RACIAL JUSTICE NETWORK, 2019 round-up, looking forward to 2020

 

It’s been a busy, remarkable year for us. Whilst we try our best to respond to the continued and worsening hardships that are undoubtedly on the way, we have striven always to keep our core beliefs and lived experiences at the heart of our practice. We do not want to paint a picture that is so bleak that we can do nothing, and yet we do not want to shirk away from what is to come. In our experiences, we have seen hate crimes increase and institutional racisms deepen. Simultaneously, the resources needed to resist are becoming increasingly (over-)stretched, and often entirely absent. 

We understand that we are in a time of great upheaval, reflection and regrouping. We will continue to work and listen, in order to build anti-racist resistance. Throughout our work, we will continue to place race and the legacies of colonialism and empire at the centre of our analysis. 

Despite the continued emboldening of the far-right, we saw many successes in 2019. Particularly worthy of mention are our Collective Conversations series, our Unlearning racism course, and the continuation of the Stop the Scan campaign. We also hosted our first AGM, secured funding, have made significant progress in our building of international solidarities, and launched our new website

Our Collective Conversations series has been a huge success and has brought more and more people into our network. Focusing on a different topic each month, whilst always centring race and racism, this series has seen us consider important issues, as suggested by our members. The sessions covered, ‘Race and Education’, ‘Race and Policing’, ‘Race and Disability’,’Race and Sexuality’, ‘Feminisms for Men of Colour’, ‘Intergenerational Activisms’, and several more. It has been nice to raise awareness about issues, and to create a space for people to talk, share and vent. 

The Unlearning racism course was developed to move away from the expectation that racially oppressed communities do all of the anti-racist work. We also wanted to counter the continuous fragmentation of movements and campaigns due to a lack of necessary race analyses. In 2019, we ran two classes over 8 weeks supported by a collective of 6 volunteers. The course ‘graduates’ were encouraged to apply their learning by joining the collective to develop future courses and support anti-racist work in their own environments. 

Stop the Scan, is a campaign, in collaboration with other groups, that draws attention to police use of mobile fingerprint scanners with links to immigration databases – an extension of the ‘hostile environment’. This is a real issue that will, unsurprisingly, disproportionately impact upon racially minoritized communities. We encourage everybody to read more about the campaign here

The building of international links has been one of the key aims of our last two annual round-ups, and is driven by our desire to understand the global nature of the colonial legacies we seek to challenge. It has been great, therefore, to see this work really strengthen in 2019. Our director returned to Brazil for the second year running, to attend and participate in a dialogue on women in movements and strengthening global alliances conference. A  delegation from our network also attended a conference at the University of Nairobi, and spent time with activists and community organisers in Kenya. In January of 2020, we return to Kenya for ‘Decolonising Education Kenya 2020’ collaborating with activists and academics in Nairobi, as part of a programme of events focusing on the decolonisation of activism and education. We hope that these events will lay the groundwork for a long and enduring series of collaborations.

Our culture and media work has continued, being invited to speak at numerous spaces like film screenings, in collaboration with local independent cinemas and film makers. In this time of greater cultural output being seen as progress we feel it has to be supplemented by a more critical (race) understanding. For this reason, we have also spoken at events across the country – in universities, and community spaces , and have started supporting Afrikan History Classes in Leeds. 

We are very proud to announce the introduction of two patrons to our network –  reparations activist and scholar Esther Stanford- Xosie, and rapper and activist Lowkey. Both patrons reflect our values and vision, and are deeply committed to anti racist work. They share our commitment to the necessary unpacking of global oppressive histories to current forms of neocolonialism now. 

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