British Empire State of Mind is REAL – 44% of polled Brits say we should be proud of colonialism

This week the UK’s YouGov published the results of a poll where 44 per cent of British respondents said that the country should be proud of colonialism.

The poll comes ahead of the upcoming Oxford Union debate to decide the fate of a statue of British colonialist (murderer…racist…I could go on) Cecil Rhodes as a result of the “Rhodes Must Fall” campaign to have it removed. 59% of respondents thought that it should stay.

Whether or not you think the statue should stay or go (and there are strong arguments to leave it and have it re-labelled), what’s more disturbing is the fact that there still exists within the public discourse, a narrative that seems to feel, as Rhodes said himself that “the more of the world we [English] inhabit, the better it is for the human race.”

According to YouGov “British people are not generally ashamed of the former Empire or of our history of colonialism. Only 19% say the Empire was a bad thing and only 21% say we should regret historic colonialism.”

50% of

UKIP voters and 37% of Conservative voters say Britain tends to view our history of colonisation too negatively – we talk too much about the cruelty and racism of Empire and ignore the good that it did. Young people (40%) and Labour voters (43%), on the other hand, are more likely to say we view our colonial history too positively, suppressing the cruelty, killing and injustice that went on.

YouGov previously found, in July 2014, that British people tend to say the countries that were colonised by Britain are now better off for it (49%) rather than worse off for it (15%). And 34% even said they would still like Britain to have an Empire, while 45% said they would not.

This Guardian article pretty much nails it when it says (satirically):

So, basically, nearly half the population thinks the Amritsar massacre, the concentration camps during the Boer war and after the Mau Mau uprising, the post-partition violence in India caused by uprooting 10 million people, and the four million deaths from famine in Bengal while Churchill diverted grain to British troops and other countries were – what? Dunno. Not things they knew about? The price of doing business? We did bring a lot of economic development to places, you know.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; Britain has a very self-centric view of the world that continues to elevate it and its people as ‘civilisers’, ‘heroes’ and ‘saviours’, and traditional ‘British’ values, culture and norms as an ideal global standard.

Throughout history this ‘British Empire State of Mind’ and resulting actions has led to the suffering of people the world over, the pilfering of resources and the destruction of our planet. The result today is this: globally we are witnessing increasing political and economic inequality and borders that are closed to people but open to money, and at home in the UK there is a pervasive and growing fear of immigration and xenophobia and racism.

Beliefs like these are exactly the reason why I’m working with a group of people to run a series of interviews and events to challenge this mentality, and why it’s more important than ever to Rethink the British Empire State of Mind. If you agree, please join us. Get in touch via the Contact page or on Twitter @devtruths.

You can read the full YouGov press release here.

What do you think? Do these results surprise you? Do you agree with the 44 per cent of people surveyed who believe colonialism was a good thing? 

 

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A question for the UK about ‘immigration’

As April looms large in the UK as the month when non-EU migrants who have lived in the UK for more than five years and are earning less that £35,000 will face deportation, my question, to the UK Government, is this:

Can anyone please enlighten me as to why it’s ok to INVADE countries around the world; ENSLAVE people; build an entire empire that exists only to serve the central power; create a global system that OPPRESSES and dominates untold swathes of people and actively works to destroy their functioning and blossoming social, political and economic structures; wage devastating WARS for the sake of resources and ideology and then sit there and say to these fellow human beings…

“YOU’RE NOT WELCOME HERE”?

Asylum seekers, migrants, skilled migrants… screw your labels and let them in.

Photo credit: Konrad Lembcke via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC

Posting this shit. AGAIN.

AGAIN.

Posting this shit. AGAIN. Another black child murdered at the hands of ‘law enforcers’. What law; whose law are they enforcing?

What law says it’s ok to shoot a 17-year-old in the back 16 times? 16 times.

This is inhuman. The US media and government (as here in the UK) try to scare the shit out of us painting terrorism as brown men and women who are attacking ‘our values’, while they weave fairytales about state-sanctioned, paid and trained, trigger-happy, racist terrorism going on ON A DAILY BASIS.

We can’t just keep sharing these atrocities on social media and saying‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬. When are governments going to start caring about keeping ALL of their citizens alive instead of allowing them to die like this, whilst bombing the shit out of those living in other countries?

Governments aren’t going to change any time soon and these actions are just a symptom of a system that does and always has ‘prioritised’ (for want of a better word) whiteness (and please remember that I’m not attacking all white individuals but a system, just as when I talk about patriarchy I’m not attacking all men as individuals, but a system – one we all live in and have done for hundreds of years, so much so that it can be sometimes difficult to even see it. That’s not to deny that there ARE individuals who commit horrendous acts – like this police officer, but I’m talking to you, reading this, living in the same system as me) and it’s up to us, all of us, to see this, name it and tear it down.

If you want me to explain this more or feel personally hurt by my words then I do honestly understand that and I’m happy to talk about it further. I’m not trying to just upset people, I want you to be angry that things like this are happening but I don’t want people to feel personally attacked, just responsible, aware and galvanised to take action. I do genuinely want to learn more about how people feel about things like this and how we can get past feelings of shame, hurt and discomfort around issues like race so we can actually do something about it. It’s an ongoing process and I know it’s not straightforward.

The Wretched of the Earth – Global Frontlines Bloc @ People’s March for Climate Justice and Jobs

I’ll be there. Let me know if you want to join.

“We charge Genocide.
We charge Ecocide.
We see that Climate Change is Colonialism.
We know that Black and Brown communities are the first to die, the first to fight and the first to march in this war against Corporotocracy.

