A New Awakening

Forward Together Stronger

 

Thomas L Blair

How Black Britain Put Social Justice on the National Agenda

ACTION GUIDE


British politicians proclaim ‘glory’ to the policy that Britain is “a beacon of good race relations and diversity for western nations”. But post-millennial Black Britons unleashed a firestorm of protest. Gaining allies, they call for the bold changes needed to cure “Pox” Britannia.

A New Awakening is an action guide to how post-millennial Black Britons put Social Justice on the National Agenda. Produced by scholar-journalist Professor Thomas L Blair, it reports the new-found confidence foreshadowing our times today with articles drawn from his online news journal of 26 years, the Chronicleworld weblog 1997-2023.

Digitally born, independent UK- based and well-researched, A New Awakening reports what many thought was impossible. No longer retreating in despair, Black Britons of Caribbean and African heritage are thrusting freedom from inequality and racism into the national conversation.

More than fifty articles showcase the trend setters. Black Britons are advancing up the ranks of the labour markets and higher education. Hip-Hop artists are rapping for justice. Celebrities set fashions. Campaigners celebrate Black arts online and social media, in museums, theatres, exhibitions and children’s books, as never before.

Some beat the drums for collective wealth through investments in innovation. Others, in the wake of escalating mortgages and soaring house prices, fight an uphill battle for home ownership.  All demand a racism-free life and livelihood.

Commentaries explore a range of views from Black workers to elites, and professionals and university educators, to multiracial groups. Many are challenging the false narratives of a broken people plagued by poverty, crime, disillusioned youth and ruptured family relations.

Blair asks and answers important crisis management questions. Will Black activists, trailblazers, academics and politicians turn setbacks into success? How to raise racial pride and empowerment? Can they insert the positive Black experience into Britain’s heritage?

This counsel suggests that if the moral compass of the state is attuned to accept inequality, it’s dysfunctional.

OUR MISSION is robust. Report the news foreshadowing  our times today. Great digital journalism  has the power to enrich and support Black communities  in the crucibles of  modernism – national and global

Recent editorials cover the struggles to preserve African identity in European, Brazilian and Venezuelan communities. We’ve filed stories on the Black Lives Matter protests. In-depth articles deal with the impact of BREXIT (the UK leaving the European Union) on immigration.

Special studies explore the fight-back against the disastrous effects of the Covid pandemic on Black communities, health professionals and workers in NHS and care homes.  

Notably, we have covered the growing support for Black Studies in higher education curricula and community action. Dr Kehinde Andrews of Birmingham City University could offer a step forward. He heads the first Black Studies course at a British university. Author of Resisting Racism in Birmingham, Andrews is keen to engage with the city’s large African-Caribbean population. It is a social dividend for all citizens, Andrews has declared.

Opinion pieces address major reparations issues. One is the pay-back for trans-shipment of Africans to slavery in the colonies. Another is compensating Windrush workers who came to serve Britain‘s health care and transport after World War II. 

Why “Black”? 

A New Awakening is ‘Black’ because the original articles are drawn from the Chronicleworld digital journal for readers in Black Britain, Europe and the African Diaspora.

Its focus is a Black agenda: strengthening communities, creating healthy environments, furthering equality and equity, exposing deficiencies and seizing opportunities to make a difference.

 The Author and His Works Thomas L Blair has 9 books and 50 eBooks in the British Library. Search main catalogue and Social Welfare Portal collections. Using search words by author Thomas L Blair and/or Editions Blair. Library archivists see his works ‘as central to the narrative of Black people in modern Britain.’  

Publication Details

A New Awakening
Thomas L Blair

Editions Blair 01-11-23 © All Rights Reserved
ISBN 978- 1–908480-83-5

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both copyright owner and the publisher of this book.

The greatest care has been taken in compiling this book. However, no responsibility can be accepted by the author and publishers or compilers for the accuracy of the information presented. Opinions expressed do not necessarily coincide with the editorial views of author or copyright holder Editions Blair.

Editions Blair has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party Internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

Every effort has been made to reach copyright holders. The publishers would be pleased to hear from anyone whose rights have been unwittingly infringed.

Contents: A New Awakening

Thematic Keywords to Look Out For

  • Black British Advocates for Change 
  • Promoting Slavery Reparations and 1940s Migrant Compensation 
  • BREXIT: Planning Survival in a Hard-Times Era
  • New Black Advocates
  • Youth Can Lead Call for Equality and Justice
  • ‘Change the Colour of the News’,  Journalists Say
  • Cyber-action for Social Change
  • Movements for Unity
  • Million Black Londoners Demand  End of Race-Based Inequalities
  • Praise for Women Rights
  • Black Christians Urge Reconciliation
  • Covid Pandemic Crisis: End Infections, Deaths Among Blacks
  • Reshaping Black British History Month
  • Afro-Europe, Diaspora Unity Key To Progress
  • Black Political Quest for Solidarity
  • Write On!  Thomas L Blair Selected Bibliography
  • Related Foundational, Classic Texts and Resources
  • About Chronicle World’s Weblog and Black Britain

“I Am Convinced That, Despite All The Negative Race-Based Marginalisation,
 The Ability to Mix, Blend, Change, Radicalise, Reinvent
and Serve Up Something Distinctive In a Hostile Urban Environment
Is At the Core Of “Being Black In Britain”.

Professor Thomas L Blair

Black British Advocates for Change

April 17, 2016

Black Workers Revive Race Equality Goals

By Thomas L Blair 17 April 2016 ©

British unions were once considered too insular, White and damn near apartheid. Times indeed have changed but the equality struggle continues, according to activists at the TUC Black Workers Conference 2016.

The Black struggles of the 1960s and 1970s created a trade union movement less divided by race. However, equal pay on the shop floor is elusive. Black workers have little say in union affairs. Hence, said Wilf Sullivan, TUC Equality Officer, Black workers’ progress requires constant vigilant action to secure it. “Use your collective sway to make working life better,” he said in the “Working for You” supplement, The Voice, Britain’s top Black weekly.

Gloria Mills, the UNISON National Secretary for Equalities, acts for the Black workers in the 1.3 million-member public service union, one of the UK’s and Europe’s largest trade unions.

Mills promotes two crucial causes. “Black and white members are stronger together”. Furthermore, Government needs “A race equality strategy as a matter of political priority, with clear targets and adequate resourcing”.

UNITE the union  “leads the way in championing race equality”.  Union reps and activists like David Agbley target Black, Asian and minority ethnics in the NHS. There, an estimated 20 per cent of the 1.4 million employees languish in the low ranked non-medical staff.

Race equality features in another sector of Black workers concerns. Activists stand up for the 40,000 BAME members in the 435,000 workers in the Usdaw union. It is the major trade union of shop workers, delivery drivers and warehouse workers across the UK.

Blacks, in the smaller but increasingly digitised 193,500-member Communication Workers Union, are severely threatened. Organisers aim to protect the jobs of manual skilled Black workers in the Post Office, telephone and telecommunications companies.

However, equality activists have signalled the vanguard role of aroused Black workers. Dr Wanda Wyporska, leads the Association of Teachers and Lecturers fight back “against the abhorrent [Government] changes that… affect all our young people and our Black and Asian teachers, lecturers and support staff”.

Senior Black trade union militants emphasise the wider implications. Prejudice is a constant spectre. Wilf Sullivan said Black, Asian and minority ethnic workers bear a special burden, different from their White comrades.

BAME workers are concentrated in poverty line, low-pay casual, temporary, zero hours and agency contract work. But more than this, “They are underpaid, underemployed, underrepresented in boardrooms and elite universities, all the while facing discrimination at the hands of employers, government and wider society”.

Hence, the equality goal must include closing the pay and status gaps. Moreover, increased Black worker representation –on the shop floor, in management, and political priorities – is essential.

However, the political argument for favouring inclusion goes much further.  Black workers and their allies must spread fair pay and equality action across the whole TUC membership of 52 unions, representing almost 5.8 million workers.

Therefore,  “Black workers have an important role to play in building strong trade unions that not only fight for policies that will revive our economy and the fortunes of workers, but will be in the forefront of the fight against discrimination,” Sullivan concludes.

October 11, 2015

Meet the Black Modernisers

The next step in the transformation of our politics?

By Thomas L Blair © 11 October 2015

Labour’s Black political activists have always had a thorny cotton row to hoe. But a new tendency is garnering a reputation as modernisers of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s “kinder, more inclusive” form of politics.

Lifted by his “soulful” conference quotes — from writers, African American Maya Angelou and Nigerian Ben Okri — the modernisers set out to influence voters and communities, many of whom are Black.

Modest in demeanour. Younger than usual. With impeccable professional and political backgrounds. Black modernisers entered town halls and Parliament despite Labour poor showing in the May 2015 elections.

However, can they close the equality gaps in their favoured party, troubled cities and the nation?

Here are some key names to watch out for.

Get ready for new Councillor Michelline Safi Ngongo whose Liberty International Project campaigns for “fairness” in Islington’s divided race-class borough. The challenge is to satisfy both the demands of the wealthy in Barnsbury and the denizens of the 1960’s estates where blunted aspirations bar civic participation.

Florence Nosugbe has her sights on the Labour London Assembly as candidate for Lambeth and Southwark. Self-confident, she aims to reduce poverty and social exclusion.

‘Florence has the experience, skills and priorities for our community to make real change in Lambeth and Southwark’ said supporter Chuka Umunna MP.

Modernising Marvin Rees

At the city level, Bristol’s Marvin Rees, Labour’s 2016 candidate for mayor, promises “a different style of politics”. The public health professional runs the City Leadership program to upskill youth into the job market. He campaigns for the living wage, affordable housing and increasing democratic accountability. A mighty challenge for a moderniser in a city yet to escape its past as a major slave trading station.

Kate Osamor MP, elected in 2015 for Edmonton, London, is a health professional tutored in grassroots politics by her activist mother. She is a welcome asset in an area woefully short of politicians reflecting the racial mix of their constituencies. Loyalty has earned her a post as shadow Parliamentary Private Secretary for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn MP.

Modern-ising Dawn Butler

Dawn Butler’s motto “Develop-Inspire-Grow” helped her regain the parliamentary seat for Brent Central. Community regeneration is one of the biggest issues Ms Butler faces. That is, how to regenerate problem ridden estates with a balanced mix of good quality housing types and tenure, attractive to families.

Clive Anthony Lewis MP, former BBC journalist and Corbyn ally, won Norwich South promising to defend the vulnerable against the “onslaught of Tory cuts.” A formidable task in a city of hard hit Black people.

We must conclude, however, there is no evidence yet that this modernising trend will end systemic discrimination against Black people, workers, families and communities.

Crucially, Black modernisers must reach out to the young Black millennials of the digital age, and elders, too. Furthermore, they must build alliances with self-led Black organisations and support the Black Arts that are everywhere in need.

_______________________________________

October 10, 2016

Gigabytes of Black Culture Enrich Digital Britain

 By Thomas L Blair 10 October 2016 copyright reserved

Description: hackney-ct6ozlbwcaeuqz1
Black culture is going digital. People are creating a mass of gigabytes of news, opinions and ideas. Commerce rules in the Black History Month 365 listings. The Voice, Black newspaper, aims to inspire youth, parents and teachers with History supplements.

Black political history features in many archives. Patrick Vernon OBE, founder of Every Generation Media, tweets that politics are essential parts of Black British culture. The Hackney Museum’s current exhibit says it all in ‘People Power: Black British Arts + Activism in Hackney 1960s-2000s’.

Furthermore, the digitised Bernie Grant MP archives at Bishopsgate Institute honour the rebel politician. Indeed, “Nobody Benefits from Hidden History, That’s The Beauty of the Black Cultural Archives” said Paul Reid, director of the BCA centre in Brixton, the historic first landing of post-war West Indians.

But information professionals ignore Black digital production. Town and school librarians and researchers for the National Archives are yet to grasp its merit.

Fortunately, digital Black cultures are important representations of British Culture. Embedding them in the treasure troves of knowledge may be difficult but do-able. Here are some thoughts on how and who must do it. 

February 25, 2018

Stormzy’s Historic Rap To Prime Minister Boosts Grenfell Justice Campaign

The rapper’s call to fans yields 100,000 signatures needed to trigger parliamentary debate on the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire 

By Thomas L Blair 25 February 2018 ©

Stormzy, the grime artist and winner of the Brit Awards has made history with his show-closing plea for the Grenfell people’s petition.

The rapper spat out the lyrics “Like yo Theresa May where’s the money for Grenfell?”
What, you just thought we just forgot about Grenfell?” he angrily shouted.
Then Stormzy, 24, added “You criminals – and you got the cheek to call us savages?
“You should do some jail time you should pay some damages.
“We should burn your house down and see if you can manage this.”

THE LYRICS AND TWITTER EFFECTS

Each line in Stormzy’s litany of blame took you back to the charred wreckage of the Grenfell tower. To the vigils and marches of thousands of protestors. To the bereaved survivors demanding justice. Stormzy’s rap portrayed their angry cries for justice. All the hopes to share in the public inquiry.

Later, the grime and hip-hop star, 24, called on his more than one million Twitter followers to sign the Grenfell petition. It demanded that Mrs May use her powers to appoint additional panel members to the independent public inquiry.

Stormzy tweeted followers to “sign, share, RT(retweet) and spread the word”. Within a few hours of his tweet, the petition registered more than 100,000 signatures – the number required for the petition to be considered for debate by MPs.

STORMZY — SOUTH LONDON BOY DONE GOOD

This is a historic feat of political musicianship by a Black British rap star. It won him praise from a most unlikely source, the conservative-leaning newspaper, The Times.

“Stormzy whips up MPs’ debate on Grenfell Tower inquiry
The Times
The power of one man and his 1.2m-strong army of Twitter followers was proved this weekend when the grime artist Stormzy almost single-handedly helped to trigger a likely parliamentary debate on the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire”. 

WHATS IN THE PETITION

The Grenfell people’s petition, which was previously delivered to Downing Street, calls for the Prime Minister to appoint additional panel members. With the same decision-making power they would sit alongside retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick, who is the chair of the Grenfell Tower inquiry. This is “fundamental” to “avoid a collapse of confidence in the inquiry’s ability to discover the truth” of the tragedy the petition states.

WHO STARTED THE PLEA FOR DIVERSITY IN THE INQUIRY

Inspired by the results of the grime star’s fierce Grenfell rap, petition organisers Adel Chaoui, Karim Mussilhy and Sandra Ruiz, who were bereaved in the tragedy, praised the move for a more diverse make-up to the inquiry panel.

In a joint statement, they said “This week the public have shown they’ve not forgotten about Grenfell.

“Just as they supported us in the immediate aftermath of the fire, when local and national government response was lacking, they’ve backed us again – and demanded the voices of the survivors and bereaved are heard.”

WHAT ELSE DOES THE PETITION SAY

Panel members “must be appointed with relevant background, expertise, experience and a real understanding of the issues facing those affected”,  the petition adds.

The petition also calls for legal representatives of victims’ families to “see all evidence from the start” of the inquiry and be “allowed to question witnesses at the hearings”.

PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY, CONSERVATIVE PARTY LEADER AND HEAD OF THE GOVERNMENT HIT BACK

A spokesperson for the PM said that £58 million had been committed to the Grenfell community. Reporters were assured that Mrs May was “absolutely committed” to supporting Grenfell victims and set up inquiry not just to look at what happened but why “people were ignored for so many years”.

Furthermore, Theresa May’s spokesperson reportedly said “The PM has been very clear that Grenfell was an unimaginable tragedy that should never have happened and should never be allowed to happen again.

“She’s determined that the public inquiry will discover not just what went wrong but why the voices of the people of Grenfell had been ignored over so many years.”

Nevertheless, Stormzy has made a novel use of the Brit Awards stage and the social media to help shape the Grenfell inquiry. The landmark 100,000 signatures will take the petition to Parliament for debate.   The struggle continues. BETTER MUST COME.

NOTES

The BRIT Awards are the British Phonographic Industry’s annual pop music awards

Stormzy, born Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr., is an outstanding, prize-winning Ghanaian grime and hip-hop artist of the diaspora. He supports Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who partly credits Stormzy for ensuring a big youth vote for him.

Promoting Slavery Reparations and 1940sMigrant Compensation

June 1, 2022

Slavery’s Legacy Haunts First Black Women Rectors of Scottish Universities

HERE’S HOW THEY CAN MAKE AMENDS

NEWS VIEWS INCLUDE RACIST UK IMMIGRATION LAWS / REPARATIONS DEMAND AFTER ROYAL CARIBBEAN TOUR / MINA’S FILM OF DIGNITY AND DEATH / BLACK WOMEN BUSTING BEAUTY MYTHS

By Thomas L Blair 1 June 2022©

Three Black women achieved historic milestones as rectors of Edinburgh, Aberdeen and St Andrews Scottish universities. But will they – can they — make amends for the slavery business which founded their historic institutions? The answer is they must.

Selected mainly by students, their real-world management experience and a heart for public service proved attractive.

Debora Kayembe, is the Rector of Edinburgh University that dates back to 1495. Congolese-born in Kinshasa, she is a human rights lawyer, linguist and political activist.

Martina Chukwuma-Ezike, of Nigerian heritage, is Rector of Aberdeen. Her managerial skills in the Asthma and Allergy Foundation enable medical students to work directly with asthmatics.

Somali born Dr Leyla Hussein OBE, the appointed rector of St Andrews University, is a psychotherapist, campaigner and global leader on gender rights.

EXPLORING THE UNIVERSITY’S HISTORIC LINKS TO SLAVERY

But in a smouldering political landscape how will they cope with increasing demands to reveal the profits from the business of slavery? Profits based on the violent capture of Africans, transhipped to the colonial Caribbean for harsh plantation labour during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The slaver’s financial gifts shaped the very fabric of the rector’s institutions in ways that can still be seen today. Aberdeen’s benefactor The Reverend Gilbert Ramsay, an Episcopalian minister is one example. Edinburgh’s benefactor anti-abolitionist Henry Dundas is another. In addition, wealthy John Whyte Melville’s physical legacy marks the town’s constructed fountains, landscaped estates, and more in and around St Andrews.

THE EVIDENCE FOR CHANGE

Now, the new rectors must learn to recognise and listen to the soundtrack of concerns. 

The Edinburgh Centre for Global History has evidence of the Africa-Caribbean-British connections of the slave trade and its remnants in the university.

Local residents and pupils have exposed the links between their parish of Birse in Aberdeenshire and the Aberdeen slaver Rev Ramsay.

Furthermore, the undergraduate-led Spence Project has uncovered the St Andrews links to the transatlantic slave trade.

The rumbles of concern may sound revolutionary, but Harvard University, America’s oldest institution of higher education, has created a $100mm reparations fund after a report detailed its centuries-old ties to slavery. The Harvard Law School was established in 1817 with a bequest from Isaac Royall Jr., whose family made much of its fortune in the slave trade and from a sugar plantation in Antigua.

Strategies for change

In Scotland, the task ahead for the three Black women rectors is clear.  But how can they get ready for it?

They must resist the urge to repress the “mischiefs of faction”. They should open their archives to researchers and public scrutiny. Painstakingly, they must amend their laggard institutional, physical and educational cultures. Moreover, they must lead a drive to create and implement a £multi-mm Legacy of Slavery and its Persistent Effects Fund.

As a result, they will not only boost the forces for change but inscribe their progressive rector ships in Scottish university annals. Success should be closely studied and replicated in the historic slavery and colonial-dependent universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Bristol, and all British degree-granting universities.

NOTES

The Rector is part of the ancient form of Scottish university governance since the 15th century. Elected by the students (and in the case of Edinburgh by the staff as well) their role is to represent the interests of students as chair of the University Courts.

Edinburgh University https:/533533/www.ed.ac.uk/news/2020/historical-figure-s-slavery-links-in-spotlight 

Aberdeen University https://www.abdn.ac.uk/students/student-channel/blog/exploring-the-universitys-historic-links-to-slavery/

St Andrews University https://standrewsschoolofhistory.wordpress.com/2020/10/27/the-bubble-st-andrews-fife-and-scottish-links-to-slavery/amp/     

Harvard University in the New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/26/us/harvard-slavery-redress-fund.html

Harvard University by Reuters
https://www.reuters.com/world/us/harvard-sets-up-100-million-endowment-fund-slavery-reparations-2022-04-26/

30 years of UK immigration laws curbed citizenship for non-white populations.

“The truth is out: ‘Britain’s immigration is racist, and always has been. Now let’s fix it’, says Diane Abbott, Labour MP. She stands for Hackney Borough that has a significant population of people of Caribbean and African heritage. Ms Abbott’s urgent tone came as a leaked report seen by The Guardian revealed that “During the period 1950-1981, every single piece of immigration or citizenship legislation was designed at least in part to reduce the number of people with black or brown skin who were permitted to live and work in the UK”.

Reparations demand after royal Caribbean tour 

One thing the disputed Prince William’s tour proved say West Indians. The Monarchy – like the British Commonwealth, born out of bloodshed in the British colonies – is a relic. The prince’s visit triggered the historic call for “reparations” for centuries of wrongdoings.

In the UK the Global Afrika Congress (GAC)  led by Glenroy Watson supports this view. The dispute bolstered the reparation claims sworn to at the Afrikans and Afrikan Descendants World Conference Against Racism, 2-6 October 2002 Bridgetown, Barbados.

Moreover, the multi-Caribbean states organisation (CARICOM) has mobilised a Reparations Commission. It urges compensation for the native genocide of the region’s first people, as well as the descendants of chattel slavery Africans and Asian indentured peoples. In their sights are Britain and the European Union (EU) member states that participated in and benefitted from the Slave Trade.

But what to do and how to do reparations? In my view, “Reparations” should mean creating an institution, be it a government commission or a private legacy, tasked to recommend and implement an apology to descendants of enslaved Africans. The debit account must include their plundered kingdoms, stolen resources and artefacts. Moreover, add the horrors of the cruel transshipment of 12 millions over the centuries. Plus the unpaid plantation labour that created the economy and prosperity of their American and European colonial masters.  

Reparations in modern times
Though some might say “they don’t like talking about our ancestors in dollars and cents”, nevertheless reparations, sought and awarded, to aggrieved American and German minorities are a major feature of recent history. These include:

US compensation to Japanese-Americans unlawfully interned during World War II

Indian Claims Commission to compensate for land seized by the United States  

Black survivors of Chicago police violence and torture abuses to obtain confessions.

Black victims of US eugenics forced sterilization program;

Student action at Georgetown University to benefit descendants of the 272 enslaved Africans sold by the  Jesuits to secure its financial future;

Black residents of a Florida town burned by a murderous white mob.19 Jun 2019, and

Germany is still making $multi-mm reparations payments to 400,000 Jews who survived the Holocaust.

