V O I C E S Diversity in Kingston and beyond
Letter from the editor Dear reader, Day in, day out, we hear stories of systemic and pervasive racism and xenophobia, rooted deep within the institutions that prop up our society. From the gaping difference between police stop and searches on white people compared to Black people (four in 1,000 compared to 38 in 1,000 respectively, in 2018/19) to our discriminatory National Health Service and mental health system, it is clear that our country is built on structures that adversely affect non-white and non-British individuals and communities. In 2020, perhaps more than ever before, eyes were opened to how racism and discrimination run deep. Between the global Black Lives Matter movement and a pandemic that has highlighted how social inequality impacts health and prosperity for different ethnic groups, the need for immediate action is palpable. A shift on this scale requires everyone to acknowledge the part they play, be it recognising how discrimination is embedded in our society, campaigning for antiracist policies, or simply listening to the experiences of those who face inequality every day. With Voices, brought to you by the team at the Kingston Courier, we hope to share the experiences of the individuals who make Kingston, and Britain, the richly diverse and multicultural places they are, from sportspeople to healthcare workers, creatives to community leaders. We hope you feel inspired to stand up and do your bit. Yours sincerely, Marcus Wratten Editor, Voices Front page photo credits, from top left to bottom right: Elena Nikolova, Clinton Choi, Broadimage/Shutterstock, Dr. Victoria Onyeka, @themunchingmedic/Instagram, Jonathan Hordie/Shutterstock, Stephanie Williams, Shutterstock, Muna Ali, Anjum Peerbacos, Bill Wippert/AP/Shutterstock, CraSH/imageSPACE/Shutterstock, Tim Copsey, Kingston Race and Equalities Council
Kingston University offers Black students employability support
Kingston University Elevate programme offers employability support to Black students Photo: heylagostechie/Unsplash By CHLOE WRIGHT commercial awareness and compared to only 19 per cent of for our students throughout Kingston University (KU) has skills needed to compete in the white students. their journeys.” launched a new programme aimed job market.” “[Elevate] will be delivered in Ten employers who are involved at supporting Black students on The demand for a project like two strands,” a KU spokesperson with the scheme have confirmed their journey to employment. this is high. A study by the Institute said. “The first will be student- their status as Elevate partners, Elevate was designed to support for Social and Economic Research focused, and the second with five more in the final Black home (UK) students to at the University of Essex showed employer-focused, empowering stages of confirmation. “aim higher” and “achieve their Black students were up to 15 per employers to change the way A KU spokesperson said: full potential”. cent less likely to be in full-time they engage with Black students.” “Elevate seeks to not just A KU spokesperson said: “Elevate employment after graduating than Currently, 50 students have spotlight opportunities, bring is an accelerator programme for white students. signed up to the project which visibility to careers, and empower Black home students. A total of 43 per cent of Black began in October 2020. our Black students but also to “It is aimed at empowering graduates are excluded from job “The programme will actively engage our Black students students who join the scheme opportunities when employers run throughout the year, to participate in something and equipping them with the request a 2.1 degree grade or higher providing a community of support bigger: change.”
Mental Health Act reform addresses racial inequality By DAISY STEPHENS The government has announced a reform to the Mental Health Act which aims to tackle racial inequality in mental healthcare provision. NHS figures show Black British people are over four times more likely to be detained under the Act than white British people and over 10 times more likely to be subject to a Community Treatment Order (CTO). “We need to bring mental health laws into the 21st century,” said health and social care secretary Matt Hancock. “This [reform] is a significant moment in how we support those
with serious mental health issues, which will give people more autonomy over their care and will tackle disparities for all who access services, in particular for people from minority ethnic backgrounds.” The reform proposes greater education for those working in the mental health sector, to help them understand what is needed to tackle the racial disparity. It also aims to improve the racial diversity of the workforce, and ensure more research involves people from a wider range of ethnic backgrounds. Some of the reform’s proposals, such as moves to make it harder
to issue CTOs and to reduce the duration of detentions under the Act, will be carried out with particular attention on the treatment of people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. The plans have been welcomed by mental health advocates. Abdi Gure, the coordinator of the Hayaan Project, a programme by Mind Harrow designed to offer mental health support to London’s Somali community, told the Guardian: “I am really happy to see the government recommending culturally appropriate advocates as part of their reforms.
“Our work has shown this to be an effective way of supporting Black patients with mental health problems. “It has a huge impact on the patient’s recovery.” Sarah Hughes, chief executive at the Centre for Mental Health, said that the reform was long awaited. She added that whilst detainment is sometimes necessary, it also causes long-term trauma. “We have known for too long that Black people are subjected to much higher levels of coercion at every stage of the system,” said Hughes. “It is time for this to change.”
Is the fashion industry’s diversity ‘just a trend’? The beauty and fashion industry has never been known for its diversity. Rebecca Spencer spoke to models and stylists to find out if the last few years have done anything to increase inclusivity
Aaron Miller modelling ‘Converse x Tyler, The Creator GOLF le FLEUR’ shoes In the wake of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests, fashion industry giants pledged to improve diversity. However, some feel that these commitments were not genuine, motivated instead by commercial gain. Aaron Miller, a mixed-race model from London, said he felt the industry had failed when it came to inclusivity. He said: “During the BLM protests last year, companies posted on their social media that they want to do more for Black people. “But they don’t even reach out to their Black models and ask for their opinion. “The wave of support for BLM in 2020 was just a trend.” Miller was one of the first mixedrace models with dreadlocks to walk in Milan Fashion Week. He said although the fashion industry is widening its definition of beauty, it has not always been that way. “At the beginning, I felt frustrated. I used to say to my agent ‘even if they’re casting Ben Sherman and they only want white guys with blue eyes, send me’,” he said. Miller still feels BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) models are disadvantaged.
“There are only ever a certain amount of Black models among 90 per cent white guys. “So we have to fight for who is going to be that Black or mixedrace model,” he said. Sofia Mayers, a mixed-race model, beauty queen and star of ITV2’s The Cabins, agreed. Mayers said: “I know the fashion industry is about looks, but it does boil down to race in the end. “Modelling agencies have rejected me because they say they’ve already got models that look like me, just because they have a handful of mixed-race models among 500 white models. “I know for a fact, if I was white and blessed with different hair and features, there would be so many more opportunities.” She has also been a victim of explicit racism at work. “Photographers within the pageant industry often edit contestants’ pictures to be much whiter than they actually are and they often make my lips and nose
Photo: Aaron Miller
smaller to look more European,” Mayers said. BAME artists behind the camera also face discrimination. Rue Garande, a hairdresser from Zimbabwe, was fired for refusing to work upstairs, out of sight, in an Essex hairdressers after clients complained about seeing her on the shop floor. Garande said the lack of Black representation in her industry made her more determined to be successful. “I’m usually the only person that looks like me wherever I work. “I saw it as an opportunity to break into an industry that was usually unachievable for people like me,” she said. Garande founded her business, Shades of Beauty, because she wanted to create a salon for people of all ethnicities. Garande said hair salons are still racially segregated, because the UK training curricula did not train hairdressers to style Afro hair. “The fear of having someone that isn’t the same race as
I’m usually the only person that looks like me wherever I work
you, doing your hair, fills you with dread. “People have tried to bully me into straightening my hair,” she said. Over the last two years, the fashion i n d u s t r y has started to become inclusive. B u t B A M E groups are often left feeling like their employers are merely trying to tick a box. Cairo Nevitt, a mixedr a c e transgender male model from London, felt like an “exotic model for the day”. “Companies sometimes think that if you get one BAME model, that makes the job of ‘being inclusive’ for the year done. “I know I will always be busy around Black History Month, or Pride, but we exist for the rest of the year too. “Surely if these companies were really being inclusive, people like me would be busy with work offers all year round.”
