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British Black Music

“Organise and Unite,” Anti-Racism Conference tells Victimised Communities

12 May 2014 05:15


The illusory impression that Society is post racist because of the successes of a few individuals from Ethnic Minority communities, and the easy use of terms like Diversity and Multiculturalism diverts us from the need to address race equality issues says the Conference.

The Look How Far We’ve Come: Getting Racism Back on the Agenda conference at Westminster Hall last Thursday, 8th May, was attended by over 70 people from and outside London. Delegates included former Runnymede Trust director Dr Rob Berkeley, community activists and educators Eric Huntley and Toyin Agbetu.

The conference, organised by London voluntary organisation African Histories Revisited (AHR), came out of an African British history project called Look How Far We’ve Come…?, which will publish an eponymous book and DVD in October to mark African History Month. Contributions were made from Parliament through the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on equalities Sandra Osbourne MP, and a letter from race equality minister Stephen Williams MP, which is included in the conference book-zine ‘Look How Far We’ve Come: The Race/Racism Primer’.

Veteran trade unionist Jim Thakoordin and former London councillors Narenda Makanji and Linda Bellos reminded the audience of the work they did in the early 1980s demanding and achieving representation in councils, parliament, trade unions, and the professions. “Progress was made in the past. Change was resisted, but we were strong and resolute, and we achieved some change,” reported Bellos, former Lambeth Council leader and conference rapporteur.

The workshops at the Conference were lively, and although delegates did not all agree on everything, they did agree that the media continues to peddle stereotypes. The conference also agreed that there is little recognition in society that class systems play a role in racism, and that racism is still rarely acknowledged. It is characterised as a “personal” rather than societal problem suffered by some Africans, Asians and marginalised Europeans.

The conference challenged the prevailing notion that diversity is a solution, since it does not necessarily address racism which is about treating people with equity, and not just having them “present at the table.”

Said Bishop Dr. Joe Aldred, a presenter at the Conference: “Racism is an embedded reality in Western society. We cannot afford to deny its stubborn presence rooted in powerful vested interests. To combat it, those affected by racism must seek ways to become strong spiritually, culturally, economically and politically - carving out and perusing a self-determined destiny.”

Leroy Logan, a facilitator at the Conference and a former Chair of the Metropolitan Black Police Association said, “There was a desire for self-organisation and solidarity to challenge racism in the work place and to put race back on the agenda, starting with a resource directory to support individuals willing to put their heads above the parapet,”

Another presenter, Harrow Mayor Cllr Nana Asante, was of the view that what is needed is “political literacy” in order “to have an understanding of how the system works, and what levers to pull to bring about change." She continued: “We also need to build community - an old fashioned African community, where we learn from our elders, who can share their stories and help us avoid the same pitfalls in the future."

Bellos told the conference, “What we need to do to is put anti-racism back on the agenda. It has been wonderful to see such a mixed group, especially in ages and experience.”

Conference convener and AHR co-ordinator Kwaku told reporters “It’s been a successful event and helped to put race back on the agenda. What’s needed now is an acknowledgement that racism hasn’t gone away, and that there’s a need to come up with policies that can be implemented and regularly monitored.”

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About British Black Music

Kwaku is the founder of the (BBM) and Black Music Congress (BMC), which is a forum for discussing black music issues, networking, and highlighting and providing pathways to music industry education. He's a music industry journalist, lecturer, and consultant. A former columnist for Billboard and DJ, and worker of the now defunct Black Music Industry Association, he began his career many moons ago running his own indie label and music publishing firm.

Having taught on music business courses in formal institutions, including University Of Westminster, City University London, City & Islington College, and Collage Arts, he now runs accessible music industry and event planning courses through BTWSC, a voluntary organisation that develops potential through use of the creative arts. He holds master degrees in Media, Music Business Management, and an LLM in Entertainment Law, plus BIIAB Award for Music Promoters (AMP). He has a keen interest in intellectual property issues - he's organised and chaired a number of music copyright seminars, has an eclectic taste in music, and speaks on black music sector issues on panels and in the media.

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