Planning Reparations
The Reparations Plan must look to the future. Enhancing social and economic development is most important. This means several things. One, using high-efficiency models to improve educational and technological capability. Two, raising productivity and wages. Three, reducing artificial restrictions to citizenship, land owning, commerce and trade. Thereby instilling a sense of hope and self-reliance. ________________________________________________________________

BREXIT: Planning Survival in a Hard-times era

After Brexit – A Blow To Equality Progress

June 28, 2016

Brexit’s Repercussions Surpass An Earthquake. Bigotry Threatens Progress Towards The Equality Of Opportunity. I Have Witnessed The Downward Spiral Myself, Says Alex Pascall, Our Contributing Opinion Writer When Interviewed

Published by Thomas L Blair June 28 2016 ©

What do you mean by “progress,” Alex?
Diversity was not valued when I arrived from the Caribbean. We gave it value by combatting widespread discrimination and rebuilding post-war London.

Things got better…?
Yes, people from different ethnicities working together became the norm. The politics of unity prevailed by the end of the century. Indeed, by 2016 London elected Sadiq Khan, a Sunni Muslim whose parents came from Pakistan.

What hope for renewed progress post-BREXIT?

The LEAVE victory signals a return to the virulent prejudices we faced in the 1950s and 60s. Thus, the stage is set for us to restore faith in London’s equality in diversity.

Brexit – Umunna’s Vote Leave Watch-Ers Urge New Consensus On Britain’s Future

Thomas L Blair 24 July 2016 ©

BREXIT myths of “greater prosperity” all add up “to lower investment, fewer jobs, and higher prices,” Labour’s Streatham MP Chuka Umunna has warned.

He cites popular distrust of Vote Leave ministers in charge of Britain’s EU exit and key departments like Transport, Environment and International Development.

Mr Umunna said, “senior pro-Brexit politicians had accused Remain campaigners like me of engaging in ‘Project Fear’. But the truth is that they themselves were peddling ‘Project Fantasy’.”

They claimed that leaving the EU would free up £350milllion more every week to spend on the NHS. However, the minute the polls closed on June 23 “the Brexit battlebus went into a screeching u-turn”

Umunna’s Vote Leave Watch campaigners will “hold them to account for their overblown promises”. The goal is to “forge a national consensus on a way forward for our country”, he said.

A worthy cause, perhaps, but he and his Watch-ers will have to broaden their appeal, particularly to younger and BME voters.

BREXIT: MEDIA FIRETRIGGERS OF TOTTENHAM RIOTS “STILL CRACKLING AWAY”

Five tips to improve reporting “the fire next time”

By Thomas L Blair 11 August 2016

The media firetriggers of the Tottenham Aug 2011 riots – slack reporting, prejudice, disinformation and institutional racism – are still crackling away in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Negative press reporting fuelled distrust of Black people, poor people, ethnic minorities and urban youth. Hence, ensuring fair media practice is urgent, and here are 5 tips for fundamental change.

First, private and public media broadcasters must add a pro-Publica logo to their mastheads. This means positive coverage of Black and minority ethnic people, with guidelines ensuring fair practices.

David Lammy’s Out of the Ashes is an exemplary addition to promoting fair media practices. Born and bred locally, the Tottenham MP explores the human stories behind the headlines. Far from a breeding ground of dysfunctional families – of addiction and lawlessness – the causes of the riots are still with us and something must be done to solve them.

Second, journalists must improve their reportage. This largely means getting out of the office, spending time in communities to ferret out issues rather than merely reacting to events. It also means listening to the grievances of the communities directly affected, many of whom are people of colour. They also need to review their contacts list and rosters of quoted experts to include more people of colour, women and others too often overlooked by reporters and politicians.

Evidence shows there is no suffrage in Britain’s media. “Many Black people, particularly young ones, I have spoken with think the “riots” were badly reported”, said Marc Wadsworth, editor of The-Latest, a citizen’s online journal. Youth dispute the “nasty stereotypes about them being used by biased journalists”.

Third, media editors and presenters must reality check their assignments and the stories their staff submit. With news-beat knowledge, they can reframe stories as sound unbiased “news” stories. Furthermore, they have to learn to deal openly and honestly, with issues of media equality. Unreconstructed, they reflect the media’s timeworn practice of “blaming the victim”.

Fourth, academics, professionals and union members must up their game. Academics need to teach from oral texts — with the voices of the unheard at the grass roots – not just the accusative gatekeepers and token spokespersons.

Journalist and Prof Richard Keeble put it succinctly in his The Newspapers Handbook. Teachers of the next generation of professional journalists must “seek to inspire students to be creative and daring in their journalism: to challenge dominant news values, lies, myths and stereotypes”.

Fifth, “riot” journalists and politicians must instil both ethics and ethos in a corrupting media. The unheeded evidence mounts from the experiences of Black journalist authors and members of the National Union of Journalists. Alex Pascall, of the ill-fated, groundbreaking BBC radio programme Black Londoners (1970s-1980s) still challenges the racist elements in broadcasting.

Lionel Morrison, senior journalist and author of A Century of Black Journalism in Britain: A Kaleidoscopic view of Race and the Media (1893-2003), told the Delegates 2011 meeting that the facts limit fair play in the media. “Of approximately 38,000 members of the NUJ, 1,000 are black – about 2.6%. This is a disgrace”, he said. The number of black people in the media, as a proportion of black people in the total British population is “very, very, very low…we need to do something about this” said Morrison.

The veteran reporter and editor of The-Latest.com Marc Wadsworth urged more black participation in the media and wider coverage of community views, in The Riot and the Media report. Clearly, UK news producers must face up to the change challenge: set goals for minority employment that matches minority representation in the population.

Clearly, from this perspective, fair media practices are essential to the search for solutions to urban unrest. Why?  Because we need to understand how the media fuel “race riots,” and learn how to respond to it.

The result will be a new more authentic, high quality resource of news production for 21st century journalists. With new commitment, reporters, editors and the news industry as a whole will be better equipped to honestly report the fire next time.

Black Labour Rebel With A Cause Challenges Leadership On Brexit Vote

By Thomas L Blair 11 February 2017 ©

Clive Lewis, shadow business secretary, gave clear warning. He aimed to honour his commitment to his Remain-voting constituency, even if it meant challenging his boss. He did just that with his fightback  letter to Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. his close ally on the left of the party.

“When I became the MP for Norwich South I promised my constituents I would be “Norwich’s voice in Westminster, not Westminster’s voice in Norwich”. I therefore cannot, in all good conscience, vote for something that ultimately goes against the wishes and interests of the constituency I have the honour to represent, love and call home.”

Furthermore,  “I’m resigning … “because I feel I must vote against the government’s bill as it stands,” Lewis said as he joined around 50 MPs voting against triggering Brexit negotiations in the Commons.

No stranger to world politics of war, and climate change, he spoke out on immigration and nuclear weapons during his campaign. The  former BBC political editor and veteran of the Afghanistan war has said it is time to learn from the past and not make the same mistakes over Syria.

A  Labour “role model”and Black moderniser, Lewis, like Dawn Butler, defied the party line. Their fellows had argued forcefully that Brexit was disastrous for the nation and hard-pressed communities. Yet, when told to, they backed Article 50; some, no doubt with heavy hearts.

Lewis denies  rumours  that he plans to be a challenge candidate in a fresh Labour leadership election, particularly because Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to order his MPs to back the bill angered many  party activists. “It’s a load of bollocks” he told the Eastern Daily newspaper.

One thing for sure, Lewis and Butler have modeled a new role for Blacks aspiring to high political office. Getting a seat at the Cabinet table, however worthy integration seems, does not mean you have to be a robot.

Scroll  to Meet the Black Modernisers or browse   https://chronicleworld.co.uk/uncategorized/meet-the-black-modernisers/

BREXIT: Here’s a How-to Article for Wielding Business and Civic Power in the Hard Times  Brexit Era  

By Thomas L Blair 5 April 2017 ©

Sharon McLean’s dreary law lecture to Black businesses and community professionals needs a hefty dose of BREXIT reality.

Black owners are at the bottom of queue for government’s largesse. Adversity in the economic marketplace abuses their capacity building strengths. The May administration has been slow to condemn it.

Therefore, “Get up, stand up for your rights” should be her message to the Black and Ethnic Minority Business Networking Event in BRIXTON, the traditional heart of Black London and Britain.

BREXIT plans are not inclusive enough. Something important is missing. Small Black businesses, mainly in London, are the job creators the government favours to create sustainable incomes and neighbourhoods. Yet their voices are unheard.

So, how to survive in the hard-times BREXIT era? How to make sure Black business owners get a seat at the table — not under it –to take advantage of new trade agreements with priority markets around the world.

Riding piggyback on the London Assembly’s Economy Committee Report could be a winning strategy. Government must acknowledge “the interdependence between London’s small and large businesses,” and avoid focussing just on the needs of major firms. Failure to do so, the report warns, risks damaging the capital’s “diverse and vibrant economy” which provides almost one quarter of the UK’s overall economic output.

McLean’s independent spirit as teacher turned CEO of Business with Excellence is crucial. She has the experience and expertise to champion a ‘whole London economy’ approach. However, she should forget the schoolmistress lecture style. It is elitist and ill-suited to this kind of scrap.

Keynote speaker McLean and delegates have a golden opportunity to call for a new inclusive agenda.  Clearly, to starve Black businesses of funding while increasing it for big business is a false choice. Conservatives have a big reason to respond positively: They’ve been promising BREXIT equality and inclusion ever since taking office.

Crucially, Blacks must unite, know the issues, gather money and allies, and exercise their political muscle. Hand in hand, under-served Black communities and unrewarded small businesses must  urge London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan to hold ministers to account on this vital issue.

New Black Advocates

June 21, 2018

Black Britons Outrage at “Truth Decay” Windrush Day Celebration

UK Prime Minister Theresa May under pressure from Black academics and public intellectuals

By Thomas L Blair 22 June 2018 ©
Celebrating the newly announced Windrush Day celebration continues the ugly pattern of short-changing the centuries-old Black Presence in Britain, says prominent academics and public intellectuals. “A national Windrush Day? Theresa May has some nerve”, thunders Kehinde Andrews, founder of the first British African Studies programme at Birmingham City University. No more than a token, “Thousands of the very generation we are meant to be celebrating are facing hardship as a result of the prime minister’s policies”. As Professor Gus John, Equality and Human Rights Campaigner, wrote rejecting his invitation to the Day’s celebration 22 June at the Prime Minister’s office, “I do not believe that you [prime minister Theresa May] are entitled to the magnanimity of those misguided folk who might well be happy to receive your invitation and to attend your Windrush anniversary celebration”. The Black Presence and the Struggle Against Racism in Britain Pre-dates 1948 The academics do not deny the cardinal importance of the damaging policies of the Windrush era. Indeed, they condemn the uncaring ‘hostile environment’ for immigrants. The trauma, uncertainty, misery, physical hardship and denial of the same life-saving health services for which they had paid throughout their working lives.

However, they know that Britain has a long inexcusable history of truth decay. Hence, by projecting ‘The Windrush’ as representing the birth of Black – and multi-cultural –Britain, is not only false but dangerous, says professor John.

  • “It is dangerous for five main reasons he says:
    • “First, it rather suggests that Britain was mono-racial prior to the arrival of the Windrush passengers and those that followed them in the 1950s and 1960s and that until then the nation was at ease with itself and with the foreigners it had magnanimously welcomed from elsewhere.
  • Second, it erases the struggle of earlier generations of Africans from the Continent and from the West Indies for equal rights and justice and against racism and fascism in Britain, struggles which the Windrush and later generations themselves had to join, or replicate.
    • Third, it compounds the divisions, generated and reinforced by the British themselves, between Caribbean people and African people as two separate ethnic groups, rather than as one people, belonging to a Global African Diaspora, with a common heritage and an interrupted history.

Fellow academic Andrews suggests “we should not have been fooled by that tokenism, neither should we be appeased by a national day to celebrate Windrush. On the issue of racism, May is parading before the public in the emperor’s new clothes, and it should be easy for us to see through her naked cynicism and empty gestures”.

John says “I have massive misgivings about the entire Windrush project and I would go so far as to say it is not only completely wrongheaded, it runs the risk of distorting British colonial and post-colonial history and the struggles of former colonial subjects with Britain, both in the former colonies and in Britain itself”. Therefore, he concludes “It would be a shameful betrayal to them all to accept your invitation.

Black public intellectuals take the truth-telling message to the community.

In solidarity, Commentator Alex Pascall, OBE kicks off the launch of the exhibition ‘The Spirit of Windrush’ in the backroom of the Uptown Cuisine Caribbean restaurant, West Green Road in Wood Green.

Stafford Scott, co-founder of the Broadwater Farm Defence Campaign in 1985, and consultant on racial equality and community engagement, tweets:

“Professor Gus John’s rejection letter to the British Prime Minister’s invitation to 10 Downing Street is a must READ and SHARE letter, not simply because of the beautiful way in which it has been drafted, but also to inform and educate those who would be foolish enough to accept such an invitation”.

Whose “Special Relationship”?

By Thomas L Blair 4 February 2017 ©

Dear reader, Just to let you know…

Prof Gus John is back online with a new series of comments and opinions on current affairs. We note his views on “our UK-USA special relationship” proclaimed by Prime Minister Theresa May and President Donald Trump. John writes:

“If either nation places the marginalised, excluded and ‘othered’ on the backburner of their domestic and foreign policy, it is evident that neither will use the ‘special relationship’ to safeguard and advance the rights of those left out of their political agenda. On the contrary, they would be endorsing and reinforcing each other in their ‘othering’ and excluding, while pleading that it is not for them to interfere in each other’s domestic affairs”.

Powerful views from the West Indian scholar with a record of radical thought in Britain, and said to be one of the ‘30 Most Influential Contemporary African Diaspora Leaders’.

 Campaigners Power Up The Black And Minority Ethnic Vote 

By  Thomas L Blair 02 June 2017 copyright

If you want to see the pathologies of contemporary politics and society laid out for you,  with some clues to what equality groups are demanding, read on.

“Britain is at a crossroads on race equality, Brexit, immigration and identity say, a coalition of race equality organisations. Their Manifesto for Race Quality aims to ” put fairness and equal life chances for Britain’s Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. So that we can all face future challenges together, equally”.

Moreover, they demand:

A comprehensive government-wide race equality strategy;

Brexit negotiations must be “race equality-proofed” to safeguard rights protecting citizens against discrimination;

A new law prohibiting online hate which forces social media firms to take action.

The online manifesto features a new analysis of the power of the Black and ethnic minority (BME) vote in this snap general election.

A Power of the Black Vote report found that 45 of the top 50 most marginal seats have BME electorates larger than the 2015 majority. See https://goo.gl/6cPA91

Operation Black Vote coordinated the Race Equality 2017 coalition. Simon Woolley, Director of Operation Black Vote, said:

“Britain is at a crossroads on Brexit, immigration, and British identity. How these issues play out in this snap election will determine the country’s direction for a generation. The key question is to what extent will Black and minority ethnic communities (BME) be involved in this debate?

“Persistent race inequalities in employment, education, housing and the criminal justice system has meant and lack of social mobility for BME children growing up to be adults is nothing short of a scandal. Many do succeed despite the barriers but too many fail to have their potential recognised much less fulfilled. That is why we are calling for a government-wide race equality strategy to root out racial inequality wherever it lurks in the system.

Key members of the coalition put their race equality views on record.

Dr Omar Khan, Director of the Runnymede Trust, said:

“Given the persistence and extent of racial inequalities we need the next government to have an actual plan to reduce racial inequalities, not just warm words. With post-Brexit Britain raising existential questions about who we are, we also need the next government to affirm that race equality is a core British value and that minorities won’t see their rights and protections weakened”

Viv Ahmun, from Blacksox, said:

“Unemployment of 30% amongst 16-24 year old Black people in comparison to just 13% amongst white people of the same age is a shocking disparity that feeds into and drives the poverty of opportunity that underpins rises in violence and mental ill health. The next government must do more to increase opportunities for employment and business development within BAME communities.”

Zita Holbourne, National Chair, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK and National Vice President, Public and Commercial Services Union, said:

“Austerity combined with institutional racism is impacting disproportionately on BAME workers. Our manifesto seeks to address the adverse impacts of cuts on BAME workers from redundancies in the public sector having a double impact on BAME women to zero hour contracts meaning young BAME workers have no job security, whilst addressing the structural systems of discrimination that already existed before cuts, in appraisal, promotion, progression and recruitment. Race Equality should be a right, not a privilege.”

Patrick Vernon OBE, trustee of Bernie Grant Trust and founder of 100 Great Black Britons, said:

“This is the 30th anniversary of Black History Month and the election of the late Bernie Grant, Diane Abbott, Paul Boateng and Keith Vaz as MPs. Tackling racial inequalities still have not been fully achieved. Our manifesto is a demand for our civil and economics rights to be taken seriously and delivered to all political parties.”

Lee Jasper, Blacksox sponsor, said:

“Black and Asian people in the UK today look with trepidation towards an uncertain future in a Brexit Britain. Racial inequality in the UK is now wider than any other time in our history. Hate crime is rising and Black unemployment is at record levels. This no time abandon hope and refuse to vote. It’s time for UK Civil Rights movement.”

Relevant source is OBV Press release: Monday 22nd May 2017, For Immediate Release. Contact OBV press office: 020 8983 5430 / 020 8983 5444 / 07584 177 529 / 07920 057 237

Notes:

OBV is non-partisan political campaigning organisation https://www.raceequality2017.org.uk/

Organisations supporting the ‘Race Equality 2017’ manifesto include:

Runnymede Trust; Aspire Education Group; Coreplan; Ukren; BTEG; Friends, Families and Travellers; BSWN; Blacksox; Father 2 Father; DWC Global; Reallity; Voyage Youth; Race on the Agenda; Every Generation Media; BARAC; JUST Yorkshire; Society of Black Lawyers; Race Equality Foundation; Bernie Grant Trust.

Youth Can Lead Call for Equality and Justice

The Agony Of Aspiration — Progressive Black Youth Are The Solution Not The Problem

Thomas L Blair July 25, 2010

Headlines damning young Blacks as  “neets” – “not in education, employment or training” – heralds a major cultural disaster facing Black Britain this century.

In my opinion youth’s emerging from urban and internet cultures will have benefits not only for themselves but also for Black communities and society. What they need is support for their freedom of expression not benign neglect and judicial, media and statistical lynching.

That Black youth are worthy of inclusion in our search for solutions cannot be denied. Have we forgotten that rebel youth of the 1980s took to the streets and wrote the manifestos for better housing, jobs and education? They forced HRH the Prince of Wales to convene the 1984 Windsor Conference of business leaders, government and community groups to help Black youth into education and employment.

To their credit, radical youth exposed the cultural longings of excluded African and Caribbean peoples.  Bernie Grant, the “African Rebel in the Community and Parliament” welcomed youth’s expression of Black Consciousness. He thundered: “For far too long the Black community has had no voice in Britain and we are seeking to redress that.”

Black youth are confident

Surely, the new standard-bearers for the revitalisation of Black culture must be today’s youth. Those who feel it know it, and there are several good reasons for this legitimacy. Youth are fortunate.  They do not have their parents’ anglophilic love of Britain and obeisance to the cult of the royal family.

Breaking the shackles

Youth are free of the tyrannies of the past. They have not directly suffered the traumas, emotional imperatives and political failures of their mid-20th century forebears.

They have good reasons to be confident. The best of them have succeeded against almost insurmountable odds. Research shows that despite the heavy burdens of race, class, gender and age:

More Black young people continue further study after compulsory schooling

They are banging on the doors of colleges and employers

Additionally, a higher proportion of Afro-British born young people attend institutions of higher education than white working class youth.

It is easy to notice the change in attitude and potential.  The most culturally aware Black youth are finding how liberating Black history can be. They inherit the memories of their long-forgotten rebel ancestors who fought the plantation owners and hastened the abolition of the slave trade.

History records that their grandparents fought valiantly for “Queen and Mother Country” in World War II. They were midwives to the re-birth of badly damaged post-war Britain.  However, drudgery, disappointment and discrimination were their bitter reward. (The 12-year colour bar against West Indian workers at  all London stations only ended in 1966 after complaints by the social and cultural Standing Conference of West Indian Organisations).

Rebel Black voices

Moreover, youth’s confidence comes from a tradition of weaving artefacts, arts and music into political statements. The annual African-Caribbean Notting Hill festival followed the racist murder of Antiguan immigrant Kelso Cochrane in May 1959. The Rastafarian’s dreadlocks under a black, red, gold and green knitted tam signifies African-Caribbean resistance to oppression in Babylon, as Bob Marley famously sang in Burnin’.

Linton Kwesi Johnson

They ken the new sounds and voices that demanded their parents’ attention. Inglan’ is a bitch as the dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson cried out; and the sociologist Paul Gilroy’s There ain’t no Black in the Union Jack fitted their new mood. From their grandparents they must have heard of Marcus Garvey’s fiery message to millions in the Black World: “Pan African self determination, socio-political freedom, physical health and spiritual wealth.”

Youth today can confidently assert a new set of cultural aspirations forged in their polyglot and poor districts. The ranks of African-Caribbean youth of the post-war Jamaican, Trinidadian and West Indian migrants are swelled by African newcomers – the Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalis, Zimbabwean, Ivoreans, Ugandan and Congolese – many with a strong mercantile and independent streak.

Together Afro-British youth can mix Rhyme and Rhythm, with Reason and Resistance. They can heat up  a spicy jerk sauce of rap, hip-hop, afro-jazz and Dub, Rasta reggae, Jamaican slang and street-cred, with a dash of “I’m Black British and proud”.

dizzee rascal

What’s more, they weave popular arts and street cultures into political

statements. Urban artist Dizzee Rascal, son of Ghanaian parents in poorest East London, is a prime example. After struggling through a rocky childhood, he captured the intense anger of “kids in the ‘hood”. Rapping against the arbitrary controls targeting Black people – expulsion from classrooms for being “cheeky”,  police harassment for hanging out and arrest for resisting stop and search orders – he hip-hopped into the charts with youth’s angry anthem: “Respect Me”

“You people gonna respect me if it kills you
I know what your thinkin it’s gone too far now innit
Fuck it
If I dont speak whos gonna speak for me
Stand up for myself in this shit
So fuck you
Unapoligetic.”

The Respect Me lyrics are the property of the respective author, artists and labels, the lyrics are provided for educational purposes only.

Born in the cultural cockpits of urbanism, Black youth’s aspirations have a transformative power. The damned “neets” become the confident, fledging net generation. Armed with the instruments of mobile telephony, they are part of the internet moment in human history. Wired-up youth are the first generation in Black history to have this capacity. Thus, this digital generation of talents will be heard above the storm of racial abuse and harassment. They are Black people’s cyberspace cultural warriors.

What can they do? First, assert their cultural awareness. Their rousing cry should be “A people’s art and cultures are the genesis of freedom and justice”.

They should draw from the two rivers of the African Diaspora that meet in Britain after centuries of brutal separation. African-Caribbean youth and their African mates must act fraternally to assert a new set of cultural aspirations that fit youth’s need in the Information Age.

Bonds of hope connect youth’s past and their digital present and future. Eager young people work on digitising oral histories at the London Metropolitan Archives.  Ex-offenders are taking up arts management projects sponsored by charities, the Arts Council and the government.

