Brian Richardson

Undercover

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Legal dramas are invariably bedevilled by overacting and wild scenarios which bear little comparison with what really goes on in the criminal justice system. These misgivings aside, I was attracted by the presence of two talented black actors, Sophie Okonedo and Adrian Lester in the lead roles as Maya and Nick.

Episode 1 begins with a flourish. A juggernaut bears down on Maya’s car as she struggles to answer a crucial phone call. She is racing to Louisiana where her client Rudy Jones is waiting to be executed.

Stand up and be counted

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As activists mobilise for UN Anti Racism Day, Brian Richardson assesses the state of racism in Britain and across Europe, and asks what anti-racists' priorities should be in the coming period.

The late Labour prime minister Harold Wilson is widely reported to have declared that “a week is a long time in politics” during a period of economic crisis in the 1960s. Literally speaking this well-worn cliché is, of course, wrong. There is, however, some truth in the dictum that sudden and unexpected events can dramatically transform the political landscape. Such has been the case both in Britain and across Europe over the past 12 months.

A brief history of seven Bob Marley songs

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Marlon James’s wonderful novel A Brief History of Seven Killings was the worthy winner of last year’s Man Booker prize. It takes as its starting point a dramatic real life event — the attempted assassination of Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley in December 1976.

Marley survived the attack, defiantly performing at the open air benefit concert which sparked the controversy that led to the shooting. Later he addressed his assailants in the song “Ambush in the Night”.

Between the World and Me

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Between the World and Me is one of the most powerful and poignant pieces of literature that I have read this year.

I say read — in actual fact, I downloaded and listened to it on audiotape before subsequently buying a hard copy. Given that it is an extended letter from the author to his teenage son, listening to him narrate his own words added to its impact.

Revolts after slavery

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Colonial oppression continued after the abolition of slavery - and so did the struggles against it. Brian Richardson commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica.

We are encouraged to believe that history is made by Great White Men. It is they who are responsible for the rise and fall of civilisations, for technological advances and the development of art and culture. Black people are generally restricted to walk on parts.

That was quite literally the case in Steven Spielberg’s Oscar winning biopic Lincoln. At the outset two black soldiers are seen pleading with their leader to abolish slavery. There is no sense of them fighting for their own emancipation.

All Involved

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All Involved, Ryan Gattis’s latest novel, is one of the most eagerly anticipated books of 2015. It is set in Los Angeles and begins on 29 April 1992, the day that a jury acquitted three LAPD officers of using excessive force in the arrest of a black man, Rodney King.

As the novel’s glossary helpfully informs us, “all involved” is slang for “someone participating in gang activity”. As riots erupted across the city in the week after the acquittals, many of LA’s gangs exploited the opportunity to settle scores.

Growing rage over black deaths in US

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Fifty years ago last month Dr Martin Luther King was being feted in Europe as he travelled to Norway to collect the Nobel Peace Prize. The previous year his legendary speech at the end of the March on Washington had captivated a worldwide audience. In its aftermath the US Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, and a voting rights act would follow in 1965.

Solidarity against racism

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The electoral success of far-right parties presents a challenge for the left. Brian Richardson reports from a key anti-fascist conference in Greece that is beginning to coordinate a continent-wide strategy to halt them.

The headline story in this May’s European Parliament elections was the success of the fascist Front National (FN) in France. Marine Le Pen’s party topped the poll with 24.85 percent which translated into 24 seats.

It is now the fourth biggest party in the parliament. That success was subsequently consolidated with the capture of two seats in the French Senate elections in September. The outright fascist Jobbik party took second place in the Hungarian elections with 14.6 percent of the vote, winning three seats.

Is racism on the rise?

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Black and white strike together

A recent survey suggests racial prejudice in Britain is increasing. Some argue this explains the rise of Ukip. Brian Richardson argues that the real picture is much more contradictory and complex.

Rising tide of race prejudice across Britain” screamed the front page headline in the Guardian at the end of May. This depressing declaration, which was repeated in similar terms across the press and media, came just days after Ukip topped the poll with 27.5 percent of the votes and 24 seats in the European elections.

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