“They have no clear way out of the current crisis which is costing lives & livelihoods including half a million unemployed young people, & no clear way out of the impending climate crisis which could cost us the Earth.”Myriam Kane, Black Liberation Alliance.
By Myriam Kane The Black Liberation Alliance. This is based on a speech given at the For a People’s Budget – No to Austerity 2.0 event – you can watch the full video here.
The Black Liberation Alliance believes in the unity of purpose between people of African, Arab, Asian and Caribbean descent. The attacks facing our communities range from the impact of covid, to racism, to cuts, to wars.
It’s clear that the impact on our communities is disproportionate, unjust and brutal. Just as Covid was hitting the world, Black people had double the reason to cry out ‘I cant breathe’. George Floyd died because a white police officer held his knee against his neck, for 8 minutes. That is longer than my speech today. Black communities are oppressed not just because of the disproportionate impact of the covid, but alsobecause of the historic and ongoing virus of racism that has blighted the world and been perpetuated by the west. We stand with the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Mohammed Hassan in Wales and the countless Black people who have died due to racist policing. Black Lives Matter. And let us be clear Black lives will be key in the future of our humanity. Because, without fighting against the disproportionate impact of climate change against the people of the global south, we are allowing environmental destruction to ravage people and planet, and that will be catastrophic for the future of all us.
As a Black Muslim disabled person – I am disgusted at the approach of Britain to Black Communities – this is the 5th biggest economy in the world yet it has failed to respond to the covid crisis with humanity. People with learning disabilities have been given ‘do not resuscitate’ orders. BAME Doctors, nurses and bus drivers have died disproportionately as a result of the pandemic. In my work, I have seen Black families being evicted from their home leaving them more at risk from contacting covid. We are all asked to ‘stay at home’ to stop the virus. How can you stay at home when you don’t have one? From the outset, there have been reports of Black staff being targeted to work in covid wards and having less access to PPE. Black , Asian and Ethnic Minorities are disproportionately dying while the govt deny that institutional racism has been a key cause. That’s why I back Stand Up To Racism in calling for an inquiry into the disproportionate impact of covid on BAME communities.
We need a zero covid policy. This has crushed the virus in China, New Zealand and Vietnam amongst others. Prioritising public health has led to these countries being able to gradually and safely open up the economy, because they prioritised the most important part of the engine of the economy – the people. In stark contrast, the US and UK governments put profit over people and have created some of the most dangerous countries to live in for death from covid, leading to some of the highest death rates in the world, with Britain, together with Brazil and South Africa, creating new mutations by failing to lockdown properly and crush the virus.
We need a zero covid strategy if we are to stop preventable deaths and return to normality. Scientists are already predicting that the most favourable outcome when lifting lockdown restrictions in Britain could be 30,000 deaths. We cannot and must not accept this. These will be disproportionately amongst BAME communities. Every step that we fight against the disastrous policies of Boris Johnson’s government is a step towards saving thousands of lives.
We only need look at the case of Belly Munjinga, a black public transport worker, who contracted covid after being spat at, which cost her life. This is the consequence of being Black in the middle of the pandemic. But the racism during covid does not stop there. Trump attempted to label corona the ‘China Virus’. The reality is that Trump’s racist take on the pandemic has led to a rise in racist attacks against people of Chinese origin, and against people from South Asia. We must stand with all these communities. You do not beat a pandemic with disunity, you beat it by uniting our communities.
These are challenging, turbulent and difficult times. The Black Lives Matter movement, gives thousands of us hope. When Trump brought out the military, the movement responded with something much more powerful: a global anti-racist resistance led by young people, ready to put a racist like Trump in the dustbin of history.
I was inspired by the Bristol demonstrators who took down the statue of Edward Colston who profited directly from slavery. I have no doubt that this act stands in the proud history of descent against injustice, which includes the suffragettes, the Cable Street demonstrators, the Stonewall rioters, the anti-apartheid campaigners – all vilified by the establishment at the time.
And here in Britain, the Tories were Trump’s uncritical allies. We can see it in their inhumane policies to refugees, migrants and Muslims. Only this week, Shamima Begum was stripped of her British citizenship. a 15-year-old girl groomed online by extremists. We all have our views about what justice she should face in Britain, but I think we can all agree it is a travesty to leave a child in a refugee camp, stripped of her British citizenship. You will not hear of a young white male far-right shooter in the US ever being treated like this despite their murderous crimes.
And it is shameful that the current Home Secretary Priti Patel calls the Black Lives Matter movement ‘dreadful’. The Tories always use racism as a weapon of mass distraction. The most dreadful thing in the last year is their handling of the pandemic which has seen 120,000 deaths.
They have no clear way out of the current crisis which is costing lives and livelihoods including half a million unemployed young people, and no clear way out of the impending climate crisis which could cost us the Earth. It is clear that we need a government that will unite and invest in people, public health and green jobs just as the NHS rebuilt the economy and prioritised public health after the post war slump.
I will end by saying let’s take inspiration from the Black Lives Matter movement. If it can topple Trump, wecan topple reaction, building bridges, not walls, to a better world. We must link up the labour movement, the antiracist and equality movements, the school climate strikers and A-level students fighting for a better, greener education. Let’s build the rainbow coalition that can deliver a brighter future for humanity. Please follow The Black Liberation Alliance on Instagram and twitter for content and events. I hope to see you all on Saturday 20th March at the UN Anti-Racism Day online demonstration being called by Stand Up To Racism. Thank you and solidarity.