Across all of the contradictory actions taken and advice given by the UK government in response to COVID-19, there is one recurring theme: emptiness. From clapping for a financially dire NHS, to confusing slogans, the government is keen to portray the national response to this crisis as a unified effort with the consensus of the public, healthcare staff and politicians. It seems a sense of morale is being treated as the antidote, rather than investing in real measures to protect the public from ill health. These meaningless gestures in place of action are costing lives, particularly of the working classes.
In early July, Extinction Rebellion UK released a statement discussing their “relationship with the police.” They explained how they now recognise that their tactics of civil disobedience and mass arrests have been insensitive to and “have excluded Black people, other communities racialised as non-white, and other marginalised groups and contributed to narratives that have put those communities at risk.” They also apologise that this recognition has come so late.
CW: police brutality, racism
We tend to think of them as a trio: the police; the firefighters; the paramedics. They all answer the same phone line; they all blare the same siren on their way to the scene. Not all three, however, exist to support civilians, nor do they operate in unison, and this façade is what enables the police to be revered no matter how much they tear communities apart and instil fear.
Colston is in the river. Winston Churchill is quivering. Cecil Rhodes glares brazenly at the Oxford University governors threatening to tear him down, his maniacal eyes finding flickers of solace in the realisation that whether he remains or not, the society he served over a century ago still slithers in its self-made pool of white supremacy (enough to still make his cold hard mouth turn into a grin).
The taking down of statues is a powerful display of justice. Every day, the Black community has had to endure looking up at its oppressors whilst simultaneously being battered by the system that those same glorified figures acted to perpetuate. Each statue that falls is a nod of recognition to the Black experience – an experience which has been subdued for hundreds of years as something that is not worthy of our knowledge. However, whilst pulling down a statue is a strong gesture, it does not annihilate the insidious manifestation of racism that courses through every part of our society. We need to do more.
CW: racism, violence, police brutality
We need to talk about the rioting. And the looting. And the destruction of statues during recent Black Lives Matter protests. We really do. The failure to recognise the entrenched nature of historical and enduring structural violence in both the US and the UK speaks volumes in terms of the normalization of oppression, enforced poverty, racism and discrimination in contemporary society. Whilst there are certainly white victims of structural violence, it is an irrefutable fact that Black or minority ethnic communities experience the most severe intersecting consequences – not as uncomfortable rarities, but as a grinding, every day, relentless struggle, which as we have seen in the case of George Floyd along with so many other black men, women and youth, can too often have fatal results.
CW: racism, violence, police brutality
A tide of anguish currently sweeps our world, hammering at the white supremacist order. On the evening of May 25th, George Floyd was mercilessly killed by a white US policeman. The world watched from their homes as Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, ignoring his screams as he called out that he couldn’t breathe. George Floyd was suffocated of his last breath. Three other policemen stood and watched. The state brutally murdered a Black man. The people decided to revolt.
Right now, we are seeing mass protests from the US to the UK to the rest of the world, both on the streets and online, physically and mentally. Police brutality pervades our society and the recent piling up of Black bodies such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery has become just too much. We need change. The only way to achieve this change is to abolish the police.
Institutional racism has, for many years, been the more unpleasant side of societies throughout the world. Black and other minority communities have long been oppressed by predominately white police departments. Crimes within these communities have rarely received the attention that equivalent crimes in white neighbourhoods have. Civil rights marches have been going on for years, social media tracks the violence of police forces, and the alternative media exposes the racist actions of institutions and establishment figures. But has anything really changed? Have we made any progress that truly shows a change in perception? Sadly, it doesn’t seem so.
With the Feminist movement having become more a part of the mainstream, there is a tendency to call it a new wave. But Feminism is something that is always flowing, with plenty of grassroots activists doing work ‘to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression’ (as defined by bell hooks, Feminism is for Everybody, 2000). Whilst the movement’s popularity means there are films with stronger female characters, and Feminist comedians can easily be seen on Netflix, it also means that various corporations try to sell us back our politics.
by The Norwich Radical
2016 was a bleak year for many. Across the world, the forces of liberty, of social progress, and of environmental justice lost time and again in the face of rising fascism, increased alienation, and intensifying conflict. That notwithstanding, there have been moments of light. In the Austrian Presidential election, the electorate confirmed the independently Green candidate Alexander van der Bellen; the #noDAPL water protectors gained a soft victory in early December; in fact, there is a full list of positives from the past year, if you want cheering up.
2016 saw our team expand to more than 25 writers, editors, and artists as well as host our first ever progressive media conference, War of Words. Our readership has grown from 5,000 per month to more than 6,500 per month. In total, nearly 80,000 people have read content on The Norwich Radical website this year.
