BLACK LIVES MATTER: POEMS FOR A NEW WORLD – REVIEW

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By Ananya Wilson-Bhattacharya

Content warning: references to police violence, racist violence.

The revival of the Black Lives Matter movement has inspired an array of haunting artistic responses. Black Lives Matter: Poems for a New World, edited by Ambrose Musiyiwa, is no exception. With over 100 contributions from writers of diverse ages and backgrounds, the collection is a poignant exploration of an era of renewed protest and newfound solidarities, against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.

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WHAT NEXT AFTER THE SIEGE OF CAPITOL HILL?

by Sarah Edgcumbe and Clyde Collins

The storming of Capitol Hill in Washington on the 6th January and the ongoing aftermath has dominated western media over the past few days with good reason. White Americans fuelled by bizarre QAnon conspiracy theories and egged on by Trump’s false narrative of fraudulent election results, forced their way into the building, ransacked the interior, hung confederate flags, stole items and generally behaved like a bunch of supremacist football hooligans who had been binge-drinking for several hours, and whose team had just lost. In doing so however, they demonstrated the extent to which they have become empowered by Trump – and that is terrifying. When Trump leaves the White House (hopefully in handcuffs; tears streaking his fake tan), his manifest right-wing extremist legacy is going to remain present for years to come.

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CRIMINALISING TRESPASS, PART THREE: SUFFOCATING SPACES OF RESISTANCE

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by Tesni Clare

For those who don’t know – and there are many who don’t, because the press have been worryingly silent on the matter until recently – there are a number of small, self-organised communities of activists living in tents and treehouses between London and Birmingham, along the proposed route of high speed railway HS2. The railway, and the protest camps, thread through some of this country’s last remaining pockets of ancient broadleaf woodland. Whilst many have been evicted, some camps have been there for over a year. 

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NORFOLK BLACK HISTORY MONTH HIGHLIGHTS THE COUNTY’S FORGOTTEN BLACK HISTORY

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By Sean Meleady

Content warning: racism, xenophobia, homophobia, examples of racist abuse

Children in Norfolk schools are usually taught about Black history within the context of the American Civil Rights movement — predominantly through figures such as Martin Luther King Jnr. or Rosa Parks. However, despite there only being a relatively small community in the county, Norfolk has a rich Black history going back centuries, much of which has largely been forgotten.

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SYSTEMIC RACISM IN THE UK CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM: AN UNDENIABLE REALITY

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by Alexandra Jarvis of IAS UK

The brutal murder of George Floyd in America this May sparked revived global conversations on the presence of racism in criminal justice structures around the world today. Despite this movement and its rallying cry across the world that Black lives matter, the UK’s systemic racism is entrenched and stubborn. Just last week in Britain, dance group Diversity’s performance on popular TV show Britain’s Got Talent attracted criticism after daring to depict police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement in their powerful performance. As activists work in the aftermath of the revolutionary protests and petition to push forward change, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) in Britain has launched an investigation into racism within English and Welsh police forces. Through this, it aims to assess whether Black, Asian, and other minority-ethnic groups are discriminated against by police officers and established practices.

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BLAME GAME: A GOVERNMENT SCARED OF YOUNG PEOPLE

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by Howard Green

Since Monday, people living in England are no longer allowed to meet in groups of more than six. Although this is not hugely practical given that many employees and students are being required to return to work and study, these new restrictions show that our incompetent Government is prepared to occasionally act in service of public health rather than into the hands of the free market. But it’s very apparent that these restrictions are aimed at minimising social gatherings amongst young people, who have unjustly been the subject of blame for the recent upsurge in COVID-19 cases.

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BLACK ROYALTY IMAGERY IN ACTIVISM IS NOT REVOLUTIONARY – LET’S LOOK BEYOND

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by Lisa Insansa Woods

A misleading image presents itself within certain areas of Black power discourse. It is the gilded image of the Black royal or the ancient African empire, manifesting within popular culture as a vision to aspire to. The recent release of Beyoncé’s Black Is King brings the subject back to the forefront of the public domain, presenting a glorification of Black royalty in the matrix of the Black liberation struggle.

This idolisation does not fit a revolutionary paradigm, but, rather, strives for “advancement” in line with a white supremacist world. It honours the western concept of civilisation as a system that oppresses others: there would be no monarchy without subjugation, no “great” empire without violence and theft.

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THE UK PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

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by Michael Noone for IAS UK

In March 2018, the then Justice Secretary David Guake delivered a speech on the topic of prison reform. He kicked off proceedings by detailing his perception of the prison system and its modus operandi. Describing it as three-fold, Guake explained the aims as follows:

First, protection of the public – prison protects the public from the most dangerous and violent individuals. Second, punishment – prison deprives offenders of their liberty and certain freedoms enjoyed by the rest of society and acts as a deterrent. It is not the only sanction available, but it is an important one. And third, rehabilitation – prison provides offenders with the opportunity to reflect on, and take responsibility for, their crimes and prepare them for a law-abiding life when they are released.

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THE UK’S INSTITUTIONAL RACISM

by Gunnar Eigener

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.Continue Reading

BUT HE’S NOT RACIST

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by Candice Nembhard

I have been living in Berlin for around two months now and generally the transition from the UK to mainland Europe has been a relatively easy process. If we put rising rent prices, endless German bureaucracy, and the future of Brexit aside, Berlin in some ways is a safe haven for a young black Brit such as myself.

Undoubtedly, my ability to move, live and work in Germany is not possible without an immense amount of privilege. I, unlike many people, do not face the same amount of adversity by simply being here; irrespective of my feelings towards my nationality, having a British passport is a golden ticket I didn’t have to work for. However, even with its numerous working and academic advantages, my citizenship does not defend me against the microaggressions of prejudice and racism that I receive almost on a daily basis.Continue Reading