Sofia Mayers, winner of the Miss Regency International title Photo: Charlotte Clemie
Eastern Europeans face rise in discrimination and xenophobia By ANNA TURBINA As the surge in post-Brexit hate crimes has shown, xenophobia can be directed at anyone perceived as “other”, regardless of their colour or ethnicity. According to research by the European Sociological Association, xenophobia in the UK was worsened by Brexit, directed partly at Eastern Europeans from countries such as Poland and Russia. With migration at the heart of Brexit, alarmist claims of “surging numbers” or “avalanches of immigrants” erased room for nuance or differentiation. Even before the referendum, such stories were not uncommon in the media. In 2013, The Daily Mail falsely reported “half of the population” of Sacoşu Turcesc in western Romania were determined to flood the UK and take local jobs. In a report published in September 2016, the Institute of Race Relations reported that the rise in animosity towards Eastern Europeans was to be expected. They have been consistently portrayed in the media as “scroungers, cheats and, threats”. On June 24, the day after the Brexit referendum, cards saying “No More Polish Vermin” were circulated in Cambridgeshire to promote fear of the Polish Social and Cultural Association in London and ignite hostility. Research commissioned by Dr Daniela Sime from the University of Strathclyde revealed Eastern European migrants mostly experience verbal abuse, both on and offline. Respondents reported being marginalised and bullied on public transport. In schools teachers have refrained from intervening, instead settling for being bystanders. One Polish girl told Sime of her experiences: “Being called a prostitute based on my background, being told to go back to my country, having rocks thrown at me and being chased down the street by a group of teenage boys.” Intolerance of, and hostility towards, the “white other” and reactions to xenophobic sentiments are far from homogenous. Polish Lena Zelenskaya, 24, from London, said she holds no grudge against some Londoners for
Maslenitsa Russian-Ukrainian Festival in London Photo: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP/Shutterstock occasional glances and smirks. obliterate our identities.” called him out on this discrimination. “When I visited Germany, the “Once you strike up a For Nikita Melnikyan, who However, not everyone feels locals were so disgruntled by my conversation, the tension lives in London, even post-Brexit this way. accent, they pretended not to have is gone. Sometimes, all it there remains a laboratory for Anna Rybina, a Ukrainian understood a single word I said, takes is a sliver of levity,” cultural cross-pollination. marketing assistant from London, even in a hotel lobby,” she said. she said. He noted, however, the profusion said that Brexit, paradoxically, had “In France, waiters in restaurants However, Zelenskaya said she of stereotypes. a silver lining for her. gave me nasty looks and treated me had experienced some hostility, For some of his friends, Russians It brought warmth to her like I didn’t exist. I would always something she blamed on her were just “Abramovich and his ilk”. relationships with British friends be the last person to be served. “conspicuous” Polish accent. Melnikyan, a member of as they felt more “insulated and “We shouldn’t take for granted In 2017, at Serpentine Lake in “Teatr Slova”, a Bohemian Russian marooned”, a feeling familiar the kindness of Londoners that let Hyde Park, she community for to expatriates. us thrive here.” was queuing for budding poets, Polina Pshonkovskaya, 20, from a ticket when said communities Krakow, praised London for its an English man like this are home welcoming atmosphere, comparing gave up his place to artists, not it favourably to for her. tycoons flooding other European But once he to “Londongrad”. cities she heard her Polish He regretted the had visited. accent, his courtesy vanished. stigma attached to Russians who fled He stared at her with disdain, to London who poured millions into turned his back on her, stepped the British economy. ahead and offered his place to Regardless of their contribution a young British girl. to British culture, they are scorned Ilmira Zaripiva, a 26-year-old of as an elite clique of high-flyers. Lithuanian and Russian descent, The catch for Russians in London studying at Newcastle University, is the link between their compatriots was concerned about the stereotypes and the Russian Government that impede communication that exists in the minds of between locals and “white aliens” some Londoners. like herself. Anna Vilkova, a Russian “I wouldn’t even attribute it to political science student living in xenophobia: it’s much more subtle,” Hammersmith, first encountered she said. such pigeonholing at university “I just wish other people would last March. perceive Ukrainians, Lithuanians She claimed her professor and Russians as distinct groups. labelled Russians as a “threat to “Lumping them together, they European civilisation”. roll back our rich history and Exasperated, she stood up and Russian Winter Festival London Photo: S Pakhti/Flickr
Scroungers, cheats and threats
Covid puts BAME groups at risk Why are BAME communities more at risk?
• Nature of jobs makes it hard to work from home, causing increased use of public transport • Many BAME people live in built-up areas with large families, increasing transmission • Economic disadvantages mean workers are more likely to continue working • Existing co-morbidities put groups at a higher risk of death • Poor housing conditions affect overall health
Remembering the UK doctors who died from Covid-19 Photo: The BMJ
• Racial discrimination in workplaces adversely affects physical and mental health • Distrust of NHS services due to hostility against immigrants
By SHARMEEN ZIAUDDIN A study by Queen Mary University has shown how Covid-19 initially disproportionately affected people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. The study showed people of Asian descent were 50 per cent more likely to die of the virus and Black people more than 30 per cent. Chief executive of NHS Providers Chris Hopson said: “It is vital we all
understand the disproportionate toll this pandemic is taking on BAME groups of people and why.” A Public Health England report identified many factors that led to this disproportionality and also recognised particular inequalities and injustices (see box right). In October, Lady Doreen Lawrence was commissioned by the Labour Party to launch a review on this disproportional impact.
She concluded that structural racism had led to BAME groups being affected more by Covid-19. In the review titled An Avoidable Crisis, Lawrence said: “BAME people have been overexposed, under-protected, stigmatised and overlooked during this pandemic and this has been generations in the making.” The review also highlighted research from the British Medical
Association that found in April last year 64 per cent of BAME doctors had felt pressured to work in settings with inadequate personal protective equipment, compared with 33 per cent of their white counterparts. Similar responses were submitted to the Lawrence review by the Royal College of Nursing. Two-thirds of the first 200 NHS staff to die of Covid were from BAME backgrounds.
The Lawrence review accepted there have been positive steps towards racial equality in the last few decades, however it also made some recommendations. These included mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting for firms with more than 250 employees, reforming the national curriculum to fight the roots of racism and ending the “hostile environment” policies adopted by the government.
BAME groups targeted unfairly by Covid fines By NATALIE CROOKHAM Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people in England are 54 per cent more likely to be fined for breaching Coronavirus rules than white people. The analysis by Liberty, a human rights campaign group, showed BAME people were fined at a rate of 26 per 100,000, while the rate for white people was 16.8 per 100,000. Kevin Blowe, coordinator of the Network for Police Monitoring said: “For years there has been extensive evidence that police powers are used disproportionately and unfairly.
“It comes as little surprise that these figures indicate racial profiling has continued and even accelerated under the lockdown. “This was often far more about sending a tough public order message than about genuine disease prevention and has routinely resulted in the arbitrary use of police powers.” On March 26, the government passed regulation giving police powers to fine people breaching the new rules. However, enforcing the measures was a matter of police discretion. “The concern for us was around how the police would decide who
gets the fines,” said Katrina Ffrench, CEO of Stopwatch, which campaigns against disproportionate policing. “We know which ethnic groups tend to come into contact with the police, and so we were concerned about the disproportionate impact the fines could have on people of colour.” BAME groups received at least 22 per cent of the Coronavirus lockdown fines, according to the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) data. In 2016 BAME individuals accounted for 15.5 per cent of England’s population. A spokesman for the NPCC said: “We have been clear this is
Source: National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Chart: Natalie Crookham a developing dataset not subject been recorded. Therefore, we are to the same stringent analysis and further analysing the data so we can quality assurance that is possible publish the most accurate picture. with an established official “Without this analysis, we are not statistics collection. confident that meaningful conclusions “There are a number of can be drawn. complexities in interpreting the data “Our initial analysis supported on ethnicity, including the number of proportionality in FPNs given in FPNs [Fixed Penalty Notices] given line with ONS [Office for National where an ethnicity has not Statistics] population”.