Talented youth in schools and community groups discover the pleasures of workshops to develop Black cultural arts – in carnival “play mas”, drumming, storytelling and gospel song.  Young citizen journalists document community lives, family and oral histories. Fashion and media students scour old steamer trunks for their treasure troves of Black style.

This drives forward youth’s aspirations to engage in the cultural economy, production and business. They are even challenging privileged people for cultural awards and internships. Moreover, Black youth are a common sight in the august chambers of the Grandees of High Culture – in the national museums, symphony, ballet and opera companies.

Second, youth must search for life-affirming opportunities. These include conversations with their elders and community religious leaders. Indeed, more youth are joining Black-led institutions – among them the fast-growing mosques and Pentecostalist congregations.

Mass involvement in cultural activities builds self-confidence.  Increasingly, youth are active in libraries, archives and cultural heritage centres. These include the City of London Museum, Liverpool Slavery Museum, Black Cultural Archives, the Bernie Grant Foundation and the Race Relations Centre in Manchester.  This makes them better able to access knowledge than any past generation.

In addition, they are galvanised toward community action.  They appreciate that cultural reform must be based first on gains won in the socio-political arena. “We must learn to use Black culture as springboards to the future”, to paraphrase Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka, poet, playwright and cultural activist.

A digital borderless transatlantic world is on Black youth’s horizon. From their platforms in cyberspace, they will answer the barrage of racially inspired hateful propaganda with creativity and the challenge: “Black Culture is at war”.

Jail Or A Power-Step Up For Black Youth?

The New Black Alpha-Generation Post-Brexit

Will they lead the call for Equality?

The Chronicle World tells who they are and their importance

By Thomas L Blair 27 June 2019 ©

After the in-or-out Brexit chaos is resolved, there’s one thing for sure. The race question will still remain in a divided nation. And Black Britain’s Alpha Generation, the kids born after 2010, have a chance lead the Call for Equality and Justice.

But it’s feared they’ll fall prey to consumerism.  Obsessed with buying things and stuff. Drugged on mindless What’s App-ing. And ignore the unmet demands of the Grenfell Tower survivors and the toilers of the Windrush Generation – their forebears…

Here is a downloadable check list on the origins, challenges and what the Alpha Generation means for the future.

Origins

The Alpha Generation, the distinct offspring of Millennial parents,* were born literally with a smart phone in their hands. They, wake up with a tablet and go to bed with a smartphone on their pillow.

 They prefer to communicate via images, texting and voice control. Tablets are their favourites — particularly popular among younger children like them.

A majority of three- to four-year-olds (55 per cent) are reported to use a tablet. And more than 40 per cent among five- to 15-year-olds own a smartphone and tablet, according to official reports on children’s media use.*

Of course, there is a downside.
The naysayers – worried parents, teachers and child psychologists – are up in arms. They understandably worry about children’s smart media use. The dangers of obsessive over use, visual and lessening human interaction are ever present.

No doubt the Alpha kid’s media use makes them prey to false news and child abuse.

Furthermore, they could fall victim to the dulling drugs of mindless chit-chat and the glittering allure of consumerism.

This is not surprising, because even at just five years old generation the Alphas are inundated with compelling digital ads.

81% of parents with children this age say they watch videos or play games on an electronic device on a daily basis. The result is useless “Google brains” that hinder proper schooling, say experts.

Time to think positively about Black Britain’s Alpha Generation

Nevertheless, I sense there is something about the Alpha kids that makes them so important for Black futures in Britain. And, here’s why.

Young Generation Alpha will grow up interacting with AI and robots, as well as humans. They will play with connected games and toys which respond to commands and demonstrate emotional intelligence. 

They will be at ease with devices that interact with the World Wide Web and mobile operating systems. This makes them the most technologically Black generation ever.

As they grow older and develop verbal skills, voice communication with devices will become common.  By the time they are past their teenage years, their emerging social consciousness will be positive and uplifting.

They’ll trigger social movements with their smartphones, browsing software and mobile operating systems. Handy instruments to gain compensation for their Windrush forebears and aid the justice claims of the Grenfell Tower fire survivors.

New Alpha Generation, New goals, New challenges post-Brexit

The working Black Alpha Generation will take on jobs in the burgeoning IT industries. Chances are that many will eschew formal higher education and opt for cheaper online learning.

New entrepreneurial abilities will take shape. The best minds will add a human dimension to robotics.

Furthermore, activists’ data-crunching algorithms will span the African and Caribbean Diaspora net-ways. To create new digital net-links across inherited divisive colonial, class and island/continental rivalries.

They’ll develop the Instagram, Facebook and SnapChat posts that provoke the best “likes” from their followers.

Going viral with the best ideas and responses they will influence hundreds, maybe thousands – possibly millions — of bloggers and tweeters.

This will add a layer of accessible own-defined, Afro-centric and digitised information about Black culture and identity.

In their maturing years from 2020 to 2030, the Alpha Generation will have the social media savvy, and skills to face up to – and erase — continuing public policy hostility to Black people.

Activists and their social, political and intellectual allies will develop a whole new understanding of what it means to be Black, proud and progressive.

Impossible dream or perfectably doable?

So, will the Alpha Generation make a difference? What will they draw from Black British culture and what will they bequeath to it? Can they be the harbingers of a prosperous and progressive next phase of Black History? And make Britain a fairer place?

They can if they confront race discrimination policy issues in the public realm and:

Focus attention on online activism in areas outside formal political participation;

Promote the new digital technologies that can help information-poor Black communities.

Highlight urban issues, past and present, that impact on Black Britons;

Will Black Futures be brighter or in peril post-Brexit?

No one knows the answers. But I am convinced that, despite all the race-based marginalisation, the Black Alpha Generation can make adifference. They’ll have the ability to radicalise, reinvent and add something distinctive to the core of being Black and leaders in a post-Brexit more democratic Britain.

Black Teenagers and The 2017 Elections — Vote For Greatness In Community And Nation

Your generation has a chance to make its mark 

By Thomas L Blair 25 April 2017, copyright

The Disenfranchised Generation can make a difference now. Black teenagers are poised to put their mark on Britain’s most consequential elections in recent history.

The fight is about what vision of Britain will dominate your future.  Parties opposing the government’s re-election Brexit strategy have set their eyes on you. They aim to corral 750,000 just-turned 18-year-old voters. Among them, Black novices have a chance to deliver their own top-of-the-list concerns.

So far, the June 8 elections have not attracted much excitement. There is no full-throated rebuke of the Conservative government’s anti-European and restrictive immigration policies. Policies that may set the country on an uncertain path at a critical moment.

Yet, one thing is clear for Black communities and voters. This 2017 election will be won or lost on domestic, not solely on foreign policy issues.

Here are some action-thoughts for Black novices as they head to the polling stations.

Housing, jobs, health and opportunities are still at crisis point, and may get worse. Race and faith attacks  are already high over Brexit.

Renewing neighbourhoods and hostile living conditions needs more than talk-talk. Better to light a candle than shout against the spectral darkness.

“Poor-me” moans will not banish two under covered issues — homelessness and human trafficking. And it turns out they go together. The Balm of Gilead won’t protect homeless youth at great risk of being trafficked for sex.

Furthermore, teenagers must vote to curb knife crimes. This scourge of Black families is hovering on the edge of self-genocide. On this issue, voting a politician in or out is more effective than your loved ones tears.

Black teenage voters need to seize this historic opportunity. They can vote for an outreach to immigrants, acceptance of different faiths, as well as ethnic diversity. They can challenge “British first” policies that are dangerous and sectarian.

In London, where Blacks voted overwhelmingly to Remain in the EU, they can target 45 Labour MPs, 26 Conservative MPs, and two  Liberal Democrat MPs. The key ideas and strategies are clear:

Organise political self-education

Draft Youth Priorities and write a Social Contract to influence political action

Participate in citizen consultations, human rights clubs and workplace activities

Create online platforms and radio programs to broadcast youth’s concerns

Moreover, there is one over-riding task for  new Black teenage voters: that is to support creative action to heal a politically fractured country. Greatness is in your hands.

Why Black Publisher’s Books For Kids Matter

MISEDUCATION LIMITS A CHILD’S IMAGINATION

THEMED BOOKS CREATE EMPLOYABLE, WISER ADULTS

WOMEN PUBLISHERS LEADING THE WAY

ADVOCATES MUST CREATE CHARTER FOR INCLUSION

ROOT RACISM OUT OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS

By Thomas L Blair 31 December 2021 rev 17/01/22©

All children deserve to see themselves in the books they read. However, Black British children hardly ever see positive images of themselves and their Caribbean, African and diaspora communities. With corrosive effects, in the view of Grenada-born Verna Wilkins publisher of children’s books.

THE DIRE FACTS
The enormity of the problem is clear. An estimated 30% of school children in England are from ethnic minority backgrounds. However, the voices and the world portrayed in UK children’s books are largely white. Fuelling concern, too, is the fact that less than 6% of published creators of children’s books are people of colour, according to BookTrust researchers.

THE BIG ISSUE IS HOW TO RESPOND TO THIS DEFICIT

Now, forward-looking Black publishers are filling the gap and creating edu-taining books for kids with stories and images that look them – not Goldilocks. And we have rounded up some of their tales — ranging from brave kids and great friendships to unforgettable true stories told under an ancient Baobab tree.

BLACK PUBLISHERS PRODUCE THEMED BOOKS FOR ALL AGES

Suspense is a winner. Is the distraught child going to find the lost adorable Black baby doll? Can teenagers convince their parents to let them wear Black Lives Matter tee-shirts? Is the Black girl going to realise she’s beautiful and save the world? You are expelled from school at 15: how did you become a world-famous poet?

I Love my Daddy. What’s something nice to give him on Father’s Day?

The letter J: What shall we have for dinner tonight?  J for Jollof rice or J for Jamaican Rice and peas?

Why not C for mother’s beautiful Cornrow hair style and her tasty Callaloo soup.

All kids love tales of explorers’ amazing feats against the odds. Polar Preet: Battling the South Pole’s piercing wind and snow, British Asian Captain Preet Chandi became the first woman of colour – and Sikh — to make the 700-mile journey in 40 days. Inspirational picture book. 

Adventurer Barbara Hillary 88-year-old was the first African American woman on record to reach both the North Pole and the South Pole. Titled Explorers — Illustrated with maps and scenes of sea and ice, space and land.

“Why Can’t I Be Me?” Themed illustrated books on current issues are increasingly important, too. Race equality and Black Lives Matter, gender identity, sexual orientation and family diversity are prime examples. Suitable for ages 7-11, these guide books make emotion-charged family table and schoolyard topics easier to explain to children.

WHAT BLACK PUBLISHERS SAY AND AIM TO DO

Even at reading age 2-5 years old, being read to by mum and dad or granny and grandpa can be a transformative experience, says former BBC journalist Sonya McGilchrist of Dinosaur Books. Her book-listed Journey to Benin City, set in the medieval Benin Empire, links suitably to the national KS2 curriculum.  

Black-owned publisher and bookseller Jacaranda Books publishes award-winning diverse, inclusive literature for young adults.  Founder Valerie Brandes aimed to create a platform for under-represented voices from Africa, the Caribbean and the Diaspora.

Formy Books, an independent family-run publisher, creates a diverse range of attractive and inclusive children’s books. Owners are passionate about encouraging Black creative talent.

Black hero books can be a booster for children ages 5 to 11 who often lack confidence and feel voiceless.  Sowing self-worth and challenging colourism or shadeism is increasingly important, says Verna Wilkins. She founded Tamarind Books when shocked to find her five-year-old son coloured himself pink in a school booklet.

Suitable for young adults, New Beacon Press features Jamaica Airman: A Black Airman in Britain 1943.

Rosemarie Hudson’s Hope Road Publishers lists writers and stories from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean too often neglected by the mainstream book industry.

MC Grammar (Jacob Mitchell), a schoolteacher, rapper and father of three, believes “interactive learning can change children’s lives”. He is leading the trend in online digital books. Many are song books for four to 11-year-olds to teach them about the English language.

TANGIBLE BENEFITS
Exciting, page-turning adventures can be both educational and entertaining for all ages. Books can be enjoyable as well as teach language and numerical, conceptual or motor skills. Inquisitive students can create their own virtual library of favourites to share ideas through virtual socialising with friends.

These efforts will counter the mainstream publishing industry’s resistance to inclusion and change. Books that are diverse and inclusive in content and production have a positive value. They help young readers reach their full potential. Producing them is not only an ethical imperative but also a sound business model for Black publishers. And here are some reasons why.

KIDS BOOKS CAN LINK GENERATIONS 

Black publishers, writers and illustrators are well placed to produce books about the Black freedom struggle. Read to by parents, kids and young adults can take pride in Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman’s stories and poems of anti-slavery Unheard Voices.

Family history and relationships link generations. Cuddled on Granny’s lap, they can marvel at books that tell of the historic first landing of pioneering post-war West Indians. Poet Benjamin Zephaniah   brilliantly emphasises this in his Windrush Boy. Writer Ferdinand Dennis eloquently portrays the Black presence in London in his Black and White Museum book. Educator and musician Alex Pascall  shares his good vibes with young Teletubbies and schoolchildren.  

THEMED BOOKS CREATE EMPLOYABLE, WISER YOUNG ADULTS
Stories of romance, surprise and delight are nice, but publishers should not shy away from being practical. Young adults with social media skills can be the hub of community inter-networks. They can also boost their employability in the info-tech and digital labour markets.

SO, WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
Black publishers for kids’ books matter. Why? Because major issues must be tackled. One, is the lack of diversity and inclusion in the publishing industry, says Natalie Jerome Literary Agent at Curtis Brown Group. Two, it is necessary to counter the damaging effects of an uncaring school system identified in  Bernard Coard’s How the West Indian Child is Made Educationally Sub-normal in the British School System (1971)

BLACK PUBLISHERS OF KID’S BOOKS MUST ACT TO CREATE CHANGE
One way to do this is to link with the British KS2 national curriculum and help create school reading plans. Another is to produce books that give a fascinating insight into the tireless and wide-reaching activism of unique individual, communities and organisations. See The Legacy of John La Rose: The Book of the Exhibition New Beacon Press

Young adults can be introduced to modern Black activists. These might include journalist Claudia Jones of Notting Hill carnival fame, Bernie Grant MP reparations champion, fierce anti-apartheid Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela revered freedom fighter and first president of South Africa.

DEFY THE ODDS: KEEP GROWING

Publishing books for kids is not just something that’s “good” to do. Of course, the goal is more good books featuring characters that are produced by Black authors and illustrators. But edu-taining children of all ages helps grow their self-confidence and positive communication skills.

To do this, Black publishers of kids’ books must open up their own markets for Black readers. These include creating Podcast discussions by child educators, behavioural psychologists, community leaders and librarians about kid’s books.

Admittedly, achieving these goals means taking risks.  But it’s worth it. Publishing books that are diverse and inclusive in content and production is not only an ethical imperative but also a sound business model.

CREATE FRESH MARKETING STRATEGIES

The aim is to increase positive Black representation across all genres in children’s literature. For example:

Draw from the pool of prize winners in the prestigious Caine Prize for African Literature  

Aim to win The Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by a Writer of Colour

Enter the Bare Lit Festival  an annual event that promotes the writing of people of colour;

DEVELOP PUBLISHING COMPETENCE AND SCOPE

Improve skills in Podcast technology, writer development schemes and publisher’s awareness sessions

Challenge mainstream houses to incorporate inclusion and diversity into their infrastructure and search methods 

Monitor impacts and significant improvements.

Keep up with the latest reports laying the foundations for change, such as The Writing the Future report, commissioned by Spread the Word in 2015.

PAY DUE RESPECT TO THE PIONEERS

Caribbean publishers, bookshops and literary movements dominated the 1960s-70s in Britain.

Eric and Jessica Huntley’s Bogle L’Ouverture Publishing house aimed to create children’s literature that educated and rallied youth to the tune of Bob Marley’s strident anthem — Get up. Stand up for your rights.

John La Rose’s New Beacon Press encouraged parent-child schooling and grassroots activism in Britain and the Caribbean.

The Caribbean Artists Movement organised writers, artists and critics from the English-speaking Caribbean.

ROOT OUT RACISM IN KIDS BOOKS

Black advocacy and literary movements against racism in children’s books have a long history — well worth reflecting on today. The Golliwog stories created in 1895 were seen by many white British and American parents as innocuous cuddle-up tales associated with childhood. But Caribbean and African Americans considered Golly as an anti-Black caricature associated with pickaninnies, minstrels and mammy figures.

In response a century ago Professor W E B Du Bois — the ‘Father of Sociology’ — created The Brownies’ Book that helped 1920s kids navigate racism. When the mainstream publishing culture denied Black children their humanity — he urged his readers to see “Beauty in Black”.

Du Bois set the standards and the platform of excellence so necessary today. He said this book “aims to be a thing of Joy and Beauty, dealing in Happiness, Laughter and Emulation. Designed especially for Kiddies from Six to Sixteen it will seek to teach Universal Love and Brotherhood for all little folk, he pledged.

BLACK WOMEN LEADING THE WAY

Black women are and have always been leaders in publishing in Britain. Some included in this article have challenged, shaped and changed the UK publishing industry. Prominent others include Margaret Busby of Ghanaian heritage, current Chair of the Booker Prize, and the first Black woman publisher in Britain.  Of Sierra Leonean descent, Kadija George is a co-director of Peepal Tree Press’s writer development programme, and researcher on the work of Independent Black Publishing within the creative industries.

CREATE A CHARTER FOR CARIBBEAN AND AFRICAN VOICES IN CHILDREN’S BOOKS

The lack of true images of Black characters reveals the fatal flaws in the British publishing industry. Black staff are few in number and you are probably more likely to see an animal as the lead character in a children’s book than a person of colour, it is reported.

Therefore the tasks ahead for Black publishers are clear. Create a charter of principles and obligations.

One, Black publishers should aim to break down employment barriers.

Two, they should challenge stereotypes that linger long after Agatha Christie’s offensive children’s rhymes “Ten Little Niggers” and  “Ten Little Indians”.  

Three, they should encourage children’s communication and thinking skills and abilities to counter social media disinformation.

Four, they should seek to ensure that every child can access and enjoy great books that portray a culturally diverse society.

Five, they must encourage pupils, parents and communities to explore their roots in Africa, the Caribbean and links with kith and kin in the global diaspora.

Planting the seed of self-worth is essential for Black children in a hostile society. In the harvest, they will prove worthy of the sacrifices their forebears made to gain racial justice — and know why the struggle continues and they must carry on.

 

 

 ‘Change the Colour of the News’, Journalists Say

Heads-Up Blinkered Black Scribes — Write The Wrongs Of Media Prejudice

Yet another pleading Letter to Media Editors won’t change the “Colour of the News”.
But here are the issues to challenge, overcome and the opportunities to create

By Thomas L Blair, rev. 05 March 2019 ©

The pathway to media equality and equity for Black scribes is littered with hate-bombs: Low status. Less esteem, Wage gaps. No job mobility. Uncaring editors and media barons. But the so-called “diversity manifesto” of the newly-created 100 member Black Journalists Collective UK (BJCUK) fails on several counts. Failure to recognise the roots of media prejudices. Neglect to appreciate the history of Black protest against media excesses. Failure to target the media’s unmet commitments.

Let’s recap the manifesto. Introduced by Marverine Cole, Journalist, Broadcast & Academic at Birmingham City University, an unsigned Letter to Editors claims that Black journalists are not treated equally. They remain dramatically underrepresented and undervalued in all the medias. Their absence leads to “the poor and misleading quality of reporting related to people of colour in the UK”.

The Black Journalists Collective’s letter urges editors to improve recruitment and close the ethnicity pay gap. [Only 0.2% of working journalists are black and only 0.4% are Muslim]. The result could be “newsrooms that reflect the society they serve”. Otherwise, “the poor and misleading quality of reporting related to people of colour in the UK” will persist.

Sounds great, right? It would be if it reflected reality. But the letter-writing Black journalists failed to draw on the decades-old issues in Britain’s race and the media history. Issues that are relevant for everyone involved in journalism, both professionals and trainees, whether working in print, broadcast or the new media.  

On employment: Decades ago, Dr. Beulah Ainley, author of Black Journalists, White Media, noted that Black and Asian faces were rare among Britain’s journalists who gather and process the nation’s news. Twelve to 20 Black journalists were employed during the mid-1990s in national newspapers, out of a workforce of 3000.  Furthermore, a 1998 study of sixty newspapers exposed a wall of silence, according to a diversity research project by The Chronicle Internet magazine and The Freedom Forum European Centre.

On the shortage of Black applications: We know that editors falsely disputed these figures. They claimed the cause is a shortage of suitable applicants from minorities and not a shortage of institutional will. Yet, “Not only did Black people apply for journalism training and jobs but they did so for months and sometimes years”, said the NUJ Journalist, December 1998.

On the history of newsrooms negative attitudes: Six decades ago in 1958, rabble-rousing white youths attacked Notting Hill Blacks screaming “niggers out”. Then the Daily Mail published an incendiary piece headlined ‘Should We Let Them Keep Coming In?’, and called  for tighter immigration controls. Seems like little has changed in these strife-torn Brexit days.

On Black media workers protest: Protesting media inequality is not new – it was pioneered in the 1970s by the Black Media Workers Association led by Dianne Abbott, now Labour MP, and the NUJ-backed Race Relations Working Party. Editors and owners resisted them every time.

On the Media’s response: Positive race-centred social policy interventions have failed. Now famous inquiries damned the appalling media responses to “race disorders”. Most important indictments came from the Brixton Inquiry and Scarman Report in 1982 and the Lawrence Inquiry and Macpherson Report that appeared eighteen years later in 1999.

On failed commitments: Journalist and Professor Richard Keeble said “Clearly there is evidence that managers fail to keep up the momentum of their commitments to race equality practices”, in his Ethics for Journalists book

On dumbing down Black and foreign news: The marginalisation of African and Asian news is part of the general failure of the media’s presentation of foreign news. Journalist Martyn Lewis noted in 1993 that TV correspondents writing success stories were side-lined by the stereotyped newsroom view of Africa “racked by war, famine, corruption and Aids”.

Critics argue that such attitudes still prevail. Recently, the fund raising Comic Relief halted its use of white celebrities for appeals in Africa. Described by an aid watchdog as “poverty tourism” that reinforce white saviour stereotypes”, reports The Guardian.

On race bias in reporting: Down the production line, racial prejudice impedes accurate reports. Twenty thousand protestors challenged “racist reporting” of the New Cross fire on Black People’s Day of Action, 2 March 1981.

Protests followed the Guardian’s discredited Broadwater Farm story. They reported that “In 1985, the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham erupted. Fuelled by racism, social exclusion, police brutality, poverty and the like, youths took to the streets”.

The MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, provides an excellent explanation of the inflammatory media coverage of the 2011 London and national riots in his book Out of the Ashes.

Young Black men were systematically portrayed negatively as crime-prone in the mainstream media, according to the REACH study of 2011.

In sum, The Collective’s letter did not report the perils of British race-media history: media prejudices, Black protest, and unmet commitments to equality and equity.

