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Black history month and its relevance today
In the next five issues the Socialist will carry a series of articles for Black history month. Here Bharathi Subramaniam, a member of the Socialist Party's black and Asian group, comments on racism and capitalist society.
Black history month celebrates the contribution of black people to society. But while establishment politicians and their media hail the 'successes' of US president Barak Obama and other black politicians and celebrities in breaking racial barriers, the reality facing the majority of black people is very different.
Three people are shot dead every day on average by US police, including high profile racist killings of black people in Chicago, Ferguson, Charlotte and elsewhere.
Black history month comes following a wave of 'black lives matter' demos and protests. These demonstrations have highlighted the importance of viewing these racist attacks as part of a broader picture of the institutionalised racism, most immediately, of the police.
In Britain too, the death of the footballer Dalian Atkinson, after being tasered by police, recently hit the headlines. The police are still many times more likely to stop and search black people in the UK than white people; and the police are disproportionately more likely to kill black and Asian people in custody or shootings, according to advocacy group Inquest.
The 2011 riots, sparked by the unlawful police death of Mark Duggan, were mainly an outpouring of rage against this system. A system that black revolutionary Malcolm X famously denounced: "You can't have capitalism without racism."
Since the 23 June EU referendum, racist attacks on black and ethnic minorities have increased by five-fold in the UK. This follows the racist rhetoric employed by the leaders of both the establishment Remain and Leave campaigns. But racism was rising aggressively well before the vote.
Establishment politicians and capitalists continually scapegoat migrants and immigrants for austerity cuts and failing public services, fuelling divisions among workers and communities.
Also embedded in the system are the racist immigration services that make it much harder to migrate here as a person of colour than a white person, especially if they're not wealthy. A system which detains hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers in detention centres like Yarl's Wood, the vast majority of which are people of colour.
With the Tories in power austerity is what we - the 99% - face. Cuts to local services in working class communities disproportionately affect black and ethnic minorities. In fact conditions today are going in backwards, with more black and ethnic minorities in low paid jobs, zero-hour contracts, unaffordable housing, etc.
Unemployment and poverty are still higher in black and Asian communities. Black children are three times more likely to be excluded in schools, and black graduates earn 23% less than their white counterparts.
However, the Jeremy Corbyn movement has given a platform for black and ethnic minority people to project their voices. The policies and programme on which Corbyn stands is a good way to unite the working class and fight for a common goal.
Members of black and ethnic minority communities joining a trade union and joining the organised workforce is also and effective tool.
Most importantly, inequality is worse than ever. In order to truly celebrate black history month we need to fight to end the capitalist system which profits from racist oppression. Socialism can guarantee jobs, homes and services for all, laying the basis for campaigning to eliminate racism once and for all.
In The Socialist 28 September 2016:
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party youth and students
Battle of Cable Street
Black History Month
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns