Anti-racism

Denis Goldberg (1933—2020)

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George Paizis remembers the South African freedom fighter who spent 22 years in jail for his part in opposing the apartheid regime, and was to become a leading defender of Palestinian rights.

In 1964, Denis Goldberg and other ANC comrades were on trial for their lives at what became known as the Rivonia trial. Against expectations the judge did not impose death but gave them several concurrent life sentences instead. The young man shouted out jubilantly to his mother, “It’s life! Life is wonderful!”

Denis was born of Jewish immigrant parents, both communists. After involvement in local racially unsegregated civil rights movements in the 1950s, he joined the communist party.

A disproportionate number of deaths

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Are BAME people more likely to die from Covid-19 because of genetics, diabetes, or even vitamin deficiencies? No, argues Dr Kambiz Boomla, racism lies at the heart of the differing death rates.

The Office of National Statistics last month published figures on who dies of coronavirus. It revealed a shocking truth that the risk of death for south Asians is twice as high as that for whites of the same age, and that blacks have a fourfold increased risk. Behind these figures lie human faces.

Sway: the Science of Unconscious Bias by Pragya Argawal

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This book represents what has largely become mainstream thinking on race, gender, sex and sexuality. Argawal argues that a large body of human behaviour, especially oppression, prejudice and discrimination, results from irrational decisions governed by our implicit or unconscious bias towards people who are different to us.

She combines her experiences as a single parent from India with her academic research in behavioural science.

How defeat bred division

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On 20 April 1968, leading Tory politician Enoch Powell made his infamous “rivers of blood” speech in which he attacked mass immigration from the Commonwealth. Quoting from the Latin poet Virgil, he proclaimed: “As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood.” The speech caused a political storm, making Powell one of the most divisive political figures in the country.

Can implicit bias explain racism?

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Twenty years on from the Macpherson report focus has shifted from institutional racism to unconsious bias. How helpful is this concept in the fight against racism, asks Esme Choonara.

When the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, chaired by William Macpherson, announced in 1999 that the police were institutionally racist, it was a huge vindication of the struggles and arguments of black people and the wider anti-racist movement. Yet 20 years on, there is widespread denial of institutional racism. The London Met police commissioner Cressida Dick recently said she doesn’t see it “as a helpful or accurate description”.

The landscape of the far right

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Weyman Bennett looks back at the past decade of crisis and renewal on the far right, and assesses the threat facing anti-racists and anti-fascists in contemporary Britain.

The growth of fascism and the far right is a consequence in large part of the economic crisis of 2008. The neoliberal centre ground has eroded, leading to polarisation and the rise of figures like Jeremy Corbyn on the left — but also, increasingly, the rise of a new right, building on the state racism that targets migrants and Muslims in particular.

Intervening in the national immigration conversation

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A number of recent reports and surveys have contradicted the assumption that Brexit Britain is overwhelmingly racist and anti-migrant. However, writes Brian Richardson, there is still a long way to go to counter the racist ideas pumped out from above and enacted on the streets.

Mainstream politicians and pundits frequently lament the lack of a supposedly “grown up debate” about the impact of immigration in Britain. Such claims are usually followed by the suggestion that the reason for this is because the media is dominated by a cosmopolitan elite who are worried about causing offence to “ethnic minorities” and whose comfortable lifestyles protect them from any negative effects.

Taking on the far right

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With a toxic realignment of the far-right seemingly taking place across the planet, how should socialists respond to push back against the racists?

We face a grim situation on a global scale. As Socialist Review went to press the second round of voting in the Brazilian election was about to take place and the far-right candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, looked likely to be elected president.

This is a man who celebrates police killings and has said of left wingers, “These red outlaws will be banished from our homeland. It will be a cleanup the likes of which has never been seen in Brazilian history” — this in a country which was run by a right wing military dictatorship for over 20 years.

Fundamental British tosh

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The government’s Prevent strategy is inherently racist and it attempts to turn teachers into agents of the security services. Ümit Yildiz looks at the problems with enforcing a spurious notion of “British values”.

Paul Gilroy wrote that “racism does not, of course, move tidily and unchanged through time and history”. While on the surface “acceptable” racism in the UK has shifted its focus from colour to creed, culture and religion, its tools of operation remain the same: the judiciary, the police, the education system, the media, namely the British state itself.

Following the attacks on 11 September 2001, already growing anti-Muslim racism was normalised by the US administration and successive British governments.

Buck passed on jailing Robinson

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On a cold Tuesday morning late last month, 500-1,000 supporters of Tommy Robinson (real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) gathered outside his retrial at the Old Bailey, central London. The retrial focussed on two charges — whether Robinson had breached reporting restrictions on the Huddersfield child grooming case, and for contempt of court. After a short hearing, Nicholas Hillyard QC took the decision to refer the case to the Attorney General.

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