It is clear that without war, mega-development and extractivism there is no crisis of forced displacement, migration, detention and deportation.
That without ideologies of white supremacy there is no basis for treatment of our third world family as sub-human via paramilitary and police.
It is impossible to section our struggles for justice, unless the fight for climate is intersectional and led by the Wretched of the Earth, it will fail.”

“The Global South is the main frontline of the uphill battle against climate change. From Colombia to Côte d’Ivoire, from the Philippines to Pakistan, people are already facing the furious impacts of environmental devastation through floods, droughts, landslides, and typhoons. Diverse forms of extractivism, carried out under the colonial logic of ‘‘Western development’, are wrecking communities and fuelling the planetary crisis through prolonged social and environmental conflict.

All our struggles for justice around the world – for equality, food security, economic fairness, human rights, decent work, environmental protection and more – are interco nnected and tied up in the struggle against runaway climate change.

For many of our communities, this is a question of survival. The climate talks in Paris are about who lives and who dies, about whose lives matter and whose are disposable.

So on the 29th we will be marching for life. We will marching to demand justice for impacted communities. We will marching to decry the impending genocide. We will be marching to demand “system change, not climate change”. We will be marching to denounce the UK government and British extractive companies, whose policies plunder and destroy lives. We will be marching in solidarity with refugees around the world, fleeing the colliding horrors of imperial war, persecution, chronic poverty and climate change.

Together, we are more powerful than they could possibly imagine. Whatever happens in Paris, we can, and we will, build the future from here. A more just, more equitable and better world for us all.”

Originally written by Black Dissidents.

Find out more about the March: here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1500302780295862/

See you there.

Video: Is Britain racist? #BESoM

Appearing on Frankie Boyle’s Election Autopsy 2015 back in May, rapper, poet and journalist Akala talks about Britain’s inherent xenophobia, touching on imperialism and colonialism and how that has bred and perpetuated racism and white-centricity in society today…

Akala starts speaking at 1.38…

“When we talk about race we often talk about individual acts of prejudice, which is why UKIP often come up because they overtly say stuff we find offensive. But unfortunately the issue of race if we understand it is a lot more insidious, and it takes a lot more of a historical view to understand the difference between individual bias and structural racism and privilege and the idea of Great Britain was intimately tied to the fact that Britain has invaded almost every country on the earth, literally. Literally there’s a map. You can Google it.  So the idea of our greatness was intimately tied to this idea of empire, which was intimately tied to what Rudyard Kipling calls ‘the white man’s burden’ – to go and  civilise all these stupid brown folks that have been writing and having civilisations for thousands of years but let’s forget about that.”

Let me know what you think – is Britain racist?

Guest post: White supremacy, black liberation, and global development: The conversations we’re not having

This article from How Matters appeared in my inbox and on my Twitter feed recently so I knew I needed to read it. It’s a really interesting read and I’d like to know what you think…

Originally posted here and republished with kind permission from Jennifer Lentfer.

“Below all of the talk of “evidence-based approaches” and “taking interventions to scale,” there is an undercurrent of disquiet.

It happens when “local partners’ capacity” is maligned. It happens when two people have the same idea, but it is considered legitimate only when the white guy in the room offers it. It happens when people of color are passed over for leadership positions, jobs, promotions, or pay raises. It happens when different opinions would be helpful, but perspectives are not asked for, or are discounted. It happens when only 1% of humanitarian relief funds make their way to national organizations in Haiti, in West Africa to fight Ebola, and now in Nepal. It happens when people of color are assumed to have a lower job status than they do and are treated as such. It happens with every unclosed feedback loop and every feedback loop not yet opened. It happens when the stories and photos we use to describe our work reinforce harmful stereotypes. It happens when an approach is suddenly considered “new” or “relevant” only because now donors have “discovered” it.

People’s experiences of everyday, subtle racism, or racial microagressions – and the resulting anger, powerlessness, fear, humiliation, and sadness – are not just fleeting instances. They accumulate. And the resulting frustration can result in deep hopelessness in a sector that is supposed to be about equality, fairness, and lifting each other up. The very premise of our industry – that others should live as those in the “developed world” do – has to be acknowledged and exorcised.

If US-based development practitioners have learned anything from the discourse on race in our country over the last few tragic weeks (and centuries…), it’s time for some uncomfortable conversations. And if we can’t find the courage to have the conversation now, then when will it happen?

I hear plenty of conversations about risk, or rather mitigating it in our sector, over and over in fact. But we need to take the next step to talk about control and power. Who has it? Historically, how did they get it? Systemically, how do they use it? And as a result, who is not welcome at the table when decisions are made?

I’m uncomfortable talking about this. Going under the surface is scary. But unless we open up the conversation on racism, sexism, and privilege in the global development sector, we will continue to perpetuate the same, tired system and make the same mistakes – ones that right now we believe can be solved by best practices and improved indicators.

When we face uncertainty in the global development sector, we have two choices. We can design (make abstract) and manage (control), or we can inquire (make real) and listen (let go). When our sector focuses our language, our meetings, our reports only the first option, we assume “responsibility to only a certain extent,” as described to me by Semhar Araia.

We are too protected by the abstractions of our development lexicon. We can too easily claim our commitment to “results” or “locally-led development” and too easily skip over the racism at the root of the problems we seek to address and the prejudices that color the solutions we profess.

Every time I talk about racism on my blog how-matters.org, I realize there’s much more I can and should be doing to advance this discussion in the global development sector. Every time I go to a conference and see a sea of white faces talking about “their” help to poor, brown people in the Global South, I see how much work needs to be done.

So I am assuming more responsibility. I need to learn more about people of color’s experience in international aid and philanthropy, if they are willing to share it, and how this can be improved. I need to engage (and challenge) other white people about why they are not doing so. Our sector does so well at ignoring “the political,” but that has got to change, starting with me.

Forgive me for the mistakes I will surely make”