

Nana Haja Salifu: European Network of People of African Descent

Olalekan Odedeyi: Save the Woman

Naglaa Sadik Mustafa: Abdul Mageed Educational Trust

Mojisola Sorunke: The African Sang

Ishmahil Blagrove JR: Rice and Peas

Joan Hall: Just Education Matters

Shaun Pascal: Black Wall Street Media

Esther Armah: The Armah Institute of Emotional Justice

Glen Watson: RMTs Black Solidarity Committee


Individuals:

Anna Rothery: Lord Mayor of Liverpool

Lord Simon Woolley

Professor Sir Geoff Palmer OBE CD

Professor Leslie Thomas QC: Barrister

Martin Forde QC: Barrister

Marcia Willis Stewart QC (hon): Solicitor

Professor Sara Chandler QC (hon)

Leroy Logan MBE

Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu

Dr Sandra Richards

Charles Crichlow: former president of the National Black Police Association

Lewitt Nurse: Barrister

Grace Brown: Barrister

David Neita: Barrister

Akima Paul Lambert: Solicitor Advocate

Evelyn Ofori-Koree: Solicitor Advocate

Frances Swaine: Solicitor

Pamela Robotham: Solicitor

Catherine Evans: Solicitor

Sally Gill: Solicitor

Paul McFarlane: Solicitor

Donna Samuels: Solicitor

Pamela Dosu: Solicitor

Darlene Waithe: Solicitor

Tinu Adeshile: Solicitor




                                                                                  7

Sharon Thomas: Solicitor

Ama Ocansey: Solicitor

Joy Van-Cooten: Solicitor

Geraldine Cumberbatch: Solicitor

Sally- Ann Meade: Solicitor

Alex Pascall OBE

Patrick Vernon OBE

Rev Fujo Malaika

Alexandra Ankrah

Yvonne Witter

Natasha Dyer-Williams

Dennot Nyack

David Weaver

Kadi Wilson

Tonika Stephenson

Kimberly McIntosh

Sentina Bristol

Gertrude Ngozi Chinegwundoh

Roy Lee

Adebowale Adelodun

Lebert McLeod

Teresa W. Joseph-Loewenthal

Lorna Downer

Sara Louise-Burke

Bobby Holder

Louis Smart

Vonfil Johnson

Joycelyn John

Ros Griffiths

Barbara Lindsay

Elizabeth Madden

Annemarie Madden

Luigi Madden

Andrew Madden

Shaa Madden

Sherry Ann Desmangles

Danny Hippolyte

Dexter Hippolyte

Christopher Oliver

Veronique Belinga

Vernon Vanriel

Louis Smart

Yvonne Mark

Annie Campbell Viswanathan

Sulekha Hassan

Sophia Mangera

Margaret Greer




                                   8

Alexandra Braithwaite

Angie Le Mar

Chardine Taylor-Stone

Marlene Clarke





                        9


Chair of BARAC UK co-signs open letter on the Police and Crime Bill, initiated by Friends of the Earth

 

Artwork by Zita Holbourne; Poet~Artist~Activist


Reproduced from Friends of the Earth website Read original here

Read the open letter calling for the Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Justice to urge the government to reconsider the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

 Published:  15 Mar 2021    |     8 minute read

Download a copy of this letter here.

Dear Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Justice,

We write to share our profound concern and alarm over the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill published last week. Not only does this Bill contain numerous threats to the right to peaceful protest and access to the countryside, criminalise Gypsy and Traveller communities’ way of life, as well as a whole host of expansive policing powers, but it is being rushed through parliament during a pandemic and before civil society and the public have been able to fully understand its profound implications.

Contained within this 307-page bill are plans to:

  • Introduce draconian new police powers to decide where, when and how citizens are allowed to protest and have their voices heard by those in power;
  • Increase penalties for those breaching police conditions on protests and the ease with which they can be found to have done so;
  • Create a new trespass offence that criminalises the way of life of nomadic Gypsy and Traveller communities, while the government manifestly fails to provide adequate sites and permitted stopping places, and has implications for the public’s right to protest, access to the countryside and people experiencing homelessness.

