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.

Advertisements

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”

It’s time to rethink the British Empire State of Mind

“For in the last resort, the only important question is, Do you want the British Empire to hold together or do you want it to disintegrate?  And at the bottom of his heart no Englishman does want it to disintegrate.  For, apart from any other consideration, the high standard of life we enjoy in England depends upon our keeping a tight hold on the Empire, particularly the tropical portions of it such as India and Africa.  Under the capitalist system, in order that England may live in comparative comfort, a hundred million Indians must live on the verge of starvation – an evil state of affairs, but you acquiesce in it every time you step into a taxi or eat a plate of strawberries and cream.  The alternative is to throw the Empire overboard and reduce England to a cold and unimportant little island where we should all have to work very hard and live mainly on herrings and potatoes.”

–George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier (1937, p 159)

Today I am officially launching a new campaign – British Empire State of Mind – to challenge Britain’s continuing colonial mentality,  which I believe is the cause of increasing international inequality and xenophobia and racism in the UK. I hope you will join me in getting involved, taking part, or simply supporting the campaign.

Many argue that the British Empire ended in 1997 when the union flag came down in Hong Kong. However, the legacy of this empire lives on and with it a ‘British Empire State of Mind’.

Britain, a tiny island with a population of around 65 million, still holds a very privileged position of power and influence internationally, it 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.

The context

I believe that (largely white) Brits are often (and sometimes unconsciously) ignorant of the inconvenient truth of the impact that Britain has had, and continues to have, on the world, and how this subsequently relates to the experiences of people of colour in the UK. I want to challenge this.

Throughout the media and in daily conversations between people in Britain it’s not uncommon to hear or read the following sentiments in discussions about society, politics and economics:

  • “Immigrants are coming to the UK and stealing our jobs”
  • “Immigrants and foreigners arrive here and dilute our culture with their own languages/food/religion/values”
  • “Immigrants are coming to the UK to live but they should sort out the problems in their own countries – there’s not enough room”
  • “People are poor in developing countries because of their corrupt leaders/lack of resources/lazy populations/fighting with one another”
  • “There’s nothing we can do about poverty in developing countries – it’s not our responsibility”
  • “We’re already doing enough sending them millions of pounds in aid money and sending in our army to help sort them out. It’s nothing to do with us. Charity begins at home.”

Putting to one side for a moment whether or not these statements are a) factually correct or b) patronising/unfair/selfish/racist etc, their foundations are often rooted in ignorance. There is a lack of understanding of the conditions that create global poverty and migration. And there is a lack of understanding of how the actions of the British Empire, with the complicity of British citizens, can be found at the root of a number of man-made global crises as the cause. By putting the problems we see in the world today into the context of our history, realising that these issues are interconnected and looking at them from a variety of different perspectives, we can (hopefully) start to develop a true understanding and empathy for others and realise actually how much influence Britain has had, and continues to have, in shaping these issues.

I’m very aware that information fed to us in the UK by the media/government/education etc often views people of colour and ‘developing countries’ and their inhabitants through a white/western-centric lens, marginalising and disempowering, silencing their voices, manipulating the truth and breeding ignorance.

I believe that achieving global equality will not only require the self-determined ‘development’ of developing countries, but also, in many ways, the underdevelopment and humbling of ‘developed’ nations, Britain included. This will start with examining our actions, our beliefs, what we’ve been told, our experiences and our thoughts.

Britain isn’t alone in this ‘state of mind’, or the influence it wields, it’s one shared by other western European countries, the US, and increasingly other developing global powers, but I’m British and this is my audience.

The event

As part of British Empire State of Mind I am hoping to help coordinate an event that’s not only educational, but transformational. One that fosters empathy and understanding and an ability for the audience to really put themselves in others’ shoes and call for change, rather than simply walking away feeling guilty, angry and helpless – not an easy task…

After an evening of sharing stories and some real listening I’d really like people to come away understanding:

History – The true history of Britain and the British Empire and how the country has benefitted from it (from colonialism and slavery etc).

Today – What’s going on in the world today in terms of global inequality and poverty and how Britain helped create the conditions that caused and continues to perpetuate it now (neocolonialism, war, weapons sales, unfair economics, stereotyping, racism, anti immigration).

How this plays out:

  • In the UK: Fear of immigration, racism and belief that individualism can be pursued without detriment to the global poor, lack of awareness about interconnectedness of countries
  • Around the world: Widening gap between rich and poor, increasing environmental instability, inhumanity, pursuing profit over people
  • To us as individuals: How are individuals are directly affected – including racism, forced migration, impact of climate change etc.

What’s possible? – What’s possible is a world where everyone is recognised as being of equal value and are treated as such, with equal access to opportunity. I believe true equality would, amongst other things, create balance, eradicate poverty, reduce conflict, end environmental destruction and build communities for a world that works for all.

What do we do to make it happen? – Listen, understand, learn, empathise, amplify, question, demand change, share stories.

Possible format

The way I have been thinking that this will work is through the power of stories. Ideally, it would be wonderful to host a series of events with active campaigners (challenging the idea of passive ‘victims’ in developing countries) from around the world and 1st/2nd/3rd/any generation ‘migrants’ in the UK who are or have been impacted by the actions of the UK and the British government and are able and willing to talk about it…

These are just my initial thoughts. I have lots more information and ideas, but I wanted to share the rough outline with you. I want this to be a collaboration and I am well aware that these aren’t my stories to tell – I just want to amplify them for a white, British audience. So far I have come up with concept, carried out research and started to look for, get in contact with and interview people who might have stories to tell (including half of Accra!). I really want to invite anyone who wants to jump on board, contribute, lead, influence and edit the course of the campaign – all feedback, suggestions criticism and input are more than welcome – I’d love to hear what you think. I’m not precious, I just believe that the ultimate end is important.

If this is something you’re passionate about and you want to get involved in in any way (or you know someone who might), or if you think I’m on the wrong track and should be doing something different (or nothing at all!) please do get in touch – you can do so on my Contact page.

You can also follow the campaign (for now) on Twitter – @devtruths and on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/developmenttruths using the hashtag #BESoM.