Displaying items by tag: racism
Photos and film of a police officer wearing a hijab on the front line went viral last year. But police constable Ruby Begum used Twitter to insult Jews and mock the 9/11 attacks before joining the Met. Scotland Yard faces questions over how her rants were missed during vetting. She communicated over many months with a woman who fled Europe to live under IS's so-called caliphate. The Met has now launched an investigation, while Miss Begum has been placed on 'restricted duties'. She works for the Met's taskforce dealing with public order and has run a Twitter account since 2012, posting 25,000 messages. Interspersed with commonplace concerns are posts that will dismay Met Police chiefs battling longstanding accusations of institutional racism.
The CofE has abandoned a proposal to appoint 42 ‘racial justice officers’ across the country, one of the recommendations from its report on tackling racism in the institution. In April 47 proposals were made to address institutional racism and improve diversity in an attempt to end a ‘rut of inaction’ spanning several decades, with the Archbishop of Canterbury conceding that people of colour had been ‘bullied, overlooked, undermined and excluded’ within the Church. With the taskforce warning a failure to act against racism would convince people the Church was ‘not serious about racial sin’, one suggestion was for paid, full-time racial justice officers to be employed in every diocese for a five-year term. However, the idea was scrapped. The Archbishop of York said, ‘The Archbishops' Council has concluded that it cannot support this recommendation in this formulation at this time, given the need to reduce costs in diocesan and national administration.’
‘If people constantly say they want to kill you, you don't feel safe at all’, says Aima, a Black Lives Matter (BLM) activist. Standing up for the rights of black people has a high price for many protesters in the UK. But lack of trust in the police means many threats go unreported. That trust has been eroded by decades of racism. An inquiry into botched investigations into the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence found institutional racism in London's Metropolitan Police. Despite some changes since then, black people and ethnic minorities are still disproportionately represented when it comes to police checks, imprisonment, and deaths in custody. A 2020 survey by the charity ‘HOPE not hate’ revealed 65% of people from ethnic minority backgrounds felt the police were biased against their community. When a new generation of activists addressed the UK’s racial divide they were met with curiosity and sympathy, but that turned into defensiveness and outright denial from some in Britain's ruling class and opinion influencers.
The German defence minister told the armed forces that reported racist and sexual abuse in a German platoon based in Lithuania has put their entire reputation at risk. The most recent incidents were a sexual assault against another soldier, singing anti-Semitic songs, and in April singing songs to mark Hitler’s birthday. There is a pattern of far-right extremism in the army: a soldier allegedly racially abused a non-white fellow soldier, and four German soldiers made animal noises when a black French soldier walked past. Far-right incidents in the elite KSK commando unit triggered calls for it to be disbanded as it had become partly independent of the chain of command. Police seized explosives and weapons at the home of a KSK soldier. Military intelligence said there were almost 600 suspected far-right supporters in the army, the KSK being a particular problem. Twenty members are suspected of right-wing extremism.
Rt Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, the Church of England’s first black female bishop, is concerned that a Government’s report on race and ethnic disparities said that the success of the ethnic minority population in education and economy is a model for other white-majority countries. The Bishop said that we will be an example when black people are not just sweeping floors, cleaning, and catering in establishments, but sitting around every table and in leadership in all walks of life. ‘There are serious issues around that report if it is telling us we are now a model country.’ The report, commissioned after the Black Lives Matter movement began, said there was no evidence of institutional racism in the UK: rather, geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture, and religion all impact life chances more than racism. Many say the report was culturally deaf and out of step with public opinion.
Hate crimes involving Asian-American victims soared in New York city last year. Officials are grappling with the problem as new incidents occur. ‘I’ve never cried like that before,’ Maggie Cheng said, after seeing security footage showing her mother being shoved to the ground on a crowded street. ‘To see my mother get thrown like that, she looks like a feather, a rag doll.’ The attack, which gained widespread attention on social media, was one of four attacks in a day against Asian-American women in New York. Concerns intensified after an Asian man was stabbed on Thursday night near Chinatown. Asian-Americans make up 16% of the population of the city: it is feared that the wave of racism and violence against them during the pandemic is surging again. The attacks are random, fast and furious, stoking a lot of fear and paranoia. Many Asians are not leaving their homes.
The co-chair of the new anti-racism taskforce, the Revd Sonia Barron, has said that the Church of England must not just ‘pay lip-service’ to issues of racism. On 13 October the Church announced the launch of a taskforce, which will propose actions that the Church should take to promote greater racial equality across the Church. The work of the group will include sifting through 160 recommendations that already exist, most of them made by the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC) since 1985, and identifying any that have been ignored and could be implemented. Their recommendations will be presented to the Archbishops’ Racism Action Commission, which will be launched in spring 2021.
Dr Martin Luther King Jr said we must live together as brothers or perish together as fools. His niece Dr Alveda King said, ‘We're fighting over trying to reconcile separate races when we are only one race - the human race.’ Bishop Harry Jackson said, ‘We're seeing a readiness to respond to race across racial boundaries. But what's missing is in Galatians 3:26; we say there's neither Jew nor Greek, there's neither bond nor free. These distinctions can be solved by coming together in Christ.’ We can pray for Christians to lead the way with answers to the ills of society. We have the Bible and the Holy Spirit to guide us. The church must find answers and right any wrongs that exist and then boldly become part of the national discussion on race relations in America. Bishop Williams added, ‘When someone needs blood, they don’t ask if it was black blood, white blood or Jewish blood; they need blood.’
England contains many diverse, multicultural cities, and the current uprisings spectacularly play out in them. The movement’s heart is about injustices that go back decades - and centuries - with global foundations. Many parts of the UK have deep issues with racism that have long needed to be challenged, talked about, rectified and healed. On 15 June Boris Johnson announced plans to create a cross-government commission to examine racial inequality and the disparities experienced by minority ethnic groups in education, health and the criminal justice system. He said he could not ignore the strength of feeling shown by tens of thousands of people who had demonstrated in London and other cities across the UK. He said, ‘It is no use just saying that we have made huge progress in tackling racism. There is much more that we need to do; and we will.’
British port cities grew wealthy transporting slaves to the Americas. On 7 June Bristol protesters tore down a statue of a slave trader whose company branded its victims with the company’s initials on their chests. Unfortunately on a weekend that marked the anniversary of D-Day, Sir Winston Churchill’s statue was also defaced as agitators chanted, ‘Churchill is a racist’; and at the Cenotaph, a monument to those who died for free speech and democracy, a protester tried to set fire to the Union Flag. Pray that Black Lives Matter marches are not muddled with wilful criminal damage. The government has been accused of appalling treatment of British Caribbean citizens who came to rebuild Britain after World War II. Sadiq Khan and many others are calling for all statues and street names linked to slavery to be taken down. The first to fall was a statue of slaveholder Robert Milligan at Docklands.