Do not Accept Tokenism as BLM is more than an Acronym

We see the rise of Black Lives Matter as the racism in the USA came to be of paramount importance. This, following years of stereotyping, systematic abuse and the commensurate institutional violence against racial and ethnic groups in the USA. The fissures in the armour of other establishments in other countries were shown up.

As we see the different reactions to coronavirus, COVID-19; remember the boss of World Health Organisation spend time defining the acronym? Seemed more time on that than the recommendations, plans and tangible support to debtor the spread of the disease? Now there are apologists who feel they have done enough acknowledging BLM and moving from black to BAME as they talk and talk. And talk some more without really doing anything of significance for most of us.

The statistics show this up as policies and rulings are shown to mean naught to those in power. Cementing themselves in power with pious words and platitudinous statements back by little intent. This exemplified by these examples showing the lack of meritocracy in sport — — as elsewhere. May seem crass to quote professional sports where earnings but the appalling lack of equal opportunity is reflected elsewhere. Have a look through these crib notes from ‘When Work Disappears’ reinforcing how matters are apparent throughout societies — — In terms of ethnicity and racial profiling reinforcing responses creating an all too apparent downward spiral rather than the upward progression for people caught in the poverty trap. The chance of a sports scholarship escape is slim but an aspiration. In the UK, Marcus Rashford has told how breakfast clubs and school lunch provision supported him and how he is now leading campaigns to extend these (necessary) services — . The condemning element remains the appalling lack of social awareness shown by leaders who sought to cut social services before Marcus Rashford took a stand as all footballers took a knee to emphasize how ethnicity is critical in pervasive poverty throughout the UK.

8 minutes and 46 seconds a catalyst for change as we saw the killing of George Floyd. This element must go alongside the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, the victim of appalling Tunisian institutional power, and serving as the defining moment to cause the Arab Spring. These elements are deliberately juxtaposed to reflect how we have institutionalised response to institutional problems. It was people who rose up as institutions left the majority destitute seeking any means to cope with keeping body and soul together. It is people who have countered the nadirs of coronavirus not the bureaucrats spending time over acronyms. It is motivated people who have lifted BLM and caused fresh impetus to look at how each, and every, one of us acts towards fellow human beings.

What we are witnessing is an overwhelming desire to do something. To make things happen. But the inertia of institutions controlled by the powers that be requires strong forces to cause the necessary momentum for significant change.

People in France and the United Kingdom have come out of their institutional lockdowns to show their solidarity in addressing problems we have shelved to endless commissions.

Reportedly, not verified, we in the UK have over 600 recommendations from previous race relations commissions.

From David Lammy, writing for The Guardian — ‘ I personally made 35 recommendations in the Lammy report on inequality in the criminal justice system. There are 110 specific recommendations in the Angiolini review about disproportionality in deaths in custody. There are 30 recommendations in Wendy Williams’s review about the Home Office’s failure in the Windrush scandal. There are 26 specific recommendations in Ruby McGregor-Smith’s review about discrimination in the workplace.

Grenfell Towers has seemingly been consigned to the same endless inquiry with little or no action of merit for the people whose lives were lost, destroyed or so severely changed by the slapdash safety standards of a building for the Plebeians.

Question: Where were these people for the last 155 years since Juneteenth in the USA? As Juneteenth continues on through to July 4th maybe time to answer in tangible terms why it takes negative actions to value the positives people have?

Supplementary for us Brits — 151 years since the Peterlee Massacre, the institutional racism surrounding Windrush continues 70 years on. With all the underlying issues of the UK leaving the European Union, are we able to be open and address ingrained racism and ethnic prejudices? Commissions making recommendations not enacted is NOT addressing the issues.

Ask the question, when somebody gives $110 million, what percentage of their profit is this? Profits generated from years of abuse, turning a blind eye and simply ignoring the systemic abuse of people as individuals and collectives they could exploit in whichever way they wanted? This piece — — is about the US economy but the legions of stories from the UK of an ingrained prejudice are manifest.

The simple fact is there is only one colour that matters to most of these people — the colour of money.

Probably, as we go electronic, they are still further insulated from the issues of class, creed, colour, race, religion and ethnicity as means to denigrate and exploit. — This piece shows as coronavirus institutional lockdowns are riled against, as BLM rises, they make money — US$584 billion richer over the last quarter as millions of jobs lost and people stand in line waiting for handouts.

In the UK we are little better. Our death rate from direct, institutional, action is lower but, in the inimitable words of a gentleman with yet another colour of passport — Do not compare me to those worse. Compare to someone to emulate.