Do protests make 6 VOICES
Forty years since the Brixton riots, 10 years since the London riots, and in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, Chloe Wright looks at what has changed and what still needs to be done People took to the streets up and down America last summer, to make their voices heard. “Black lives matter” was chanted and not just in America. The brutal murder of George Floyd shocked the world, and seemed to wake it from its slumber, with similar protests popping up in cities across the globe. But these protests calling for change were not the first of their kind. In the UK, the past 50 years have seen many riots including Notting Hill in 1976, Brixton in 1981, and London in 2011. The last 100 years have seen at least 27 race-related riots take place in the UK. The US, by contrast, has seen over 80. This year marks 40 years since the Brixton riots and 10 years since the London riots. What has changed since Brixton, and more importantly, how can we ensure riots, across the globe, result in change, not just chaos?
What has changed?
Legally, in the UK, the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 outlawed race discrimination in areas not covered under the 1976 legislation. The Act also required more organisations to actively promote racial equality. Arguably most important, the Act made chief police officers responsible for discrimination carried out by their officers. In 1993, British teenager Stephen Lawrence was murdered in a racially motivated attack. The government ordered an inquiry into his death which concluded the Met Police’s investigation and actions had been incompetent.
Twenty years after the inquiry was launched, 67 recommendations had been implemented. Last year saw a number of white people using their privilege as a platform to promote the BLM movement and to use their voices to campaign for change. In the UK, white people campaigned alongside the Black community for the removal of statues celebrating slave traders or people with links to slavery. There is a commitment to take action. White People 4 Black Lives is an organisation made up of white people who promote anti-racism. A spokesperson said: “We make a conscious decision to notice, call out, and challenge institutional and cultural racism.” Similarly, in the US, BLM protests were attended by people of all ethnicities. A new bill, awaiting a signature from the governor of Illinois, J B Pritzker, is in the works, and would require every officer in Illinois to wear a body camera by 2025. This would have helped bring justice to George Floyd sooner, and to Breonna Taylor, a woman murdered after police raided her flat as she slept. Even the terminology used to speak about the demonstrations highlights the change that has been made in the past ten years. The term riot suggests violence, an uprising against those in power. In contrast, protest is softer, more peaceful. Brixton was more violent in a shorter space of time. In total, 324 people were injured. Statistics from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project suggest 93 per cent of the protests
in America last summer were peaceful. However, at least 25 people died in these protests, while nobody died in Brixton. The global aspect of the BLM movement got people to take notice and discussions around racial equality are continuing to this day.
The BLM movement was deemed by many an “American issue” that the UK should stay out of. However, the UK is not exempt from racism. Government figures revealed that between April 2018 and March 2019, there were four stop and searches for every 1,000 white people, compared with 38 for every 1,000 Black people. Data from the Met Police over the period of 2017-18 showed that police are four times more likely to use force against Black people. Lecturer in law Kojo Koram said in The Guardian: “Institutional racism exists at every level of our criminal justice system. “From who gets stopped and searched, to who gets arrested, to who gets charged, to who gets convicted.” On January 8, a Welsh man of Somali heritage, was arrested for “breach of the peace”. He was released without charge on the morning of January 9 and later that evening, he died, with his family saying that he had claimed he was assaulted in custody. In the US, one officer was charged with second-degree murder. All four officers involved in George Floyd’s murder were sacked, but is this enough? More action on policing such as the proposed Illinois Bill will contribute towards counteracting any institutional racism in the police force. Racism does not just need to be removed from institutions, but also from the street. Not being racist does not mean you are anti-racist and it is things like calling out racism rather allowing it as a silent participant that still needs to change. Until equality prevails, society’s work will not be done.
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How to help By ALEX FOLEY Last year saw historic uprising against racial injustice. Choosing to be active and make a change is paramount. Here are seven things you can do to fight discrimination.
When listening to a song or buying from a business, it is worth researching their beliefs and practices before supporting them.
Call out ‘jokes’
Tell people that racist comments are not okay, even if they are family, friends or co-workers. If you are not confrontational, question them: “That joke doesn’t make sense, can you explain it?”.
Understanding that white people are not subject to racial inequalities is vital for change to happen. Recognising this is a key step to eradicating racism.
It is a privilege to educate yourself on racism rather than experience it. Watch documentaries, films and TV series, read books and articles, to discover the ways racism continues to affect our society today.
Support, listen and empathise when someone describes their experiences of racism or discrimination to you. Do not be passive.
Mark Duggan’s death, later ruled a “lawful killing” by an officer, sparked the London riots which began in Tottenham in August 2011. Police stopped a taxi Duggan was travelling in, believing him to have just picked up a gun. Marcus Hall, the officer who killed Duggan, said he was “100 per cent sure” he saw Duggan holding a gun so shot in self-defence. The driver later told the jury he did not see Duggan holding a gun.
For five days, looting and arson took place across the capital, with subsequent copycat riots taking place across the country. Race and class were cited as two of the main reasons for the riots. In an article for The Guardian, Matthew Ryder questioned the decision. He said: “How could it have been lawful to shoot a man who was not in possession of a gun and therefore could not have posed a deadly threat?”
Last summer saw a global wave of protests that has continued to grow into a wider discussion about inequality and race. George Floyd’s murder sparked protests across the globe after footage was circulated of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost eight minutes, resulting in his death. In the footage, Floyd could be heard pleading for his mother
and telling the officers he could not breathe. During the aftermath, calls for defunding the police and police reformation were strong. Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder and was dismissed alongside the three other police officers. An important distinction between the BLM protests, and the London-based riots, is that the BLM protests spread across the globe.
Calling out racist behaviour is one of the most crucial ways of helping. If you let it slide, you are just as bad as the person committing the act.
Photo: Richard Vogel/AP/Shutterstock (centre) imageBROKER/Shutterstock (right)
Standing against racism means standing up to all forms of injustice, this includes homophobia and sexism. These actions seem small and do not require a lot of effort. But all actions add up.
BAME groups hesitant towards Covid vaccine
Photo: Dr Victoria Onyeka
By JASMINE PATTERSON Over ten million people in the UK identified in the high-risk category have received two full doses of either the Oxford/AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines. However, advocates say vaccine hesitancy is higher in Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) populations who are most at risk from Covid-19. Paediatrician Dr Kiran Rahim from the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA), an organisation aiming to educate Muslim communities on the safety of vaccines, said African and South Asian Bangladeshi men are worst affected by Covid. She said: “The reports tell us that they are more likely to have long Covid, more likely to be in ICU and they are more likely to die from Covid, so not getting that vaccine means that our communities remain vulnerable.”