The new Black journalist –Press for Progress and a FAIR MEDIA

Newsrooms need history-smart, socially conscious Black journalists to change the colour of the news. The challenge is to construct a FAIR MEDIA and more accurate presentations of Black people. The best and most competent adversaries will recall that the abolitionist Frederick Douglass’s North Star spoke to and for Black people out of a history of anti-slavery protest in London and the colonies.

Of course invigorated Black scribes will ply their trade [they are paid to do it]. But the prize-winners will write newsworthy stories that reveal something new, surprising, creative and significant about Black and minority ethnic communities.

Furthermore, a hardy band of comrades will mark the critical issues involved in journalism, for students, trainees and professionals. They’ll challenge British newsrooms run as private and racially exclusive clubs.

Advocates know that occasionally liberally minded media barons can and do offer Black journalists outstanding prospects and salaries. But what the Collective fails to understand is that media restrictive practices are unfair. Concessions to them won’t change things – or save their jobs.

However,the prototypes for success are at hand. Staples are special training programmes and strategies to recruit, promote and retain minority staff. Black journalists should require no less than zero tolerance of discrimination. And urge close monitoring of the performance and attitudes of senior managers.

In truth, Black journalists can be strongly on the side of Black people and still pitch themselves to insist on a FAIR MEDIA FOR ALL. But it will take more than pleading to uncaring editors and media barons who influence public opinion. And here are the pillars of change.  

Create human resource managers and race equality employment practices in newsgathering and publishers organisations

Affirm that discriminatory restrictive practices break acknowledged fair employment practices

Improve race relations and pay standards throughout the media industry

Warn media regulatory bodies and trade associations that persistent race-media delinquents must not be tolerated

Encourage unbiased policies and actions from the professional organisations — the Newspaper Publishers Association, the Society of Editors and the Society of Newspaper Editors

Write the Every Teacher’s Manual for the journalism schools that feed graduates into the industry’s newsrooms.

Enhance opportunities to influence debate on press and broadcasting freedom, ethics and the culture and business of news media.

Challenge diversity fatigue in the media industry and the BBC

Organise a National Association of Black Journalists

Establish fraternal alliances with African, Caribbean and diaspora news outlets and forge trans-Atlantic alliances with the US National Associations of Black, Asian and Latino journalists

Moreover, new-style Black journalists must tell media owners, advertisers and marketers that the media public is growing more diverse in interests and demands. Blacks and Asians are now significant part the media public: therefore,  they are readers and consumers to be catered for.

Call for Action for Black Journalists and the media

Clearly, Black journalists have a harder row to hoe than whites do. Crucially, they must cast off the blinkers — and halters, too. Black scribes, the past is not past. The present is not post-racial. And you are free to progress new ideas that wash away the stale old ones clogging up the newsrooms.

Think about a future in mainstream media industries. Create the hotbed of new ideas inside the newsrooms. You’ll know you’ve built a future when history-armed Black journalists report the wellsprings of creativity in predominantly Black neighbourhoods and social housing.  You’ll feel it when you “write the wrongs of media prejudice”. And you’ll know it when you get your awards for accurately depicting and engaging with Black public intellectuals, innovative activists, ethnic migrants, students, workers and artists, and Asian and white allies.

Moreover, why not launch the first Black British E-zine to inform, educate and entertain subscribers. Why not develop your skills in immersive journalism, producing news that gives people the chance to gain first-person experiences of events and situations described in news stories. Delivered via the internet, smart media and email you can reach thousands of Millennials and Alpha generation youth. Launched a Not-for-Profit enterprise that’s independent and low-cost, you will be  your own writers, editors and cooperative proprietors in charge. WHY NOT???

Black scribes, by your actions three things will surely happen. Old race-biased habits and barriers in the mainstream newsrooms will crumble. Media bosses wil value innovative news gatherers and commentators. And 21st century Black communities will benefit.

CAVEAT CANEM – Letter to the spokesperson.  Why the anonymity?

Dear Ms Marverine Cole
Director of the BA (Hons) Journalism course
Birmingham City University

Your Letter to Editors claims the 100-member Black Journalists Collective (BJCUK) “work across the industry at organisations including The Guardian, the Daily Mirror, Sky News, BBC News and ITN, the home of ITV News, Channel 4 News and 5 News”. https://twitter.com/BJCUK1 However, critics raise some important concerns.

Unnamed journalists –Why haven’t “the 100” signed the Letter to Editors? 

  • What are their professional credentials?
  • What posts do they hold — trainee, fulltime, freelance, reporters, broadcasters, editorial, management — or other including college and journalism school lecturers/professors?
  • How did you recruit them?
  • Are they members of the National Union of Journalists and Black Members Council?
  • How many and what proportion are Black British of African, Afro-Caribbean and Diaspora roots — and how many are white, Asian and “other”?
  • Have fellow non-Collective Black journalists and community leaders read and confirmed your Letter?
  • What is the Collective’s stand in the bruising battle of race-media issues the Chronicleworld describes.

Indeed, what prompted the Letter?  Why the anonymity? And how many editors have replied in support since your launch, asks the veteran newsman Alex Pascall OBE. He is the former chair of the NUJ Black Members Council and member of the NUJ National Executive Council and main speaker for the 2019 Claudia Jones Lecture Series named after the founder of the first modern Black newspaper, the West Indian Gazette and Afro-Asian Caribbean News.

I’m sure you will agree that in these troubled times – of the Grenfell tower fire tragedy and the Windrush Generation debacle and deportations — Black journalists have a crucial role to play in constructing a FAIR MEDIA for the 21st century.

Aroused Black Journalists Blast British Media on Racism

BUT MUST DRAW STRENGTH FROM THEIR ROOTS AND CITIZENS JOURNALISTS

By Thomas L Blair, 18 March 2021 © member National Union of Journalists

Campaigning with a conscience, hundreds of leading mainstream Black journalists and freelancers have posted  an open letter to the whites-mainly, “we are not racists” Society of Editors, once again. This time in the aftermath of the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, bombshell claim of UK media abuse and bigotry in their interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Admittedly the letter writers aim at persuasion and put their position on public record. But it will take more than periodic and decades of damning letters to influence uncaring, news profiteers – the editors and media barons.

Take heed: Rehabilitating the media is a sham if only the powerful and majority culture is given the means to voice their reality and experiences

So, what to do? Now is the time to gain strength from their proud history, recognise the value of the new social media innovators and organise for a stronger collective future.

REMEMBER YOUR ROOTS IN THE UNIVERSITY OF ADVERSITY

First, gain strength of purpose from the iconic forebears — the graduates of the University of Adversity. Honour the earliest Black American abolitionists and suffragettes writing and lecturing in Great Britain and Ireland circa 1845-1894.  Frederick Douglass, editor of the North Star, famously said “If there is no struggle, there is no progress… Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”  Ida B Wells exploited as many connections to Victorian print culture as she could to maximize her message:  “to tell the black people’s side of the story”.

Dig deep in Amy Ashwood Garvey’s Caribbean News and Claudia Jones’ West Indian Gazette who trumpeted the Black British perspective in the mid-20th century: Jobs, Self-development and Trade Union Solidarity.  Be heartened by Aubrey Baynes who’s West Indian World countered media prejudice “to illuminate the dark corners by printing the truth’.

 APPEAL TO SOCIAL MEDIA INNOVATORS

Second, diversity and Inclusion are essential elements of a functioning, free and equal media and society. Supplement traditional news reporting on Black communities with informative content from blogs, websites and Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Scroll through Black Cyberspace for headline stories. Straight from the unfiltered, real-time conversations, opinions, activities, between consumers and influencers, often across racial and faith lines.

Click on the Black Journalists’ Collective UK, a support network seeking to embrace and elevate Black journalists and entrants to news work.

Visit the Black Cultural Archives to discover how Black people have strived to record their histories, while speaking for and representing themselves.

Browse Gal-Dem to gain the perspectives of people of colour from marginalised genders. Tweet Black Ballad a   lifestyle platform telling the human experience through eyes of black British women.

Monitor the advocacy campaigners The Institute of Race Relations and The Ubele Initiative.

Blog with The Muslim News and Keep the Faith on equality issues facing ethnic and faith communities. Try messaging with Marcus Ryder MBE, media diversity academic at Birmingham City University.

CHARTING THE FUTURE

The unrepresentative nature of the media is rightly a concern. Black journalists of the past never pretended to maintain news balance. Nor did they believe that it was a necessary element of good journalism. They recognised that “neutral coverage” in the mainstream media reinforces white supremacy. So they eschewed “objectivity” and focused on portraying the truth of racial injustice.

Therefore, Black journalists have more to do than write polemic letters to media hypocrites.  It’s time to associate together – cementing bonds and gaining the strength of solidarity.

Time to learn from their own history and the social media innovators.

Time to reject the bosses and algorithms in charge of what the Black audience reads and thinks.

Time to organise and act with communities to shape British Black journalism in the future, without fear or favour.

 

Cyber-action for Social Change

March 16, 2008

Afro-Blogosphere – New Frontier For Black Advancement

Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith. After a decade of reporting on the Black Experience, I’ve given our Internet news magazine a reality check.

For more than a decade, The Chronicleworld.org website has proved to be an effective commentary on social prejudices that malign people of colour.

Now, with the new Chronicleworld’s Weblog, I’ll be blogging to help information-poor communities create a strong base in cyberspace for their aims and demands.

This is no misty-eyed dream. People’s wants and needs are terrestrial, and real world solutions to social problems must be found. Political leaders and information power brokers must be challenged to supply them.

But the crucial point is that communities using the Internet and new technologies gain an advantage. They can increase the pressure for pay-offs in economic, cultural, political and democratic dividends.

Eminent Black scientists – such as mathematician-engineer Philip Emeagwali, “a father of the Internet” and Cheikh Modibo Diarra, astro-physicist and head of Bill Gates’ Microsoft Africa – have given us the info-tech tools. And, in my view, political blogging and cyberaction can help information-poor communities begin to shape equitable societies and nations.

Future occasional postings will explore key issues about the Afro-Blogosphere and political blogging for advancement. Among them: Is blogging a toy or a tool? What are the benefits and disadvantages? Who gains and who loses?

April 26, 2008

Cyberaction For Social Change

Citizen journals are a mighty force for Info-freedom

“Honest and unfiltered”. That’s the future of online journalism. Ordinary citizens will publish top quality articles, blogs and reports in “citizen journals”.

Some bloggers will watch-dog the work of conventional journalists, public relations agents, thought-controllers and spin-doctors.Others will challenge media chiefs, bosses and elected officials to monitor biases, inaccuracies and racial stereotypes in the mainstream press in print broadcasting and online.

That’s why I was so delighted to win this year’s highly-prized blogging competition sponsored by The-Latest, the citizen journal on the Internet.

The judging panel saluted my journal article, “Deaths expose France’s hidden racism”, as “A gripping and vivid blog”. It opened a new chapter in the debate “on what it means to be Black and French in the Land of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity”. A challenge that is not without significance in all western nations.

Fierce competition

Speaking at the award luncheon in a London restaurant, Marc Wadsworth, editor of the popular UK-based citizen journal, said: “The competition was fierce. There was some excellent writing on issues ranging from improving London’s public transport to reporting on market life in China”.

Deborah Hobson, contributing editor, presented the journal’s award and said “the judges’ decision was unanimous”. She hoped to continue to attract innovative bloggers and make The-Latest “a real contender to mainstream media”.  Furthermore, citizen journalism is part of her winning strategy for the future. She wants to give bloggers more space for their reports and images. And, Hobson and her colleagues, hope that “getting more readers from overseas will put our journal on the international radar with some scoops in words and images”

Innovative blogging sought

Speaking of which, promoting blogging is close to the horizon of my own interests. But, as I insisted in my after-lunch remarks, blogging and citizen journalism, however well-intentioned, without firm editorial direction will run the risk of being merely a fringe element of how politics is done and communicated.

Warming up to the subject, I said that the rush for headline grabbin headlines and “breaking news” reported by bloggers hardly ever leads to beneficial social change. Moreover, much of what is offered in citizen journals is a crude mix of personality cult-ism, ad-hoc opinions, frivolous comment, unsavoury gossip and downright nonsense masquerading as journalism.

One popular complaint is that it is difficult for concerned individuals to find practical, concise, balanced information written in a user-friendly style about relevant issues. What is sorely needed, it seems to me, is a structured guide to promoting information freedom, especially to raise up the voices of the public, consumers, low-income workers and racially oppressed sections of society.

 Emerging social movement

Therefore, I welcomed the award not only for myself but as one of a growing number of bloggers for  information freedom. Political blogging and citizen journals can be powerful antidotes to media misinformation and political manipulation. Everywhere, they add to an informed, democratic political dialogue.

In this regard, we in western nations have a lot to learn from bloggers and citizen reporters in developing countries. Surfprisingly, in the vanguard are Black cyber-organisers, journalists, and Internet community leaders in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, Britain, Europe and America. They aim to end the digital divide between the information-haves and the powerless have-nots (http://www.citizenjournalismafrica.org). They affirm that the way forward is using the tools of modern technology “to create, augment or fact-check media on their own or in collaboration with others”.

The way forward
With this in mind, I welcomed The-Latest award as a tribute to the pioneers of a new Internet social movement. Partisans of the fledging movement are battling from a central premise: people talking to people, and sharing diverse perspectives, can propose honest answers to troubling questions using the new technologies.

Whenever and wherever they come together with a collective voice, striking a blow for information freedom, then that’s what citizen journalism in a digital world should be all about.

Copyright and author Thomas L Blair 2008

For further of exploration of these ideas, see http://www.chronicleworld.org, Archive 06, 10/12/05 “Taming the Internet. Excluded Black populations worldwide, once written off as orphans of the digital revolution, are using computers and the Internet to ensure their place on the information superhighway, new research shows”. 

Movements for Unity

June 2, 2017

Black Mental Health Care In Crisis, Activists Warn

Here’s the Chronicleworld’s 9 “Why-to” and “How-to” Ways to Build Cultures of Health and Well-being

By Thomas L Blair, 11 November 2017© rev 13 Nov

The 70th anniversary of Britain’s National Health Service is poised to be the toughest financial year for Black mental health services.

In response, local councillor Jacqui Dyer MBE and political activist Patrick Vernon  are campaigning for Black Thrive, a partnership for Black Well-being. This in Lambeth, the London borough with a Black mayor, Cllr Marcia Cameron.

This is “precisely the time to dig seriously deep for money, because the impact of austerity is creating even more mental illness as people struggle to survive”, warned Dyer. African and Caribbean residents are over-represented and least served in the mental health services. A fact “ignored for far too long”, in Lambeth borough still reeling from the death in police custody of Black psychiatric patient Sean Riggs.

The horrific statistics spurred Dyer’s good intentions. For example:“Lambeth has the highest rate of psychiatric detention under the Mental Health Act in England”, according to the Black Mental Health Commission, and two-thirds are of Black African and Caribbean background.

Given the scale and depth of the crisis,  the plain truth is that mentally ill Black people are short-changed by the system. They are more like to be subject to sectioning and medication, lethal physical restraint, agonising death or incarceration — and there is no support after they are released.

No wonder communities and stricken individuals are reluctant to engage with services, and so much more ill when they do. Hence, the rise in human wreckage will reach disastrous levels every year help and hope are denied.

Humbling pleas of inequality and under–funding of Black Mental Health Care (BMHC) will not work in these tight budget years.  Therefore, activists must pledge to create their own development plan and raise the social capital to fund it. Here are nine principles and strategies to achieve this.

Recognise that the Black Mental Health Care “crisis” is more than just a funding problem. Its roots are in the biased distribution of mental health services. Made worse by people-destructive priorities in the economy and society. The solution must include community-led self-study and mutual aid with the support of  Lambeth’s mayor Cllr Marcia Cameron.

Learn from communities building productive cultures of health and well-being, especially in the Black diaspora homelands, in Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas.

Create your Knowledge Base with culture-appropriate local surveys, observations and experiences.

Lead in training local mental health clinicians to deliver the evidence for prevention, treatment, and health promotion.

Launch Fair Media guides for journalists to encourage balanced reporting.

Ensure that mental illness, in individuals and groups, is covered by insurance at parity with other illnesses.

Support a community-led agenda with the assistance of key agencies, administrations and organisations, and scientists, clinicians, psychiatrists and anti-stigma campaigns.

Promote voluntary philanthropy for Black Mental Health Care among wealthy Black celebrities and the better-off classes.

Organise legal and medical defence groups to champion the rights of Black people with and prone to mental illnesses.

As you can see, this Chrononicleworld approach  encourages self-reliance, not moralisms,  hollow rhetoric and pleading. Rather, it complements righteous anger with positive programs worked out in their minute particulars. This is precisely the forward thinking that is required.

NOTE: For further information: Get Connected , browse the web read the Chronicleworld article on the problems and solutions to deaths in custody. Serious comments and debate are welcome.-

+++++++

For your information:

THE MAYOR OF LAMBETH

COUNCILLOR MARCIA CAMERON (2017/2018)

Councillor Cameron was inaugurated as the Mayor of Lambeth on Wednesday 19 April 2017 at the Annual Meeting of the Council. Cameron said ‘I am extremely proud to have been given this opportunity, to represent the people of Lambeth in the borough that I was born in and grew up in and I am looking forward to meeting residents, local groups, organisations and businesses during my term of office’.  Councillor Cameron has been a councillor for Tulse Hill Ward since 2006.

Campaigners Power Up The Black And Minority Ethnic (Bme) Vote 

By  Thomas L Blair 02 June 2017 copyright

If you want to see the pathologies of contemporary politics and society laid out for you,  with some clues to what equality groups are demanding, read on.

“Britain is at a crossroads on race equality, Brexit, immigration and identity say, a coalition of race equality organisations. Their Manifesto for Race Quality aims to ” put fairness and equal life chances for Britain’s Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. So that we can all face future challenges together, equally”.

Moreover, they demand:

  • A comprehensive government-wide race equality strategy;
  • Brexit negotiations must be “race equality-proofed” to safeguard rights protecting citizens against discrimination;
  • A new law prohibiting online hate which forces social media firms to take action.

The online manifesto features a new analysis of the power of the Black and ethnic minority (BME) vote in this snap general election.

A Power of the Black Vote report found that 45 of the top 50 most marginal seats have BME electorates larger than the 2015 majority. See https://goo.gl/6cPA91

Operation Black Vote coordinated the Race Equality 2017 coalition. Simon Woolley, Director of Operation Black Vote, said:

“Britain is at a crossroads on Brexit, immigration, and British identity. How these issues play out in this snap election will determine the country’s direction for a generation. The key question is to what extent will Black and minority ethnic communities (BME) be involved in this debate?

“Persistent race inequalities in employment, education, housing and the criminal justice system has meant and lack of social mobility for BME children growing up to be adults is nothing short of a scandal. Many do succeed despite the barriers but too many fail to have their potential recognised much less fulfilled. That is why we are calling for a government-wide race equality strategy to root out racial inequality wherever it lurks in the system.

Key members of the coalition put their race equality views on record.

Dr Omar Khan, Director of the Runnymede Trust, said:

“Given the persistence and extent of racial inequalities we need the next government to have an actual plan to reduce racial inequalities, not just warm words. With post-Brexit Britain raising existential questions about who we are, we also need the next government to affirm that race equality is a core British value and that minorities won’t see their rights and protections weakened”

Viv Ahmun, from Blacksox, said:

“Unemployment of 30% amongst 16-24 year old Black people in comparison to just 13% amongst white people of the same age is a shocking disparity that feeds into and drives the poverty of opportunity that underpins rises in violence and mental ill health. The next government must do more to increase opportunities for employment and business development within BAME communities.”

Zita Holbourne, National Chair, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK and National Vice President, Public and Commercial Services Union, said:

“Austerity combined with institutional racism is impacting disproportionately on BAME workers. Our manifesto seeks to address the adverse impacts of cuts on BAME workers from redundancies in the public sector having a double impact on BAME women to zero hour contracts meaning young BAME workers have no job security, whilst addressing the structural systems of discrimination that already existed before cuts, in appraisal, promotion, progression and recruitment. Race Equality should be a right, not a privilege.”

Patrick Vernon OBE, trustee of Bernie Grant Trust and founder of 100 Great Black Britons, said:

“This is the 30th anniversary of Black History Month and the election of the late Bernie Grant, Diane Abbott, Paul Boateng and Keith Vaz as MPs. Tackling racial inequalities still have not been fully achieved. Our manifesto is a demand for our civil and economics rights to be taken seriously and delivered to all political parties.”

Lee Jasper, Blacksox sponsor, said:

“Black and Asian people in the UK today look with trepidation towards an uncertain future in a Brexit Britain. Racial inequality in the UK is now wider than any other time in our history. Hate crime is rising and Black unemployment is at record levels. This no time abandon hope and refuse to vote. It’s time for UK Civil Rights movement.”

Relevant source is OBV Press release: Monday 22nd May 2017, For Immediate Release. Contact OBV press office: 020 8983 5430 / 020 8983 5444 / 07584 177 529 / 07920 057 237

Notes:

OBV is non-partisan political campaigning organisation https://www.raceequality2017.org.uk/

Organisations supporting the ‘Race Equality 2017’ manifesto include:

Runnymede Trust; Aspire Education Group; Coreplan; Ukren; BTEG; Friends, Families and Travellers; BSWN; Blacksox; Father 2 Father; DWC Global; Reallity; Voyage Youth; Race on the Agenda; Every Generation Media; BARAC; JUST Yorkshire; Society of Black Lawyers; Race Equality Foundation; Bernie Grant Trust.

June 4, 2017

BLACK CHURCH LEADERS SHAPE NEW SPIRIT FOR BREXIT BRITAIN

By Thomas L Blair 04 June 2017

Description: Hallelujah/photo copyright Editions BlairHallelujah/photo copyright Editions Blair

Prayers are not enough for our people or for the nation. “We need to empower Faith groups for action in the political process” say Britain’s Black-led Christian churches as GE 2017 comes to a climax.

This is the message from the National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF) to parishioners and policymakers. They don’t invoke divine authorship but claim the moral high ground for their followers, society and nation.

Crucially, evangelical and pentacostal preachers say their congregations are tired  of second-hand living in marginal areas. Moreover, dramatically direct, leaders condemn Brexit Britain’s “ideological imperialism”, a stranglehold on their homelands.

A recent leadership meeting proposed over 48 key recommendations and action points. Co-chaired by Dr R David Muir and Pastor Ade Omooba they targeted nine key policy arenas:

–  Church and Community

–  Policing and Criminal Justice

– Prisons

–  Mental Health

–  Voting and Political Mobilisation

–  Family and Marriage

–  Youth and Education

–  Media, Music, Arts & Culture

–  International Aid and Development

A FREE PUBLICATION

ISBN 978-0-9931839-0-4

Significantly,  political evangelists are strengthening the Black Church. The reverends Muir and Amooba have expanded Black-majority church expertise. Dr Muir is a political scientist and theologian with a doctorate in Political Theology. Omooba heads the Christian Concern & Christian Legal Centre and supports the Maryland comprehensive secondary school, London.

