Anti-Racism

Black culture and resistance: the Harlem Renaissance

One hundred years ago, an arts movement was forming in a mainly-black district of New York City. Later known as the Harlem Renaissance, it was primarily cultural but also inescapably political. Literature, poetry, jazz, theatre, sculpture and more articulated the lives and demands of African-Americans no longer willing to be grateful that they were no longer enslaved. O black and unknown bards of long ago. How came your lips to touch the sacred fire? How, in your darkness, did you come to know The power and beauty of the minstrel’s lyre? Who first from midst his bonds lifted his eyes? Who...

Kino Eye: Anti-racism in the 1950s

While black workers were fighting against the “colour bar” and about a year after the Notting Hill riots, Roy Barker directed Flame in the Streets (1961). Shop Steward Jacko Palmer (John Mills) argues for the rights of Gabriel Gomez (Earl Cameron) a black worker in his factory, but then has to confront his own prejudices when daughter Kathie (Sylvia Simms) falls in love with a black man, Peter Lincoln (Johnny Sekka). Despite its occasional clunky dialogue, it is a hard-hitting and powerful film. Earl Cameron was one of the prominent early black actors in British film and TV and died only this...

How transport workers beat the colour bar

This story of colour bars in the UK railway and bus industries begins after the Second World War, when Britain had a labour shortage and people moved to Britain in increasing numbers from Caribbean countries and elsewhere. The National Union of Railwaymen (NUR, predecessor of the RMT) declared in 1948 that: “we have no objection to the employment of coloured men in the railway industry” and that “coloured men had been satisfactorily employed on the railways over a long period”. But although the top of the union was getting it right, in some areas the grassroots was not. In 1950, white workers...

Stand and be counted

This article by the Algerian socialist-feminist Marieme Helie Lucas, responding to the beheading of French teacher Samuel Paty by an Islamist assailant on 16 October, was first published on the Feminist Dissent website. We republish it, with the author's permission, to promote discussion. Assassinations by decapitation or by the sword – which are highly symbolic of all Muslim extreme-right organisations (Al Qaeda, the Taliban, GIA, al-Shabab, Daesh, Boko Haram, etc.) – are not a new phenomenon in France. Several cases have already happened in recent years. It points at the will of the...

The Story of Colour Bars on the UK Railway

Speaking at our online meeting in September, Janine Booth tells the story of the period after the end of the Second World War when black people came to Britain but met opposition from some white workers, until the 'colour bar' was defeated in 1966.

A win for Osime Brown

On 7 October, Osime Brown, a young man jailed under “joint enterprise” law, will return to his family home on his release from prison, rather than being taken to an immigration detention centre. This win follows many street and online protests demanding his freedom. But Osime’s fight is still on: the order to deport him to Jamaica (which he left at the age of 4, and where has no support network) still stands. No date has been announced, but Osime still has this threat looming. Campaigners are running a “Twitter storm” on 6 October, and ask supporters to keep signing and sharing the petition...

Making anti-racism a union issue

Two years ago, activists in the Lambeth branch of the public services union Unison launched a campaign to fight institutional racism at Lambeth Council. We knew our employer had a huge race pay gap. We were hearing from our members that they were experiencing more racism at work, since the Brexit vote. We launched a survey and our black workers told us about their experiences of discrimination at work. The stats showed the same story. There were a disproportionate number of white workers in higher grades. You were more likely to face a disciplinary investigation at Lambeth if you were black...

Rail workers say: Black Lives Matter!

Off The Rails supports the global protests against police brutality and racism.

The issues raised by the protests are not just problems in the USA. They affect us too. Britain has its own history of police violence against people of colour, with campaigns like the United Families and Friends...

New protests for Breonna Taylor

On 23 September it was announced that a grand jury in the US state of Kentucky had indicted only one of the three police officers — Brett Hankinson, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove — involved in the murder of healthworker Breonna Taylor in March. And, surreally, Hankinson was indicted not for shooting Taylor but for firing at a neighbouring home. Protests demanding justice have flared across the country. Mattingly wrote that “I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night”… The “legal, moral and ethical thing” was spraying 32 bullets into Taylor’s home, in response to a...

Free Osime Brown!

Joe Booth was speaking at the “Free Osime Brown” protest on 25 September. More about the Osime Brown campaign here. Hey everyone. My name’s Joe. Joe Booth. I’m 18. And I’m autistic. And I’m socialist, or activist, or whatever you wanna call me. And first of all, I just wanna say: whatever I say now is not said as a soundbite, or for my own popularity, but because I literally mean it… and I want Osime Brown released! So, why am I here? Because I’m absolutely furious and appalled, so much that it’s actually a miracle I ain’t swearing. Because Osime Brown is being convicted for a crime that not...

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