Socio-economic factors drive a higher risk of infection of Coronavirus within BAME groups such as poorer housing conditions and holding frontline jobs. A survey by the Royal Society for Public Health recently reported only 57 per cent of respondents from BAME backgrounds were likely to accept a Covid-19 vaccine, compared to 79 per cent of white respondents. Rahim said: “We know that these are some of the most marginalised communities in the UK and their level of satisfaction with the NHS historically is not great. “Language is often a barrier to these communities and a lot of the Covid resources are not in other languages or easily accessible which then puts the onus on individuals in these communities to do the work essentially of health promotion.” Dr Victoria Onyeka of the Black Medical Society said the myths that are circulating about the Covid-19 vaccine are based on the distrust of medical practitioners and systemic racism that has gone uncorrected. In her experience, Onyeka said: “There’s no trust. They think that we [as doctors] are in on it. They tell us ‘well, you are conspiring with these people to get us vaccinated’.” Onyeka said there is nothing for doctors to gain except saving lives. “It will be very, very hard. My parents don’t even listen to me even though I’m a doctor,” she said.
Historically, the medical industry is known to mistreat Black people, regardless of nationality. For example, gynaecologist James Marion Sims would perform surgeries on enslaved African women without anaesthesia and other horrors such as the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments. Onyeka called for public health authorities to use BAME medical doctors and faith leaders who are trusted more by those who are unsure. “Black people are still seeing that health campaigns are not inclusive. “You don’t see Black faces, Black patients, they feel like ‘this information is not for me’,” she said. Onyeka said there is some improvement in community outreach but it does not go far enough. She said: “The only reason why I think the government is putting effort into it now is because they know that if Black people don’t get the vaccine, they will be more likely to be carriers of the virus and the pandemic will not end anytime soon. “I don’t think their incentive is to save Black communities because if it was, they would have made an effort to remove these barriers that are causing Black people not to seek medical advice years ago.” Despite BAME communities being more vulnerable they are not one of the first to be offered the vaccine. Rahim said: “Once you feel ‘othered’, the mistrust that develops is very hard to overcome. Especially because there is no one in the
Photo: Dr Kiran Rahim government that looks like us and representation matters.” BIMA and the British Medical Association have been working to support BAME groups by promoting awareness of the facts and demystifying the Covid-19 vaccine. This includes translating work into several languages and having experts answer myths around the vaccine, and the virus itself. Onyeka said she awaits the day when BAME communities can feel included in the UK healthcare system.
Remembering Dr Sebastianpillai
By MARCUS WRATTEN At least 221 NHS staff and care workers have died since Covid hit the UK. More than six in 10 of NHS workers who have died have been from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic background, according to early Health Service Journal analysis. Behind the numbers are lives lived and families left behind. Author, historian, family man and consultant geriatrician at Kingston Hospital Dr Anton Sebastianpillai, was one of the UK’s first doctors to die after contracting Coronavirus. Sebastianpillai, who would have turned 76 in January, was a long-serving team member at the hospital and died doing what he had dedicated his life to: caring for patients on the frontline. After qualifying as a doctor in Sri Lanka at Peradeniya University’s medical school in 1967, he moved to the UK to continue his career in geriatric medicine – a career that spanned more than four decades. His final shift at Kingston Hospital was on March 20 before he fell ill with Covid-19. He was admitted to the hospital’s intensive care ward on March 31, and died four days later. Beyond his healthcare role, Sebastianpillai was a respected author. His book, A Complete Illustrated History of Sri Lanka, released in 2012, was deemed “world-class” by MP Ed Davey. He leaves behind his wife, son, daughter and grandchild. “A life fulfilled through the pursuit of knowledge and understanding of his two great passions: medicine and Sri Lanka,” his family said in a tribute.
Diabetes more common in non-white communities By MARIA AZZURRA VOLPE The prevalence of diabetes is higher among people of Black Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, according to research by the British Diabetic Association. The condition is six times more likely to affect people of South Asian descent and three times more likely in African and African-Caribbeans. According to Bahram Hassanpourfard, public health intelligence manager for Tower Hamlets, the main reason ethnic minorities show a higher rate of
diabetes is due to social inequality. “To find the answer you need to look at wider determinants of health such as education, employment, housing etc,” he said. “Ethnic minority groups are more vulnerable to chronic diseases mainly as a result of social inequality.” The poverty rate is higher among these populations. “BAME [groups] have lower physical activity and a less healthy diet [compared to white populations] as a result of the inequality they are facing.
“The effect of social inequality on chronic conditions is greater than genetic and other factors.” Diabetes affects 3.9 million people in the UK and the condition has two variations. Type 1 requires daily injections of insulin to stabilise blood sugar levels. This is due to an inability to naturally produce enough insulin. However, more than 90 per cent of all cases in the UK are Type 2. This condition is a result of an inability to absorb sugar and is linked to inactivity or medical history.
Diabetes affects 3.9 million people in the UK
Kingston Chinese Association at Kingston Carnival Photo: Ramsey Chan
Kingston Chinese Association plans to raise the profile of the community
By ELLIE NG Kingston Chinese Association (KCA) plans to return stronger after the pandemic and raise the profile of Chinese people in, and their contributions to, the communities they call home. Inspired by conversations with Sarah Owen, a Malaysian-Chinese MP for Luton and the first female MP of Chinese descent, KCA chairman Clinton Choi aims to expand membership. “It’s an interesting thing when we start talking to her about the low profile of the Asian community on
TV and in the media, the arts, the news,” he said. “But then you get to covid, and suddenly we are overrepresented in terms of Chinese doctors, nurses, health workers generally. “It’s interesting to understand that there may be an agenda to play there in terms of increasing our profile and making ourselves understood as being valuable contributors.” KCA primarily acts as an important social hub for its 400 members, made up of Hong Kong, Malaysian and mainland Chinese
By CHLOE WRIGHT Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) workers have suffered the most in terms of job loss during the pandemic, according to new analysis from the Trades Union Congress (TUC). In a recent report, the number of BAME people in employment has dropped 5.3 per cent in the year up to September 2020 compared with 0.2 per cent among white people. The number of BAME workers in employment has dropped 26 times more than white workers
since the global pandemic began. TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “BME (Black and minority ethnic) workers have borne the brunt of the economic impact of this pandemic. “In every industry, where jobs have gone, BME people have been more likely to face unemployment.” Evidence from the TUC also shows that BAME women are most affected. The Congress reported an unemployment rate of 8.8 per cent
residents of Kingston and its surrounding areas. Choi said before the pandemic, the association provided a way for people to regularly meet with each other. “We hire out a centre in south Kingston every Thursday night and every Sunday for people to meet to socialise and to do activities,” he said. Choosing from an array of classes and activities, members spend their time playing Mahjong, performing Tai Chi, learning a language or playing Chinese instruments.
With Sunday lunches and summer barbecues, day trips and dance classes, Kingston Carnival and Chinese New Year, the KCA community has made colourful Chinese culture a part of living life in Kingston. Choi said KCA events and activities are important for residents who could otherwise feel isolated. Historically, Choi explained, this was something Chinese emigrants suffered. “Most people who came here were in the Chinese takeaway community,” he said.
“It tended to be people who worked all the time and who lived in their little bubble, separated from the rest of the community, usually in the larger cities.” Associations like KCA played a vital part in bringing these communities together. “It gives people who would otherwise be quite isolated a bit of focus,” Choi said. “Normally they would have something to aim at once a week and every few months or so they would have some highlights.”
BAME community in the UK worst hit by job cuts
Source: Trades Union Congress Chart: Chloe Wright between July and September 2020 2019 showing only 66 per cent discriminate against their workers. compared to five per cent for white of the BAME community were in Patrick Roach, Chairman of the men. employment, compared with 78 TUC Anti-Racism Task Force, The pandemic is not the first time per cent of white people. addressing the statistics said: “The this inequality has been linked, Under the Equality Act 2010, it is government needs to address the with government statistics from illegal in the UK for companies to effects of structural racism.”
