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Black Spatial Agency Matters: The Rise of Black Geographies By Malaika Laing-Grant

There is an unequivocal push to shed light on the deepening racial divides that continue to underpin the Black experience in the 21st Century. Black liberation movements around the world, from the bustling streets of London to the southeastern coasts of Jamaica, have brought the importance of blackness to the fore. Not only as a tool for understanding the Black identity, but also as a theoretical framework from which to view our emancipatory commitment to social justice, liberation and reconstruction.

From analyses of diaspora to the entangled processes of the transatlantic slavery, colonialism and modernity- Black thought has long been concerned with questions of race, place, and power. Yet, it’s plausible to suggest that these developments, which span centuries and continents, have been systematically excluded from more traditional notions of geography.

Within the past five years, however, Black Geographies as a discipline and epistemology has gained increasing institutional clout, with thanks to the tenacity and ingenuity of Black scholars to carve out institutional spaces for Black intellectual production. But, what exactly is meant by Black Geographies? 

“Black Geographies’ is diasporic in its foundation through centuries of race projects of displacement, concealment, and marginalization that seek to render the Black body as “ungeographic” (McKittrick, 2006)

As a critical nascent body of scholarship, Black Geographies pinpoints Black spatial agency and the intersections between race, the state, and the dynamic distributions of power present in society. From the transatlantic slave trade to the lack of racial integration of Black and white families with similar class affiliations, to the mass incarceration of Black people, Black Geographies examines Black spatial experiences, including how Black life is reproduced in the wake of gentrification and redevelopment. In doing so, Black Geographies exposes the rich processes of Black socio-cultural and spatial reproduction to resist the confines of slavery, underdevelopment, and traditional human geographies.

Importantly, Black Geographies is not just for geographers. Amongst other schools of thought Black Geographies can also provide a foundation of understanding for the various means of organising political movements to both undermine systems of oppression, and efforts to positively contribute to the communal well-being of Black communities; as opposed to the individuality and exclusivity of our current Western world. Indeed, the scholarship of Black Geographies transcends boundaries outside of formal geography.

As the Black Lives Matter movement sweeps the globe, renewed efforts to address the ongoing injustices of racism and inequality further challenges the formal canon of disciplinary geography that we seem to value so much. We have reached a critical moment, and it is now time to re-examine our complicity in racial processes, evaluate the processes and frameworks that address issues of racial inequality, and reengage the scholarship of Black Geographies as a body of scholarship. This new body of thought must add to our understanding of the ways that race and place are inextricably linked.

Written by Malaika Laing-GrantBLAM’s Volunteer Blog editor

Malaika is a professional with over five years’ practical experience in the international development space, providing comprehensive programmatic support to drive programme success in areas such as youth and politics, social and economic development, education and capacity building. She is a strong believer in the power of the Black community, Malaika is also committed to education as a form of Black empowerment to dismantle cycles of oppression and systems of social injustice

Source

McKittrick, K. (2006). Demonic grounds: Black women and the cartographies of struggle. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press

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Why was the ‘Organisation of Women of Asian and African Descent’ (OWAAD) important?

The distinction between Black feminism and white feminism has long been established, due to the triple burden facing many Black women of race, class and gender. Black feminists have and continue to, highlight the differences in their experiences and issues they are confronted with. On the key issues of family, patriarchy and reproduction,

Black women have distinctly different realities to that of their white middle class counter parts, that often centre the feminist movement.[1] Black women are consistently confronted with racism, resistance and further oppression which white feminism has undermined and silenced. It was in acknowledgment of this that OWAAD was formed in 1978.[2]OWAAD functioned as an umbrella organisation, bringing together various groups of women with divergent interests and focuses.[3] OWAAD had a prominent impact on the women’s liberation movements in Britain, by placing the experiences of Black and Asian women on the liberation agenda. Attracting over 300 women to its first national conference, OWAAD successfully prompted the establishment of Black women’s groups across London.

The ‘Brixton’s Black Women’s Group’ opened in London as the first Black Women’s Centre and Asian and African – Caribbean women founded the ‘Southall Black Sisters’ in North West London.[4] As well as its undeniable influence, OWAAD contributed to several campaigns for the progression of the black experience in the United Kingdom. OWAAD joined the campaign to scrap the SUS laws, which gave the police the powers of stop and search without any cause and was disproportionately used against young Black men.[5] The impact of OWAAD and its initiatives are undeniably powerful and revolutionary. As Stella Dadzie (co-founder of OWAAD) emphasised, OWAAD worked to ‘show people sisterhood in operation’.[6] Not only did OWAAD take on the responsibility of upholding the Black-british community, they also established a legacy of justice and perseverance that remains a fundamental pillar of Black British History.