Lloyd’s of London and Greene King apologise for their roles in the slave trade. Pious words given Lloyd’s could have made restitution in 1833 and then, again, at other opportune times throughout their 332-year history.

The colour of money loomed larger than the shades of guilt?

Greene King had one of its founders actively campaign against the abolition of slavery. The company has gone through many, many, changes since then. Probably, there were opportunities to not just acknowledge the mistakes in the early 1800s but offer positive input — a Greene King Foundation supporting the heirs of misguided profiteering from Benjamin Greene? Given the cumulative development of capital, this will amount to a sizeable investment to address the inequality felt by black and ethnic minorities in education where we have seen privatisation increase the inequity reinforcing the power imbalances. Power imbalances founded in these ages when slavery and exploitation of people was taken as a given.

A former colleague and now lifetime friend, sent me a report she wrote regarding stereotyping in part of the University of Cambridge. Being dressed in a certain way reflecting her ethics and beliefs, being from a certain lineage, made her a target for questions as to why she was in a place — As if someone of her age, sex and ethnic make-up did not have the intellectual capability to be writing up her PhD on what the British colonialism left across so much of the World — Law.

But who’s law now? Interpreted by who in what way? We witness not just interpretation but abuse of law in so many places when underlying prejudices remain apparent. Look again at the Rooney Ruling and how powers simply ignored or paid fines minuscule compared to earnings.

If these prejudices are apparent in those now teaching the next generation in a respected seat of learning what hope for respect of law when there is no respect for people? Teaching apparently does not encompass the sentiment of open mindedness. The law is blind?

Highlighted in the present uprising of awareness is the sense little has changed in the mindsets of those powering our institutions. Set up a commission, grant space for inquiries so people can voice points. Then obfuscate or simply ignore as David Lammy’s points highlight.

And David Lammy did not mention issues such as Grenfell Towers where racial undercurrents are very apparent. We have institutional problems not being addressed despite the progress we have made. Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said society could not overturn 400 years of racial injustice in one week but added “we are going to change the situation. We need time, the racism is still there. We have to fight every day and condemn the bad things…” It is about action based on the knowledge we are all different and so should treat others with the respect we ask for ourselves.

I know few want to go back, certainly not back into the dim distances of our evolution. Knowing how we shape is surely important to how we act today and take control of our future? This write up grants another perspective — — Rutger Bregman talks about ‘veneer theory’ Like it or not, we are not in control of the substance of how institutional bias is used against any of us. Very basically, fore I do not claim to have entered the depths of analysis of the last 400 plus years, veneer theory looks at Hobbesian views of our morality — the premises of social order require us to live in hierarchy with a sovereign power. Natural law is a basic tenet. Perhaps illustrated with survival of the fittest reinforcing those in power will accumulate more power to reinforce their position of strength in all ecosystems of the natural world. We require sovereign law to forestall this. Veneer theory challenges this, that morality is ‘a cultural overlay, a thin veneer hiding otherwise selfish and brutish nature’[1].

We, the Anthropocene Age, are not selfish and aggressive.

But surely this is the case because the basic order is not being challenged?

Now those in power are feeling societal elements accumulating, will we witness reversions to ‘buying off’ and salving consciences thus allowing those in power to further consolidate power? Philanthropic giving reinforces the deprecating nature exemplified in professional sport — you can play on the team but do not expect to manage ‘my’ team in any shape or form.

There is talk of reparations and how to do a costing and targeting. Typical powers that be mentality — throw some more money at the symptoms and do not look at the underlying causes of how we are becoming increasingly inequitable. This is the basis of symbiotic relations — the big tree letting the shrubs and plants under it live on its by-products — if they do not challenge the order of the ecosystem.

Perhaps, to ask questions for all of us, and to keep the environmental analogy. Perhaps, we are preparing for a set of forest fires like never before?

Climate change and Humankind’s use, turning to abuse, of the ecosystems has started us toward the point of a real conflagration to change the nature of the sovereign ecosystems?

We have been found wanted in the manner we treat each other, how power is used and abused — how to change matters?

How to truly have delivery against principles as economic power buys social influence and, hence, political authority?

No more room for controlled burns. The tokenism of putting this or that person into the statistics to satiate the data.

Now is the time to see the changes necessary for us to ensure change has the roots to build new ecosystems where uniformity of treatment leads to respect of diversity.

Value each other as individuals.

As my Cambridge law faculty friend would have us consider :-

Value a person for who they are,

glance at where they come from but, most of all,

Value them for who they are

Appreciate where they are going to go. And take you.

Being with you, leading you.

Adding value however measured.

Achieving more together.

[1] Frans de Waal et al Primates and philosophers: How morality evolved.