Anti-Racism

Unionising black workers in the USA

African Americans who maintained train engines had to sue the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen to gain admission to the union in 1944. Outside the court. The Memphis, Tennessee, bin workers’ strike of 1968 is now mainly remembered as an event that provided the backdrop for the assassination of Martin Luther King. King had made a turn, with his Poor People’s Campaign, towards fighting against poverty. 1300 black workers in Memphis struck against poverty pay rates that were so low many of the men wore dirty old clothes and needed social security payments to feed their children...

The French revolution and black liberation

I’ve never read anything by the French novelist Alexandre Dumas. I might now, after reading the remarkable story of his father in Tom Reiss’ remarkable book, Black Count. I didn’t know that Dumas the novelist was mixed-race. His father, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie, was born in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (today’s Haiti), the son of a French nobleman and a black woman he owned as a slave. Eventually also known as just Alexandre or Alex Dumas, he became a top general in the French revolution - not in Haiti, but in Europe. He was the highest-ranking black officer in a...

School history and Black Lives Matter

A good historian and history teacher is a blend of detective, lawyer, and story-teller. At its simplest history is story-telling with evidence, though for many years history in schools was simply the story of rulers, of so-called great men. The stories of the little people, often far more interesting, were neglected. And the more oppressed the people, the more likely that their story remained untold in history books. Imagine for a minute you are a trans man or woman, or a black trans man or woman. You have all the experience of isolation in a cruel world full of prejudice and, to add salt to...

"American Carnage"

When Donald Trump gave his inaugural speech to a poorly attended crowd in January 2017, he spoke of ending “the American carnage”. Carnage isn’t a strong enough word for the three-pronged crisis the country now faces. The Covid pandemic rages — 150,000 deaths and rising. Expect half a million virus fatalities come election time in November. Trump’s behaviour continues to make a dreadful situation far worse as he undermines the advice of his own public health experts and continues to promote quack remedies, disinformation, and conspiracy theories. Trump no longer recommends swallowing...

Anti-racism: different approaches

Introducing the 2002 edition of his 1987 book There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack, Paul Gilroy was pessimistic about how curbs on immigration were entrenching racism, and about the potential of the working class. Yet he wrote: "The convivial metropolitan cultures of the country's young people are still a bulwark against the machinations of racial politics". Black people have been living in Britain for centuries, but in small numbers, maybe 0.2% of the population in 1951. The much bigger "minorities", since the 19th century, were Jewish and Irish immigrants. But by 1971 black people were 2.5...

"Don't let the police divide us"

On 23 July, the Guardian reported that four residents in Haringey were ordered by police to remove their “White Silence is Violence” banner. One of them, Meghann Foster, spoke to Natalia Cassidy from Solidarity. Why was it that the police contacted you and your housemates? During June’s Black Lives Matter protests we made a sign that said “White silence is violence”, after which we hung it from our flat window facing out onto the street. We had no issues for a month until the police knocked on our door and said someone had complained about the banner and that we had to take it down. We decided...

"Active class struggle is central to anti-racist struggle"

The Repeat Beat Poet is a hip hop and spoken word artist, broadcaster and activist. He talked with Janine Booth from Solidarity; the whole conversation is online here. On recent events in the USA: There are shamefully still regularly extrajudicial killings of Black people in the US and across the world, but because of lockdown, the killing [of George Floyd] is a moment of vindication for a lot of activists. The protests are vital in achieving concessions from the oppressive system we’re living in, and show mobilised oppressed peoples how they can bring themselves together and collectivise...

A critique of identity politics

Mistaken Identity is a concise six-chapter exposition and critique of “Identity Politics” from a broadly Marxist perspective. It a reasonably accessible text with a bit of effort made by the author, Asad Haider, to write in a not-too-academic style, using autobiograpy or biography, analysis, commentary and historically relevant episodes to make the arguments. The first chapter, “Identity Politics”, draws on a host of socialist references – the Combahee River Collective, The Black Panthers, C L R James and others – in order to excavate the obscured history of class-based racial struggles. It...

Cuba suppresses Black Lives Matter protest

A crackdown by the Cuban state on 30 June prevented planned demonstrations against the killing of an unarmed black man by Cuban police a week earlier. Hansel Ernesto Hernández Galiano, a 27 year-old Afro-Caribbean man, was shot dead by police on the 24 June. On 25 June his aunt denounced the murder on social media, which was widely shared. Following this criticism, the Cuban authorities acknowledged that he had been killed, and was not armed, although they attempted to partially justify it. They have not disclosed identities of the police responsible or whether any disciplinary action was...

The BLM protests after six weeks

In London, Black Lives Matter protests continue every weekend, six weeks after the protests sparked by George Floyd’s killing on 25 May first spread to the UK. Although smaller than the first June protests, they are still getting from 500 to 2000 people. In Brighton on Saturday 11 July, 5000 joined the protest after a video circulated of a man shouting “I can’t breathe” while being restrained by Sussex Police. Initial demonstrations were very heavily young, Black, and working class, though with significant representation from all ethnic backgrounds. Now the protests have larger white...

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.