[1]British Library, ‘Sisterhood and After: The Women’s Liberation Oral History Project’, 3rd June 2011 <https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/stella-dadzie-owaad> last accessed 6/12/2019

[2] Ibid

[3] Bethany Warner, ‘The Organisation of Women of Asian and African Descent: constructing a collective identity’, 2016 <http://www.bristol.ac.uk/media-library/sites/history/documents/dissertations/Bethany_Warner2016.pdf > last accessed 6/12/2019

[4] Tess Gayhart, ‘Beyond the SS Empire Windrush: London’s Black History in the Archives’, 9thMay 2016

<https://blogs.kcl.ac.uk/kingshistory/category/teaching/> last accessed 6/12/2019

[5] Sophia Siddiqui,’ Still at the Heart of the race, Thirty years on’, 6th September 2018 < http://www.irr.org.uk/news/still-the-heart-of-the-race-thirty-years-on/> last accessed 6/12/2019

[6] Ibid(1)

By Isabelle Ehiorobo

Navigating the UK’s Mental Health Services and Advocating for Ourselves

Blog Piece Summary:

This piece is an analytical review of the problems that Black people face with regards to the accessibility and provision of mental health care in the UK. Our Intercultural Therapist, Beverley J Weston also provides a therapist’s insight into Navigating the UK’s mental health services and how we can advocate for ourselves. 

BLAM UK Not-for-profit launches The Black Rights Project (TBRP) – Press Release

BLAM UK CIC Press Release, Not-for-profit launches The Black Rights Project (TBRP)

BLAM UK is proud to announce the launch of our new international human rights project called The Black Rights Project (TBRP).

BLAM UK is a civil society organisation that works with the United Nations Office for the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) to help defend the rights of people in the UK. We act as intervenors between the OHCHR and persons whose human rights have been breached.

We are able to support the Black-British Community as a whole and Black individuals in drafting direct complaints to UN Human Rights council and Office on issues to do with human rights violations in the UK in the areas of policing, education, health care, mental health, cultural rights, children rights, women rights, intersectional rights and discrimination.

We provide intervention and support via the use of UN instruments and mechanisms to help ensure your human rights are being upheld and protected. It is a basic human right for Black people to enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international standards, in conditions of equality and without any discrimination.

Human right abuses and injustices are often committed by the Duty Bearers like the government, agents of the government (like the police or the council) and private organisations; alerting the United Nations to these violations will trigger an urgent special procedure process that can help to remedy the given injustice.

The Guardian reported that a study of official data shows that young Black males in London are 19 times more likely to be stopped and searched than the general population. To carry out a stop a police officer needs to have reasonable suspicion of an offence, with 95% of reasons given being drugs, weapons or stolen goods. The study also found that young black males were 28 times more likely to be stopped on suspicion of carrying weapons than the general population. Furthermore, Black men aged between 18 and 24 are four times as likely to be stopped and searched as white men of the same age. 

At BLAM UK we are helping to fight the stereotyping and racial profiling with our Stop and Search Accountability Project and our The Black Rights Project as several international human rights mechanisms have explicitly highlighted racial profiling as a violation of international human rights law.

Black people are over-represented at every stage of the Criminal Justice System (CJS) as these statistics testify:

 • In 2018/2019 Black people were 9.5 times more likely than White people to be stopped and searched by police in England and Wales;

• In 2018/2019 Black people in England and Wales were more than five times as likely to have force used against them by police as White people and were subject to the use of Tasers at almost eight times the rate of White people;

Please fill out the form here if you need support in relation to an international human rights issue.

How Dr Joy DeGruy’s theory of Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome can help us understand types of Black Trauma

By Vanessa Hutton-Mills

Black trauma is defined as psychological, physical and emotional injury from experiencing actual or perceived racism, including overt and covert racism (Carter, 2007). It has been a key feature of many African Diasporic communities, spanning several decades. This trauma has become an intergenerational part of the Black experience, as Black people continue to live under a system of white supremacy that penalises those furthest away from whiteness. A few of these penalties can be seen when we look at how Black men are stereotyped and the double marginalisation of being both Black and female. 

In 2001 The United Nations declared via the Durban Deceleration that the Transatlantic Slave Trade was a crime against humanity; and was the source of the ongoing racism and discrimination faced by People of African descent today. The American Chattel Slavery lasted from 1619 till 1865. During this time, Black people were bought and sold like commodities. Slaves in America and British owned islands, such as St Kitts and Nevis and Jamaica to name a few, were tortured and dehumanised. The narrative that is often portrayed and taught in UK schools focuses exclusively and extensively on the American slave trade however, as Black British people it is important to note that while our struggles are similar they are not identical. Even now in 2020 we still experience racism and discrimination, and while it may not be as overt as it has been previously, it is still devastating for our mental health.  Williams (2018)’s research found that experiencing racism can be very stressful and have a negative effect on our physical and mental health. Likewise, Bhui et al., (2018) those who experience racism are more likely to experience mental health issues such as psychosis and depression. 

