Time to revisit race equality in Britain. A dream deferred.
Dr Martin Luther Kings Dream: A Dream Deferred?
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Langston Hughes 1951
Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK.
BARAC UK is a campaigning organisation that focuses on raising awareness of and challenging economic injustice. As a result of the economic crisis, brought on by the irresponsible behavior of the banks and the Government’s austerity budget, the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen. Economic injustice is becoming a defining characteristic of British society. The consequences of this are that the poor and the vulnerable are increasingly penalised whilst the rich and wealthy have seen their incomes grow. The growing economic inequality of outcomes for black and minority ethnic communities when compared to white citizens is profound and deeply disturbing.
2013 is the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King’s iconic 1963 “I have a dream’ speech and the civil rights march on Washington. Much has changed and yet racial disadvantage persists. The economic crisis is compounding disadvantage and heightening racism in society as people seek to scapegoat minority communities for the mistakes made by bankers and politicians.
This special anniversary year offers the opportunity to reflect on our journey and struggle to achieve race equality.
Racial disadvantage will become increasingly worse for the next generation.
The critical question we need to ask when examining the issue of persistent racial disadvantage is if current legislations and race equality policies are capable of delivering real race equality in our life time.
Black and minority ethnic people are affected disproportionately by the current Government’s economic policy. Racial disadvantage is acutely amplified through the lens of austerity and levels of racism always rise in times of economic decline. Some politicians and sections of the press have sought to politically scapegoat black and ethnic minority, immigrant and asylum seeker communities as being in part responsible for the current economic crisis. The future for black and minority ethnic communities in the UK in the current economic and social climate is fraught with danger. Poor, black and minority ethnic communities will face more economic injustice and racism than that faced by their parents compounded by generational disadvantage.
BARAC UK believes that as the crisis deepens so will all forms of racism increase. We must defend the poor from economic injustice and challenge the politics of racism and scapegoating in the hope of securing a positive future for poor, black and minority ethnic communities in the UK.
The dismal future faced by poor, black and minority ethnic families as a result of another decade of austerity measures and increased rates of racism forces us to face profound questions about how we change the politics of economic injustice and racial disadvantage.
In seeking to respond to these challenges it is important that we recognise our current political reality that the collective political and economic influence and leverage of poor, black and minority ethnic communities has never been weaker. We are largely disunited, fragmented and our communities disempowered.
Black and Muslim communities face increased level of discrimination, yet these two communities have become increasing distant and in some cases hostile to one another post the tragedies of 9/11 and 7/7. Over the last decade this has resulted in both communities having to endure the increasing erosion of civil rights in the arena of criminal justice in particular stop and search, deaths in custody and detention without trial. Both communities are too small challenging racism in relative isolation, to make a real difference. Only by positively working out our differences, providing clear and unambiguous leadership whilst unifying behind a radical agenda is change even remotely possible.
The failure to seek common cause with other groups within society facing discrimination is a critical failure of leadership.
In absence of credible Parliamentary or civic leadership and effective organisational unity between faith and secular campaigning organisations our communities are left voiceless in the face of the most profound economic crisis of a generation. We lack a clear and coherent reform agenda for change. Change can only come about by abandoning the failed strategies of the past, fragmented competitive leadership and a lack of strategic thinking.
The time is right for a new initiative that takes a longer-term view, that and inspires communities, prioritises legislative and economic reforms, proposing policy that can help deliver economic and social justice for generations yet to come. Our ambition is to work with others to create a social movement and a political agenda for change that can influence the political debate in the run up to the general election in 2015.
“The inseparable twin of racial injustice is economic injustice.”
August 28th 2013 will mark the 50th anniversary of the iconic March on Washington led by Dr Martin Luther King. The King dream of a world where people are judged on their faith or content of their character not the colour of their skin is yet to be realised.