In addition, Pastor Agu Irukwu is a law graduate from the University of Warwick, a barrister and former investment banker. Prominent co-religionists include Reverend Yemi Adedeji, Dr Jonathan Oloyede, Reverend Kingsley Appiagyei, Dr R. David Muir, Reverend Esme Beswick, and Bishop Wilton Powell.

Pastor Agu expressed Black leaders concerns to the Archbishop of Canterbury at their farewell reception for him. With passion, enthusiasm and vision he said, “We are in a big crisis of trust in our institutions, politics, media, The BBC, and even in our churches. The role of the church here and in other parts of the world is to create a trustworthy public conscious”.

Timely and powerful words. But will the message have its intended effect on election day?

What’s your opinion? Will the Black Christian message move people from dispirited onlookers to committed and informed voters?

March 4, 2019

BLACK SOLIDARITY GAINS MOMENTUM AGAINST UK RACISM DENIAL REPORT

  • By Thomas L Blair 05 April 2021 ©
  • One extraordinary trend, which so far seems to have received no attention, is the rise of Black social solidarity in response to the government’s portrayal of Britain as “a beacon of good race relations and diversity model for other western nations”. [See Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities’ Report].
  • In a vigorous counterattack, hundreds of Black civil rights groups, academics and parliamentarians say the recent race report is a flawed piece of work. Teams of researchers and thousands of Zoomers and Tweeters are on the alert. All are raising their voices for racial justice, according to close investigation and text messages reviewed by the Chronicleworld.
  • The Commission had a unique opportunity to act as a trailblazer for the future of race relations…but missed it. says Yvonne Field, founder of the community action Ubele Initiative.
  • The harsh fact is half the commissioners do not understand Britain’s history of Anti Blackness, says Patrick Vernon, a pioneer for the 1940s unrewarded first Black generations.
  • Refusal to accept the existence of structural racism means it is allowed to fester and grows unchallenged says Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, lawyer, women’s rights activist and author of This Is Why I Resist.
  • The new solidarity reveals the report’s fatal flaw. It blames Black communities for a poverty of culture and feckless lifestyles rather than the real villain — society. Thereby, recasting questionable prejudices against the desperate, homeless, sick and starving class of whites of the early 19th century.
  • The Institute of Race Relations points out the failure to address “the common ethnic minority experience of structural racism in the criminal justice system.”
  • As a result,  Halima Begum of the Runnymede race equality think-tank says “To argue that there is no evidence of institutional racism in the UK is delusional”. Mounting an open letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Begum and equality campaigners urged him “to commit to extant equalities legislation and uphold the public sector duty on equality and foster good relations”. Fellow signators included theologian and professor of social justice Keith L Magee, social affairs and education journalist Afua Hirsch and publisher and broadcaster Margaret Busby.
  • Confidence-building academics are clear in their damning indictment.  David Olusoga, one of Britain’s foremost historians of slavery says “the poisonously patronising report is historically illiterate”. Similarly, university professors Hakim Adi of Chichester and theologian Robert Beckford at the Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham have spoken out.
  • Remi Joseph-Salisbury, a researcher in ethnicity and inequalities at the University of Manchester, strengthens the solidarity trend. He says we are witnessing a government propelled by fear of the mass mobilisations of summer 2020, and “doing everything possible to undermine the efforts of those seeking racial justice”.
  • Perhaps the most striking thing is that speaking out has become the new mode of action for hundreds of researchers. They refute the report’s claims that education is the success story of the ethnic minority experience. Why? Because it overlooked the substantial evidence of institutional and direct racism in schools and universities, they say.
  • Bernard Coard, teaching in 1970s London, wrote How the West Indian Child is Made Educationally Subnormal in the British School System.  The rights campaigner and once Hackney’s first Director of Education and Leisure Services, wrote Taking a Stand on Education, Race, Social Action and Civil Unrest 1980-2005. Both identified pervasive institutional bias. White children were “normal”. Black children were treated as second-rate, without a history except by the grace of whites.
  • Currently, solidarity-building parliamentarians dismiss the flawed race report. Dianne Abbott opposition Labour Party MP tweeted bluntly: “It’s unhelpful to deny the continued existence of institutional racism”.
  • David Lammy MP says the report could have been a turning point, “instead it has chosen to divide us once more rather than doing anything about it.”
  • This means the report “gives racists the green light” says Baroness Doreen Lawrence, campaigner for justice for her racially murdered teenage son Stephen Lawrence 22 April 1993. [Subsequently, the MacPherson Inquiry found the murder was “solely and unequivocally motivated by racism”.]
  • Therefore, Lord Simon Wooley of Operation Black Vote campaign says the Prime Minister can no longer remain in denial about racism. The 2020 Black Lives Matter protests “created a move for change the government won’t be able to hold back”. Clearly, inaction has pressed on the limits of Black endurance.
  • However, for the historical record, Black solidarians prompted two important results. First, Prime Minister Boris Johnson sought to distance himself from a report that drew an angry backlash.
  • Second, the Black solidarians and allies forced the race report Commission to hurriedly issue a calming press release accepting “the Macpherson inquiry definition of institutional racism, though we did not find conclusive evidence that it exists”. Inaction is pressing on the limits of Black endurance.
  • Therefore, together, the Black solidarians are a new trend in Black consciousness – a confident history-defining collective of thought, research and action for change. It is far too early to say, but they have made an important contribution to the struggle to change the practices and performance of institutions that maintain discrimination.
  • August 23, 2017

After Carnival Remember Grenfell

  • Thomas L Blair 23 August 2017 copyright
  • By sun- up next Tuesday our attention must shift from Carnival “Play Mas” to the drama that unfolded in the sky.
  • The Grenfell tragedy 14 June cast harsh light on London’s dwindling low-income housing.
  • Failed investment is the culprit.
  • Uncaring housing managers and errant architects and planners are accomplices.
  • Irresponsible builders and developers are part of the problem.
  • The real estate boom and gentrification wreak havoc.
  • The shrinking welfare state has cut neighbourhood social services.
  • Critics fear these trends herald the “social cleansing” of the peoples of Britain’s capital.
  • Of course, there are many problems with local authorities – in particular, they stubbornly ignore responsibility to face the facts. At least one-fifth of Londoners are badly educated, badly housed  and have the greatest need. And it is the councils’ statutory duty to provide housing opportunities for them.
  • Therefore, it is “only right” said carnival officials, “to reflect the “biggest tragedy ever”. We need to pursue “ongoing demands for housing and full justice, in the creative spirit of Carnival.”
  • “Participate, don’t just spectate”, said Ricky Belgrave, chair of BASS the carnival’s static music systems.
  • When people put the “we” into solving the Grenfell equation, council housing has the chance to be a bastion of equality. And now is the time to prove it. New motives and new moves toward  change must be advanced.
  • Time for repeals, reforms and radical shifts in urban planning policies
  • Time to deliver better council housing results via tenant-led organisations
  • Time to learn from flawed urban history and its discontents
  • Time to end “blaming the victims” of social inequalities
  • INDEED, TIME TO PLAN FOR PUBLIC HOUSING THAT IS LIVEABLE, SAFE AND REALLY SOCIAL.
  •  

Million Black Londoners Demand  End of Race-Based Inequalities

April 23, 2016

One Million Black Londoners Making Politics More Challenging

By Thomas L Blair 23 April 2016 ©

IN ALL THE CUT-AND-THRUST OF THE 5 MAY LONDON ELECTIONS, ONE THING IS CLEAR. THERE’S SCOPE FOR POSITIVE CHANGE IN RACE RELATIONS.

One Million Black Londoners are becoming more successful in their traditional inner city habitats. New settlers seek greener pastures in Outer London boroughs.

Yet, there is mounting frustration as the walls of prejudice grow higher. Racial and religious slurs have marred the campaign with grave unanticipated consequences.

Hence, no leader in London’s public realm – whether in city hall, town council chambers or quangos – can be exempt from, or remain insulated from the search for solutions to race-based inequalities. We need interventions that focus on the One Million’s agenda, those that progress equality and equity outcomes.

Work and social class

  • Employment: to find creative remedies to reverse the bleak unemployment, to integrate the workplace and to reduce the growing racial disparities in the job markets.
  • Education and training: to lift up communities, address the supposed deficiencies of minority children and smash the institutional barriers to academic progress, at all levels of the educational system.

Material conditions of life

  • Housing: to support beneficial regeneration of downtrodden areas with large Black concentrations, to link with community aspirations, requirements and priorities, and to address the policy implications of the shortage of affordable, decent homes for lower income groups.
  • Health: to protect, expand and integrate provision for skill training, job mobility, planning and delivery of health services.

Politics and governance

  • Participation: to increase Black representation in the relevant institutions, including the councils of government, quangos, industry, trades unions and political parties, and in the running and planning of public services agencies.
  • Urban Renewal and Development: to link public and private resource investments with statutory equal opportunity and positive action practices.
  • Budget Allocations: to gain advantage from census-related urban financing, and to take steps to reduce the impact of under-counting of Blacks and ethnic minorities.

Crime, law and justice

  • Welfare and Justice: to review and redress Black over-representation as welfare dependants and in prisons and mental institutions, and to pinpoint required changes in the legal profession, probation service, judiciary and magistracy.
  • Oppose racial violence: to examine and recommend solutions for the prevention of racially motivated crimes against Black people.

Arts and enterprise

  • Arts: to advocate the self-management and control of  Black cultural reproduction in literature, the arts, media, journalism, entertainment, leisure and sports
  • Business: to expand the training and involvement of Black enterprise in the local and national economy, e-commerce and in exports and trade.
  • Mutual aid: to examine and promote the success of Black voluntary activities, charitable appeals and fund-raising techniques.

Undoubtedly, there will be bitter opposition to linking Black progress and creative public leadership. The barons of politics, business and culture will dismiss demands for power sharing. The best journalists will courageously report Black community views but media hacks will still peddle racial and religious slurs. Furthermore, the bigoted and prejudiced will be furious. Even fair-minded liberals may be disquieted.

Nevertheless, forging a strategy for a Black agenda is worth voting for and working for post-election. An egalitarian and inclusive perspective, it offers scope to make Black progress and creative public leadership share the same path.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­

PHOTO SOURCE: BLACK LONDONERS SUSAN OKOKON. THE HISTORY PRESS.2009

______

How To Tackle The London Social Housing Crisis?

Six ways race researchers must change to rescue Black tenants from aggressive renewal plans

By Thomas L Blair © 11 March 2016

Seasoned race consultants and campaigners have united against the Government’s Housing and Planning Bill and the Immigration Bill. They reflect  growing concerns for the deteriorating conditions and human rights of social housing residents.

Researchers for the Institute of Race Relations say policies to “‘radically transform’ over 100 ‘sink estates’” will have disastrous consequences. Proposals to ‘knock them down and replace them’ may be a   “pretext for the removal of particular populations, by cutting down avenues of redress”, according to Dr Jon Burnett.

Furthermore, the bills’ would bolster eviction powers and extend ‘Deport first, appeal later’ immigration provisions.

Hence, residents are growing militant in Winstanley (Wandsworth), Broadwater Farm (Tottenham), West Hendon and other troubled London  estates. They fear the hidden policy agenda for high-value properties and luxury housing will demolish their communities.

Predictably, Black African and Caribbean tenants would suffer first and hardest. They are most likely to live in the targeted  1960s estates for low-income families.

Networked organisations have sounded the alarm. The Burnett report questions the “impact of the legislation on the inner-city communities of multicultural Britain”. Moreover, it raises ” wider questions about the future of the welfare state”.

In the lead with the IRR are the Kill the Housing Bill campaign, Shelter, Social Housing Under Threat (SHOUT), Architects for Social Housing and the Radical Housing Network.

However, they are not the remedy to the woes of Blacks corralled in obsolescent housing.  Black tenants’ progress needs more than liberal race studies. Researchers may unveil the hypocrisy of regeneration politics, but in many cases “urban renewal” still  means Black removal.

Thus, we can see that desk research has two fatal flaws. Top-down studies tend to repress original thought. Moreover, they elevate one class, those who know and who are listened to, above the subjects of their research.

Of course, there is no single means to save threatened urban centres of Black life. Nevertheless, the late Dora Boatemah showed the way struggling against deprivation and for tenants’ rights on Angell Town Estate, Brixton in the 1990s.

Boatemah developed a distrust of the politicians, contractors and consultants who built and managed the estate. They mouthed the same old “top down” renewal solutions. With the slogan “It’s time  for change, a time for tenant’s rights”, she rallied her 2000 neighbours, forty per cent Black and a collage of ethnicities — white British, Asian, Hispanic, Turkish, Portuguese, and Kosovans and Bosnians.

What’s wrong here, she asked them and answered in her straight-talking accented English style. Solving unemployment, poor housing, and lack of facilities must be central to the renewal equation. Reining in the planning consultants took some doing. She got it right when she told them “Don’t bring us any more of your fancy designs. Ask us to brief you first… we have our own ideas”.

Accordingly, here are six ways race researchers can arouse the indignation and the conscience of many and the participation of Black communities.

  1. Heal yourselves. Change your perspective from “objective”, hence disengaged, liberal researchers to professionals working with people in  communities.
  2. Be part of the solution not relentlessly adding to the negrophobic view of Blacks as hopeless problem people.
  3. Participate in local community and citywide action for fair housing and planning policies.
  4. Link with Black public intellectuals and arm activist youth with new skills for positive action
  5. Decolonise your top-down Eurocentric knowledge
  6. Start creating damage limiting strategies and enhance opportunities for Black urbanites.

What do you think?

April 11, 2016

Be Black, Proud And Progressive

 Five ways London’s elected Black mayors and councillors made a difference

By Thomas L Blair © 11 April 2016

Most voters will agree that Black London lost the dynamism of city leadership decades ago. Yet, the five ways the pathfinders linked Black working class aspirations and city politics sparkle brightly as voters get ready to elect London’s mayor and assembly.

Fraternal working class relations

A hundred years ago, John Archer, Britain’s first Black mayor, gave Black, white and foreign-born workers a new voice in city politics. Elected mayor of Battersea in 1913, he declared:

“My election tonight means a new era. You have made history tonight. For the first time in the history of the English nation a man of colour has been elected as mayor of an English borough”.

Furthermore, said Archer, himself of Barbadian heritage, “My victory will go forth to the coloured nations of the world and they will look at Battersea and say… that it recognises a man for the work he has done”.

Civil rights and justice

The first Black leader of the Greater London Council (in effect the ranking municipal leader) and tireless Labour Party campaigner, David Pitt of Grenadian heritage put civil rights and justice for all on the municipal agenda in 1974. The quiet man of action believed that the Labour party, more so than the Conservatives, represented the best long-term chance for Blacks and ethnic minorities to influence the direction of national policy. On this principle he founded CARD, the innovative, Martin Luther King Jr influenced Committee Against Discrimination. Ennobled as Baron of Hampstead, London and Hampstead, Grenada, Pitt is remembered by voters and leaders as “one of the prominent Blacks in British political life”.

Community organising and service

A decade later, Sam King took office as the first Black mayor of Southwark in 1983. He is honoured for his community work, his campaigning for black and ethnic minority rights and for his service to the people of Southwark”. Jamaican-born an historic Windrush veteran, King helped shepherd the first Notting Hill Carnival, and the first black newspaper, the West Indian Gazette.

International workers unity

Then came, the “African rebel” Guyana-born Bernie Grant, a local councillor and later MP for Tottenham. “Bernie Grant united workers in industries and the public services through the Black Trade Unionist Solidarity Movement. He pulled together the Labour party Black section in pursuing seats in councils and in parliament. And, he improved the bargaining position of agriculture workers in the Caribbean,” said his obituarist Narendra Makanji, of the London Borough of Haringey local council.

Being colour-bind is no virtue

Thus, Black pathfinders revealed that colour-blindness is no virtue in the cut and thrust of London politics. Being Black, proud and progressive is an honourable leadership trait.

Based on the evidence, new enlightened Black political leaders and voters are or certainly can be the reform champions all Londoners need. Especially, to heal a divided city of fractured race-class relations.

August 31, 2017

#Black London Futures In Peril

People fear impact of Smart City projects

 By Thomas L Blair 1 September 2017 copyright

Hard times decades before the fiery injustice of Grenfell Tower. Grimmer now. But will the future be any better for London’s Black and ethnic minorities?

If I’m right the trends toward Smart City London are ominous.

Urban elites will continue to defend “the super-city for the super-rich”.

The Architects Journal reports massive land banking and new transportation links are on the drawing boards.

Trends show a common pattern. Councils and public housing agencies promote “cost effective” regeneration strategies. The bulldozers wreak havoc and wreck neighbourhoods.

The shock waves will hit all boroughs. Especially those with large or near majority Black and ethnic tenants; many waiting for years on the housing list.

Witness Newham borough’s notice in the Official Journal of the European Union. In it the council touts for “private sector joint venture partners” for a knock down-rebuild project.

They’ll demolish the 700 homes on the Carpenter housing estate and build 3000 upmarket bijou residences. Only 35 per cent of the estate’s homes will be ‘affordable’”. Profitable all-round the deal benefits from its highly valued location adjacent to London’s Olympic Games Park.

Predictably, hundreds of projects like this will fundamentally change London’s cityscape, economy and services. The backlash will cripple the urban tenantry and limit #BlackLondonFutures.

Therefore the big question for fair housing advocates must be: how to make London a Smart City model of excellence. One that ensures decent work opportunities, an adequate standard of living, and opportunities to participate in civic and cultural life.

Praise for Women Rights

October 1, 2019

Dynamic Women Of Colour Spur ‘Anti-Boris/Brexit’ Challenge

MAKING BLACK HISTORY SPECIAL
BREAKING NEWS – DIANE ABBOTT, LABOUR MP, TO BE THE FIRST BLACK PERSON TO SPEAK FOR THE PARTY AT PRIME MINISTER’S QUESTIONS IN PARLIAMENT
WHEN SHE STANDS IN FOR PARTY LEADER JEREMY CORBYN THIS WEEK

MPS BUTLER AND ABBOTT, INVESTMENT MANAGER MILLER LEAD IN THE PUBLIC REALM

By Thomas L Blair © 1st October 2019

 “Black history is British history”, proclaimed Dawn Butler MP Labour’s Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary at the Labour Party Conference 2019 in Brighton.

Unleashing a staccato of damning phrases, the first elected African-Caribbean woman to become a Government Minister in UK said:

  • “There needs to be a greater understanding of Empire, colonialism, and imperial migration.
  • False framing of these histories reinforced the artificial separation between their history and our history. It reinforces an ‘us’ and ‘them’.
  • This false division can develop into hate”.

These ills must be remedied, said Butler, 49, of British Jamaican parentage. And she promised aid to the most affected groups:

“If you are in social housing, if you are LGBT+, if you are straight, if you are a traveller, if you struggle to pay rent, if you wear a hijab, turban, a cross, if you are black, white, Asian…you  have a future and you are worthy of equality dignity and respect”.

Emancipation Education in schools will trail blaze this promise, she said. And pledged support for the Bernie Grant youth leadership programme, named after the first Black male MP.

Tories: no vision, only division

Diane Abbott MP directed her fire at the Prime Minister.  “Boris Johnson and his Tories have no vision for our country. Only division, said Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, speaking to the Labour Party conference.

As she warmed up to her theme, Abbott, 65, said: “the government’s own race disparity audit highlighted that its policies have had a detrimental effect on Black, Asian minority ethnic people”.

To remedy these deficiencies, Abbott of Jamaican heritage and Britain’s first Black woman MP let forth a volley of promises:

  • “We WILL end the Windrush scandal. We WILL ensure justice for Grenfell.
  • And we will uphold all the rights of the EU 3 Million.
  • We will tackle the scourge of knife crime and the underlying causes of crime.
  • We will repeal the 2014 Immigration Act and end the Tory ‘hostile environment’ “.

Veteran of the Black Radical tradition of Bernie Grant and the first Black MPs elected in 1987Abbott pledged:  “We will create a standalone women and equalities department headed for the first time by a Secretary of State”.

She hammered home this crucial policy, saying “the fact is that Black women can be discriminated against because they are both Black and a woman”. The conference exploded with a round of applause for the country’s first black woman MP as well as the longest serving Black MP in the House of Commons.

Forcing government’s hand

Jubilant Gina Singh Miller celebrated her latest victory against the government.  The momentous ruling that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had unlawfully suspended Parliament was a triumph.  After all, she did the leg work, took the case to court and put in the time, said a seasoned observer.

Unbowed, the investment manager and philanthropist has faced years of gender bias, death threats and racist taunts. Writing in her acclaimed book RISE, Gina Miller, 54, of British Guyana heritage, said: “When we speak up as women, we must own the space we are in and not let others encroach on it. That’s not a hobby: that’s a mission”.

Noted for business-like approach to social issues, a kind of “caring capitalism”,  Miller wrote “No one is ever going to convince me racism is acceptable, just as I’ll never believe that giving women the right to vote was wrong.”

Called “a heroine for our times” Miller’s book RISE spells out her “Life Lessons in SpeakingOut, Standing Tall & Leading the Way”.

TOGETHER We Advance Further, Faster                                             

MPs Butler and Abbott and entrepreneur Miller, have raised the concerns and perspectives of women of colour in public affairs. Moreover, they have targeted a can’t-miss opportunity to place gender and racial equality in the annals of Black History and British governance.

Sources
Saturday 21 September 2019 / 4:19 PM Dawn Butler / Women and Equalities
Sunday 22 September 2019 / 2:34 PM Diane Abbott
Gina Miller https://binged.it/2oVK3Rw
Gina Miller photo (Picture: Tolga AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images) appears in METRO 25 September 2019

Black Women Blazed the Path to Universal Suffrage…With Men

While western women won their gendered voting rights in 1918, Black Women championed universal suffrage

By Thomas L Blair 9 February 2018©rev

The 100th anniversary of British women’s right to vote and hold office attracted wide acclaim. However, there was something missing from the celebrations – something very few acknowledge, even Black Britons.

The women of Africa and the diaspora were the champion’s for universal suffrage – for all women, men and oppressed peoples.

White British suffragettes won victory on a gendered platform. The prize, in effect, was entry into the Empire’s colonialist political system.

Black women marched to a different drumbeat. Theirs was a fighting hymn for the Black World. As Afro-Caribbean activist Amy Jacques Garvey said: “…women of the darker races are sallying forth to help their men establish a civilization according to their own standard, and to strive for world leadership”. Readers all over Africa and the diaspora praised her article “Women as Leaders,” in The Negro World October 25, 1925
Increasingly educated women and men rallied to support the oppressed female labour force.  Their efforts helped shape the pillars and tactics of suffragism in Africa and the diaspora.  Fiercely resisted  by  governments and plantation owners, they fought for:

 the abolition of slavery, peonage and caste;

political rights of free speech, religion and assembly;

land rights and economic freedom;

voting rights and local self-government

Continental African women were the freedom fighters for
 universal suffrage – with men

Adelaide Casely-Hayford best expressed this radical assertion. The Sierra Leonian was a women’s rights activist and pan-Africanist – with her fellow colonials. Freedom was the goal of this educator and short story writer. She nurtured the racial pride of pupils at her girl’s school established in 1923.

