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Opinion Taking the fight against racism to the next level

HASSAN AHMED and DEBORAH HOBSON welcome the establishment of The Liberation Movement

THERE is a racism and inequality emergency in Britain, experienced by African-Caribbeans, Asians and other people of colour that is reckless to deny and that’s why we  are helping to set up new broad-based The Liberation Movement (TLM), whose debut public meeting will be held in London on November 2.
 
It coincides with the 30th anniversary this month of the founding of the Anti-Racist Alliance, which helped establish the Justice for Stephen Lawrence campaign and became the largest black-led movement in Europe.

TLM’s “Building a united anti-racist campaign” public meeting takes place from 6.30pm at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, at Holborn in central London on Tuesday. 

Among the high-profile speakers will be Jacqui McKenzie, a leading Windrush campaigner and lawyer, Yvette Williams, co-ordinator of Justice4Grenfell, Chantelle Lunt, who runs the Merseyside Black Lives Matter Alliance in Liverpool, Azzees Minott, chair of Greens of Colour, Suresh Grover, director of The Monitoring Group, Barry Faulkner, a Unite the Union national officer, black Jewish filmmaker Orson Nava and Moshfiqur Noor of the Bangladesh Workers Council.

The line-up represents TLM’s emphasis on bringing together the broadest possible coalition of African Caribbean and Asian campaigners, community activists, trade unions and political parties.

Black politician Clive Lewis is among a number of cross-party MPs in support  of TLM, including frontbencher Rachael Maskell, Ian Lavery and the Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.

In Britain, at every stage of life, people of colour are statistically at a disadvantage because they face personal and systemic racial discrimination, as evidenced by numerous reports like the milestone Macpherson one into the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

Shocking everyday racism exists regardless of what the current complicit Tory government would like the public to believe.

We urgently need a united movement to defeat those whose aim is to divide black and white people in our communities because of the current alarming manifestations of bigotry and hatred not only in Britain but internationally too. 

Witness the dreadful harm and humanitarian crises imperialist warmongering and colonial-driven interventionist actions can do to the people, mostly Muslims, in countries like Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan.

It is right that the fightback is led by Africans, Caribbeans, Asians, and other people of colour at the sharp end of racism supported by white allies, as was seen during the magnificent Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests throughout the world.

These huge mobilisations were a success precisely because black people, particularly the youth, turned up for them, based on black self-organisation and self-determination which, in principle, are supported by the labour movement and others in civic society. 

However, it was disappointing that there was no official trade union presence on the BLM demos in the UK. They were slow to react and that must change.

The Liberation Movement, with youth and community activism and trade unions purposely at its heart, can help to improve things.

Beyond police reform, we saw how BLM widened its demand to include the decolonisation of British history in general and educational curricula in particular. 

Cruel Tory government “hostile environment” policy continues to scapegoat migrants, refugees and the Muslim community. Asylum-seekers, including children, have been put in detention camp prisons and deportation flights, chartered by the government, have continued despite the Windrush scandal.

Many victims of the totally avoidable Grenfell tower fire, that claimed at least 72 lives four years ago, were mainly African, Caribbean, Asian, other people of colour, migrants, refugees and poor people.

The racial disparity exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic has harshly showed that 60 per cent of the first NHS doctors and nurses to die were from our African, Asian and Caribbean communities. 

The disproportionate use of “stop and search” against black people, and the disturbing number of deaths of black people in police custody, has created bitterness and distrust towards the police.

Yet the right to protest is under threat, hence the need for us to support the #KilltheBill campaign. The appalling kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a plain-clothed police officer who first arrested her put in sharp focus how vulnerable women are now a target of corrupt cops. Other such sex attacks by police have since come to light showing that the police are in need of radical reform.

In the workplaces, disparities in health and safety and, pay and conditions for African, Caribbean and Asian workers are issues which the trade unions, to which they belong, are ideally placed to tackle. Unions best understand how much race and class matters. 

The bigoted white supremacist politics of Donald Trump may have been dealt a powerful blow with his defeat as US president, but it continues to inspire the racist and fascist right-wing internationally and in Britain, who are still organising and trying to grow their numbers.

British security services say that the activities of white supremacist and neonazis pose the biggest domestic threat. They thrive on the democracy deficit that currently exists, in Britain, where a party that got just over 40 per cent of the popular vote has 100 per cent of the power, which it is misusing. 

We note there has been robust criticism of racism in sections of the news media, especially the despicable online abuse suffered by the three young England footballers who took penalties for their team in this year’s Euro competition.

On social media, sports, political and other black public figures face unacceptable racist abuse, which has forced some of them off it. This must be properly tackled by the authorities.

Anti-racism is most effective when white people join hands with Africans, Caribbeans, Asians and other people of colour. United together we can defeat racism, Islamophobia and anti-semitism and all other forms of prejudice.

That is why the formation of The Liberation Movement, a new organisation to combat and face down the poison of racism from the grassroots up, must be welcomed. 

You can register free for The Liberation Movement public meeting here: https://bit.ly/3Gyj1D5

Councillor Hassan Ahmed and Deborah Hobson are co-chairs of national organisation Grassroots Black Left.

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