In 2017, The Norwich Radical will turn three years old, with plans to grow our team and publication more than ever before. We’ll also be returning to Norwich to bring debate and discussion on the future of the media, with War of Words back for a second year.
by Emmanuel Agu
Perhaps not in its inception, though undeniably, the climate change crisis is one of race. The protest today launched by the UK chapter of the Black Lives Matter (BLMUK) stands as a call to arms in opposition of worrying statistics of the UK’s Influence on both global climate change and the local effects — highlighting the disproportionate nature of these adverse affects on communities of colour in the west and world wide.
There is something to be said for the recent solidarity protests in London, Birmingham and Manchester as organised by the Black Lives Matter movement. Never have I seen such a positive, unionised display of blackness that has caught the eye of not only the media, but also the average citizen. As more articles are released, I am becoming more intrigued by the role that social media has played in galvanising mass movement, and implementing revolutionary politics that will leave behind a long lasting message for people of colour to come.
My experience in the UK regarding institutional violence against people of colour was that the baton was always passed to our stateside counterparts. It is not difficult to see why, when sites such as Twitter and Tumblr opened us up to the lives of Trayvon Martin, Ayesha Jones, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland — long before it caught the attention of popular news sites and news networks. It was important that these narratives were being discussed, as it gave people of all races an insight into the practices within forces that are designed to safeguard us —especially in a society of 24-hour surveillance.
Content Warning: References to racial violence, homophobic slur.
by Eve Lacroix
Ghost Squad, a branch of the hacktivist group Anonymous, targeted official Black Lives Matter (BLM) websites www.blacklifematters.org and www.blacklivesmatter.com between the 29th and 30th of April. Using a technique called Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), which consists in persistent and repetitive HTTP requests to crash a server, Ghost Squad shut down both websites temporarily.
Something amazing is happening. We are finally talking about racism. And I mean really talking about it. We are asking why it is, that in the US, black people are targeted significantly more than white people in terms of police violence. We are talking about institutional racism, wherein every single year we see little to no racial diversity in the academy award nominations. We are talking about symbolic racism, in which academic institutions seem to see nothing wrong with commemorating racist historical figures. It is not a coincidence that these conversations are taking place at the same time because we are in the midst of a powerful international movement called Black Lives Matter, which is taking a battering ram to every single racist barrier you can think of. But it is also going for the ones you might not have thought of, because now it is forcing us to introspect as we examine the places we thought were free and open spaces.
by Emmanuel Agu
In the three years since the origin of Black Lives Matter campaigning- we as a people have plenty to be thankful for.
Amongst the continuous protests against non-indictments of cops who slaughter us; despite being refused entry to the venues that play our music and profit from our culture, we have made progress.
The movement only gains further ground each day: the suffering of our people is openly documented for all to see, and pioneering individuals in the movement are meeting with possible presidential candidates. The most important achievement of the movement lies in the renewed energy within a generation. Though it is often exhausting hearing the same harrowing accounts; to continuously explain valid theory and personal lived experiences to voices that will attempt to silence you- I am firm in the belief that the only way we can initiate radical change within structured oppression is through continuous and accessible discourse.
by Emmanuel Agu
To be forthcoming; yes- living and working conditions for black people have reached some atrocious lows in Obama’s two terms as president: the worst black unemployment rate in 28 years was recorded at was 16.8 in March 2011; 28 percent of all African Americans were living in poverty in 2013, and two out of five African American children lived in relative poverty – the most harrowing statistic of all: a $131,000 disparity between the average income of the white household and the African American.
Perhaps the biggest paradox of all is a Black President coexisting with the Black Lives Matter movement independent of the government. Statistics like these really do not encourage much faith in Obama and his ability as a ‘black president’- but again to merely look at these statistics without considering the economic climate Obama was thrust into would be a misrepresentative and reductive analysis. The ‘Great Recession’ in 2008-13 is widely understood to be caused by a deregulation of wall street during Bush’s Administration and was characterised by fiscal austerity, collapsing of housing markets due to irresponsible lending from the banking sector which (amongst many other contributory factors), could perhaps be lead us to reason these effects on the black community.
By Mike Vinti
Protest and pop are unusual bed fellows. The noisy, often chaotic world of protest can often seem like the antithesis of the sleek, PR heavy world of modern pop music. However, the two have a long a history together. Whether it’s Punk, the Rock Against Racism movement or afro-beat pioneer Fela Kuti running for President of Nigeria, there are plenty of instances where protest and pop music have joined forces to fight injustice. This is happening again today, not only with the renewed attention on feminism as we discussed two weeks ago, but also with the prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement.
By Emmanuel Agu
For a while now I have been trying to do everything in my power to avoid directly writing around police brutality, (specifically in America) and the black lives matter movement. In all sincerity, there are an endless multitude of articles written around this with a much longer word limit than that which I am offered; but given recent stimuli- I could not stay silent for any longer.
A couple of days ago I had the misfortune of encountering this viral video.