This is a huge bill, both in length and in potential consequences - for young people calling for social change facing greater criminalisation by the state, for Gypsy and Traveller communities facing threats to their way of life, and for anyone who values freedom of expression and the right to make yourself heard against the powerful.

This in itself is enough to cause alarm, but the government is also trying to rush this Bill through parliament, with less than a week between publication and second reading. This is deeply inadequate and provides no time for MPs and their staff, let alone the communities it stands to affect so profoundly, to understand what the consequences of this wide-ranging Bill may be.

For a country that so often prides itself on civil liberties, this Bill represents an attack on some of the most fundamental rights of citizens, in particular those from marginalised communities, and is being driven through at a time and in a way where those who will be subject to its provisions are least able to respond.

We urge the government to fundamentally rethink its approach.

Yours sincerely,

Gracie Bradley, Interim Director, Liberty

Hugh Knowles & Miriam Turner, Co-Executive Directors, Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Sarah Mann, Director, Friends, Families and Travellers

Guy Shrubsole & Nick Hayes, Co-Founders, Right to Roam Campaign

Len McCluskey, General Secretary, Unite the Union

Fiona Colley, Director of Social Change, Homeless Link

Kate Ashbrook, General Secretary, Open Spaces Society

Tom Platt, Director of Advocacy & Engagement, The Ramblers

Louise Hazan & Harpreet K Paul, Co-Founders, Tipping Point

Andrew Simms, Co-Director, New Weather Institute

Anna Vickerstaff, UK Lead, 350.org

Kevin Blowe, Campaigns Coordinator, Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol)

Dave Turnbull, Head of Access, Conservation & Environmental Sustainability, British Mountaineering Council

Roger Geffen, Policy Director, Cycling UK

Kristiana Wrixon, Head of Policy, Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations

Stephanie Draper, Chief Executive, Bond

Minnie Rahman, Campaigns and Communications Director, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

Ellie Mae O’Hagan, Director, CLASS

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary, Trades Union Congress (TUC)

Rebecca Baron, Head of Activism, Ben & Jerry’s Europe

Siân Summers-Rees, Chief Officer, City of Sanctuary

Colin Hines, Convenor, Green New Deal group

Leo Murray, Co-Director, Possible

Tom Brake, Director, Unlock Democracy

Professor Natalie Fenton, Chair, Media Reform Coalition

Yvonne MacNamara, CEO, The Traveller Movement

Rosie Lewis, Deputy Director & VAWG Services Manager, The Angelou Centre

Maari Nastari, Interim CEO, The Outside Project

Maurice Mcleod, Chief Executive, Race on the Agenda

John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace UK

Nick Dearden, Director, Global Justice Now

Neal Lawson, Executive Director, Compass

Rowan Mataram, mPOWER Project Manager, Platform

Silkie Carlio, Director, Big Brother Watch

Zita Holbourne, National Chair, BARAC UK

Alison Tickell, Director, Julie’s Bicycle

Kerry Moscogiuri, Director of Campaigns and Communications, Amnesty International UK

Kate Hudson, General Secretary, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)

Asad Rehman, Executive Director, War on Want

Dr Halima Begum, Chief Executive, Runnymede Trust

Brian Gormally, Director, Committee on the Administration of Justice

Kate Clow, Chair of the Board, Culture Routes Society

Paul Parker, Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain

Jess Turtle, Co-Founder, Museum of Homelessness

Daniel Hale, Campaign Director, Purpose Europe

Siana Bangura, Founder & Producer, Courageous Films

Lynn Jamieson, Chair, Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Amanda Sebestyen, Founder, Asylum Education & Legal Fund

Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy, Cafod

Aderonke Apata, Founder and Chairperson, African Rainbow Family

Suzanne Jeffrey, Chair, Campaign against Climate Change

Symon Hill, Campaigns Manager, Peace Pledge Union

Guppi Bola & Nonhlanhla Makuyana, Co-Founders, Decolonising Economics

Andrew Scattergood & Gaya Sriskanthan, Co-Chairs, Momentum

Deniz Uğur, Deputy Director, End Violence Against Women Coalition

David Mackenzie, Nukewatch UK

Revd Dr Darrell D Hannah, Chair, Operation Noah

Frances Howe, Co-Director, Biofuelwatch

Leni Morris, CEO, Galop

Hannah Martin & Fatima Ibrahim, Co Directors, Green New Deal UK

Beccy Speight, CEO, RSPB

Vicky Blake, UK President, University and College Union (UCU)

Sarah Hirom, Trustee, One World Week

Andrew Feinstein, Executive Director, Shadow World Investigations

Steve Mason, Frack Free United

Maddy Hodgson, Fuel Poverty Action

Gina Langton, CEO, 80,000 Voices

Jolyon Maugham, Founder & Director, Good Law Project

Helen Tandy, Director, Eco Communities

Michael Chandler, CEO, Union Chapel Project

Tyler Hatwell, Founder & Director, Traveller Pride


Chair of BARAC UK co-signs letter on Covid 19 and Racial Inequality in Higher Education - Black Impact and Make Diversity Count writes to the PM

Chair of BARAC UK Zita Holbourne has  co-signed this letter initiated by Black Impact  regarding Covid 19 and racial inequality in higher education. 


Read original on Black Impact website here 



On the occasion of the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Racism, we have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP, to express our concern about the growing crisis in relation to racial inequalities in higher education and are seeking his urgent support in tackling this important issue.

Read our letter below.

Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP

Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London
SW1A 2AA

19th March 2021

                                          COVID-19 RACIAL INEQUALITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to you today 21st  March 2021, being the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Racism, to express our concern about the growing crisis in relation to racial inequalities in higher education. We are seeking your urgent support in tackling this important issue.

We work with and support local and International Black African and Caribbean students in higher education across the UK. As you are aware, the health of ethnic minorities is disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Additionally, vaccination hesitancy has led to lower vaccination rates within some ethnic minority groups, mainly African and Caribbean communities. Our lived experience of racism partly explains such hesitation and the consequent lack of trust and confidence felt by many in UK African and Caribbean communities, in Government and institutions willingness and commitment to tackle racial inequality.

We believe that the evidence shows that current rates of ethnic disadvantage in education, health and economy have all increased during this pandemic.

The amplification of racial inequality comes as a direct result of the pandemic. It is now doubly important that the Government develops a clear Race Equality Strategy in response. Also, we believe it is essential that within Higher Education, there is a radical reappraisal of the Advanced Higher Education Race Equality Charter (REC) as called for by the Race Equality Now (REN) campaign supported by Universities and launched in 2020.

Black Impact and Make Diversity Count launched the REN campaign and have disseminated a national Black student and staff survey to assess their perceptions of the progress made in implementing the REC.

Race Equality Now has received support from organizations, both within and outside of the higher education sector, including the National Union of Students and Operation Black Vote. The campaign has also received support from Vice-Chancellors and individuals within senior university management.

Prime Minister, we are seeking your public endorsement of the REN campaign and a statement of support. We would like to discuss the REN campaign with Michelle Donelan, Minister of State for Universities, Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, and seek your support to facilitate this meeting.

Far too many Black African and Caribbean students continue to face the reality of differential treatment, racial harassment and sometimes violence on university campuses across the country. Evidence of this discrimination can be found in numerous reports, including the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Tackling racial harassment: Universities challenged and Universities UK’s Tackling racial harassment in higher education.

The systemic issues Black students and staff are experiencing during this pandemic include:

  • declining mental health; lack of culturally competent services; 8% of students who experienced racial harassment said they had felt suicidal
  • digital and economic poverty; lack of access to educational resources and spaces to complete assignments
  • Black attainment gap of 26%; there has been little specialist measures or support put in place to ensure the attainment gap does not widen during this pandemic
  • reduced graduate employment rate, e.g. BME graduates with a first degree are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as white graduates[1]
  • day to day discrimination at their universities; Nearly 1 in 3 members of staff had experienced racist name-calling, insults and ‘jokes’[2]
  • a low disproportion of Black people in leadership positions, e.g. there are only 155 Black professors out of 22,810 professors in the UK[3]
  • inaccessible ways to report incidents of racism and investigations not taking place; Two-thirds of students who had experienced racial harassment did not report it to their university.  [4]
  • International students are facing incredible financial pressures and a high degree of social isolation.