Psychologists, sociologist and historical analysts have done much work into different types of trauma Black people experience. In furthering our understanding, we can ensure that these wounds are healed in our community.  An emerging contribution to this field is the theory of Post-traumatic slave syndrome coined by Dr Joy DeGruy. This theory explains the adaptive survival behaviours of African American communities across America but can also be used to understand Black oppressed groups globally. She describes this as a condition that exists because of the centuries of slavery, institutionalised racism and oppression that Black people have and continue to experience. This term encompasses the multigenerational trauma and injustices that Black people have experienced, not only from slavery but the recent and unjust deaths of Steven Lawrence, Mark Duggan, Rashan Charles, George Floyd, Belly Mujinga and Breonna Taylor. These reactive behaviours can be positive as they reflect our resilience and adaptability but some argue that they can also be harmful and destructive.

As many of us know Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an adverse mental illness which (NHS, 2018), where individuals relive traumatic events and experience isolation, guilt and insomnia. Someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt. Similar to Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome ( PTSS) include: avoiding certain places, people, or events and activities that remind you of your trauma, Difficulty concentrating, being easily angered, feeling emotionally numb, feeling hopeless, feelings of depression and having a self-destructive outlook. This can become increasingly heightened when Black trauma is being discussed and shared on social media. A specific aspect tailored to the Black experience, that is expanded upon through PTSS is the racial socialisation and internalised racism, which includes the direct and indirect messages children receive about racism and the meaning of race.

Understanding Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome is a major step in understanding forms of Black trauma. We now have a clear mechanism which explains how our experiences are damaging to our mental health. This is a phenomenal step in conceptualising Black experiences and could lead to many people recognising their symptoms and making the first steps to receive help.

Here at BLAM, we are currently providing free group workshops to support Black peoples racial wellness. If you are feeling any of the symptoms of PTSS it is important that you seek professional help immediately to break this cycle.

Please also feel sign up to our Racial wellness therapy, where we have trained therapists who are equipped to you give you the tools deal with starting your joinery to Racial wellness.

 References 

Carter, R. T. (2007). Racism and psychological and emotional injury: Recognizing and assessing race-based traumatic stress. The Counseling Psychologist, 35, 13–105. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0011000006292033 

Williams D.R. (2018) Stress and the Mental Health of Populations of Color: Advancing Our Understanding of Race-related Stressors. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 59(4), 466-485.

Bhui K., Nazroo J., Francis J. et al. (2018) The impact of racism on mental health. Available at: https://synergicollaborativecentre.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/The-impact-of-racism-on-mental-health-briefing-paper-1.pdf [Accessed 18/06/19]

Lessons on Windrush: The Lesser-Known Stories Behind the Windrush Scandal

By Christina Vassell

On March 2019, Windrush Lessons Learned Review was published. It came almost a year after the highly controversial, almost heinous and yet government sanctioned offences against any group of persons within its borders in recent times. 

In short, the Windrush Scandal was and still is, a British political scandal concerning those of Afro-Caribbean descent who were either wrongly detained, denied legal rights, threatened with deportation, or wrongly deported from the UK by the Home Office – the latter occurred in at least 83 cases. 

Yet, while the Windrush Scandal occurred in 2018, the cases included in Williams’ report seemingly evidence that such discriminatory legislations and practices occurred long before the scandal entered the public sphere and garnered mass media coverage

Contrary to popular belief, it is a scandal that is longstanding in British history and its genesis can be found in Britian’s imperial and colonial past as well as the many policies that were sanctioned in the mid-60s following the influx of British subjects from across the Commonwealth. 

The first of the arrivals was a passenger ship, The Empire Windrush, carrying 802 people from the Caribbean – including 492 Jamaican immigrants – arrived in Tilbury. The first wave of post-war Caribbean immigrants to arrive in the U.K. were predominantly male, from 1948 to 1950 were mainly men but women soon followed. Between 1948 and 1973, approximately 50,000 people from Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and other Caribbean countries, that were part of the British commonwealth, were invited to emigrate to the UK in the aftermaths of WWII. That is, however, not to say that they were treated like British citizens.

