In the UK, where extreme views and intolerance have gained ground since the 2016 Brexit referendum, activists and organisations are facing big challenges in the fight against racism. Conferences and peaceful protests are their tools to promote a society open to all the diversities. One of these is the Stand Up To Racism Trade Union Conference.
In 2018, the United Nations special rapporteur on racism, Prof Tendayi Achiume, spent 11 days in the UK to investigate the impact of Brexit on racial equality.
At the end of her mission, she reported having found a series of prejudices coming from institutions that affect the lives of the ethnic minority in the country.
Besides this, between 2016 and 2019, reports of racial discrimination increased by more than 10% with 71% of people from ethnic minorities being victims of various forms of racism. However, it is clear that Brexit is not the original source of racism but it has led to a stronger expression of discrimination, with the support of social media that are normalising hate and division.
Moreover, the Conservative government has repeatedly attacked migrants, encouraging an atmosphere of hatred.
Additionally, many of the 3.5 million migrants living in the UK are excluded from participating in the democratic process, and despite many of them having spent most of their life in this country they are not allowed a voice in deciding their future.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson used the word “letterbox” to describe women that wear a burqa, when writing in his Daily Telegraph column. Now, the same word is used by hate crimes perpetrators to discriminate against Muslim girls.
Cases are becoming more frequent in schools as well, as experienced by a group of eastern European students. A case has also come to light in which secondary school teenagers have also attacked Polish pupils physically and verbally. Furthermore, teachers have failed to stop the abuses, and in some cases become perpetrators themselves.
This situation, which is becoming really critical is going to be analysed in the trade union conference hosted by Stand Up To Racism to bring together trade unionists from across different industries and sectors to discuss and plan how people can raise anti racism in their unions and workplaces. The event aims to discuss the methodology in which it is possible to bring awareness, regarding racism.
Moreover, they will debate and organise the plans for the #M21 #WorldAgainstRacism demonstration that will take place, on the 21st of March, in London and Glasgow.
As the organisers have said: “From the threat of a far right street movement breaking through, to the anti racist movement’s defeat of fascist ‘Tommy Robinson’ in Britain, to the rise in racist populism and intensification of a ‘hostile environment’ we are seeing in the form of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage – there are both victories to discuss, as well as major challenges now facing the anti racist movement.”
Date and place: Saturday, 8th of February 2020, from 11 am. to 4 pm. at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, WC1H 0XG, London, United Kingdom. For more information about speakers, themes and workshops, visit Stand Up To Racism web page, or the Facebook event page.