Charlotte Maxeke illustrates the universality of the African woman’s struggles. She founded the Bantu Women’s League in South Africa in 1918. One of the first Black women graduates in South Africa, she linked the fight for women’s rights to the broad struggle for colonial freedom.

Women raised the banner of universal suffrage in Egypt, too. In 1923, Huda Sharawi led a women’s movement as important as the suffragettes and suffragists. Her Egyptian Feminist Union established numerous organizations dedicated to women’s rights. Moreover, with her male supporters, the activist and writer was a fierce rights campaigner.

Grassroots women leaders challenged America
 to embrace justice and equality for all – with men

Ida Wells Barnett was an outstanding freedom fighter for universal suffrage in America.  In 1913, she founded Chicago’s Alpha Suffrage Club the earliest Black women’s suffrage group.  Vilified by whites,  the club was the formidable ally of Black males in the public realm. In politics, Barnett played a pivotal role in the 1915 election of the first African American politician in Chicago, Oscar DePriest.

Caribbean women forged
trans- continental unity – with men

Jamaican born Amy Jacques Garvey was determined to defeat European colonisation of African and Afro-Caribbean peoples. She was a leading member of The Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) founded in 1914 by husband, Marcus Mosiah Garvey.

Jacques Garvey was a forceful advocate of women’s and African rights in America and abroad. She participated in the famous Fifth Pan-African Congress held in Manchester, England, in 1945. While there, she influenced the major African American and Caribbean intellectuals, W E B Du Bois and George Padmore and the iconic first generation of African liberation leaders, Kwame Nkrumah and Jomo Kenyatta.

Black universal suffrage:
a priceless message  uncovered

Thus, the Black women’s message and impact were distinctly different from the gendered victories in white Britain and America.  They entered the public and political world  as women fighting for Black advancement and the universal franchise. For this, Jacques Garvey praised the African woman,

“who has borne the rigors of slavery, the deprivations consequent on a pauperized race, and the indignities heaped upon a weak and defenseless people? Yet she has suffered all with fortitude, and stands ever ready to help in the onward march to freedom and power.

Africa must be for Africans, and Negroes everywhere must be independent”.

Noble Black Woman Joins Shelter’s Fight For Social Housing

By Thomas L Blair, 27 January 2018 ©

Baroness Doreen Lawrence OBE boosts the credibility of Shelter’s Grenfell-inspired “Save our Social Housing” Commission. She, too, is a survivor of a murderous event – the racist attack on her son, Stephen in 1993. Moreover, her tireless efforts to improve the justice and police systems touched the nation’s hearts.

Now, Baroness Lawrence joins SoSH commissioners “to oversee research with social housing tenants, and engage with the public in online public consultation and roadshows across the country”.

Lawrence, an Honorary Doctor of Letters for outstanding contributions to public life, welcomes the chance to activate the Shelter campaign. It aims “to hold a mirror up to society” and right the wrongs at the hands of housing providers. This will give threatened tenants a “far louder” say in the future of public housing policy, Shelter said.

The wrongs require us to take a “long, hard look at why social housing tenants were often made to feel like second-class citizens,” said commission chair Reverend Mike Long, of the Notting Hill Methodist Church.

Undoubtedly, Baroness Lawrence’s progressive associates — her protégé former Labour leader Ed Miliband, ex-communities minister Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, founder of the charity Social Mobility for All, along with a former Grenfell Tower resident – will stimulate public concern.

However, the big question is will they stem the universal disregard of race, class and faith-related issues in Britain’s social housing?

It’s good to see some action being taken. But these are turbulent, desperate times. A “long, hard look” is frankly not enough. The commissioners must aim to release the creative powers stifled in ghettos of despair.

Here’s my views on how to go about it. First, SoSH desk researchers will have to investigate a litany of ills. Years of demographic studies reveal that Black and minority ethnic  people are colonies in social housing. In fact, housing administrators  group them  with white residents classified as “socially excluded”, according to Shelter’s own evidence-based studies,

Second,  too often “the facts” are used to bludgeon defenceless minorities — to blame the victim rather than the causes of systemic flaws. But if I have learned anything from past cases, in Europe, Asia and the Americas, researchers can miss key human factors.  For instance, the surprising examples of human resilience. The coping strategies that can make each day livable.  And, when things are roughest, hope promises to repel despair.

Therefore, Shelter’s SoSH commissioners must not only uncover “the facts” that cloak the pain. They must release the suppressed creative power of aspirations.

In this regard, the estates’ millennials and third or fourth generation youth – bloggers and rappers, – are the real digital thought-innovators. They are reclaiming and refashioning their identity with tough rhythms and poetic ambitions. The commissioners need to internetwork with them. Why not headline them in SoSH “consultations and roadshows”?

Third, undeniably the SoSH commissioners must promote ambitious legislation, well-placed resources, safe cladding, positive government response and affirmative mayoral action. But the keywords and hyperlinks to change carry the most important message: SOCIAL ACTION  is the NECESSARY CONDITION for SOCIAL HOUSING.  Can the commissioners further the cause as participating “involved observers”?

The answer to the question is yes.  Only direct engagement prepares you to right the race-related “wrongs” of social housing.  For liberal activists as well as communities and residents the maxim is the same:  “You’ve got to feel it to know it”.  The heartening results will be the markers of successful intervention — and add social value to commission reports.

Therefore, in this work, Baroness Lawrence’s exemplary background , Caribbean heritage insights and Black British mobilising skills have their place — charting the way toward lasting remedial action and reform of British social housing.

July 12, 2017

Black Christians Urge Reconciliation

August 5, 2016

After Brexit: UK Clergy Urge Reconciliation to Heal Growing Moral Crisis

 Thomas L Blair, 5 August 2016©

Amid rising Christian concern, Methodist Canon Margaret Swinson has pledged support for “those suffering from racism and xenophobia”. The goal is bishops, clergy and laity working together to bridge “the gulf between our government and those under most pressure in our society”.

The growing clamour came as both the Church of England and Methodist Church have encouraged members to lobby their MPs in protest against “the divisive EU referendum campaign”.

Blogging on the Student Christian Movement, Canon Swinson said, whilst Leave voters are not all racist, “it is the case that some of the dissatisfaction in our society is finding its expression in the xenophobia which has exploded across our country in the last two weeks”.

However, Canon Swinson said “It is not the racism of ignorance which people, like my mother, experienced in the late 1940’s and 1950’s – or the sort of racism I experienced as a primary school child or when I lived in particular parts of Liverpool 36 years ago. It is no longer a matter of colour, it is pure xenophobia”.

This unwarranted hatred is “experienced by those who are seen as ‘other’, whether their families have been in England for weeks or for generations, whether they are from the North American continent, or from Asia, whether they are in their 70s or, very sadly, in nursery or primary school”.

Therefore, whether Leave or Remain, the task is to build a country where “all will be valued as uniquely created and gifted by God and can reach their potential for the good of all”.

By chance, her article “After Brexit, a Light at the end of the Tunnel” reflects the message of a pioneer soul-saver, Samuel Adjai Crowther (ca. 1806-1891). The first African Anglican bishop wrote,

“From out the darkness gleamed a single star
… a blessed sight”
Which many grateful saw, and kneeling there
Heard first the tidings of Salvation near”.

January 19, 2019

Black Church Leaders Shape New Spirit for Brexit Britain

By Thomas L Blair 04 June 2017

Prayers are not enough for our people or for the nation. “We need to empower Faith groups for action in the political process” say Britain’s Black-led Christian churches as GE 2017 comes to a climax.

This is the message from the National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF) to parishioners and policymakers. They don’t invoke divine authorship but claim the moral high ground for their followers, society and nation.

Crucially, evangelical and Pentecostal preachers say their congregations are tired of second-hand living in marginal areas. Moreover, dramatically direct, leaders condemn Brexit Britain’s “ideological imperialism”, a stranglehold on their homelands.

A recent leadership meeting proposed over 48 key recommendations and action points. Co-chaired by Dr R David Muir and Pastor Ade Omooba they targeted nine key policy arenas:

– Church and Community

– Policing and Criminal Justice

– Prisons

– Mental Health

– Voting and Political Mobilisation

– Family and Marriage

– Youth and Education

– Media, Music, Arts & Culture

– International Aid and Development

A FREE PUBLICATION

ISBN 978-0-9931839-0-4

Significantly, political evangelists are strengthening the Black Church. The reverends Muir and Omooba have expanded Black-majority church expertise. Dr Muir is a political scientist and theologian with a doctorate in Political Theology. Omooba heads the Christian Concern & Christian Legal Centre and supports the Maryland comprehensive secondary school, London.

In addition, Pastor Agu Irukwu is a law graduate from the University of Warwick, a barrister and former investment banker. Prominent co-religionists include Reverend Yemi Adedeji, Dr Jonathan Oloyede, Reverend Kingsley Appiagyei, Dr R. David Muir, Reverend Esme Beswick, and Bishop Wilton Powell.

Pastor Agu expressed Black leaders concerns to the Archbishop of Canterbury at their farewell reception for him. With passion, enthusiasm and vision he said, “We are in a big crisis of trust in our institutions, politics, media, The BBC, and even in our churches. The role of the church here and in other parts of the world is to create a trustworthy public conscious”.

Timely and powerful words. But will the message have its intended effect on election day?

What’s your opinion? Will the Black Christian message move people from dispirited onlookers to committed and informed voters?

We’ll be scouting the Race, Faith and Equality programs and progress until the GE 2017 results are in.

Time for Righteous Black Christian Action, British Church Leader Pledges on Martin Luther King’s Birthday

But is borrowing King, Jr’s message a winning strategy for Black Briton’s?

By Thomas L Blair, for Rev Martin Luther King’s Birthday celebration 21 Feb 2019©

London’s Baptist leader Rev David Shosanya is the first gospel-inspired Black critic of Britain’s “institutional racism”. And, short of hell-fire and damnation he’s shaping his “King-like” Baptist and civil rights credentials here in Britain.

With no sign of the crisis of Black disadvantage being resolved, Rev Shosanya says, “BLACK LIVES MATTER! They do, and we should not be ashamed or intimidated into keeping quiet about that fact. Neither should we be waylaid or our voices muted by naysayers”.

In his view the central problem – in terms of persistence and scale of inequality – continues to be the unequal levels of unemployment between whites and the minorities. Hence faith-based community action is the antidote.

In prospect and effect, the devout director of the capital’s Baptist Association proposes a new faith-led morality in the public realm. Writing for Keep the Faith journal of Pastors and parishioners Rev Shosanya urges all creeds and classes to rally against “violence, unlawful practices and social injustices”.

Quoting the Scriptures, Rev Shosanya traces the theological underpinnings of church social action. Undeniably, British Blacks have made modest progress since his history-making State of Black Britain conference in 2009. It started on-going discussion on raising aspiration and success. Yet, they still face a daily struggle. And the headlines tell their every-day disadvantages in every demographic – jobs, education, health and politics.

Therefore, Rev Shosanya aims for more than grudging acceptance.  He says, now is the time to “sound the trumpet’ (Isaiah 58:1) and ‘cry aloud’ (Isaiah 58:1). We must emulate “our American colleagues in ministry and community activism…This means resisting “the temptation to be silent about this matter and challenge the status quo”.

With these words, the Black theologian seemed to combine a trinity of thoughts. The prophetical themes of the gospel church. A piercing analysis of Black exploitation in a segregated society. And a critical view of the moral and political culpability of his nation.

In striking tones the Reverend’s rhetoric calls to mind Rev Martin Luther King Jr’s historic anthem for the early civil rights movement launched in Montgomery, Alabama. King energised a packed   church of supporters for Rosa Parks, hero of the bus boycott campaign with righteous anger. “There comes a time, my friends, when people get tired of being trampled over by the feet of oppression”. A time “when people get tired of being flung across the abyss of humiliation”.

The timely and powerful words imply ‘Follow the King’s sermon’. But to make history theirs, British Blacks must favour the hard slog of church and community political action.  Uniting Black worshippers. Strengthening the networks of Caribbean and African solidarity in Britain and the diaspora.

This means working together on key policy issues. Including – Faith and Community – Policing and Criminal Justice – Economic Enterprise and Employment –  Mental Health – Voting and Political Mobilisation – Family and Caring – Social problem solutions — Youth and Education – Disaster and Development aid.

This could be the right message from Rev Shosanya to the faithful of all Black creeds and classes. A propitious sign to his uniquely receptive audience in Keep the Faith, the UK’s Black and multi-ethnic Christian magazine, and his Word for the Day on Premier Radio.

What’s your opinion? Is preaching social justice a winning strategy for Black Britain? Will the transplanted Black Christian message turn the weak and weary into active change-makers?

REFERENCE: Black Lives Matter by Rev David Shosanya, Keep the Faith – The UK’s Black and multi-ethnic Christian magazine, 17 Jan 2019 issue online at https://www.keepthefaith.co.uk/2015/09/21/black-lives-matter-by-rev-david-shosanya/

MAKING BLACK HISTORY MONTH POLITICAL

………………..

BLACK CHURCH LEADERS SHAPE NEW SPIRIT FOR BREXIT BRITAIN

By Thomas L Blair 04 June 2017

Prayers are not enough for our people or for the nation. “We need to empower Faith groups for action in the political process” say Britain’s Black-led Christian churches as GE 2017 comes to a climax.

This is the message from the National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF) to parishioners and policymakers. They don’t invoke divine authorship but claim the moral high ground for their followers, society and nation. Read more

……………………………………….

Covid Pandemic Crisis: End Infections, Deaths  Among Blacks

Covid-19 Virus Lockdown Spotlights Race Deficit

But smart media organising can boost Black defences and strengthen community-bonding

By Thomas L Blair, 1 April 2020 ©

Black communities in Britain, mainly in underserved public housing and deprived districts of London and major cities, are in peril as the Covid-19 virus takes hold. Failing health and ageing are common risks. Many work 2 to 3 jobs to make ends meet. Home care workers many of them women are on zero hours contracts because of the crisis in social care. The over-70s and Windrush elders are prone to infection and death. Furthermore, the Covid-19’s economic fallout limits their already unequal chances compared with whites in the housing and labour markets.  And it’s a long wait for the government’s stimulus package to reach them.

Nevertheless, Black communities have historically recognised that just because you’re locked down doesn’t mean you have to be locked out of self-created opportunities. They don’t  have to wait silently for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s stimulus package to ease their plight.

Now is the time for community building. Innovative use of the smart media can foster mutual aid. Skype and Zoom are popular means to share urgent information and promote better life chances when the crisis ends. And here are 8 key clusters of ideas for positive action.

1. Grow stronger together

Neighbours networking amongst themselves can champion support for home-locked families on the margins of social services’ attention. They can:

Power safe medicine and food delivery services to the most vulnerable.

Urge emergency assistance to the ageing Windrush generation, already upset and traumatised by faulty government policies

Mobilise faith leader’s support during this difficult time.

Give video ‘claps’ to resident NHS health care workers – from doctors and nurses to technicians, porters and cleaners – for the incredible job they are doing.

2. Stay positive with online activities

The demands are heavy on locked down households. But you can:

Go online with your mobile phone and PC devices – look up the best Black book clubs and video streams on Netflick and You Tube

Tweet for self-responsibility in virus prevention, health care and well-being

Cheer yourself up — share your passions, photos and creative expression with TikTok videos on your mobile phone.

Google for ideas on contemporary culture from an African and Caribbean perspective.

3. Organising for mutual aid is crucial

Creating virtual tenant’s coalitions, neighbourhood assemblies and online focus groups are good ways to bring people together to fact check breaking virus news

Web pages and online chat rooms can promote action methods to reduce the health disadvantage.

Blog for funding for more Black student nurses and have their work count towards their learning.

Use the popular audio-video apps Skype and Zoom for interactive one-on-one and conference calls.

4. Teleworking

Home studios are popular tools for interactive cultural expression. Especially for budding rappers, writers, poets and artists — and citizen journalists can spread the news.

Introduce new remote learning opportunities; gain access to 100s of online courses

Google fun-filled educational apps for house-bound children that they can access on their smartphones and tablets and share with their parents, carers, and elders, too

 5. Be civic –prioritise community activity

Innovative online residents can create an Organiser’s Manual and propose fresh ideas for civic participation

Don’t Stop the Carnival: encourage children to ‘Play mas’ online with their images, costumes, masks, steel pans, lyrics and shimmering wings and dance moves

Holding virtual rallies are an essential means of bolstering spirits and confidence building.

6. Information sharing is crucial

Explore ways to replicate the classroom experience for all locked down students to ensure their learning isn’t unduly affected

Create hubs or networks of information, ideas and action across Black Britain and link with homelands in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America

Publish a round-up of Black cultural archives that illustrate community heritage, aspirations and progress

7. Support Black medical, political and labour leadership

Black tenants in public housing and under-privileged districts have an opportunity to gain allies for wide ranging crisis reforms. They can:

Mobilise virtual conversations with Black influencers on Covid-19 health policy, strategy and implementation.

Skype with experts Dame Donna Kinnair, Royal College of Nursing executive and Dr Chaand Nagoaul, chair of the British Medical Association.

Zoom with Lord Woolley of Operation Black Vote about his call to Government to look at “the negative racial disparity that could affect BAME communities and act accordingly”.

Draw youth into media conversations with David Lammy MP about “increasing diversity and transparency in the justice system”.

Video conference talks with trade unionists to support low paid precarious contract working tenants – try the TUC Race Equality Officer; the Chair of UNISON’s National Black Members Committee and Race for Equality campaigners.

8. Promote just demand for aid and assistance

As the crisis deepens, more people will realise they must press forward their own interests. Blogs to political representatives will hold them accountable for bold and inclusive solutions

Tweeters will monitor police enforcement of Covid-19 emergency social distancing laws. Disproportionate use of fixed penalties and conviction for gatherings of two or more persons outside their homes may abuse Black youth, already targets of over-zealous stop-and-search tactics.

Demand that news outlets add the Black experience to Covid-19 coverage

E-petition government to restart its community testing strategy; review its outsourcing, delegated powers and marketing policies that are reflecting the wholesale destruction of a people-focused state health and welfare  sector

Highlight the strong moral and economic case in favour of crisis intervention, aid and assistance to beleaguered Black communities. Failure could cost £billions a year in lost taxes, higher welfare payments and increased NHS and social care.

Towards a smart media aided future?

In the wake of the coronavirus Covid-19 crisis, less-privileged Black tenants in public housing and marginalised districts are hit the hardest.

Nevertheless, they have a digital opportunity to not only promote informed solidarity, but to press for crisis reforms that function in the way people want and need.

Covid Pandemic: End Disease, Infections in Black Communities

Covid-19 | A Challenge To Black British Nurses: Finish The Fight For Healthy Black Communities

By Thomas L Blair 25 July 2020 ©

The ravages of COVID-19 ignited a firestorm of webinars asking “Who is Caring for BME Nurses and Midwives” and discussing “Racism: Nurses as activists for equality”. But these are not new issues. Campaigners need to tap the cultural vein of their forebears The Black Cross nurses that led an historic struggle to treat and promote healthy Black communities.

Proud and progressive, the Universal African Black Cross Nurses founded in America in 1920 swept across the Black World’s outposts with a model of self-help and mutual aid, sorely needed today.

At first it was the pain of brutal anti-Black laws, of lack of access to nursing training, and unequal care to Black patrons that drove them to action.  “We’re tired of the white people being so mean. They rather see blacks die”.

Then came the vision “we need to uplift people and their health in community”. A cadre of activists led the way, including founder Henrietta Vinton Davis and field generals Amy Jacques Garvey, Maymie De Mena and Vivian Wilhelmina Seay – a powerful attraction to aspiring young women.

Action followed on the frontlines of social reform. With the nation’s Red Cross programs in mind, Black Cross nurses sought “the improvement of health, the prevention of disease and mitigation of suffering”. They trained and certified professionals and volunteers to work in the poorest most health-at-risk districts.

Their Health and Wellness Social Services addressed the ills of the time. They soothed troubled minds, advised expectant mothers, cared for the elderly and counselled errant youth and men. Their relief packages clothed and fed the needy and they collected medical supplies to send to Africa. Moreover, the Black Cross nurses tended the ailing victims of the 1918-19 “Spanish Flu” and the 1957-58 “Asian Flu” Pandemics.

In addition, local chapters marched in parades, sang in choirs and trawled the streets for converts. All in white uniforms their caps were adorned with a black cross encircled by a red background with a green centre. This united them for Black advancement and renewal.

By 1960 the Black Cross Nurses had provided nurses, education and health care access to tens of thousands. They ranged from Harlem, the nation’s Black Mecca, across thirty-eight US states, Central America, and the British and Spanish Caribbean – Jamaica, Trinidad, Belize, Panama and Cuba – as well as Nova Scotia, Canada.

In many ways, the organization was an auxiliary of Marcus Garvey’s social reform movement. Dedicated campaigners were publicly active and held positions of community leadership for the first time.

With him they believed that “living upon the mercies shown by others, and by the chances obtainable, and have suffered there from, so we will in the future suffer if an effort is not made now to adjust our own affairs”.

Analysis of this treasure trove shows that health and caring is more than a charitable issue. It is not separate from the unnerving reality of the Black experience. It’s a political thrust against too often wilfully blind authorities touting the balm of sometime-in-the-future salvation.

Therefore as Black Britain and the African Diaspora cope with Covid-19 and multiple crises, partisans can give new life to an historic legacy.

Organised self-help and mutual aid are the Protective Peoples Equipment for strong Black action — the best guarantor of good health for Black nurses, staff and communities.

#

December 29, 2020

Twenty-Twenty: The Year Black Britons Fought Covid-19 and Health Inequalities

By Thomas L Blair 29 December 2020©

Understanding this issue is vital. Our review of the year’s independent opinion articles can help you stay informed, and navigate what’s next on the horizon

In 2020 the unthinkable shock happened. Covid-19 infections ruptured the lives of NHS Black frontline staff – doctors, nurses and care workers, more so than in the general population.

Moreover, amid a second wave of infections, a third of those admitted to intensive care are not white—showing no change since the first peak. Meanwhile, Black and Asian people have been found twice as likely to be infected compared to white people.

Ill-paid and under-appreciated, frontline staff have struggled to repair the damage and shone a light on the culprits.  Institutional inequalities on the job. The ominous vulnerability and health risks in minority neighbourhoods. Health regulators, parliamentarians and policymakers oblivious to reality.

From March on, campaigners tolled the ravages of COVID—19. [The Guardian’s Easter weekend cartoon gave a tribute with a cartoon of a Christ-like Black nurse bearing the medical cross up a steep hill.]

“Who is Caring for Black and minority ethnic Nurses and Midwives?” campaigners pleaded. The deafening silence signalled “No one”. As a result, they launched their call for frontline solidarity in online video conferences and workshops.

This in turn drew attention to tackling health inequalities in virus-prone deprived areas. Many with higher numbers of Black people in low paid employment. History-minded campaigners praised the Black nurse pioneers in the founding of the National Health Service in 1948. Some remembered the valiant, community-inspired Black Cross nurses in the 1920-1940s.