Throughout the 50s and 60s it was evident that there was a colour problem in Britain. In 1955, it was said during a BBC television programme that: “Not for the first time in our history we have a colonial problem on our hands. But it’s a colonial problem with a difference. Instead of being thousands of miles away and worrying other people, it’s right here, on the spot, worrying us.” 

For Williams, “The causes of the Windrush scandal can be traced back through successive rounds of policy and legislation about immigration and nationality from the 1960s onwards, the aim of which was to restrict the eligibility of certain groups to live in the UK.” Such legislations that Williams is alluding to is the Commonwealth Act of 1962 controlled and arguably restricted the immigration of all Commonwealth passport holders (except those who held UK passports). 

The Race Relations Act 1965 also did little to stamp out the existing racism towards Black persons from across the Commonwealth, as in 1968, Conservative MP Enoch Powell made an inflammatory, racist and anti-immigration speech. In a few years, legislations would only make it difficult for those coming into the U.K. under the guise of reform. While the Immigration Act confirmed that the Windrush generation had, and have, the right of abode in the UK, Wendy Williams writes that during this period “many were not given any documents to demonstrate this status. Nor were records kept.”

Such a historical legacy would culminate in the “hostile environment” from the late 2000s under Theresa May. It was during this time that Pauline, one of the people included in William’s review experienced immigration problems. 

Born in Jamaica, Pauline (70), was brought up by her grandmother and aunt after her mother left for the UK and started a family in Manchester with a new partner while she was a baby. Pauline was only twelve when she arrived in the U.K. after her mother and step-father invited her to join them in Manchester in 1961. 

After a tumultuous childhood, taking up caring responsibilities only to be abandoned again after her mother would relocated to Canada, Pauline went on to have children and qualified as a social worker. 

Pauline’s Windrush (scandal) story begins in 2005, when she went to Jamaica with her daughter on “a two-week holiday that turned into an eighteen-month nightmare” after being refused re-entry into the UK and subsequently being detained in Jamaica. For Pauline, who had often travelled on her Jamaican Passport, her case demonstrates the wider consensus that many descendants of the Windrush generation felt – that they regarded themselves as British already, thereby not thinking to get British citizenship. 

However, Pauline’s case soon began to take a toll on her mental and physical wellbeing. While she was detained in Jamaica, Pauline could not afford adequate medication for her existing diabetes and almost died after falling into a diabetic coma. During this time, she also lost her job and her house that she planned to buy but was ultimately unable to pay for. 

But the biggest effect was on her children, some of whom were in their teens and didn’t have any resources to help. Her youngest daughter ended up living in a hostel until Pauline’s return. Eventually, a solicitor who specialised in immigration issues was able to help Pauline to return to the UK in 2007. Pauline’s story is one that is the direct result of the “hostile environment” created by Thereas May, then Home Secretary, which began in the early 2000s. 

In 2007, amendments to the UK Borders Act meant automatic deportation for Foreign Nationals who receive a 12-month custodial sentence. Or notably in 2012 when Theresa May’s government issued new a policy that instructed the NHS, landlords, banks, employers and many others with enforcing immigration controls. It would go on to deny many including those from the Windrush generation who had not obtained documentations, proof of status or granted with British citizenship despite their long-term residency, thereby seeing the Windrush Generation and their descendants continually denied, outcasted and exiled by a country that had promised them socioeconomic opportunities for over six decades. 

Instead, changes brought about under the Immigration Act in 2014 introduced additional obstacles for those seeking to challenge [their] deportation on the basis of their family ties or [private] life in the UK.  In order to succeed in a deportation appeal on the basis of your parental relationship, “it is necessary to show that deportation would be ‘unduly harsh’ to the child, which has been interpreted by the Home Office to mean ‘excessively cruel’. But the irony of this amendment is that it glosses over the mishandling of the parents themselves. 

Such is the case for Veronica (59), who lives in Nottingham and came to the U.K. with her father Nathaniel in 1956. Upon arrival, Nathaniel decided not to go for British Citizenship because he already had his “black book” (Citizen of UK and Colonies passport); and like Pauline, he felt that he had been invited to the UK and was already a British Citizen. 

Nathaniel’s troubles began shortly after he and Veronica went to go to Jamaica in 2002. It was while there that he was prevented from returning to the U.K. there despite living in for over forty years, building his life with his wife and three daughters. 

Following the ordeal, Veronica came back to the UK alone and made arrangements to return and care for her father who was becoming increasingly unwell. After spending several years in Jamaica for a total of seven years, with her newfound husband, she decided to return to the UK to sort out her mounting debt and gaps in NI contributions. While in the U.K. Veronica left provision for her father to be looked after by a live-in helper once Joseph, her husband, successfully secured his visa.  