We would like to discuss all of these critical issues with you and your ministers. We would appreciate it if you could consider providing us with a supporting statement for the REN campaign to help us advance the cause of quality, fairness, and opportunity for all within higher education.

Yours sincerely,

Ceewhy Ochoga, Founder, Black Impact
Osaro Otobo, Founder, Make Diversity Count
Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, VP Higher Education – National Union of Students
Patricia Lamour MBE, CEO Aspire Education Group
Zita Holbourne,  National Chair BARAC UK

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Statement on the Government report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (Race Report)

 Statement on the Government report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (Race Report)




BARAC UK is deeply concerned by the tone and content of this report, published on 31st March.  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-report-of-the-commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities

It seeks to reduce the very real and devastating lived experience of racism by racialised groups of people living in the UK.

It also seeks to divide Black and ethnic minority communities into 'good' and 'bad' migrants and suggests that those of us who campaign against racism are stuck in the past or that we are imagining it.  Effectively gaslighting people who experience racism. 

To suggest that racism is in the past, ignores the impacts of over a decade of austerity with disproportionate impacts on employment and service provision, the Grenfell Tower fire, the Windrush scandal, the treatment of people who are displaced and are refugees, the disproportionate rate of contracting and dying of coronavirus, to name but a few recent and current events, still impacting now. 

The report barely mentions the Windrush Scandal or the Grenfell fire.

Astonishingly the report also disregards institutional racism and seems to lack an understanding of what institutional racism is, but goes on to suggest that we are all confused about the difference between institutional, systemic and structural racism.

An extract of the report states: 

"However, we have argued for the use of the term ‘institutional racism’ to be applied only when deep-seated racism can be proven on a systemic level and not be used as a general catch-all phrase for any micro aggression, witting or unwitting."


Following the inquiry into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, the McPherson report in 1999 defined institutional racism as:


"The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin." 


A number of review reports ten and twenty years on, found that the original 70 recommendations had not been implemented and institutional racism still exists. The race report suggests that the McPherson report was limited to policing only but it raised concerns about a range of public bodies. 


Since then, several government investigations and reports into racism have found that institutional racism does exist. For the race report to suggest that people and organisations are confusing micro aggressions with institutional racism is insulting and disgraceful.


The report attempts to reduce racist hate crime as 'individual instances' as though they don’t count and don’t have an impact and to state that our success as racialised people should be "regarded as a model for other White-majority countries", playing down racist hate crime and suggesting that if people succeed in 'education' and 'the economy' this makes the UK a shining example of positive race relations irrespective of the lived experiences of racism and their devastating impacts. 


The race report refers to some previous reports on racism but does not mention the Windrush Lessons Learned report or the Joint Committee on Human Rights report which last Autumn stated as we have been saying, that all the recommendations from the previous reports needed to be implemented.  


We did not need yet another report, but for action to be taken to address racism in all its forms without arguments put forward to reduce and disregard some forms of racism over others. All racism is wrong and all racism has devastating impacts on lives, life chances and future generations. 

The race report makes 24 new recommendations. 

Recommendation one includes investing in the EHRC. The EHRC was subjected to funding cuts by the government, which not only impacted on its ability to carry out enforcement work but also led to disproportionate numbers of Black and Asian staff losing their jobs at the EHRC. 

In 2017 Lord Herman Ouseley, Lord Simon Woolley and I were part of a delegation that met with the EHRC about this, read more here;

http://blackactivistsrisingagainstcuts.blogspot.com/2017/04/follow-up-letter-to-ehrc-from-race.html?m=1


Recommendations call for partnerships with the police and for improved training for police to interact with communities but nothing about addressing institutional racism in policing and  police brutality. Just look at the recent case of missing student Richard Okorogheye, at the time of writing this, I am so devastated for his family that a body which matches his description has been found (but not formally identified yet). Richard's mother Evidence Joel told the press that the police told her when she reported him missing: 

"If you can't find your son, how do you expect police officers to find your son for you?" 


