Wilkswood Reggae Festival stands with Black Lives Matter
Racism is never acceptable in any form.
Let’s stand together.
As a reggae music event that celebrates music and culture of an Afro-Caribbean heritage the Wilkswood Family stands in complete solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Racism is never acceptable in any form so let’s all stand together in support of global equality and unity.
Following the mass protests across America and around the world prompted by the murder of 46-year-old George Floyd, (who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes), we find it both depressing and concerning that racism and racist violence are still so pervasive.
George Floyd’s death came on the back of a number of high profile black deaths caused by police over the last five years. Breonna Taylor (shot eight times by police in Louisville, Kentucky, who had raided the wrong house during a drugs bust), Stephon Clark (shot seven times by police investigating a break-in at Sacremento), Philando Castile (shot in front of his girlfriend while reaching for his driving licence after being pulled over by police in St Paul, Minnesota), Alton Sterling (shot by police called to a disturbance outside of a shop in Baton Rouge), Walter Scott (shot in the back five times by a white police officer in North Charleston after being pulled over for having a defective tail light). The list goes on and doesn’t include the fatal shooting in February of 25-year old Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia by white father and son, Gregory and Travis McMichael.
It’s worth stating that institutional and often violent racism isn’t confined to America. In 2015, the UK’s Institute of Race Relations (IRR) analysed 509 deaths of BAME, refugee and migrant people in ‘suspicious circumstances’ with police, prison authorities or immigration detention officers. It found that no-one had been convicted for their part in the loss of life, despite 12 cases having ‘unlawful killings’ rulings returned by juries. Azellle Rodney, Mark Duggan, Sean Rigg, Smiley Culture, Kingsley Burrell: all were black men who died in incidents involving the police
It’s also worth noting that in 1999, following the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the subsequent failings by those who investigated it, the Macpherson report found that the London Metropolitan police force was ‘institutionally racist’. Undeniably we too have a problem in the UK. In fact racism is global and systemic and should be challenged at all times.
Producers and selectors from the Wilkswood Family and Countryman Soundsystem have put together a session mix of reggae protest tracks in support of Blacks Lives Matter. The 50-minute session includes some powerful songs depicting the personal experiences of racial prejudice and the on-going struggle for equality.
So what can we do to make a stand against racism?
Write to your MP
Human rights organisations such as Amnesty International are calling for the UK government to halt the sale and export of tear gas, rubber bullets and riot shields – which are being used against protesters – to the US.
One way of adding weight to that call is by writing personally to your MP demanding the immediate suspension of exports, being sure to include your full name and address so they can see you are an actual constituent. Find your local MP at writetothem.com.
Stand Up To Racism protests
Wednesday 3rd June was proclaimed a day of action in the UK, with socially distanced protests to show solidarity with those resisting racism in the US and against the policies that have led to the disproportionate number of BAME deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic in UK. Stand Up To Racism local groups are aiming to organise further socially-distanced events. Go to the Facebook page to find local events.
For any interested parties in the local Bournemouth and Poole area, there is a Peaceful Gathering in Solidarity organised by the UNISON Pan Dorset Black Members Group in conjunction with BCP to be held on Saturday 6th June from 11:00am for 45 minutes. Strict social distancing will be practised and attendees are advised to wear personal protective equipment. You can read more on the Unison BCP Branch Facebook Page.
Join the campaign for an enquiry into BAME deaths
MP Diane Abbott and Stand Up To Racism are campaigning for an independent public inquiry into the disproportionate number of BAME deaths due to Covid-19.
The campaign is calling for:
- A public inquiry into the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on BAME communities.
- The recording of the ethnic background of all Covid-19 patients as recommended by the British Medical Association.
- No end to the lockdown until it is safe to do so.
Support CRER by reading and sharing its work
The Coalition for Racial Equality & Rights (CRER) is a strategic anti-racist organisation based in Scotland, whose policy and research work highlights the evidence of the racial inequalities faced by minority ethnic people.
Its aim is to change the structures that underpin racism and racial inequality and, in the organisation’s own words, “we need all the help we can get”. One of the key ways to do this is to help create sustained awareness of the work that needs to be done.
CRER is asking allies to share its publications and resources with decision makers at your company, organisation, school, university or college. You can also sign up for email updates to hear about free events, training sessions, publications and resources.
Join a membership organisation
Signing up to become a member of an organisation that supports BAME communities and highlights issues of racial inequality means you get access to resources to help educate yourself and others, plus you’re plugged into relevant events, new research and policy-making decisions.
There are a number of organisations to join, although many charge a fee. Race on the Agenda (ROTA) is one of Britain’s leading social policy think-tanks focusing on issues that affect Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. ROTA membership is free, and members are kept up to date with social policy issues affecting BAME communities.
Volunteer with Show Racism the Red Card
Show Racism the Red Card is the UK’s leading anti-racism educational charity. There are plenty of ways to get involved with the charity, including getting your employer to book an equality training session, joining one of its action weeks campaigning against racism in football, or offering your services as a regular volunteer.
Volunteer with the Africa Centre
The Africa Centre is a charity based in London dedicated to providing the African diaspora, and all people with an interest in Africa, a platform for experiencing events and engaging in discussions on culture, education, business and art. It’s run by small team of full-time staff, and “doesn’t always have the capacity to serve our communities at the levels that we would want to”. Volunteers are always welcome; click here to register your interest in getting involved.