Veronica’s father would never return to the UK, ultimately dying from prostate cancer in 2010. He was not able to afford the cost of treatment in Jamaica, and Veronica believes he could have survived longer if he’d been in the UK with access to NHS treatment. These experiences proved to be debilitating and effected both Veronica’s mental health and career progression. But she feels that partaking in the Review allowed her come to terms with the fourteen-year struggle her father faced. But the price of the scandal is still being paid by Gloria.

Born in Saint Kitts, Gloria (59), travelled to the UK when she was 10 and was raised by her elder sister following their mother’s death. During this time social services were involved with the family because of their young ages. Gloria believes her passport was taken by them and not replaced. 

She eventually found work as a caseworker for people with learning difficulties and mental health issues, and became the main breadwinner in her family following an accident that affected her husband’s ability to work. 

Gloria’s immigration problems began in 2011 when she tried to get a CRB check renewal for the company she had worked at for several years. She failed the check as she did not have a passport, which resulted in her losing her job. Unable to prove her status, Gloria took the company to a tribunal but ultimately lost the case.

Following the trial, Gloria contacted her MP who wrote on her behalf and pleaded her cases to UK Visas and Immigration and Department for Work and Pensions, but to no avail. It would take her seven years to prove her status in the U.K.

As publicity related to the scandal increased, the Taskforce was able to resolve her case in one hour, which was bittersweet to Gloria, who, since losing her job and the tribunal case, had subsequently not been able to work.

In the review, Gloria touches on how the scandal has been detrimental to her mental health and finances. Since the ordeal, she has had to pawn rings to pay for items and visited her doctor on a number of occasions with stress-related problems and depression. Today Gloria claims unemployment benefits and stays at home though nearly lost her house a number of times. 

Gloria’s story is testament to the wider bureaucratic and systemic oppression that targeted the Windrush generation and still affects immigrants thereafter. Today, two years since the scandal, the recommendations of Wiliam’s Review are still under consideration. 

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has promised a systemic reform of the Home Office, citing in a Commons statement that the government is committed to introduce a new Home Office mission statement based on “fairness, humanity, openness, diversity and inclusion”. Her response was met with criticism. The Shadow Home Secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, criticised the Government for only compensated “just 60 people in its first year of operation”. 

Such a revelation highlights the slow progress in compensating those affected by the Windrush scandal, which up until now exacerbated the lack of trust between the Windrush community and the government. Only 221 out of 1,392 claims have been processed according to Home Office statistics, not factoring the 35 claims that had been rejected since the government launching the scheme in April last year.  

In response to the criticism Patel said: “I agree: the payments and the way in which payments have been made have been far too slow. I’m not apologising for that at all. I have outlined in my statement that it is right that we treat each individual with the respect and dignity they deserve. These are complicated cases.” She said more than £1m had now been offered in compensation.

The Government also previously said that they would pay up to £200 million in total in compensation yet the total pay-outs received by the Windrush victims collectively amounts to a total of £1.2 million. Meanwhile, the deportations still continue.

In February 2020, despite public outcry against the Windrush Scandal of 2018, 17 “criminals” were deported to Jamaica on charter flights under the UK Borders Act. It came as a shock given that there was an Appeal Court order not to deport 25 of the 50 people scheduled to be deported and it is also apparent that such deportations only ended in further tragedy as David Lammy writes in The Guardian, “at least 11 of them died on the streets of foreign countries where they were deported.” 

Needless to say, it is clear that neither the Home Office nor the Home Secretary’s priorities are concerned with “righting the wrongs” of Windrush. But we owe it to the Paulines, Nathaniels and Glorias out there, to ensure that the same bureaucracies that solicited their afflictions does not succeed today.

BLAM UK’s Condemnation of the UK’s Equality Minister Stance on Critical Race Theory.

BLAM UK is one of the few organisations in the UK ensuring the United Nations International Decade of African Descent is being celebrated and championed in the UK. The UK in 2014 failed to ratify the decade. One such important activity and aim of the decade is that it Urges States to ensure that textbooks and other educational materials reflect historical facts accurately as they relate to past tragedies and atrocities, in particular slavery, the slave trade, the transatlantic slave trade and colonialism, so as to avoid stereotypes and the distortion or falsification of these historical facts, which may lead to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, including the role of respective countries therein. 

On the 20th October 2020, The UK Equalities Minister made a statement to the effect of suggesting that racism is a debatable topic, not only is this a problematic stance, it suggests that racism and white supremacy are matters that do not exist in society. We refute any such claims from a Government that continues to produce and uphold policies that allow racial discrimination to thrive in all aspects of British society, including education. We know Black Caribbean students are 3x more likely to be excluded from school and Black students are routinely underpredicted in schools. Instead of the Minster to be creating and drafting potential policies to end these racist practices, she wants to censor the very notions that will help us in achieving a more fair, balanced and equitable society. 