Shattering “Blame the Victim” official reports

As a result, activists urged the NHS to create inclusive workplaces and reduce bullying. Eliminating discrimination and promoting equality. were urgent tasks.

Why? Because most official reports  target the Black victims’  so-called “underlying conditions” rather than the real villain, the unequal health system and British society. [These include the government’s Race Disparity Unit (RDU), based in the Cabinet Office, the Office for National Statistics and the second Public Health England report.]

In a rare rebuke, Chaand Nagpaul, British Medical Association council chair, complained: ethnic minorities have not seen any change in the disproportionate effects of the virus on their lives.

Continued promises and unfulfilled pledges of reform are no longer acceptable, he implied. What’s needed is “more tangible action right now to protect them”.

Provision of the right protective equipment — like a simple face mask –will make workplaces virus secure. In addition, funding individuals to be tested and to self-isolate if infected is important. Especially, given the evidence that financial loss acts as a deterrent to do so.

Designing equality delivery

Three core remedial strategies are consistent with these ideas.

One, introducing in-house complaint mechanisms to encourage and protect whistle blowers with legitimate grievances.

Two, campaigners call for culturally competent public health and disease prevention research. Ownership and trust in communities is necessary to prevent more from harm.

Three, Corporate leaders need to sign up to a charter that protects and promotes equality rights — they include health care directors, government ministers, policymakers and private interests.

The year was hard on us all. But urgent action can beat Covid-19 in Twenty-Twenty One. This can restore justice for severely affected communities. And as a result, create richly diverse, crisis ready, socially responsible public health institutions.

READ MORE IN THE CHRONICLEWORLD

Thousands have turned to the Chronicleworld for vital, quality reports throughout a challenging and turbulent year. Our Twenty-Twenty articles cover the Covid-19 experiences and hopes of hard pressed Black frontline professionals, doctors, nurses, midwives, health care workers and their communities.

April 1, 2020. Covid-19 Virus Lockdown Spotlights Race Deficit

May 28, 2020. Covid-19| Black Nursing Leader’s Demand Health System Equality, Diversity and Human Rights

June 29, 2020. Allyship | Making NHS Whites Strong Allies for Racial Justice

July 25, 2020. COVID-19 | A Challenge to Black British Nurses: Finish the Fight for Healthy Black Communities

February 8, 2021

Covid-19 | A Challenge to Black British Nurses: Finish the Fight for Healthy Black Communities

By Thomas L Blair 25 July 2020 ©

The ravages of COVID-19 ignited a firestorm of webinars asking “Who is Caring for BME Nurses and Midwives” and discussing “Racism: Nurses as activists for equality”. But these are not new issues. Campaigners need to tap the cultural vein of their forebears The Black Cross nurses that led an historic struggle to treat and promote healthy Black communities.

Proud and progressive, the Universal African Black Cross Nurses founded in America in 1920 swept across the Black World’s outposts with a model of self-help and mutual aid, sorely needed today.

At first it was the pain of brutal anti-Black laws, of lack of access to nursing training, and unequal care to Black patrons that drove them to action.  “We’re tired of the white people being so mean. They rather see blacks die”.

Then came the vision “we need to uplift people and their health in community”. A cadre of activists led the way, including founder Henrietta Vinton Davis and field generals Amy Jacques Garvey, Maymie De Mena and Vivian Wilhelmina Seay – a powerful attraction to aspiring young women.

Action followed on the frontlines of social reform. With the nation’s Red Cross programs in mind, Black Cross nurses sought “the improvement of health, the prevention of disease and mitigation of suffering”. They trained and certified professionals and volunteers to work in the poorest most health-at-risk districts.

Their Health and Wellness Social Services addressed the ills of the time. They soothed troubled minds, advised expectant mothers, cared for the elderly and counselled errant youth and men. Their relief packages clothed and fed the needy and they collected medical supplies to send to Africa. Moreover, the Black Cross nurses tended the ailing victims of the 1918-19 “Spanish Flu” and the 1957-58 “Asian Flu” Pandemics.

In addition, local chapters marched in parades, sang in choirs and trawled the streets for converts. All in white uniforms their caps were adorned with a black cross encircled by a red background with a green centre. This united them for Black advancement and renewal.

By 1960 the Black Cross Nurses had provided nurses, education and health care access to tens of thousands. They ranged from Harlem, the nation’s Black Mecca, across thirty-eight US states, Central America, and the British and Spanish Caribbean – Jamaica, Trinidad, Belize, Panama and Cuba – as well as Nova Scotia, Canada.

In many ways, the organization was an auxiliary of Marcus Garvey’s social reform movement. Dedicated campaigners were publicly active and held positions of community leadership for the first time.

With him they believed that “living upon the mercies shown by others, and by the chances obtainable, and have suffered there from, so we will in the future suffer if an effort is not made now to adjust our own affairs”.

Analysis of this treasure trove shows that health and caring is more than a charitable issue. It is not separate from the unnerving reality of the Black experience. It’s a political thrust against too often wilfully blind authorities touting the balm of sometime-in-the-future salvation.

Therefore as Black Britain and the African Diaspora cope with Covid-19 and multiple crises, partisans can give new life to an historic legacy.

Organised self-help and mutual aid are the Protective Peoples Equipment for strong Black action — the best guarantor of good health for Black nurses, staff and communities.

#ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Black Cross Nurses March in Harlem New York 1924 https://www.theunia-acl.com/index.php/history/black-cross-nurses

June 29, 2020

ALLYSHIP | MAKING NHS WHITES STRONG ALLIES FOR RACIAL JUSTICE

LISTEN. LEARN AND ACT SAY BLACK HEALTH ADVOCATES

By Thomas L Blair 29 June 2020 ©

Let’s face it. There are two viruses on the necks of Black people: Covid-19 and white privileged racism, said Cherron Inko-Tariah MBE presenter of the Nigerian Nurses Charitable Association webinar. And the solutions must include harnessing “the Power of White Allies” walking beside us to tackle both problems, she adds.

CLEARLY, THIS IS A POWERFUL MESSAGE FOR CHANGE IN THE NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE HEALTH AND SAFETY REGULATORS, PROFESSIONAL BODIES AND UNISON, THE PUBLIC SERVICE UNION.

Three experts echoed Ms Inko-Taria’s refreshing optimism. “White allies must “relentlessly focus on compassionate leadership” said Professor Oliver Shanley expert in quality standards and workforce safety.  “Check you don’t make decisions based on your own biases” said John Brouder CEO   North East London Foundation and champion of inclusivity in the trust. “Listen, Learn and serve others not self”, said Samantha Allen Chief Executive of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation a seasoned leader in mental health and care services.

And we have discovered another brave initiative. Trendsetting Kani Kamara and colleagues aim to purge white privilege at Imperial College London. Her co-authored report as Head of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Centre (EDIC) sends a powerful message. Advantaged staff and leadership whites must use their power to deconstruct white privilege in the college workforce.

However, they must first accept four principles on “How to be a White Ally” to mark their transition from neophytes to full participants.

“Acknowledge your white privilege: Understand that you have white privilege and think about how you can use this privilege to make change and educate others in your workplace and community.

Listen to what Black people are saying. Ask your Black friends and colleagues and ask what you can do to support them.

Boost the voices of Black people on social media: Share threads/posts with donation links and resources. If you have found a book, article or any other kind of resource particularly helpful as a white ally, we can add it to this page to share with our Imperial community.

Educate yourself: Do not ask or expect Black people to educate you. Read books, especially nonfiction books, by Black authors. Buy them from independent bookshops or borrow them from your library. Follow the accounts of Black activists. A good place to start is the coalition of UK Black Lives Matter activists”.

Collect and Use the Necessary Tools and Information
British Library – BAME Staff Network

Racism concerns all of us: Anti-racism resources and ways to support racial justice Members of the BAME network write: Racism concerns all of us. Together we all make our society what it is, and each of us can help to make lasting change.

In the words of Angela Davis, ‘It is not enough to be not racist, you must actively be antiracist’. This collection of resources has been created by members of the BAME network and other colleagues. In particular, white members of the network wanted to create this to share with their fellow white colleagues.

It shows ways that white people can support the Black Lives Matter movement through both action and education, and not leave anti-racism work solely to people of colour.

  • Introduction • Sign petitions and lobby MPs • Donate to funds and support anti-racism organisations • UK-based charities and organisations dedicated to fighting racism and racial justice • Read, watch and listen • Free online resources and articles • Books (non-fiction) • Books (fiction) • Film/Netflix • Podcasts

Significantly, the evidence shows that intrepid Black women – nurses, care workers and professionals and others — have offered a healing balm to racially unhealthy institutions and leaders. And in doing so have defined the action tasks of white allies.

 FOOTNOTES

Nigerian Nurses Charity Association
https://nncauk.org/the-power-of-white-allies.html

Diversity
https://diversityq.com/cherron-inko-tariah-be-a-chess-player-not-a-chess-piece-1005484/

Imperial College
https://www.imperial.ac.uk/equality/resources/how-to-be-a-white-ally/

Reshaping Black British History Month

February 9, 2018

Breaking Free

From Black Culture Crisis to Liberating Action

THOMAS L BLAIR © UPDATED 03 NOVEMBER 2015

Not many really appreciate that the moral basis for celebrating Black History Month – “the freedom struggle” — has lost its prime position.

However, the relentless media portrayal of “problem blacks”, the blame the victim official reports, biased statistics, the uncaring policy makers and the heavy blows of prejudice in public affairs, is forcing a rethink.

Therefore, consider this. If you don’t know much about the abolition of colonial slavery, and fiercely fought independence movements and the blood, sweat and fears of post-war migrants, how can you comprehend the reasons Black Britons strive to overcome their discontents today?

It’s like, what are the issues here?
If, in fact, you don’t know why founder Ms Adkyaaba Addai Sebbo placed pride and African culture at the heart of Black History Month in Britain, if you’re not paying attention to how C L R James, George Padmore and Claudia Jones promoted anti-racist movements and alliances, if you do not know how Bernie Grant MP and Lord Pitt, pathfinders from the Caribbean,  set the markers for grassroots activism and legal reform, , or why jazz man “Hutch” wowed audiences in vast variety halls, then how can you debate the future of Blacks in society, economy and politics in the perilous 21st century?

The way forward
Breaking Free — From Black Culture Crisis to Liberating Action advocates seven tasks to reshape perspectives on Black History Month. So it isn’t set apart from the issues and debates that we’re having today.

The first task is to study and act on the key issues shaping the crisis of Black culture. Secondly, to ensure communities lead with game changing initiatives for progress.

The third task follows: to involve academics, professionals and policy makers in funded problem solution projects. The fourth requires creating danger limiting and opportunity enhancing strategies.

The fifth task involves connecting with social media technologies that empower dispirited youth. The sixth task falls to scholars and cultural activists to challenge negrophobic histories about Black peoples.

Seventh, in conclusion, the awareness of unexpected strengths created will have long lasting effects. It will birth a new generation of champions for Black History, organising to meet the incessant demands of the 21st century.

Thomas L Blair, PhD, FRSA writes on the creative renewal of Black people in urban society. He publishes the Editions Blair series and edits the pioneering Black Experience web sites archived in the Social Welfare Portal of the British Library http://socialwelfare.bl.uk/subject-areas/services-activity/community-development/pub_index.aspx?PublisherID=149777&PublisherName=Editions+Blair

Black History Month — End the Delusion of Inclusion

Take up the mantle of trend-setting Windrush elders

By Thomas L Blair 19 October 2018 ©

Dawn Butler MP claims that “teaching about black history could stop young black boys from being excluded from schools”. I couldn’t disagree more with this inclusionist delusion, reported in the Evening Standard 11 October.

Black History Month was never about simplistic hopes. Rather, the American original annual observance had three self-affirming goals.

One, of course, aimed to positively re-write the school books and combat discriminatory policies.  But, USA founder Carter G Woodson and campaigners also urged action against brutal segregation and second-class citizenship.  Racism violated national morality. And, importantly, he added, celebrants must rebuild Black people’s status and confidence.

“If you teach the Negro that he has accomplished as much good as any other race he will aspire to equality and justice without regard to race…” wrote Woodson, a dean of American scholars and foremost intellectual in The Mis-Education of the Negro.

The Delusion of Inclusion Revealed

Therefore, Black British politicians and celebrants should revise their emphasis on single issue integrationist educational debates. Ample evidence supports this view in the Black British context

In the 1920s Jamaican-born Marcus Mosiah Garvey galvanised Black Britain and the diaspora when he thundered “Up, up, you mighty race! You can accomplish what you will.”

In 1987 firebrand Bernie Grant and the Greater London Council’s Strategic Policy Unit condemned the system as ill-equipped to implement Black History initiatives. How can it with a miserable two-digit percentage of Black teachers, and white teachers with their low-expectations of Black pupils.

In the early 2000s, Diane Abbott MP’s work on the London Schools and the Black Child initiative made a crucial point. She targeted the lamentable state of the educational system expected to teach Black history.

More recent studies highlight the causes of the high rates of expulsions of mainly Black boys. The DfES’ 2004 Survey of Pupils and Teachers found that 42 percent of African-Caribbean heritage pupils in London felt that they were less respected than fellow whites by their teachers.

The Major Barriers and Solutions Are Plain Enough.

Black students entering schools are bright, intelligent and enthusiastic. Many will have fantastic careers ahead of them. (In spite of the instability of their lives and neighbourhoods.) However, the system fails to prepare too many of them to overcome their circumstances. A tragedy embedded in the school system and curriculum.

Worse yet, this failure has long lasting dangerous effects. It encourages ignorance and ill-discipline. Thereby condemning Black youth and communities to low-income jobs and welfare dependency. Serious barriers in the Information Age.

Therefore, inclusionist campaigners must change tactics. From unheeded pleas to power-holders to become agents of systemic change. Their tasks are clear:

  • Call for root and branch reform of education policies.
  • Increase the training, recruitment and retention of Black staff at all levels.
  • Ensure there are role models, mentoring programmes, focus groups and action plans in place.
  • Promote inclusion and diversity in town halls, the principal’s office and the school room.

Pressing Need for New Activism

Moreover, they must commit to Woodson’s emphasis on social action. To Black people in the diaspora, he gave dignity, a pride of heritage and knowledge that a better future is within their grasp.

The best civic-minded Black teachers will establish Community Schools to fulfil the legacy.

  • Meeting the needs of students and parents and the communities in which their schools are located, and
  • Ensuring their physical and intellectual survival within the broader society.

Like the trend-setting early Windrush pioneers, with their parent-led supplementary evening and Saturday schools, youth sports and music clubs, reading groups and self-funded voluntary mentors, the new Black History Month campaigners should:

  • Respond to need.
  • Build community.
  • Lift others onto your shoulders.
  • Bring more people into the fold.
  • Apply historical solutions that are relevant today.

Now is the time.

Campaigners should re-write the Black History Month script.  Take up the mantle of leadership. The mission is to resource, empower and support developing communities.

Afro-Europe, Diaspora Unity Key to Progress

March 16, 2013

“AFRODESCENDANTS BID FAREWELL TO HUGO CHÁVEZ, CIMARRÓN

President Hugo Chavez

By Thomas L Blair, 17 March 2013, © All rights reserved, http://chronicleworld.wordpress.com

The late President Hugo Chavez’s campaigns against the oil companies and for the relief of poverty are well-known and heavily criticised. However, Afro-Venezuelans, half the nation’s population, call him “the emancipator”. 

This dark-skinned man of humble origins brought up in a dirt floor house, promoted inclusion and energised the Black masses.

“Hugo Chávez, popularly elected in 1998, is the first president in Venezuela’s history to claim and honour his indigenous and African ancestry. In an interview with Amy Goodman in 2005, President Chávez said, “Hate against me has a lot to do with racism. Because of my big mouth, because of my curly hair. And I’m so proud to have this mouth and this hair, because it’s African,” according to embassy sources.

His equality policies and programs raised awareness of racism in government and nation, to counter its devastating effects and vestiges. Black men and women, housewives and workers, many with slave ancestors, joined the new community councils, job coops, food markets, health centres, literacy training and micro-credit programs.

Chavez rests therefore with the legendary Cimarrón and the runaway maroons that defied the slave masters. The Yoruba-influenced and poorest Afro-Venezuelans in the northeast honour him. To many, he is a freedom fighter against centuries of racial exclusion, governmental violence and societal repression, according to the praise-singers of African cultural heritage.

Herewith the testimony of The Network of African Descent, Venezuela.

Description: afro-venezuelan-family

“AFRODESCENDANTS BID FAREWELL TO HUGO CHÁVEZ, CIMARRÓN

According to the wisdom handed down as part of the spiritual heritage of enslaved Africans; when an individual marks his passage on this Earth with solidarity and concern for others, and selflessness, he is recognized as a sage.

When someone gives his body completely for justice and equality, who fights because he knows that that others are not eating while he is chewing a piece of bread, who goes to bed thinking that someone else is cold; such a man is sage.

He who knows does not die like he who knows not, says the Yoruba philosophy. When you find someone who can rejoice when he has power and yet teaches you lessons in humility, you have known a sage.

A sage with such a characteristic is a leader; a person who ceases to be himself in order to become another; a person who becomes a myth, or perhaps a spirit who visits many places without knowing it. These spirit sages or wise men turned into spirits are not born every day. Their passages are rarely visible on Earth; and when they appear their deeds are the stuff of unforgettable stories.

King Michael, Andresote, Miguel Guacamaya, José Leonardo Chirinos, Petión were and are sage leaders, spirits and heroes of our history as African descent.

Today begins another cycle in our history of leaders. Hugo Chávez Frias joins our pantheons of leaders, sages and spirits, who, by their actions and their struggles, identify with Africa and African descendants. In our African wisdom he becomes an ancestor, he does not die, he enters another existence recognized as an eternal sage, an unquestionable leader and a solid hero.

We will dry every tear, we will overcome our sadness, we will grieve for the moment but we are confident that we will continue on the path of freedom and that we will continue to fight for our rights and fight for our recognition of the men and women of African descent.

Hugo Chavez, cimarrón forever, ancestor freedom fighter, brother and father of African descent, we will never forget you.

Written by representatives of the Network of Afrodescendants of Venezuela. Among them Diogenes Diaz . Luis Perdomo Elvyns. Onís Chourio Fulvia Polanco Corner, Cesar Quintero Luz Marina Rosales.”

Notes and sources:
“Afrodescendants bid farewell to Hugo Chávez, Cimarrón”, Testimony text translation by Norman Girvan. Apporea. com, the journal for Chavez’s Bolivarian socialism http://www.aporrea.org/actualidad/a160630.html

President Hugo Chavez African quote published on the “Fact sheet” of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the United States. http://venezuela-us.org/live/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/04.26.2011-FS-Afro-Venezuelans-Final.pdf As at 15 March 2013

March 31, 2019

Black Europe Unchained From “The Links of Colonialism” 

Cécile Kyenge, Congolese Italian lawmaker, shepherds anti-racist bill through EU Parliament

BY Thomas L Blair 1 April 2019 ©

Something exciting is happening for Black people in Europe. Who would have thought a Congolese miner’s daughter would put full citizenship of African descent on Europe’s law books? Well, Cécile Kashetu Kyenge, a Congolese Italian — once a penniless science student, now a legislator and medical professional – has managed to do it. Her vision could be called Black Europe Unchained from “the Links of Colonialism”

Her years of campaigning for Europe’s Black millions paid off in March. The European parliament decided to tackle the “structural racism” facing millions of Europeans of African descent. The unprecedented resolution was overwhelmingly approved by MEPs.

The European Union’s Declaration Fundamental Rights of People of African Descent is now enshrined… It urges the 28 member states to develop anti-racism strategies. Key targets include widespread discrimination in education, health, housing, policing, the justice system and politics.

Full EU citizenship for Black Europeans is a fundamental principle

In Kyenge’s informed view, “the question of full citizenship of Black Europeans should be included in this complex of topics” Not only to “understand their depth, but also to be able to remedy them”.

Italy’s first Black Minister of Integration applauds the EU stand against “structural racism”. She hopes it will redress the worst effects of racism in Europe. Thereby putting “the lives of Black people high on the civil and human rights agenda”. She knows how important it is and says “I suffered vile racist abuse. But this poison damages us all Racial discrimination is now “commonplace” across 12 European countries, and one in three people of African descent has experienced harassment in the past”.

Significantly, the declaration covers the key EU institutions. They are the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the Court of Justice.

Kyenge’s Italian Partico Democratico will monitor progress. So will colleagues in the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.

Migration, Human Rights and Fortress Europe 

Far-right anti-immigration politicians will protest the declaration. They threaten to block Black Europe’s progress in every nation.

Britain has its Eurosceptics and virulent anti-immigrant supporters like Nigel Farage and UKIP. Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders and white nationalist leaders in Italy, Austria and Belgium are gaining ground. They call for a “Fortress Europe against the pollution of Black and Muslim people”.

Declaration supporters expect that Europe’s surge of angry populists imperils minorities. Brexit Betrayal Marchers dragged effigies of London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan, an ethnic minority Muslim,   by the neck through the streets of London. “Skin heads” shouting racist obscenities attack Blacks in Budapest, Hungary and Eastern European cities.

The Way Forward

Cécile Kashetu Kyenge and her colleagues face an uphill battle to implement the declaration. The CRAN, an Afro-French Representative Council of Black (Noires) Associations, supports the “RESTITUTION, REDRESS AND RIGHTS OF AFRO-DESCENDANTS”. A radical view in a nation where “there is no right to say black or count the black population”.  [By law and custom, it is illegal and taboo in France to count ethnic groups. You are either French or you are not.]

The Declaration is one step toward releasing “the native trapped in the tight links of colonialism”, to paraphrase Frantz Fanon, the French-Algerian thinker. In the Chronicleworld’s view, six pillars of affirmative action will support declaration advocates in the European Union and in each member state.

One, spark a public debate on the implementation of the declaration.

Two, urge the EU to establish a human rights watchdog to investigate suspected race discrimination against identifiable African groups.

Three, research and get the facts on Black populations to monitor the performance of EU member states.

Four, foster networking and the trans-European exchange of race relations good practice.

Five, take steps to empower and build capacity of marginalised and discriminated Black groups.

Six, advocate a human rights-based European approach to African migrants and asylum seekers.

MEP Kyenge speaks on Declaration of the Fundamental Rights of People of African Descent in Europe

Cécile Kashetu Kyenge, MEP for Italy, opened the EU Parliament debate with a monumental review of Black struggle in Europe. Well-researched and thought-through, she began: [Translation edited for clarity of expression in English].