World Hijab Day 2021 campaigns to end discrimination against the hijab This year World Hijab Day, February 1, was centred on a campaign to stop the discrimination faced by hijab-wearing women. Sharmeen Ziauddin spoke to three women about the importance of hijab to them
World Hijab Day, now in its eighth year, is celebrated in recognition of millions of women around the world who choose to wear the Muslim headscarf, known as the hijab. The day aims to increase religious tolerance and understanding by inviting Muslim and non-Muslim women to experience the hijab for one day. The idea was the brainchild of Nazma Khan, a Bangladeshi woman who moved to New York when she was 11-years-old and faced a lot of discrimination as a result. Since the events of 9/11, the hijab, a religious garment, has become more of a politicised issue. Muslim women are usually either portrayed as oppressed, submissive or extremist. Their attire is often discussed and scrutinised, but it is their voices that are heard the least. “It’s an oxymoron when a person says ‘you’re oppressed’ or ‘take it off’ but you’re telling me what I can and cannot wear. It’s hypocritical,” explained 23-year-old Muna Ali, vice president of the Union of Kingston Students, and the first Muslim woman to hold this position. Ali started wearing hijab when she was a child, and for her, it is part of her identity. She said: “We teach the younger generation not to conform to what someone wants you to look like or what someone wants you to wear and to be who you are.
For Muna Ali hijab is an act of worship “If wearing modest clothing Living in Kingston can often is how we want to express feel like living in a glorious ourselves, and we feel liberated multicultural bubble. in that sense, then who are you “We are so lucky in Kingston to comment on that?” to have such a diverse community Whilst nuns have where we accept our differences,” donned a headscarf she said. since the early days Saiyeda Ravalia, 42, a counsellor of Catholicism, it is from New Malden, said she started the Muslim headscarf wearing a hijab at the age of 18 that sparks the most debate. when she was on a spiritual journey “Hijab is an act of faith. I’m of rediscovering the faith she was comfortable with my religion. born into. With hijab, I can be myself and “It came from an awareness of it enables me to be who I am, becoming closer to my religion. unapologetically,” she added. It’s an act of love and gratitude
I can be myself
between me and my creator,” said Ravalia. The hijab comes in many variations of colour and style. But the main objective is to cover the hair and carry yourself with dignity. “Modesty is important, and there are certain guidelines about what that modesty entails, and I try and take that on board as much as I can,” she said. Elena Nikolova, founder of the website Muslim Travel Girl, shocked her family by becoming Muslim 10 years ago. Even so it took two years for her to decide to adopt the hijab.
Photo: Muna Ali “For me, hijab is a very personal choice. When you wear hijab it’s a big change in your life, and you become visibly Muslim,” Nikolova, a 34-year-old Bulgarian, said. “It’s a progression in your spirituality, and that’s when hijab becomes the next, natural step. Now I feel naked without it.” You may need to look closely, beyond the hijab, to see that Muslim women do not have a monolithic voice. Nikolova said: “With my website, I’m trying to build bridges to show Muslims are normal people too!”
The continuing fight against hair discrimination This case attracted a lot of attention, including from author Emma Dabiri, who on BBC Breakfast called for Afro-textured hair to be protected legally. Dabiri equated making demands for hairstyle change to making demands for skin colour change. “You wouldn’t say that a child’s skin was too dark and they need to lighten their skin. That is effectively a very similar thing that is being demanded of us.” While she won her case, Williams’ story highlighted an issue which remains prevelant today and needs to be tackled. Although seven states in the US
have made racial discrimination towards hair illegal, the UK does not have any such law. However The Halo Collective, a group of young Black activists, has launched the UK’s first hair code aimed at stopping such discrimination. According to a survey by The Halo Collective, one in five Black women feel pressure to straighten their hair for work and more than half of Black students have experienced name-calling about their hair at school. Novelist Marita Golden spoke about how, when she was a child, she wished to have “good
hair”, otherwise known as “white girls’ hair”. Hair became a form of cultural and political statement in America in the 1960s. For Golden, this was the first time she actually liked her natural hair for the way it was. “The hair that I hated and [had] been on a quest to change suddenly seemed so lovely, so perfect,” she said. To this day Golden wears her natural hair, but does not judge other Black women who do otherwise. “My natural [hair] is full of grey hairs, and I love it and my face more than ever,” she said.
Emma Dabiri Photo: David M Bennet/Getty Images
By SOPHIE LOCKECOOPER Last year, a teenager from East London won an £8,500 settlement after her school repeatedly sent her home because of her natural Black hair. Ruby Williams, 18, was told by her school that she had been sent home for breaching a policy stating: “Afro hair must be of reasonable size and length.”
20 years of Kingston Carnival By MARCUS WRATTEN Over the years, the carnival “Twenty years ago, I wanted Last year was supposed to be a has become a key date in any a festival in town which monumental year for Kingston resident’s calendar. brought communities together Carnival. 2020 marked 20 When it first started in 2000, to have fun,” Azah said. years since the vibrant annual inspired by Notting Hill Carnival “We have tried to promote those extravaganza first graced the and originally called Multicultural minority ethnic communities, as borough’s streets. Health Fayre as a means of well as the majority community.” There were big plans. John securing funding, the event barely -Kingston Carnival is open to Azah, chief executive of Kingston attracted a few thousand. all, with Race and Equalities Council By 2010, a few thousand (KREC) and co-founder of the became 20,000. carnival, had hoped for a big star to Now, up to 60,000 people, headline. Local resident Stormzy locals and beyond, descend was at the top of his wish list. upon Kingston for the event “Obviously it wasn’t meant to every September. be because something small called Despite two decades passing Covid-19 came to interfere with and interest ballooning, Kingston our plans,” he said. Carnival’s aim remains the same. Like every other event across the country, Kingston Carnival, which aims to raise awareness of diverse cultures in the borough, was stripped from the diary. Last year was not the first time the carnival faced cancellation. In 2013, a line-up topped by British DJ David Rodigan caused attendance to skyrocket and the carnival burst its banks. “You couldn’t move in the town,” Azah recalls. As a result, Kingston Council pulled the 2014 event, owing to safety concerns. “In their words, it was too successful.” It returned in 2015, stricter safety measures in tow. The paperwork is a “management nightmare,” he said. John Azah, co-founder of Kingston Carnival, gets into the spirit
the hope of fostering positive relationships between people from different cultures and backgrounds. While Azah said Kingston is often promoted as a “majority white population,” Kingston Council data says 33 per cent of the population are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. The carnival is a testament to this diversity. “I don’t have to say anything. The diversity, the colour, the people who come, the differences that are displayed, the food, itself is self-evident. People understand what we mean when we talk about
By ELLIE NG The Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) invigorated the drive to tackle racial inequality. In Kingston, John Azah, chief executive of Kingston Race and Equalities Council (KREC), has been at the heart of campaigns and conversations to eliminate discrimination. Azah has supported Kingston’s Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community for the last 30 years.
BLM movement and the issues it brought to light within the context of Kingston. Livestreamed and then uploaded on Kingston Council’s YouTube, the most recent discussion on Race, Disability and Gender took place in December. Embracing these changes as a step in the right direction, Azah stressed the importance of keeping the issue on the agenda. He said: “It is incumbent on us as communities and as activists to continue to put pressure on organisations, not to relent.”
multiculturalism, what we mean about race equality,” Azah said. It is a day of joy for the borough of Kingston - something that has been sorely missed over the past year. But in 2021, there are hopes for a return. An official decision will be made in spring. If it cannot go ahead this year, Azah promises 2022 will be “massive”. When Azah first drafted the idea past colleagues in 1999, they told him “it would never happen”. Now, he is thinking about the Kingston Carnivals of years to come. 2020 was bleak, but the future could be very colourful.
