“Time is on the side of the oppressed today, it’s against the oppressor. Truth is on the side of the oppressed today, it’s against the oppressor. You don’t need anything else.” – Malcolm X
Today’s recent race report by the UK Government can only be described as historical negationism, and an outright denialism of the experiences of People of African Descent in the country.
The UK Government via this report has invented ingenious and implausible reasons to misinterpret genuine documents, whilst manipulating statistical series to support the given point of view, that deliberately absolves the UK Government of any responsibility in its role in maintaining a racially oppressive state lauded in historical and ongoing institutionalised racism.
We do not need a report from a government rooted and built on anti-blackness to confirm our realities as directly impacted persons.
In our comment we are reaffirming Black people’s autonomy within the Pan-African principle of doing for self. An embodiment of this principle can be seen in 1967, when Stokely Carmichael/ Kwame Ture (honorary prime minister of the Black Panther Party) coined the term institutional racism to describe institutional discriminatory practices. He defined the term in Carmichael and Hamilton (1967) as the collective failure of institutions to provide appropriate and professional services to people because of their color, culture, or ethnicity, and gives the following example to explicate the definition, “when white terrorists bomb a black church and kill five black children, that is an act of individual racism … But when … five hundred black babies die each year because of the lack of proper food, shelter and medical facilities, and thousands more are destroyed and maimed physically, emotionally and intellectually because of conditions of poverty and discrimination in the black community, that is a function of institutional racism”
Institutional racism was a term created by the people and for the people. We must be ever vigilant of the government’s aim to co-opt our words and white wash our realities.
We must also remember that Neo-colonialism, representation politics and tokenism will never serve the masses of Black people. We as a people continue to be oppressed collectively and our liberation can never be individualised. Audre Lorde reminds us that ‘without community, there is no liberation’.
We must also be mindful of the ready presence of Black people that are not kinfolk, that remain comfortable in working against the masses of Black people in order to receive a seat at the table at the expense of all of us.
Further, the race report is even an international human rights issue as the UK is failing its international human rights obligations under ICERD- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and international human right norms under UDHR- Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
The UK’s inability to recognise and adequately deal with racially discriminatory outcomes in public institutions is a direct failing of Article 2 of ICERD:
1. States Parties condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and promoting understanding among all races, and, to this end:
(a) Each State Party undertakes to engage in no act or practice of racial discrimination against persons, groups of persons or institutions and to ensure that all public authorities and public institutions, national and local, shall act in conformity with this obligation;
(b) Each State Party undertakes not to sponsor, defend or support racial discrimination by any persons or organizations;
(c) Each State Party shall take effective measures to review governmental, national and local policies, and to amend, rescind or nullify any laws and regulations which have the effect of creating or perpetuating racial discrimination wherever it exists.
d) Each State Party shall prohibit and bring to an end, by all appropriate means, including legislation as required by circumstances, racial discrimination by any persons, group or organization;
The UK government’s inability to even recognise institutionalised racism means that it will not be able to rescind any policies and laws that allow racially discriminatory outcomes to thrive. The UK is failing to protect the international human rights of Persons of African descent in this country and is championing a culture of impunity within public institutions.
We would like to end this comment, reminding Black people to take time out and ensure they engage in radical self care today. This can look like :
- Periodically take a break from social media and the news and focus on self-care.
- Further reading about the concept of racial trauma and how it continues to affect us as persons of African Descent can be a great place to begin empowering yourself.
- We would also encourage reconnecting with oneself. Creativity is a great way to connect with yourself and begin healing. Creatively expressing yourself, whether it’s writing, dance or music etc can allow you to gain clarity and autonomy over your feelings or trauma. Zuri Therapy provides both a safe and supportive space for people to share but also our final week includes a poetry workshop, allowing participants to use creativity as a form of healing.
- Surrounding yourself with Black joy and texts that reaffirm our realities.
We live in a world which often disregards the effects that systemic, institutionalised and interpersonal racism can have on someone’s well being and so we often disregard the existence of our own racial trauma. But acknowledging and sharing these experiences (in a safe and supportive environment) can be the first step towards healing. Radical self-care is a part of this healing.
The report in and of itself embodies the notion by Toni Morrison that Racism serves as a serious distraction. We must maintain our stance and champion our truth without fear.
BLAM UK TEAM