At the start of this year Mohammud Mohammed Hassan was taken into police custody overnight in Wales. By the next day he was dead. 

Black, Asian and minority ethnic people face discrimination in the labour market, in recruitment, appraisal, promotion, progression and pay but the report recommends:

"the use of sponsorship to ensure wider exposure of ethnic minority individuals to their peers, managers and other decision makers".

It speaks of fairness needed at work but not equality. 

On the race pay gap it recommends;

Investigate what causes existing ethnic pay disparities 

and

Investigate what causes existing ethnic pay disparities

But no recommendations on closing the race pay gap.

There is specific  law on the gender pay act so why not on the race pay gap.


The report suggests that Black Lives Matter protests in the UK in 2020, which is what led to the Commission's establishment, were solely concerned with the horrific murder of George Floyd and racism in the USA. This is not true at all. The protests were calling for justice for George Floyd but also about the racism which exists in the UK including the legacies of enslavement of African people and colonialism which exist today not just in statues and symbols but also policies and practices. 

The report is condescending towards young people and insults their intelligence, gaslighting them also.  In fact, the report seeks to make light of the 'transatlantic slave trade’ or worse still glorifying it as they say:

"There is a new story about the Caribbean experience which speaks to the slave period not only being about profit and suffering but how culturally African people transformed themselves into a re-modelled African/Britain"


They also describe calls to decolonise the curriculum as negative.  They say they want children to 'reclaim their British heritage' but don’t seem to understand the importance of history being taught truthfully and the experiences and achievements of black and brown people in history being included in the curriculum. 

As somebody who has campaigned for black history to be on the curriculum including as part of the Mary Seacole Curriculum Campaign, I do not agree, Black, Asian and minority ethnic children have the right to learn about the histories  and heritage of their parents and ancestors too:

https://www.obv.org.uk/news-blogs/we-ve-won-mary-seacole-olaudah-equiano

Also, in my role as part of the UNESCO Coalition of Artists for the General History of Africa, I promote the 8 volumes of the history of Africa in my work in the arts, the UN recognises the benefits of decolonisation and promoting African history as a way of countering the racism faced by young black people of the African diaspora. 

“The Coalition aims to mobilize and raise awareness of the African youth and diaspora around a number of central themes related to the General History of Africa (valuing African contributions to contemporary societies, promoting a pan-African identity, “decolonizing” minds, celebrating African diasporas.”

https://en.unesco.org/general-history-africa/coalition

  I reject these ideas in the report about history and heritage. It’s crucial for  children to learn about all their roots and heritage , it helps to break down barriers and to instil value and worth.  

The report negatively labels young people, families and negatively targets Caribbean communities specifically. 


Bizarrely the report references the ceremony for the opening of the Olympic games in London as demonstrating progress on race because there were black people featured but fails to  mention that the Olympic games were held in one of the UK's most deprived boroughs and one with the highest ethnic minority population, that many black and minority ethnic communities were displaced because of the Olympics , losing homes and businesses and that the promises of the games benefitting the local community  never materialised. The London borough of Newham is the local authority with   the highest rate of covid deaths which is caused by poverty, overcrowded housing, precarious work and disadvantage.

In fact, as the Olympic games opened in Stratford, BARAC UK was also in Stratford, launching an initiative to address race discrimination at a meeting entitled; Jobs and Justice, Olympics Fair Play for Who?

http://blackactivistsrisingagainstcuts.blogspot.com/2012/07/barac-public-meeting-jobs-justice.html?m=1

In addition, I led a successful campaign against racism by the British Olympics Association, when Britain's biggest black newspaper The Voice was denied 1 single media pass whilst the BBC had over 100. Whilst we won the campaign,  it should not have been necessary. It ought to have been obvious to even the all white BOA committee that black press would have an interest in the Olympic games, I cannot believe they had missed the significant presence of black athletes at the Olympics. 

https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/boa-overturns-decision-grant-voice-olympic-stadium-accreditation/1141794?src_site=mediaweek

The report states that instead of focusing on race and ethnicity we need to look at underlying socio-economic issues, but fails to acknowledge that it is due to institutional and structural racism, that those disproportionate impacts linked to socio economic factors, exist. 