Photo: John Azah
Black Lives Matter sparks new drive to tackle racial inequality in Kingston In that time, the BAME population in Kingston has grown exponentially, now making up a third of the borough, according to Kingston data. “We went about settling in the borough, influencing decision making, changing things, introducing things like [the] Kingston Carnival which really are seen as the mainstream of what the culture of the borough is now,” he said. The murder of George Floyd in May last year was a defining moment of 2020,
with BLM protests taking place globally. Azah said the movement sparked a noticeable change in attitudes and commitments to addressing racial inequalities. “I can date it,” he said. “The month before the murder of George Floyd I was talking to organisations about race equality and they didn’t want to know. After the murder...organisations started to come to me.” KREC began holding virtual discussion panels, Let’s Talk About Race, centred on the
Azah said he wants to reach out to still outlying ethnic communities. He wants to address the stigma attached to mental health in BAME groups and reassure them of the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine. “I want the day to come where somebody candidly phones me or walks into my office and says, ‘John you’ve lost your job’,” Azah said. “I say, ‘Why?’ and they say, ‘because we’ve achieved equality.’ “If that happens, then I’ll walk away quite happy.”
Third lockdown spells trouble for New Malden’s Korean businesses
Re-opening salons has proven difficult due to close customer contact Photo: Press Eye Ltd/Shutterstock By MARCUS WRATTEN Small businesses have been “We still have the rent fees,” said Businesses in New Malden have badly affected during Covid, with KJ’s spokesperson. warned that the current lockdown is nearly 235,000 estimated to have It is not just restaurants that are having a more damaging impact on closed down within the first six facing difficulties as a result of the revenue than the first two. months of the pandemic, according restrictions and new Covid strain. While Covid measures led to a report by insurance company A spokesperson for hair salon to a reduction in visitors and Simply Business. TOVI believes the salon will not profit throughout 2020, it has A spokesperson for Korean- be able to re-open easily once become harder to surivive as Japanese restaurant KJ said while lockdown is lifted due to the rate at By MARCUS WRATTEN Chick and Beers restrictions have tightened. its footfall significantly reduced which the new variant spreads. Kingston is home to some of the Serves exactly what it says on the Joon Han, owner of Korean through 2020, the situation was “Being a hair salon, there is still a best Korean restaurants in London. tin: clucking great chicken. Chick chicken restaurant Chick and Beers, getting worse. lot of personal contact between the While their doors are currently and Beers know what they are good said: “We have been beginning to hairdresser and the customer, which closed, many are still open for at and stick to it, serving authentic find it quite difficult. Revenue has means we have to be extra cautious. delivery and takeaway. Here are Korean charcoal grilled and fried dropped significantly.” “It’s not going to be easy. We will some of our favourites. chicken, slathered in sauce. Han thinks a combination of have to take more precautions, more customers starting to feel financial than last time,” they said. Sorabol Jin Go Gae strain and concerns over the Making the salon Covid-secure Sorabol keeps things traditional, At Jin Go Gae, it is all about BBQ. new variant are stopping locals has proven costly. offering up a vast range of Their range of meats are marinated from ordering. Many customers have continued distinctly authentic dishes. From in their famous, fiery chilli sauce and “Even if it is just takeaway and to cut their own hair after having to beef bulgogi, one of the country’s have proven a hit with restaurantdelivery, people might just be trying “This lockdown, we’ve noticed a do so while the salon was shut. most famous menu items, to classic goers from all corners of the capital. to be a little bit more careful,” 70 percent reduction,” they said. “Throughout the whole lockdown soups and the popular bento boxes, Veggies, do not fret: there is plenty he said. When lockdown was announced process, many people have started Sorabol is an easy pleaser. for you too. New Malden has the highest in January, chancellor Rishi Sunak to cut their own hair, which also population of Korean residents, announced a new package of impacts business for us,” the Cake & Bingsoo Café KJ Restaurant between 10,000 and 20,000, support, with one-off grants of up spokesperson said. “Delicious”, “must visit” and “best KJ shakes things up a little; the in Europe. to £9,000. Despite ongoing hardship, café in Kingston” – just some of restaurant serves both Korean and The suburb is also home to For many small businesses, the businesses remain hopeful that there the glowing reviews awarded to Japanese dishes (hence the name). dozens of Korean restaurants money does not stretch far enough. is a light at the end of the tunnel. this cutesy spot in New Malden. The sushi is definitely something and shops, many of which “It’s helpful that they are They added: “In a year’s time, we It is famed for its speciality, to shout about, while the soups are small, independent or supporting, but it hasn’t really just hope to be working hard and be the delightfully creamy Korean and noodles are all popular family-owned businesses. been that much. able to financially recover.” dessert Bingsoo. with customers.
Kingston’s tastiest Korean takeaways
It’s not going to be easy
Diversifying the literature we read By NATALIE CROOKHAM We should never judge a book by its cover but subconsciously we all make assumptions about the books we see based on the design, genre conventions and author’s reputation. We create our own system of elimination to decide which novels appeal and what to read next. Modern society’s reading and media consumption is defined by algorithms, social media and personal preference. This results in echo chambers forming around our interests with more of the same continuously fed to us. Anamik Saha, author of Race and the Cultural Industries, said in an interview with The Bookseller that people working in publishing understand “books matter”. “Not just in terms of providing entertainment or information, but for the way they enrich our lives and relationships, and shape our understanding of the world,” he said. “For that reason, it’s so important the books that are available to us do not come from the same narrow range of perspectives.” Since the start of the first national lockdown in March 2020, twofifths of UK adults are reading with many people changing their reading habits. Despite an increase in people reaching for books since the Coronavirus crisis began, The
Top 3 books on
understanding racial equality By LYNN IRUMBA-WILLIAMS Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala London rapper, musician and race commentator Akala leads us on a journey defining the ways social, political and historic truths have shaped life in Britain today. Published in 2018, Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of the Empire, provides insight into identity and education, the past mistakes of people in power, structural racism and the reality of growing up as a mixed-race person in post-colonial Britain. Praised for its wisdom and honest approach, this book won The Sunday Times bestseller 2018 and Foyles Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2018.
How diverse is your book choice? Reading Agency found that the majority of people were sticking to familiar genres. Teach First launched a campaign last year to ensure pupils leave school having studied a variety of authors from a diverse range of backgrounds. The education charity criticised the exam board AQA for not having
a “single book” by a Black author on its set text list for GCSE English Literature, with only two books by authors from an ethnic minority background. The anthology for poetry however, does include work from Black writers. A spokesperson for AQA said: “We completely agree that students
should learn about a diverse range of writers. “We’re actually already reviewing equality, diversity and inclusion in our English Literature GCSE to make sure they’re as representative as possible of modern Britain.” Universities are also facing pressure to decolonise curriculums.
Black sentimentality? No thank you says author By CHLOE WRIGHT While the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement made many people reconsider their attitudes towards race, author and Kingston University lecturer Diran Adebayo warned against what he called “sentimentality” towards Black people as a response to racism. Adebayo, who is the course leader for BA creative writing, said he was worried the arts are at risk of joining the temporary hype of activism. “My fear in the art world as we begin talking, is that as publishing responds to BLM, they will seek to sort of catch the BLM buzz,” he said. “After the BLM protests, a number of positive things came about. “But I do fear that it will play into something that has been going on all my life in different forms which is sentimentality towards Black people.” Sentimentality is an exaggerated and self-indulgent tenderness.
from day one, are born under the curse of racism,” he said. “That wasn’t true for me and I don’t think it’s true for [others].” People often, mistakenly, seek out Black, Asian or minority ethnic voices, expecting them to have faced a racial struggle. Adebayo insisted that this was not always the case.
