Anti-Racism

Feminism, Interrupted: a write-up

This write-up follows a discussion in Workers ’ Liberty’s socialist feminist reading group. Usually held in South London, the monthly reading group has been held online during the pandemic. To get involved, write to: womensfightback@workersliberty.org Feminism, Interrupted is the second book from Lola Olufemi, co-author of A FLY Girls Guide to University. A cross-between an introductory text and manifesto, the book is a collection of ten essays covering topics from trans rights and islamophobic misogyny to food and art. The first chapter, “Know your history”, reflects on a rich history of...

Network Rail: do black workers matter?

Network Rail has just published its ethnicity pay gap report for 2020. The results are a bit better than Network Rail's first report last year but still show big problems.

The ethnicity pay gap is the difference in the average hourly rate of pay for workers from black and ethnic minorities...

John Brown through different eyes

Many in the Abolitionist movement to destroy US slavery were originally pacifists, militantly anti-slavery but hoping to convince slaveowners to abandon the institution. Many of the growing number of black Americans who joined the movement opposed such ideas, and events would severely test even those Abolitionists most committed to non-violence. When the Civil War finally came in 1861, the vast majority backed the Northern war effort. Abolitionist leader John Brown, the subject of recent seven-part TV series The Good Lord Bird, was frankly opposed to non-violence. He devoted himself to...

The Colston four on trial

The Black Lives Matter march in Bristol on 7 June 2020 was one of the biggest and liveliest in the city in years, with 5,000 people. The statue of slave trader Edward Colston was removed from its plinth and thrown into the river. The Crown Prosecution Service has since pressed charges of “criminal damage”, and on 25 January four people faced a hearing at Bristol Magistrates’ court. Five others were given cautions with bizarre conditions. After police pressure — using lockdown laws — organisers of a solidarity demonstration moved it online, with over 150 participating. Swarms of police gathered...

Condemn Starmer u-turn on free movement

The Labour Campaign for Free Movement is seeking signatures and Constituency Labour Party and union motions calling on the Labour leadership to support democracy, migrant rights and the 2019 Labour Party conference decision on free movement: see here (up with other motions here). This is a response to Keir Starmer saying on 10 January, when asked if Labour would stick to its free movement policy: “I don’t think there’s an argument for reopening those aspects of the treaty”. A year ago, asked when running for Labour leader whether he would bring back free movement for EU citizens, Starmer said...

Marcus Garvey, model capitalist?

While I was writing my Solidarity pieces on Marcus Garvey, I heard of a short Radio 4 programme Black Star Line: The Story of Marcus Garvey. Produced in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, the programme, narrated by 1Xtra DJ Seani B, sought in less than 30 minutes to tell us about Garvey and examine the influence Garvey and Garveyism has had today. Even as a potted history it has some holes. We are told that Garvey faced opposition from other black leaders in the US like Du Bois and A Philip Randolph, but never why. It suggests Garvey was an ambitious entrepreneur who believed in...

Racism behind the deportations

On Wednesday 2 December, a charter flight intended to deport 50 Jamaican nationals from the UK back to Jamaica went ahead, though with thirteen rather than 50. There had been a campaign with many high-profile celebrities such as Naomi Campbell fronting it. Home Secretary Priti Patel was heavily critically of the Labour MPs and celebrities such as Thandie Newton who protested, referring to them as “do-gooders”. She claimed people seeking to halt the deportation risked the safety of British people by allowing criminals to reside on British soil. To what extent are “British” people in danger from...

The Potentate and the Brotherhood

Stephen Wood continues the story of the pioneer black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. Part 1 of this account was in Solidarity 573 here. Garvey thought the trade unions in the American Federation of Labor were unreformably racist organisations. Garvey had his own solution to the lack of black workers’ rights; and that was black-owned and black-run businesses. Such businesses, he claimed, wouldn’t discriminate against black workers because they would be founded on the black nationalist principle espoused by Garvey. Chief among his projects was the Black Star Line. It was initially set up to...

Marcus Garvey and the socialists

When in our predecessor paper Workers’ Action (no.117, 1978) Colin Waugh wrote about Marcus Garvey he noted, I think rightly, that Garvey is a figure known now more by reputation than by belief. In the recent Black Lives Matters demonstrations, “Garveyism” as an entire political outlook has certainly been marginal. But “Garveyite” beliefs persist. His legacy is probably more readily accessible to people in the popular consciousness via Roots Reggae and Hip Hop. Garvey led for a short period the largest black organisation of its day, the United Negro Improvement Association And African...

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