The report suggests strangely that if we refer to institutional, structural or systemic racism we are trivialising racism. In the same way we may describe, direct and indirect racism and racist harassment and bullying, it is correct that we refer to the other types of racism which exist. It is wrong to say that we are the ones creating a 'problem' by doing so. 

In addition, the report has misrepresented the meanings of white privilege and white fragility all together. It seems to suggest that success cancels out discrimination and that they are mutually exclusive.

BARAC UK rejects this report, it seeks to divide communities, trivialise and disregard some forms of racism,  gaslights those who experience racism and plays into the hands of those who hold racist views, setting us back not taking us forward.


This statement was published in the Morning Star newspaper on Thursday 8th of April.  Read Here 


Zita Holbourne 

National Chair & Co-Founder BARAC UK

On behalf of BARAC UK 














 







Thursday, 1 April 2021

Public Announcement: BARAC UK to stop operating as government declares institutional racism no longer exists

 Public Announcement: BARAC UK to stop operating as government declares: institutional racism no longer exists 





Following the publication of the report by the  government race commission yesterday,  declaring that institutional racism no longer exists , the BARAC board has held an emergency meeting and decided as racism doesn't  exist, there is no purpose for our organisation which has apparently spent the past 11 years campaigning against the racism and injustice and disproportionate impacts of austerity on black communities for absolutely no reason as the racism we wrongly imagined existed was all in our minds and all in the past.

We thank all those who have worked with us during this time and hope that  as the report highlights, you can heal from the haunting of historic racism you experience.

With best wishes

BARAC UK 





Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Joint BARAC UK and DPAC Press Statement; immediate release - Coronavirus ; end of shielding

 PRESS STATEMENT 
Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) and Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK


For immediate release 







From today  (31st March), disabled workers most at risk of catching and suffering long term impacts from Covid will have no legal protections against going into the workplace and putting their lives on the line as shielding comes to an end for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.  

The majority of those shielding have not had the second vaccine and therefore they are still extremely vulnerable.

We believe it is irresponsible and discriminatory to intersectional disabled people to end shielding at this time and that those most at risk need protections in place. Recent research demonstrates that those with existing conditions such as asthma and diabetes are more likely to get long covid and that long covid is leading to increasing numbers of people becoming disabled as a result. Middle aged women are the  hardest hit by long covid. In addition black and minority ethnic people are disproportionately contracting covid. Six out of ten people dying from  covid have been disabled, according to ONS data. 

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated existing discrimination and inequalities which have been amplified through over a decade of austerity. It is unacceptable  for government to leave those most at risk unprotected and at risk of losing jobs. When disabled and black and minority  ethnic people lose their jobs, it takes longer for them to find a new job because of existing discrimination in the labour market.

A spokesperson from DPAC said: 
“The government has always prioritised profit above disabled people’s lives. They have calculated they can get away with this. Their scientific advisors have said there will be a third wave and at least another thirty thousand deaths. How many of those will be disabled workers? It is chilling to think what the motivations behind this could be.”

Zita Holbourne, National Chair of BARAC UK said:

"Black, Asian and minority ethnic people are  up to three times more likely to contract and die of coronavirus and are more likely to work in precarious work with worsened terms, conditions and extremely low pay. Many work in frontline jobs. Lifting protection for those who are shielding is likely to lead to more black workers placed at risk or losing their jobs if it is unsafe for them to travel to workplaces and worse still, more deaths. Long covid is devastating lives and there needs to be urgent action by government to protect the jobs of all those who have long covid to ensure their jobs are protected and that  there is no detriment to pay, pensions and benefits. The intersect between disability plus race, gender, sexual orientation and age cannot be ignored."

Ends

Contact:
BARAC UK
Zita Holbourne 
Tel.07711861660 

DPAC 
Paula Peters
07909594434