Diran Adebayo Adebayo touched upon this in his first novel Some Kind of Black with the line: “It’s like we’re the children of the world”. He said condescension is something Black people have
Photo: Lawrence Watson faced a lot. He gave the example of the idea that “Black people need role models”, in education and the workplace. “There is a sentimentalisation around things like Black people,
Having a sense of identity is important for everyone, and as people grow up, they tend to establish this. But there remains a sentimentality around this too. Adebayo said that, unlike many others, he did not like the phrase “Black and proud”. “I’m absolutely pro-Black,” he said. “[But] why would I be proud to be Black? “I was born Black and I’m proud of my achievements. This is a sentimentality, unearned emotion. “When people are sentimental towards you, it still means that they’re not looking at you properly.”
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni-Eddo Lodge Born of frustration and disappointment about the poor quality of the conversations Britain was having about racism, this book by Reni Eddo-Lodge was published in 2017. It became the first book by a Black British author to reach number one on Nielsen BookScan’s UK top 50 book sales in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. The book discusses feminism and white privilege — and stresses the need to strive for diversity in all spaces. Hailed by British Vogue as the “new suffragette” in 2018, EddoLodge’s masterpiece began as a blog post in 2014 and aims to educate, support and kick down the doors of racism everywhere. The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla A collection of thoughts from 21 exciting Black, Asian and minority ethnic voices, The Good Immigrant reflects on modern British cultural experiences and conversations on race. Published in 2016, this lively piece of literature explores the different perspectives of immigrants and their families. It recognises the desire immigrants have for acceptance by society despite often being told that they do not belong here. Shukla’s latest book, released this month, Brown Baby: A Memoir of Race, Family and Home, explores many different themes.
Dave’s BRIT performance was the ‘best political speech in a decade’ By LIAM MORAN The 2020 BRIT Awards provided a monumental moment in the history of British music. As well as winning Best Album, Dave delivered a provocative performance of his song Black which The Guardian called the “best political speech in a decade”. It is crucial to revisit this performance, and its reaction, a year on following the Black Lives Matter movement and the murder of George Floyd. The importance of a young Black man using his platform to spread a message of equality cannot be understated. Upon its release, Black had already caused some controversy, but Dave’s performance to a national audience, with a new final verse written specifically for the night, received 309 Ofcom complaints. It was a perfect example of a Black artist using his platform to share his experience. In the song, he spoke about double standards Black people are often met with. The stage design was minimalist focussing on Dave at the piano which displayed various projections on it including real headlines about Black children and prison bars. The showstopper, however, was the brand new final verse. He said even if Britain claims to
Dave performing at the Brits 2020 Photo: JM Enternational/Shutterstock be less racist than other countries it not celebrate giving people the The performance was a huge is still not good enough. bare minimum they deserve. milestone for Black artists. “I say the least racist is still He called for more help for the Dave used Britain’s biggest music racist,” he said. He went on to say Grenfell victims and the Windrush event to speak out against injustice equality is a right, and we should generation before leaving the stage. and inequality in this country.
By REBECCA SPENCER Set in 19th century London, period drama Bridgerton spoiled us with ballroom gowns and men in top hats and coats. The series, released on Christmas Day, served as the sweet remedy for our 2020 blues. It quickly became the most popular series ever on Netflix, transfixing 82 million households across 83 countries, and staying at number one on the Netflix charts for over three weeks. Regé-Jean Page as the Duke of Hastings, stole our hearts as well as Daphne’s (Phoebe Dynevor). Yes, the storyline was a tad predictable, but we all love a happy ending romance.
It was not the narrative that made the show special, but the cast diversity. Only a handful of mainstream romantic films and series have cast a Black romantic lead, even less (if any) with a Black British queen. Bridgerton created a new ye olde England, where all races were given equal standing and an equal opportunity for representation. The series forged the way for new productions to cast anyone in any role, no matter their skin colour. Netflix’s vice-president of inclusion strategy Vernā Myers said Bridgerton was shot with an inclusive lens. “We had a special person to think about recruitment, specifically for
BRIT Awards: Taking steps backwards? By MARCUS WRATTEN Rules making British-Japanese musician Rina Sawayama ineligible for UK music prizes indicate that British music awards are yet to reflect Britain’s multiculturalism. A technicality in the eligibility criteria for top British music awards, including the BRIT Awards and the Mercury Prize, means that Sawayama cannot be nominated because she does not have a British passport. Sawayama, 30, who released her debut album last year, has lived in the UK on an indefinite leave to remain visa for 25 years. “All I remember is living here,” she told VICE last July. “I feel like I’ve contributed to the UK in a way that I think is worthy of being celebrated, or at least being eligible to be celebrated.” Japan, Sawayama’s birthplace, does not allow dual nationality, meaning she is unable to acquire a British passport. Relinquishing her Japanese citizenship, she said, would feel like “severing ties” with her family. An “update on the rules/ eligibility is still pending,” her publicist said. The BRIT Awards will take place in May and nominees have not been announced yet. It is clear there is still a way to go before UK music awards truly embrace the reality of Britain’s diverse arts scene.
Bridgerton’s diversity wows fans under-represented groups,” she told The Guardian. Black scriptwriter Joy Mitchell adapted the novels, by Julia Quinn, and wanted to create a production that normalised BAME actors in period dramas. “I just wanted to normalise that Black and Asian people were there, that there were diverse people in England,” she told the BBC. “These people have sort of been erased from history, and Bridgerton did it in a bigger way.” Bridgerton’s cast demonstrates the film industry is progressing. Diverse casting and scriptwriting will become the new norm and it is safe to say, Netflix viewers across the globe are itching for season two.
Stars of Bridgerton
Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix
Black Panther: Wakanda forever Legend: Chadwick Boseman as King T’Challa By MATT GRANT Even before its release in February 2018, Black Panther was a cultural phenomenon. Pre-release ticket sales were record breaking, and the film did not disappoint. It peaked as the ninth highestgrossing film of all time and it remains the only film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to earn a Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards. But the film’s impact goes beyond ticket sales and award nominations. Black Panther is the first major franchise film to include a majority Black cast and actively embrace the culture that brings. That is not to say other film franchises are not diverse, but it can
feel like a token gesture instead of true representation. The MCU has also faced criticism on this front, but it has improved as the franchise has progressed, evidenced by Black Panther, which is free of any whitewashing. Black Panther is a love letter to Black culture. The portrayal of Wakanda as a bustling metropolis free of the legacy of colonialism is a refreshing twist from the backward and chaotic Africa often depicted. The film also developed an authentic black aesthetic by hiring a team of designers to showcase African fashion and hairstyles. In an interview with the New York Times, Camille Friend, who oversaw the various hair designs of
Photo: Marvel/Disney/Kobal/Shutterstock the film said: “We’re in a moment when people are feeling empowered about being Black. The hair helps communicate that.” Standalone MCU films are often ctriticised for being fillers for character journeys but Black Panther is different. While it does include a handful of previously established characters, the only obvious nod to the wider MCU story came in the customary post-credits scene. Erik Killmonger (Michael B Jordan), the film’s primary antagonist, is not your average comic-book villain. His primary goal, the liberation of Black people around the world, cannot be faulted. However, the methods he utilises
to achieve this goal are what set him at odds with protagonist, King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman). Killmonger has some of the most powerful scenes, however, two stand out the most. The first is where he questions the validity of an unnamed museum’s collection of artefacts. The second comes just before he dies when he powerfully delivers the line: “Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, ‘cause they knew death was better than bondage”. Any discussion about the legacy of Black Panther is now dominated by the tragic death of Chadwick Boseman, who died last August, after a four-year battle with colon cancer.
