Racism appears in many forms, one of its most insidious is how it manifests in structures of power. It’s important to tackle racist attitudes and acts of hate, also known as the overt acts of prejudice that many people understand as racism. However, it’s vital to dismantle systems that work to marginalise and disenfranchise Black and non-Black people of colour, which is the racism many are only just starting to understand.
Together The Green Party and Greens of Colour (who identify as the POC and BAME group of The Green Party) have come together to release 5 demands for racial justice in the UK, with the specific aim of changing current systems.
Greens of Colour chairperson Azzees Minott said:
The momentum we have seen over the last few weeks cannot stop here. We have seen people from all walks of life express their solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement, and now we need to use the energy from the protests and online activism to make some clear demands.
This is why we are putting forward five essential changes we need to see to start addressing the prejudice and inequity communities of colour face every day.
Learn more about them below.
1. Scrap the NHS surcharge
The NHS surchage on migrant residents is a core part of the ‘hostile environment’. It entails a charge of £624 (increased for £400) levied alongside all visas from October, regardless of income, simply to gain access to the NHS. It is deliberately designed to make the life of migrants more difficult, and it cannot be deemed moral to do so in the midst of a national pandemic that disproportionately affects people of colour.
Political pressure has resulted in health and social care staff being exempt from the charge, but The Green Party believes everyone should be exempt from this charge, and calls for the NHS to be fairly funded by tax calculated according to everyone’s ability to pay. Considering the amount of tax avoidance that currently goes on in the UK, the NHS could easily be funded properly if billionaires and corporations were forced to pay fair taxes.
2. Hold an independent inquiry into BAME Covid-19 deaths
The Green Party has backed calls for an independent inquiry into the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black, Asian and minority ethnic people.
Greens of Colour chairperson Azzees Minott said:
The government’s inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on BAME people has let communities of colour down.
It has been clear from the start that this review simply was not going to go far enough because it was never going to address the institutional racism that affects people of colour, particularly in the context of Covid-19.
We have known since the beginning of this crisis that communities of colour are more at risk because of the social injustices that result in wide health, housing and employment inequalities within society.
It is simply not acceptable that this report deliberately left out the impact of public health cuts, the experience of BAME frontline staff and the effectiveness of government messaging.
It is also extremely worrying to hear reports that Matt Hancock’s office may have removed key parts of the report which showed how discrimination and poorer life chances played a part in the increased risk to communities of colour.
We are backing the wider calls for an independent inquiry. It is time for the demands of the We Need Answers campaign to be heard.
3. Decolonise our curriculum
The UK’s curriculum is incredibly whitewashed. History lessons barely touch on the realities of the UK’s role as a colonising force, elevates eurocentric viewpoints above all others, focuses heavily on white figures in history while erasing the contributions of Black and POC individuals, and frames historical events as motivated solely by morality (hence why Churchill is basically untouchable in the eyes of some people) rather than factors like economics and power.
The Black Curriculum is dedicated to changing this. They deliver arts-focused Black history programmes, provide teacher training, and campaign to facilitate social change. Their programmes are for all young people aged 8-16, aiming to equip them with a sense of belonging and identity, and they are campaigning to change the national curriculum.
4. Take racist abuse out of politics
Racism in the UK is emboldened by the actions of our political leaders. The use of racist language by Boris Johnson is well documented, it’s also a fact that Black and other POC politicians need to be better protected from racism (the abuse Diane Abbott has endured for years, for example, is egregious). Together The Greens of Colour and The Green Party have called on the government to remove racism from politics.
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5. End indefinite detention of migrants
The government currently operates an inhumane practice of indefinite immigrant detention. Thousands are locked up in UK detention centres every year, most of them are Black people and other POC. Many consider the UK their home, have fled persecution, or have survived horrific injustice such as trafficking. The conditions they’re kept in are inhumane: their basic human rights are denied, there is no due process, and there is no limit on how long they can be held.
If the UK wants to dismantle systemic racism, the system of indefinite detention must end.
Take further action in your community with These Walls Must Fall and Right to Remain
These demands are just the start of the action that must be taken, and it’s also important to remember that petitions alone can’t be where we stop. The Green Party’s strategy is a cohesive one that involves political pressure, emphasis on local leadership and councils to enact change, and collaboration across parties to see these kinds of demands met. Sign petitions, support the work, and try to get involved in direct action if you can. While we can’t support every cause, each area of social justice activism should be inherently working to be actively anti-racist too. So choose your areas to focus on, find your local branches of activism and community organising, and let’s get to work.