RISE, MOBILISE, ORGANISE – TACKLING RACISM, INJUSTICE & CUTS IN 2012 AND BEYOND
There’s no doubt that inequality, discrimination and injustice are increasing under Tory rule. For black people there’s a disproportionate impact on us in almost every aspect of cuts being made – as public sector and voluntary sector workers, as service users, in our communities, access to education and housing, policing, including stop and search, in the criminal justice system, as carers, welfare reform programme, attacks by the far right and on multiculturalism, in the weakening of protection from anti-discrimination/ equality law. The attacks on us are piled up to a level that whichever way we turn and in every aspect of our lives our ability to live with dignity and stay above the poverty line is threatened. That’s not to say that the cuts are not impacting on working class people and the poorest all round, black and white are both impacted but there’s a clear disproportionate impact on us as black people and in addition rising racism including the institutional kind to contend with. The protections that we have in law and the equality policies at work that some may take for granted now came about because people fought for them, trade unions and those who were facing discrimination. We now have a government that doesn’t care about equality, doesn’t see it as relevant or needed and is trying to turn back the hands of time on all the hard worked for and hard earned gains that have been made over decades in order to reduce and prevent racism by both reducing and weakening our protection and destroying the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
We have two choices now, accept our fate and resign to the fact that our children face worse prospects than our generation did or to get organised and join the fightback. What’s needed is the latter but the situation is urgent, we need to be mobilised and organised now not sometime in the future. It’s easier to defend what you still have than to fight to get it back once it’s gone. Time is of the essence in terms of bringing people together and this has been something that BARAC has strived hard to do over the past two years. To some extent we have been successful. BARAC started with two individuals, one a community activist, another a trade union activist coming together because we were worried about the future we could foresee for black people if we didn’t organise a campaign. From two we now have many – regional and Scotland BARAC structures, a network of activists and concerned individuals, input into a broad range of national, regional and local anti-cuts groups, working alongside trade unions, trades councils and community organisations, we’ve provided 100s of organisations and individuals with the tools, advice and support needed to launch campaigns to save services, jobs etc but there are still many many more we have not reached and others that we have reached but do not see any reason to join a campaigning organisation against cuts, racism and injustice or to fight back against the personal impact on them.
In order to build a mass movement of black organisations and individuals we need to examine the reasons why people may not join a trade union or campaign, do not go to meetings, rallies, protests, do not believe they can make a difference, defend their jobs, services and communities or bring about change through action. Some people may not feel empowered, others may feel their input cannot change anything, think its time and effort they cannot afford to give or feel there is no choice but to accept their fate. Some may be fearful of repercussions if they challenge the discrimination around them and others may never have been involved in organised action and feel apprehensive about taking part. Others may simply have never been invited to take part and need support to take that first step. It’s up to all of us to dispel the myths and lies spread by the Tories supported by the right wing media and to try and reach out to those who may feel disenfranchised and work to break down the barriers that preventing others from taking part. For those that expect that it’s up to the trade union representatives and the community activists to take the action and fight for them there’s a need to recognise that its the members of these unions and communities that make them strong and effective or not. A union is only as strong as its members and a community campaign is only a community campaign if the community is participating in it. It may sound like a cliché but there is strength in numbers and unity is essential in order to survive, keep on keeping on and win. Whatever differences there are between different structures these differences are minor when compared to what brings us together. We shouldn’t forget that all of us impacted by racism, injustice and cuts are the majority – those creating them are a tiny minority. That majority working together collectively can be a powerful force for challenge and change.
In addition to the need to come together now in order to respond to the immediate attacks and threats we face we need to think about the next generation – these are the hardest hit and it both breaks my heart and angers me that young people are facing rising unemployment – over a million young people unemployed but with one in two young black people unemployed, barriers to further and higher education with funding for courses cut, EMA slashed, tripled tuition fees, disproportionately impacting on the poorest , essential services, support and advice cut and demonization by the right wing press and Tories. If we don’t step up now to fight discrimination and injustice we won’t have a legacy to pass on to them. If we fail to nurture the talent in our communities now it will die.
As well as fighting to keep what we have we need to create opportunities for ourselves, our families and our communities so we’re not dependent on what others have to both offer and take away when the going gets tough.
BARAC is planning to start the process of discussing these issues and how we move forward working with a broad coalition of black and anti-racist organisations and individuals at our forthcoming public meeting being held to coincide with the opening day of the Olympics, entitled ‘Jobs and Justice, Olympic Fair Play for Who?’.
We are inviting you to
· Join with us in helping to formulate a national set of demands for jobs and justice.
· Explore the possibility of holding major black organisations AGM’s and or national conferences during one week in 2013.
· Attend a National Coordinating Committee and help us develop the main anti-racist demands and produce a mobilisation strategy.
· We are suggesting a National Black Convention to be held during one week at a residential venue in early September 2012.
Leading to Equality in our Life Time: A National March on for Jobs and Justice August 2013: The 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech.
On August 28th 1963 Dr Martin Luther King led the historic civil rights Jobs and Freedom March on Washington. The march attracted over 300,000 people in a unique and historic effort to end racial segregation, racial prejudice and Jim Crow legislation in the United States.
Details for the public meeting:
Date: Friday 27th July
Venue: Stratford Advice Arcade, 107-109 The Grove, Stratford, London, E15 1HP, 5 minutes walk from Stratford Rail, Tube and Bus stations.
Join the facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/253975948046675/
Join our mailing list: email firstname.lastname@example.org
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BY ZITA HOLBOURNE, email email@example.com
image painted by Zita Holboune 'If we stand for nothing, we fall for anything'
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