The Minister’s stance is simply furthering the Government’s desire to effectively censor teachers ( a trend started by the Government’s recently drafted PSHE Guidance that is facing a legal challenge ).  By suggesting that it is illegal to present a fact as an actual fact, she is attempting to create a culture of politically motivated state-sanctioned censorship of anybody who is deemed to be “radical or left”.  It must be of note that a government minister (who is not a teacher and nor is she a judge) should not be allowed to state claims that are not in line with the UK’s international human rights obligations. The Minister’s stance is incompatible with the right to freedom of thought and also the UK’s obligation under the International Convention to End Racial Discrimination ( ICERD). Under ICERD Art.7- State Parties undertake to adopt immediate and effective measures, particularly in the fields of teaching, education, culture and information, with a view to combating prejudices which lead to racial discrimination and to promoting understanding, tolerance and friendship among nations and racial or ethnical groups, as well as to propagating the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and this Convention. The UK is obligated under international law to take immediate and effective measures in the field of teaching and one such effective measure is the teaching of Critical Race Theory.

If we look even closer to home at the UK’s Domestic laws on Equality and discrimination, we see the following under Equality Act 2010, s149 para 1 there is a  Public sector equality duty:

(1)A public authority must, in the exercise of its functions, have due regard to the need to—

(a)eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under this Act;

(b)advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it;

(c)foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it. 

The Minister’s stance again is not in line with the public sector equality duty that school must legally adhere too. It is important that Ministers, who do not have the function in society as Judges are not left to interpret the law and how it should be applied. We have a separation of powers in the UK and the minister must be reminded of this, as she takes the notion of asserting what is legal; even when this is not in line with UK’s international obligations and domestic law. 

In a year where we have revisited the historically and ongoing legacies of white supremacy, it is imperative that the UK government creates further guidance that supports its international human rights obligations.


We urge schools to resist this politically motivated sanction from the Government.  We ask them to further their pledge to eliminate racial discrimination and to adhere to the Equality Act 2010  Public Sector Duty–  and continue to rightfully teach narratives that assist in the fight to eliminate racial discrimination in all parts of society.

By Ife Thompson

BLAM UK Volunteer Jessica Perera produces a damning report, showing how the exclusions system continues to fail Black Working-Class Students.

Jessica Perera has supported BLAM UK for the past year, as a volunteer school exclusions advocate. She has witnessed first hand how the system unfairly punishes Black students from inner city london who are faced with exclusions. As an advocate, she supported one family who were forced to become part of the PRU( Pupil Referral Unit) system by a way of a managed move. 

The case Perera worked on is not unique, many young Black boys are funneled in the PRU system. The report drafted by Perera  for the Institute of Race Relations further highlights this racialised injustice, alongside the effects of gentrification and privatisation of the education system. The report also brings to light the following key inequities of the government backed business of expanding the PRU sector, by rebranding it as Alternative Provision and privatising it through academisation. We should be concerned as only 4% of students in Alternative Provision’s leave with GCSE’s. The School Exclusions policy we have in place in the U.K is allowing the educational attainment gap to further widen on class and racial lines, they are also playing a key role in what we term in the UK as the Pru- Prison Pipeline. 

The IRR’s new paper, How Black Working-Class Youth are Criminalised and Excluded in the English School System: A London Case Study, reveals that over the past forty years, exclusion from mainstream school has coincided with systematic ‘educational enclosure’.

Read the full report here

Jessica Perera is an Associate Researcher at the Institute of Race Relations and author of The London Clearances: Race, Housing and Policing, published in 2019. She is also an Economic and Social Research Council-funded DPhil candidate at the University of Oxford, under the supervision of Professor Danny Dorling.

Why World Afro Day is Important to us by Destini Bleu

September 15th, 2020 marks the fourth annual World Afro Day. A day which celebrates Afro hair, culture and identity, whilst drawing attention to problems such as hair discrimination and inequality. The key aims of World Afro Day are to spotlight Afro excellence, raise awareness and create normalisation and relating to Afro hair and the education of wider society about Afro Hair.

Westernised beauty standards dictate that straight hair is the essence of not only beauty but also success. This is evident within; fairy tales, films, television, social media, consumer products and advertising etc. Whilst Afro hair for centuries has often been the subject of disdain and ridicule. As a result of their natural hair, Black people have and are currently facing microaggressions and overt racism, they are often told it is ‘dirty’ or ‘unprofessional’ and even excluded from school or even fired from their jobs.

