Cuts, Injustice and Racism

4th May 2012

Zita Holbourne, co-founder/chair of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) and PCS union NEC member writes about the cuts, injustice and racism facing black people. Zita will be speaking at the LRC’s Brighton Festival fringe event ‘United we stand: Tackling racism’ on 22 May.

It’s clear the cuts are having a negative impact on the vast majority of us but there’s a disproportionate impact on black workers, service users and communities.

Some of the reasons for this is that we’re over concentrated in the public and voluntary sectors because of the discrimination barring access to the private sector.

Discrimination in the workplace, education and wider society means that we live in the poorest geographical areas that are being subjected to the deepest cuts and many of the specialist and local services we relied on were provided by the voluntary sector because they were not provided by government.

A Voice newspaper poll tells us that 82% of black people in the UK believe they will be worse off. Cuts are one aspect of the Con-Dem agenda that are impacting on black people but we also have the government’s whole attitude towards equality, multiculturalism and racism to contend with.

The police force is still institutionally racist and a shocking series of severely racist accounts of police abusing black people have recently been revealed. They confirm what most black people could have told you from their first hand accounts: there is a serious issue of racism within the police and that ‘the system’ is set up to protect the racist not the victim of racism, especially when it’s the police doing it. The numbers of black deaths at the hands of the state are on the increase with families forced to fight for years for justice.

David Cameron’s speech in Munich about multiculturalism sent a clear message to us – that we are not welcomed in the UK unless we conform to some fake kind of norm and reject our religions, cultures and traditions. We have a new far right in the form of the EDL who are allowed to parade their hatred on our streets. Black people and migrant workers are blamed by the far right for the lack of jobs and housing, and racist attacks increase.

People holding racist views are becoming increasingly emboldened in expressing these and one of the worst documented incidents of this kind was the woman with her young child on a tram in Croydon who hurled abuse at her fellow passengers telling them that they were not from ‘here’ and had ruined ‘her’ England.

Whilst these are some of the issues facing us today we have to look at what the future holds for young black people when youth unemployment stands at over 1 million, with 1 in 2 young black people are unemployed. The slashing of EMA and tripling of tuition fees means that many poor black families cannot support their children through further education on top of the other attacks on them. Services for young people to get support, youth centres, and libraries are being closed because of funding cuts leaving them with few opportunities. A whole generation of young black people face economic and social injustice and oppression.

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