 
  Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, today we are opening this debate on the situation of European citizens of African origin by taking the opportunity to turn the spotlight on the specific form of social exclusion they face. In this presentation speech, it is my task to explain to the Presidency of our Assembly, to the members of the Commission, the addressee of the question, to the colleagues present and to the citizens all the sense of the question itself and the way in which we will have to insert the topic in our future parliamentary work… “The official recognition of the specific history of the Afro-descendants, the possibility of instituting reparations, the question of the public apology, but also that of the return of the artistic assets to the African countries, once robbed by the European colonizing nations, as well as the question of the declassification of the Colonial archives deserve the establishment of a unit of the European Commission that deals specifically with these issues and the promotion of full citizenship of African descendants… “The equal social integration of European citizens of African descent must, in my opinion, be framed in the need to respect fundamental human rights. On the whole it is a question of guaranteeing the bearers of diversity, the integrity of human dignity of which they are indisputable owners. These statements, which start from the elementary levels of our political reflection, are motivated by the fact that in today’s Europe, despite centuries of theorising rationality and social evolution, there are still negative values, which undermine the life of the African descendants… “Moreover, in several member countries, the daily news is often dominated by episodes of racism and xenophobia, which affect indifferently the African-descendent European citizens and tend to push them to the margins of society. The extent of the phenomenon is such that no social sector can be considered immune. Housing rights, the possibility of access to decent work and the right to education appear to be particularly violated. In some European countries, we have even witnessed the attempted return of apartheid, with the discriminatory exclusion of Afro-descendant children from school canteens, as well as the attempt to establish separate classes for them…   “When I reported on the controversies…I mentioned the question of the historical relations between the European countries, today members of the Union, and the African countries…This historical relationship has seen, among other things, post-medieval explorations, the trafficking of black slaves, colonization, the total economic exploitation of Africa and the newly veiled forms of neocolonialism that exist in our times. Often, within this Assembly, as well as within our societies, the migration issue, an essential component of globalization, has thrilled our discussions, even exacerbating our contrasts of views. I believe that the question of full citizenship of black Europeans, Afro-descendants, should be included in this complex of topics, in order to understand their depth, but also to be able to remedy them. “I have seen some of our colleagues be surprised to hear me say that there is racism in Europe, considering it an almost exclusively American phenomenon. And yet, in the cradle of humanist culture, racist and xenophobic acts are not only swarming, but in some contexts, they become part of a theory of government …”

REFERENCES on the Declaration include:

The European Union http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+CRE+20190314+ITEM-017+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=EN&query=INTERV&detail=4-322-000

The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/26/meps-pass-watershed-resolution-action-against-structural-racism-people-african-descent

Le CRAN http://le-cran.fr/qui-sommes-nous/

March 8, 2022

Zhan, Celebrated Afro-Ukrainian Wrestler, Lawmaker.

Unbossed Civil Rights Defender or Servant of a Racist Society?

By Thomas L Blair 8 March 2022 ©

Ukraine’s Zhan Vensanovych Beleniuk is that nation’s Olympic wrestling prodigy and the first elected Black non-white Member of Parliament. And from this dual-platform of excellence, he urges the vulnerable African Ukrainian population to join the resistance to the Russian invasion.

Beleniuk, the aspiring wrestling champion, was born in 1991 in Kyiv to a Ukrainian mother and Rwandan fighter pilot father. Like many inter-racial couples, they lived in a small urban community of Ukrainian and Russian-speaking Africans.   

Life was not easy Beleniuk acknowledges. His wrestling prowess was no guard against abuse. The neo-Nazis shouted “black monkey go to Africa” when he brought home his middleweight gold from the Tokyo Olympics 2020.

As a result, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ordered police to investigate the abuse against “one of the most worthy sons of Ukraine”. Thereafter, he urged hero Beleniuk to join his governing Servant of the People party.

Beleniuk immediately accepted saying “I love my country; it gave me everything I have. I want to promote the development of Ukrainian sport and no one will make me go anywhere”.

 Now, describing himself as “100-percent Ukrainian”, Beleniuk is an army officer with special housing benefits for his sporting achievements. Moreover, he displays his patriotism in traditional Ukrainian folk shirts and dancing the Hopak.

With satisfaction, Beleniuk carefully orchestrates his public image. He points to his two thousand loyal Facebook followers. Frequently he poses in battle-ready gear and often appears with the President in morale-boosting photographs.

Detractors may question the extraordinary rise of this award-winning Afro-Ukrainian political figure. But Beleniuk relishes the challenge with the same vigour as a wrestling bout.

He believes he’ll have a direct platform in the post-war era to help end racial prejudice and improve the nation’s sporting prowess.

Ukraine’s sports lovers across the racial divides may favour Beleniuk’s athletic goals. However, too often Black claims to civil rights are met with an ominous threat “SHUT UP OR GET OUT”.

Therefore the struggle against discrimination and for equality continues.
* Defend the interests of Black and mixed-race citizens and communities.
*Support foreign African and Caribbean students and people of colour.
*Offer economic aid to students, traders, workers, migrants and refugees.
*Promote equality and justice for all when the national unity fostered by war is over.

Failure to act for Blacks taints Beleniuk’s rise. Afro-Ukrainians need this champion and lawmaker on their side. Time for Beleniuk to make a hero’s call for equality and justice. Or be seen as a courtier to the power elites of a white ethnic nationalist state.

November 30, 2021

The Irresistible Rise of Black Central Europe Websites

By Thomas L Blair 30 November 2021 ©

One extraordinary aspect of Afro-Europe, which so far seems to have attracted very little attention, is the rise of Black Central European websites, especially in Germany and Austria.  They tackle the problems of today, but also bring you over 1000 years of Black history in European lands and show you why it matters right now. Here are some examples.

AFRO-GERMAN AND AFRO-AUSTRIAN ORGANIZATIONS AND PROJECTS

ISD – Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland
Founded in 1985, this organization works for the advancement of people of African descent in Germany.

Hereandblack
Based in Freiburg, this is a site dedicated to making more visible the experiences of Black people in the past and present of Europe, Germany, and Southwest Germany. It offers a wide range of posts and commentary, events, and testimonies.

Black German Heritage and Research Association
The Black German Heritage and Research Association documents and supports the activities of Black Germans worldwide.

Each One Teach One
A community-based empowerment project that began in 2014, Each One Teach One comprises an after school Black Diaspora School for youth and the Vera Heyer archiv, which is a private archive of documents related to Black German history.

ADEFRA – Schwarze Frauen in Deutschland
Founded in the 1980s, this organization played a pivotal role in the Afro-German movement of the 1980s and 90s. They continue to host events and support Black women in Germany today.

Fresh Magazine – Black Austrian Lifestyle
Founded by Simon Inou, Fresh Magazine is the first media presence dedicated to covering Black life in Austria.

M-Media: Diversity Media Watch Austria
Offering extensive coverage and critical analysis of how the Austrian media portrays and discusses racial and ethnic minorities in the news.

Der Braune Mob
Founded in 2001, Der Braune Mob calls itself Germany’s first Black media watchdog.

Black German Cultural Society
An American organization of mixed-race children born in Germany under occupation, it serves as a network and a forum to facilitate awareness of issues that affect Black Germans and their descendants.

AFRO-EUROPEAN ORGANIZATIONS AND WEBSITES ACROSS EUROPE

Afropean – Adventures in Afro Europe
Run by the photographer Jimmy Pitts, this is an extended mediation on the experiences and meanings of blackness in Europe and of black Europeanness overseas. The site offers reviews, sources, and commentaries on culture, identity, travel and much, much more.

ENPAD – European Network for People of African Descent
Comprised of 15 different advocacy groups from across Europe, ENPAD aims to build a network connecting Europeans of African descent all across the continent.

H-Black-Europe
Founded in 2016 by Tiffany Florvil and Kira Thurman, this H-Net group for scholars and intellectuals is dedicated to discussing Europe’s historical and contemporary relationship with the Black Diaspora.


DIGITAL HUMANITIES PROJECTS

German Colonial History Sources Online
The University of Frankfurt’s library has digitized and organized thousands of sources on the history of German colonialism. The Internet Library Sub-Saharan Africa has helpfully organized them for the general reader.

Mapping Ira Aldridge
A project of University of Michigan Professor Anita Gonzalez and her students, this site maps the European performances of the mid-19th-century African-American actor Ira Aldridge. It provides details of his roles and the venues, as well as reproductions of some historical documents.

March 16, 2013

Afrodescendants Bid Farewell to Hugo Chávez, Cimarrón

By Thomas L Blair, 17 March 2013, © All rights reserved, http://chronicleworld.wordpress.com

The late President Hugo Chavez’s campaigns against the oil companies and for the relief of poverty are well-known and heavily criticised. However, Afro-Venezuelans, half the nation’s population, call him “the emancipator”. 

This dark-skinned man of humble origins brought up in a dirt floor house, promoted inclusion and energised the Black masses.

“Hugo Chávez, popularly elected in 1998, is the first president in Venezuela’s history to claim and honour his indigenous and African ancestry. In an interview with Amy Goodman in 2005, President Chávez said, “Hate against me has a lot to do with racism. Because of my big mouth, because of my curly hair. And I’m so proud to have this mouth and this hair, because it’s African,” according to embassy sources.

His equality policies and programs raised awareness of racism in government and nation, to counter its devastating effects and vestiges. Black men and women, housewives and workers, many with slave ancestors, joined the new community councils, job coops, food markets, health centres, literacy training and micro-credit programs.

Chavez rests therefore with the legendary Cimarrón and the runaway maroons that defied the slave masters. The Yoruba-influenced and poorest Afro-Venezuelans in the northeast honour him. To many, he is a freedom fighter against centuries of racial exclusion, governmental violence and societal repression, according to the praise-singers of African cultural heritage.

Herewith the testimony of The Network of African Descent, Venezuela.

“AFRODESCENDANTS BID FAREWELL TO HUGO CHÁVEZ, CIMARRÓN

According to the wisdom handed down as part of the spiritual heritage of enslaved Africans; when an individual marks his passage on this Earth with solidarity and concern for others, and selflessness, he is recognized as a sage.

When someone gives his body completely for justice and equality, who fights because he knows that that others are not eating while he is chewing a piece of bread, who goes to bed thinking that someone else is cold; such a man is sage.

He who knows does not die like he who knows not, says the Yoruba philosophy. When you find someone who can rejoice when he has power and yet teaches you lessons in humility, you have known a sage.

A sage with such a characteristic is a leader; a person who ceases to be himself in order to become another; a person who becomes a myth, or perhaps a spirit who visits many places without knowing it. These spirit sages or wise men turned into spirits are not born every day. Their passages are rarely visible on Earth; and when they appear their deeds are the stuff of unforgettable stories.

King Michael, Andresote, Miguel Guacamaya, José Leonardo Chirinos, Petión were and are sage leaders, spirits and heroes of our history as African descent.

Today begins another cycle in our history of leaders. Hugo Chávez Frias joins our pantheons of leaders, sages and spirits, who, by their actions and their struggles, identify with Africa and African descendants. In our African wisdom he becomes an ancestor, he does not die, he enters another existence recognized as an eternal sage, an unquestionable leader and a solid hero.

We will dry every tear, we will overcome our sadness, we will grieve for the moment but we are confident that we will continue on the path of freedom and that we will continue to fight for our rights and fight for our recognition of the men and women of African descent.

Hugo Chavez, cimarrón forever, ancestor freedom fighter, brother and father of African descent, we will never forget you.

Written by representatives of the Network of Afrodescendants of Venezuela. Among them Diogenes Diaz . Luis Perdomo Elvyns. Onís Chourio Fulvia Polanco Corner, Cesar Quintero Luz Marina Rosales.”

Notes and sources:
“Afrodescendants bid farewell to Hugo Chávez, Cimarrón”, Testimony text translation by Norman Girvan. Apporea. com, the journal for Chavez’s Bolivarian socialism http://www.aporrea.org/actualidad/a160630.html

President Hugo Chavez African quote published on the “Fact sheet” of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the United States. http://venezuela-us.org/live/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/04.26.2011-FS-Afro-Venezuelans-Final.pdf As at 15 March 2013

Black Political Quest for Solidarity

Black Parliamentary Unity Key to Progress

Why a Black Caucus May Be the Most Significant Thing Right Now

By Thomas L Blair 12 July 2017 ©

 “Job’s not done”, said Patrick Vernon prominent Labour Party Black activist. “30 years on from the historic election of four black MPs, we have no call to feel smug about diversity in parliament”. And the Hackney councillor’s view rings true.

As the Black political future improves, the prospects of a gathering for unity brightens.  Yet, we know that the quest for unity has a problematic history.

Bernie Grant and his associates — Paul Boateng, Dianne Abbott and Keith Vaz — celebrated their victories and race equality views in the august halls of Parliament. They connected with political and academic followers in districts with large Black, Asian and minority ethnic people. However, they failed and disbanded after three years of internal strife.

Fifteen years later the intrepid Guardian reporter, Gary Younge, picked up the torch and said “Liberals won’t like it, conservatives will loathe it, but it’s time for black MPs to form their own caucus”. However, the struggling 12 Black and Asian out of 659 members had no appetite for this in 2002.

Now, the prospects for a coalition have increased after the 2017 elections. Dawn Butler, Labour MP for Brent Central has resurrected the “big-idea: a Parliamentary Black Caucus in the Commons and the Lords.

Organise and define a Mission Statement.

The post-election period is the best time to announce new and difficult things. The first task is obvious. The caucus should be a gathering of individuals who come together to work for a shared objective – generally political in nature. They will need to create a formal structure to talk with each other, share common views and shape policy. They must guard against the race hatred and xenophobia that threaten to engulf political processes.  Moreover, members must make their privileged status work for the common good.

Declare a Mandate Against, Prejudice, Humiliation and Exclusion.

Race-based gaps are a feature of life in every part of Britain and its institutions. Black women MPs suffer more online abuse than whites.  Dianne Abbott, a 30-year veteran, has received thousands of “mindless” death threats and racist and sexist rants.

Furthermore, British Caribbean entrepreneur Gina Miller who challenged the government’s Brexit plans was targeted by a noble Lord. He offered a bounty of “£5,000 for the first person to “accidentally” run over this bloody troublesome first generation immigrant.”

There is no doubt, the new Black parliamentarians must lead the fight against the internet lynchers and “tweeters of abuse”.

The Caucus must be transformative.

It’s when we turn to the next task that creative engagement becomes crucial. The coalition must connect with communities, build alliances, gain in strength, and lay the track for others to follow and meet the aspirations of people. Their responsibility is to address the inequalities and injustice that bar progress. This marks the shift from self-interest to mutual aid for aspiring, awakened Black people.

Address the overwhelming need for unity.

A unified caucus is essential. The new political generation will surely increase in number. In Gary Younge’s view, “We need it because while race does not determine their politics, it does inform them. They need to meet, not so they can agree but so they can discuss and disagree, force issues on to the agenda that would otherwise be ignored and help to mould policies that would otherwise be imposed. Together, they could add a black dimension to general issues and a general dimension to black issues”.

This double consciousness is arguably more important than almost everything else.  It heralds a paradigm shift in out-dated statecraft. Black parliamentarians must be protectors and praise-singers. Thus, the unity of the post- GE 2017 generation will increase their relevance to Black Britain and influence the course of democracy.

Black Solidarity Gains Momentum against UK Racism Denial Report

By Thomas L Blair 05 April 2021 ©

One extraordinary trend, which so far seems to have received no attention, is the rise of Black social solidarity in response to the government’s portrayal of Britain as “a beacon of good race relations and diversity model for other western nations”. [See Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities’ Report].

In a vigorous counterattack, hundreds of Black civil rights groups, academics and parliamentarians say the recent race report is a flawed piece of work. Teams of researchers and thousands of Zoomers and Tweeters are on the alert. All are raising their voices for racial justice, according to close investigation and text messages reviewed by the Chronicleworld.

The Commission had a unique opportunity to act as a trailblazer for the future of race relations…but missed it. says Yvonne Field, founder of the community action Ubele Initiative.

The harsh fact is half the commissioners do not understand Britain’s history of Anti Blackness, says Patrick Vernon, a pioneer for the 1940s unrewarded first Black generations.

Refusal to accept the existence of structural racism means it is allowed to fester and grows unchallenged says Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, lawyer, women’s rights activist and author of This Is Why I Resist.

The new solidarity reveals the report’s fatal flaw. It blames Black communities for a poverty of culture and feckless lifestyles rather than the real villain — society. Thereby, recasting questionable prejudices against the desperate, homeless, sick and starving class of whites of the early 19th century.

The Institute of Race Relations points out the failure to address “the common ethnic minority experience of structural racism in the criminal justice system.”

As a result, Halima Begum of the Runnymede race equality think-tank says “To argue that there is no evidence of institutional racism in the UK is delusional”. Mounting an open letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Begum and equality campaigners urged him “to commit to extant equalities legislation and uphold the public sector duty on equality and foster good relations”. Fellow signators included theologian and professor of social justice Keith L Magee, social affairs and education journalist Afua Hirsch and publisher and broadcaster Margaret Busby.

Confidence-building academics are clear in their damning indictment.  David Olusoga, one of Britain’s foremost historians of slavery says “the poisonously patronising report is historically illiterate”. Similarly, university professors Hakim Adi of Chichester and theologian Robert Beckford at the Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham have spoken out.

Remi Joseph-Salisbury, a researcher in ethnicity and inequalities at the University of Manchester, strengthens the solidarity trend. He says we are witnessing a government propelled by fear of the mass mobilisations of summer 2020, and “doing everything possible to undermine the efforts of those seeking racial justice”.

Perhaps the most striking thing is that speaking out has become the new mode of action for hundreds of researchers. They refute the report’s claims that education is the success story of the ethnic minority experience. Why? Because it overlooked the substantial evidence of institutional and direct racism in schools and universities, they say.

Bernard Coard, teaching in 1970s London, wrote How the West Indian Child is Made Educationally Subnormal in the British School System.  The rights campaigner and once Hackney’s first Director of Education and Leisure Services, wrote Taking a Stand on Education, Race, Social Action and Civil Unrest 1980-2005. Both identified pervasive institutional bias. White children were “normal”. Black children were treated as second-rate, without a history except by the grace of whites.

Currently, solidarity-building parliamentarians dismiss the flawed race report. Dianne Abbott opposition Labour Party MP tweeted bluntly: “It’s unhelpful to deny the continued existence of institutional racism”.

David Lammy MP says the report could have been a turning point, “instead it has chosen to divide us once more rather than doing anything about it.”

This means the report “gives racists the green light” says Baroness Doreen Lawrence, campaigner for justice for her racially murdered teenage son Stephen Lawrence 22 April 1993. [Subsequently, the MacPherson Inquiry found the murder was “solely and unequivocally motivated by racism”.]

Therefore, Lord Simon Wooley of Operation Black Vote campaign says the Prime Minister can no longer remain in denial about racism. The 2020 Black Lives Matter protests “created a move for change the government won’t be able to hold back”. Clearly, inaction has pressed on the limits of Black endurance.

However, for the historical record, Black solidarians prompted two important results. First, Prime Minister Boris Johnson sought to distance himself from a report that drew an angry backlash.

Second, the Black solidarians and allies forced the race report Commission to hurriedly issue a calming press release accepting “the Macpherson inquiry definition of institutional racism, though we did not find conclusive evidence that it exists”. Inaction is pressing on the limits of Black endurance.

Therefore, together, the Black solidarians are a new trend in Black consciousness – a confident history-defining collective of thought, research and action for change. It is far too early to say, but they have made an important contribution to the struggle to change the practices and performance of institutions that maintain discrimination.

July 25, 2020

Write On!  Thomas L Blair Selected Bibliography

Relevant works by the author Thomas L Blair include:

— Council of Europe Publishing. Area Based projects in districts of high immigrant concentration (Thomas L Blair and Edward D Hulsbergen Consultants), Community relation, Directorate of Social and Economic Affairs Council of Europe Publishing (1998).

—“The Unquiet Zone: Planning Innovative Renewal in Post-war Social Housing Areas of Black and Ethnic Minority Concentration in Inner London”.(A study and M.A. thesis), Fellow, Department of Sociology and Urban Studies, Goldsmiths College, University of London, 1997

— Building an urban future: Race and planning in London, Cities, Volume 5, Issue 1, February 1988, Pages 41-56

— Retreat to the Ghetto: The End of a Dream?” (Hill & Wang, New York 1977)

— The International Urban Crisis.  (Hill and Wang, New York 1974)

— The Poverty of Planning. Crisis in the urban environment. London: Macdonald. 1973

Related Foundational, Classic Texts and Resources

Banton, Michael (1955), The Coloured Quarter. London: Jonathan Cape. 

File, Nigel and Chris Power (1981), Black Settlers in Britain 1555-1958, London: Heinemann Educational.

Fryer, Peter (2001), Staying Power: The History of Black Britain, London: Pluto Press

Paul Gilroy and Stuart Hall (2007), Black Britain: A Photographic History [Paperback] London: Saqi Books

Gundara, Jagdish S. and Ian Duffield, eds. (1992), Essays on the History of Blacks in Britain. Avebury, Aldershot.

Merriman, Nick ed. (1993), The Peopling of London: Fifteen Thousand Years of Settlement from Overseas. Museum of London, London.

Phillips, Mike (2001), London Crossings: A Biography of Black Britain, New York and London: Continuum

Trevor Phillips and Mike Phillips (2009), Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multi-Racial Britain, New York: Harper Collins 

Scobie, Edward (1972) Black Britannia: A History of Blacks in Britain. Chicago: Johnson Publishing. 

Shyllon, F.Q. (1977), Black People in Britain 1555-1833.  Oxford University Press.

Shyllon, Folarin (1992), “The Black Presence and Experience in Britain: An Analytical Overview,” in Gundara and Duffield eds. (1992), Essays on the History of Blacks in Britain. Avebury, Aldershot.

Walvin, James (1971), The Black Presence: A Documentary History of the Negro in England, 1555-1860. London: Orbach and Chambers.

Walvin, James (1973), Black and White: The Negro and English Society 1555-1945. London: Penguin

ESSENTIAL TEXTS FOR THE BOOK

Historical context is everything in exploring the Black experiences and planning in Britain. The history of migration, immigration, culture conflict, prejudice and power imbalances influence every important decision affecting Black people.

Well-written books by Black social scientists include David Dabydeen, Gilmore and Jones et al (2010), The Oxford Companion to Black British History, Oxford Paperback Reference, and Kwesi Owusu Editor (1999), Black British Culture and Society, London: Routledge.

Readers will benefit from Susan Okokon (1998), Black Londoners 1880-1990, Stroud, Gloucester: Sutton Publishing Limited, Hakim Adi (1998),  West Africans in Britain, 1900-1960: Nationalism, Pan Africanism and Communism, London: Lawrence & Wishart Ltd and Harry Goulbourne (1998), Race Relations in Britain since 1945. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

March 18, 2021

About Chronicle World’s Weblog and Black Britain

The Chronicle World’s Weblog is the UK’s leading independent online news magazine on Black Britain politics, history, and culture.

It is “Black” in the sense that each article is thoroughly researched and written for readers in Black Britain and the African Diaspora,

Founded in 1997 by cyber-scholar Professor Thomas L Blair his articles and commentaries focus attention on Cyber Action for Social Change.

The Weblog, a non-profit enterprise, leads on issues that affect Black communities and their urban habitat. From race equality issues to the rape of resources. Climate change to crime. From social strife to social justice in politics, culture, health, education and housing.

The Chronicle World’s Weblog is seen as central to the narrative of Black people in modern Britain from the second half of the 20th century, according to the British Library Community Development and Regeneration portal.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.