This year World Afro Day’s mission focuses on the eradication of any discrimination around Afro hair within schools. Whilst there have been major changes in the America such as the CROWN Act which prevent and protect Afro hair from discrimination, the World Afro Day organisation believe that there is a way to go in the UK.

 Michelle De Leon, founder of World Afro Day notes that ‘95% of people with Afro hair in the UK, want policies that punish our children to be removed from schools’ and as such World Afro Day 2020 is the start of a 30-day call to schools and headteachers to comply with the Equality Act and eradicate any discrimination around Afro hair. Michelle adds that ‘‘This is not fashion, it’s more fundamental than that – school hair policies harass and harm our children. This about equality and justice and the time for action is now.’ 

World Afro Day 2020 will celebrate the beauty of Afro hair through a series of online events and celebrations. In addition, councils such as Hackney have introduced a range of books celebrating Afro Hair to libraries across the borough to celebrate World Afro Day for the first time. Importantly, today marks an important step in the journey towards ensuring the protection of Afro Hair through law in the UK.

Path to Revolution: The History of Rebellion in Jamaica by Malaika Laing-Grant

Some would contend that the abolition of slavery and the liberation of the wider British Empire, was brought to a natural conclusion due to parliamentary processes and reform, or to the alleged decline in significance for the British economy. For many scholars, this contention is largely a misconception which disregards the fundamental revolutionary processes at play. Indeed, when considering the history of the British West Indies in the context of its revolutionary struggles, there is more than meets the eye!

Reflecting on Jamaica’s past, the emancipation of slaves, and the subsequent fight for independence was won on the ground following a succession of strategic revolutionary processes, rather than a  single uprising. The Morant Bay Rebellion (1865), in particular, was a key moment among others in post-slavery Jamaican history which not only exposes the ingenuity and tenacity of black Jamaicans, but the ironic reality of oppression and suffering that ensued following the abolition of slavery in the British West Indies in 1838. 

Despite being freed from slavery, living conditions, political representation and economic prospects for the black population continued to leave them at a clear disadvantage. Black Jamaicans found themselves in severe poverty, which was compounded by the severe economic downturn in Jamaica following the decline of the sugar industry post abolition. Furthermore, those who wanted to branch out on their own were starkly disenfranchised by the Jamaican colonial laws that punished Jamaican’s for the most minuscule of infractions and instituted unaffordable taxes, all designed to frustrate the former slaves and force them to return to the sugar plantations. 

Several months ahead of the notorious rebellion, Jamaican workers from Saint Ann parish had respectfully articulated their grievances to Queen Victoria in April 1865. Much to their dismay, Governor Eyre, who intercepted the petition, persuaded the monarch to deny their request. Angered by the continued subjugation of the poor, and triggered by the trial of a black man who was arrested for trespassing on an abandoned plantation, Paul Bogle, with the support of George William Gordon, decided to take action. In early October 1865, Bogle led a group of men and women to the courthouse in Morant Bay, where they met with soldiers who opened fire. In the aftermath that followed, both Paul Bogle and George William Gordon, as well as many hundreds of others, were caught and executed in the subsequent fighting and reprisals.

The use of martial law to permit these deaths quickly led to one of the most severe acts of brutal force against unrest in the history of the British West Indies. Governor Eyre had not only ordered extensive and harsh reprisals against the Black Jamaicans in the county of Surrey, but he had also directed brutal force against communities and individuals, much of whom were innocent men and women. Ultimately, the violent suppression and brutality generated widespread controversy in England and, as a result, Governor Eyre was ousted for his unconstitutional actions in response to the rebellion.

Outcomes aside, the revolutionary uprisings which took place in Jamaica were an unequivocal part of a revolutionary process, arguably putting Jamaica on the road to independence, which finally came in 1962. They were, in effect, undermining the very fabric that comprised Jamaican society to legitimise the freedom of former slaves and their descendants – not just under the view of the colonial state, but via their own conceptualisations. 

What is clear from this brief history of Jamaica’s revolutionary processes is that the Morant Bay Uprisings was not merely one of the myriad of slave revolts in Jamaica. It is symbolic of the culmination of strategic socio-political ruptures in the Anglophone Caribbean more generally, and Jamaica specifically. While these ruptures did not automatically translate into a socio-political transformation identical to the classical theories of revolution we know of today, it was through such struggles that the people of Jamaica were able to catalyse emancipatory legislation and legitimise their freedoms. 

