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From The Socialist newspaper, 28 September 2016

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.

South London #BlackLivesMatter march going past London Bridge, 6.8.16, photo James Ivens

South London #BlackLivesMatter march going past London Bridge, 6.8.16, photo James Ivens   (Click to enlarge)

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.

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In The Socialist 28 September 2016:


Consolidate the Corbyn victory

Labour Party conference: campaigning to reinstate socialist ideas

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

#CorbynWins: New tasks for TUSC

Socialist Party news and analysis

Theresa May attacks migrants and refugees

One million victims of 'rogue' landlords

46m spent on suspending public sector workers

Students late and hungry due to privatised trains

Socialist speaks at UN

What We Saw

Them & Us

Socialist Party youth and students

"Suspended adulthood" the norm for young people

Socialist Students launched in USA

Knowsley: No A-level education on offer

Setting out our stall... reports of campus campaigning

Battle of Cable Street

Cable Street: When workers united and fought the fascist threat at Cable Street

Black History Month

Black history month and its relevance today

Socialist Party workplace news

The guard stays on the train after the RMT defeats ScotRail bosses

Junior doctors' strikes off - coordinated action needed

Victory for firefighters facing dismissal in Manchester

The Ritzy strikes back

Napo conference 2016: Bloodied but unbowed!

Unison Broad Left meeting

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Newcastle: Socialist Party defies ban to counter the far-right

Socialism 2016: Get face to face with the socialists!

NHS heart centre campaign intensifies

Washdyke v Shoreline: the housing battle in Immingham

Pedal power pounds


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Related links:

Black history:

triangleTower Hamlets Socialist Party: "You can't have capitalism without racism" (Malcolm X)

triangleThe fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: Building trade unionism among Black and Asian people

triangleWaltham Forest Young Socialists: Deaths in police custody

triangleHackney Socialist Party: The Black Jacobins


triangleStormzy is right to slam Tories for Grenfell

triangleTower Hamlets Socialist Party: Organising for socialist change

triangleThe "club no-one wants to be part of" - march by families of those killed in police custody

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: Black workers and the British trade unions


triangleUndercover policing legal challenge

triangleIrish capitalist state: rotten to the core

triangleOrgreave campaigners' Halloween 'Death of Justice' march


triangleLike rats from a sinking Ukip

triangleVictory! Trump's UK visit cancelled by fear of protests


triangleRefugee Rights campaigners on the 17.3.18 anti-racism demo - pics


triangleNew play celebrates Grunwick strike

The Socialist:

triangleMembers dig deep into their pockets to support the party

Mark Duggan:

triangle2011 riots: An outpouring of anger at the system


triangleFrance: rallies in support of oppressed Kurdish people

Malcolm X:

triangleBristol North Socialist Party: 'You can't have capitalism without racism' - was Malcolm X correct?


triangleVictory against government's war on eastern European homeless


triangleVienna: 50,000 march against racism and austerity

Black Lives Matter:

triangleUSA: Historic vote for Ginger Jentzen campaign in Minneapolis

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