Dr King’s Christian Civil Rights campaigning philosophy of love and non-violent direct action was the most spiritual, politically, morally successful and effective change strategy ever adopted in the 20th century. Dr King’s legacy still resonates around the world where his legacy continues to inspire all opponents of injustice. Dr King understood the violence of poverty, racism and ignorance, he opposed the economic injustice that racism produced and he vigorously opposed the Vietnam War.
This document sets out the rationale and proposals for the establishment of a new national multi faith, multicultural, anti racist initiative that has as one of its primary objectives challenging racism and economic injustice.
MLK50 Campaign: Equality in our Lifetime; A National Anti-Racist Initiative for Jobs and Justice
·“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. “
·In 2013 we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 US Civil Rights movement’s world famous March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, led by Dr Martin Luther King. It is an opportune time to look at the issue of racial discrimination and where we are today some 50 years after Dr King’s famous iconic “I have a dream “ speech was made.
·This important anniversary provides a unique opportunity to pose a number of critical questions as we consider how we can achieve Dr King’s dream of race equality and freedom from religious discrimination in our lifetime?
1. What kind of British society can children of the poor, black and ethnic minorities expect to live in, in 21st century Britain?
2. Will this be a British future where our children will emerge as fully-fledged, equal citizens with genuine equality of opportunity? Or will our children continue to be considered third class citizens in a supposed first class democracy facing increased rates of discrimination?
3. How long will it take to achieve true race equality, economic justice and freedom from religious prejudice in Britain?
4. Unity and clear and effective organisation is key to achieving a more equal society. What is to be done right now to change British society for the better, ending the scourge grinding poverty, racial and religious discrimination?
5. Future generations face the very real threat of increasing rates of injustice, denial of opportunity and discrimination. Progress in tackling racism in the areas of health, education, employment, housing and immigration is painfully slow, piecemeal and ineffective. Estimates vary but at the current rate of progress full racial equality may take as long as 300 years to achieve.
In short how do we ensure that we can deliver a better society that promotes equality for all our children in our lifetime?
These questions speak directly to the kind of legacy we wish to leave our children. It is the genetic and historic destiny of all parents to improve the lives of their children. There can be no greater priority for this generation than ensuring that our children and grandchildren are spared the human degradation, tragedy and injustice that racism inflicts.
So how far have we come in ending racism and has Dr King’s dream of a truly meritocratic non-racist society been delivered?
The aims of MLK50 Campaign 2013 are to:
1. Use 2013 to launch a nationwide, multi faith, multi cultural campaign to deliver an agenda for change and celebrate Dr King’s dream in pursuit of equal rights and economic justice for all. The MLK50 campaign.
2. To organise a national demonstration for a March on Whitehall for Jobs and Justice on the 31st August 2013 and seek support for our efforts internationally.
3. To organise a series multi faith services, conferences seminars, demonstrations and a range of other events that celebrate the life and work of Dr King and support our efforts to initiate change.
4. To launch a national voter registration drive to bring about greater levels of political empowerment in seeking to highlight and challenge racial and religious inequality.
5. To establish a new coalition of civic society under the umbrella EMBRACE highlighting and challenging racial disadvantage and economic injustice.
6. To produce, publish and popularise a coherent political agenda for change for the forthcoming 2015 elections and to mobilise poor, black and ethnic communities to vote for an agenda for change.
Action: What’s to be done?
2013: The Rev Martin Luther King 50th Steering Group
Dr King’s birthday is on Tuesday January 15th 2013. He was assassinated on the 4th April 1968.
BARAC UK will establish and convene the MLK50 Steering Group
to lead, coordinate and implement the programme of activity and to mobilise for the proposed National March on Whitehall for Jobs and Justice.
Traditionally Dr Martin Luther King Day in the USA is held on the third Sunday in January. In 2013 this will take place in the US on Sunday 21st January.
The launch of this campaign will take place on March 11th 2013 followed by events on:
World Interfaith Harmony Week, February 1-8th.
International Women’s Day 8th March,
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 20th March
Dr King’s assassination 4th April
World Refugee Day 20th June,
International Day of Peace 21st September
Black History Month October
2013; Voter Registration Campaign.
Democratic inclusion is central to health of any nation. The current level of democratic deficit and falling rates of voter turnout during elections is reaching crisis proportions. This dangerous trend is threatening the fabric of democratic legitimacy and involvement.
We are concerned that low rates of voter registration are leaving many poor and deprived communities without effective representation.
The disengagement from the formal political process, in particular from, British, African and Caribbean communities is alarming. The current democratic deficit is unsustainable and profoundly damaging in the longer term. Voter turnout on the UK continues to decline and is now one of the lowest in the Western world.
In line with Dr King’s dream we will be working with Operation Black Vote in supporting their planned voter registration campaign to prepare disempowered communities for democratic engagement and to enhance democratic accountability of local politicians.
2013: National March on Whitehall for Jobs & Justice:
In 2013 we intend, with your support to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington. Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) in partnership with other organisations is seeking to organise a national demonstration in August.
· Extend the provisions of the Northern Ireland Fair Employment Act 1991 to the UK as a whole, introducing positive discrimination to tackle unfair and disproportionate racial discrimination in employment and recruitment practices within the private sector.
· The introduction of new equality legislation requiring all Government and local authority contracts to include race equality, jobs and procurement quotas for all civil service, local authority and statutory agencies.
· Introduce new legislation based in the US Community Reinvestment Act 1977 requiring banks to ethnically monitor and publish loans and investments made whilst requiring a percentage reinvestment of its profits back into local communities.
- By way of reparations we demand a £500 million fund to promote the establishment of a national educational bursary scheme enabling students from poor backgrounds to access high quality further and higher education facilitating the development of their human full potential.
· End racial profiling in policing. Introduce legislation making disproportionate and unjustified usage of police powers a serious disciplinary offence.
· End detention without trail. Abolish the Extradition Act 2003
· Release all detainees without charge.
· Immediate amnesty for all illegal immigrants
· Class actions
· Introduce mandatory monitoring of judicial decisions in magistrates, crown and civil courts decisions identifying institutional racism in the administration of criminal justice, such as disproportionate sentencing and introducing comprehensive monitoring and disciplinary procedures for magistrates and judiciary.
· Establish a Public Inquiry into all suspicious deaths in statutory custody with a view to reform systems of inquest and police accountability.
· UK Government to sign the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Race Discrimination (CERD) optional protocol making race discrimination a fundamental breach of human rights.
· UK Government to commit to a genuine and thorough investigation to calculate the value of generational black disadvantage / white advantage brought about by historical policies and economic exploitation, and redress this with full compensation or reparations in various forms.
What we are asking you to do:
· Get your organisation or branch/ region to affiliate to BARAC UK and pass a motion supporting the March on London.
· Endorse the campaign to achieve equality in our lifetime. Join the national march or establish a local march organising committee to organise promotion travel and logistics for the national march .
· Invite speakers from the campaign to your planned events in 2013.
· Help to fundraise for the March on London Jobs and Justice.
· Organise local, regional, national or international mobilising meetings.
· Join our Facebook & Twitter pages and help spread the word.
· Write articles in support of the campaign.
· Join us by volunteering.
Conclusion and way forward.
MLK50 2013 Campaign provides a unique opportunity to reassess how far we have come and how far we have still yet to go, rethink our failed strategies of the past and launch a concerted campaign for justice and race equality.
It is the genetic destiny and historic responsibility of this generation to secure a positive future for our children. We must not become the first generation since enslaved Africans left the plantation to bequeath to our children a society where the racism they face is worse than that faced by the previous generation.
The huge progress made by previous generations provides a clear example to us all. At the time of slavery our core objective was to gain their freedom and then achieve equality. Today in 21st century Britain we are free but not yet equal. Total equality must be our goal.
Please feed your comments and suggestions to Co-Chairs Zita Holbourne and Lee Jasper. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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