Written by Malaika Laing-Grant

Path to Revolution: The History of Rebellion in Jamaica

Some would contend that the abolition of slavery and the liberation of the wider British Empire, was brought to a natural conclusion due to parliamentary processes and reform, or to the alleged decline in significance for the British economy. For many scholars, this contention is largely a misconception which disregards the fundamental revolutionary processes at play. Indeed, when considering the history of the British West Indies in the context of its revolutionary struggles, there is more than meets the eye!

Reflecting on Jamaica’s past, the emancipation of slaves, and the subsequent fight for independence was won on the ground following a succession of strategic revolutionary processes, rather than a  single uprising. The Morant Bay Rebellion (1865), in particular, was a key moment among others in post-slavery Jamaican history which not only exposes the ingenuity and tenacity of black Jamaicans, but the ironic reality of oppression and suffering that ensued following the abolition of slavery in the British West Indies in 1838. 

Despite being freed from slavery, living conditions, political representation and economic prospects for the black population continued to leave them at a clear disadvantage. Black Jamaicans found themselves in severe poverty, which was compounded by the severe economic downturn in Jamaica following the decline of the sugar industry post abolition. Furthermore, those who wanted to branch out on their own were starkly disenfranchised by the Jamaican colonial laws that punished Jamaican’s for the most minuscule of infractions and instituted unaffordable taxes, all designed to frustrate the former slaves and force them to return to the sugar plantations. 

Several months ahead of the notorious rebellion, Jamaican workers from Saint Ann parish had respectfully articulated their grievances to Queen Victoria in April 1865. Much to their dismay, Governor Eyre, who intercepted the petition, persuaded the monarch to deny their request. Angered by the continued subjugation of the poor, and triggered by the trial of a black man who was arrested for trespassing on an abandoned plantation, Paul Bogle, with the support of George William Gordon, decided to take action. In early October 1865, Bogle led a group of men and women to the courthouse in Morant Bay, where they met with soldiers who opened fire. In the aftermath that followed, both Paul Bogle and George William Gordon, as well as many hundreds of others, were caught and executed in the subsequent fighting and reprisals.

The use of martial law to permit these deaths quickly led to one of the most severe acts of brutal force against unrest in the history of the British West Indies. Governor Eyre had not only ordered extensive and harsh reprisals against the Black Jamaicans in the county of Surrey, but he had also directed brutal force against communities and individuals, much of whom were innocent men and women. Ultimately, the violent suppression and brutality generated widespread controversy in England and, as a result, Governor Eyre was ousted for his unconstitutional actions in response to the rebellion.

Outcomes aside, the revolutionary uprisings which took place in Jamaica were an unequivocal part of a revolutionary process, arguably putting Jamaica on the road to independence, which finally came in 1962. They were, in effect, undermining the very fabric that comprised Jamaican society to legitimise the freedom of former slaves and their descendants – not just under the view of the colonial state, but via their own conceptualisations. 

What is clear from this brief history of Jamaica’s revolutionary processes is that the Morant Bay Uprisings was not merely one of the myriad of slave revolts in Jamaica. It is symbolic of the culmination of strategic socio-political ruptures in the Anglophone Caribbean more generally, and Jamaica specifically. While these ruptures did not automatically translate into a socio-political transformation identical to the classical theories of revolution we know of today, it was through such struggles that the people of Jamaica were able to catalyse emancipatory legislation and legitimise their freedoms. 

Written by Malaika Laing-Grant

BLAM’s Volunteer Blog editor

Malaika is a professional with over five years’ practical experience in the international development space, providing comprehensive programmatic support to drive programme success in areas such as youth and politics, social and economic development, education and capacity building. She is a strong believer in the power of the Black community, Malaika is also committed to education as a form of Black empowerment to dismantle cycles of oppression and systems of social injustice. 

Mental Health & Therapy in the Black Community by Tavie-Tiffany Agama

In this short piece Tavie explores the issues that many Black people face in the UK when seeking professional help for their mental health and questions whether the mental health services in this country are doing enough to cater to our needs.

“Other people are going through much worse you know?”

“Have you been praying/reading your Bible?”

“You just need some fresh air to take your mind off things”

Mental illnesses like depression and anxiety are often met with these kinds of minimising statements due to a widespread lack of understanding but the ignorance surrounding mental health is not surprising when you consider how uncomfortable the topic seems to make people.Admitting to a flare up of chronic back pain or asthma with your work colleagues would not stop the conversation in its tracks… But responding to “how was your weekend?” with “my depression is affecting me so badly that it’s hard to get out of bed most days” would most certainly derail the light-hearted morning pleasantries.

Why is this?

Read Full Article below.

Join us in our Racial Wellness Workshops providing tailored solution-led sessions for Black people’s mental health within the UK.