Throughout his career, Boseman portrayed inspirational figures including Thurgood Marshall but a family statement after his death revealed that it was the honour of his life to portray King T’Challa. The Wakanda Forever that T’Challa and other Wakandan’s greet each other with took on a life of its own following the film’s release, and it became a symbol of unity and respect, not only for the film and its characters, but also Black empowerment and African pride. Boseman died far too young. But for his fans, solace can be taken in the knowledge that Wakanda, and Black Panther, will definitely live forever.
5 must-see films by BAME directors
The film industry is starting to diversify both on screen and behind the scenes. Alex Foley chose these incredible films from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic directors as her top picks for all things equality
Queen and Slim, 2019 Submarine, 2010 Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie TurnerSmith star in Melina Matsoukas’s brutal, hearty and slick Queen and Slim. Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) meet on an unsuccessful, awkward Tinder date. On their drive home, a threatening and confrontational police officer pulls the pair over. A fight breaks out and Slim shoots the cop in self-defence. The film follows the pair on the run and their hopes of making it to Cuba.
Submarine marked Richard Ayoade’s directing debut. It is a mix of a quirky comedy and a sweet, heart-warming drama. Submarine follows Welsh teenager Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) on his quest to negotiate a relationship with his first love Jordana (Yasmin Page). Alongside this, he works on rectifying his parents’ marriage. Ayoade’s use of cinematography, narration and editing is a nod to Wes Anderson’s work.
The Farewell, 2019
The Farewell follows a ChineseAmerican family as it deals with the clash between culture and tradition. The family discover their grandmother does not have long to live and following Chinese cultural beliefs, they decide to keep her in the dark as the stress of diagnosis is thought to only worsen a person’s condition. The film is semi-autobiographical from Director Lulu Wang’s own experience of keeping disease diagnosis a secret from relatives.
Get Out, 2017
Get Out, a satirical, thrilling horror, was Jordan Peele’s directorial debut. The film follows Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) meeting his girlfriend, Rose’s (Allison Williams) parents for a weekend getaway. They struggle to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship. Chris realises the weekend could be life-threatening. Peele became the first AfricanAmerican to win an Oscar for the best original screenplay for Get Out.
Ava DuVernay’s documentary, 13th, explores how the abolition of slavery led to mass Black incarceration, allowing young Black men to be used for labour. DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States: how and why the laws changed and the media’s representation of African-Americans. She also has a strong focus on America’s prison system and how they are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.
It is time to scrap ‘BAME’ COMMENT
By LYNN IRUMBA-WILLIAMS As a young Black woman, I am frustrated by the term BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic). I want to see it scrapped or replaced by a word which describes specific ethnic identity. It is a vague term used to describe people who are not white. There are 54 countries in Africa, 26 in the Caribbean and 48 in Asia, each with their own unique cultures and way of life. It is not acceptable to group these countries together under one term. The term BAME was established in the 1990s when the Asian population, having become the largest minority group in the UK, argued for a term more inclusive than the term BME (Black Minority Ethnic). UK Music Diversity Taskforce (UKMDT) chairman Ammo Talwar said: “BAME is a careless catch-all acronym and should be replaced in conversation by more specific terms. “One major change the UKMDT wants to see is the end of this term which is considered outdated and offensive to many people from these communities.” I believe the acronym to be offensive and its use continues to widen the racial gap in society rather than reducing it. Sporting Equals chief executive Arun Kang said: “Recent events
Anti-Chinese sentiment needs to stop COMMENT
Author Malorie Blackman with music artist Stormzy Photo: Shutterstock have highlighted how damning This is not the first time Blackman colour’, all these labels. They don’t incorrect language can be.” has expressed this. She cleverly define me. He goes on to say: “More incorporated it into her novel “Using BAME is misleading and communities have become frustrated Crossfire (2019), the fifth book in a way for authorities not to deal with with the limited terminology when her Naughts & Crosses series, under individuals from a community.” describing those who are impacted the term “WAME”: However, there are some by discrimination. “It was as if the rest of us who advantages to this acronym. Gone are the days when we were WAME - white and mixed- Using the broad term BAME in can use umbrella terminology to ethnic - were aberrations. And how datasets can assist in breaking hide under-representation.” much did I hate that acronym? down information and providing a I identify as a Ugandan woman. How insulting was that? Crosses clear overview. I do not say: “I am BAME”. were one group and everyone It can be argued grouping various And I know I am not alone in else got lumped into the WAME ethnic minorities for research this declaration. category like we were all one big, purposes creates structural racism. British author Malorie Blackman homogenous mass and not worthy In a time when the world is shares this view, once tweeting: “I of distinct categorisation.” becoming much more conscious loathe the term BAME. There, I’ve Comedian Eshaan Akbar said: “I about racial diversity, there is hope said it!” hate the term ‘BAME’, ‘people of for society to be anti-racist.
By NATALIE CROOKHAM The Coronavirus pandemic has triggered racism targeted towards those of Asian descent because of the origins of the virus. But racial prejudice against these groups is not new. “An undercurrent of anti-Asian racism has plagued this country well before the pandemic started,” Labour MP Sarah Owen, who is half Malaysian-Chinese, told MPs in October. “But now the lid has been lifted, and the far-right have wrongly been given legitimacy to air their derision, violence and hatred.” The epicentre being Wuhan led to many labelling Covid-19 the “Chinese virus”. This type of racist comment caused a surge in anti-Asian hate crimes which is not only naïve but dangerous. In May, The Guardian reported these crimes had increased by 21 per cent in the UK. The number of offences reported in the first three months of 2020 had almost tripled compared to the same period for 2019. A freedom of information request by Sky News to the UK’s police forces revealed 267 offences from January to March in 2020, compared to 375 throughout the year of 2019.
By SHARMEEN ZIAUDDIN Anjum Peerbacos was shopping in her local supermarket in north-west London when a woman pushed past her and audibly uttered the word “dog”. Once, she was in her car with her children when a woman started banging on her window, shouting and screaming. Experiences like these are not unusual for Muslims up and down the country, and sadly not new. It has been 10 years since Baroness Sayeeda Warsi said Islamophobia had passed the dinner table test - meaning it was socially acceptable to express negativity about Muslims. Peerbacos, a secondary school teacher and hijab-wearing Muslim, said: “There has been a resurgence in racist attitudes and behaviour. I was petrified when the woman was shouting expletives at me.
“My daughter wears the hijab and I’m very scared every time she leaves the house. I don’t want her to be subjected to the same behaviour as me.” A quick Twitter search will show users who are not only openly Islamophobic, but proud of it. The same sentiment is not directed at Jews or Sikhs, as they are recognised as a race and, therefore, any hatred t o w a r d s them, rightly so, is considered unacceptable in both society as well as on social media platforms. During the 2019 Conservative Party leadership debate, eventual winner Boris Johnson made a promise to challenger Sajid Javid that there would be an investigation into Islamophobia within the party.
But even the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which conducted the investigation into anti-Semitism within the Labour, Party is not keen. Johnson referred to Muslim women as ‘letterboxes’ and ‘bank robbers’ in August 2018, so it is no surprise he has gone back on his word. The following week, Tell Mama, an organisation w h i c h records antiMuslim incidents, reported a 375 per cent increase in attacks. This Conservative government does not recognise, let alone accept, Johnson’s words have consequences. This was a clear attempt by Johnson to appeal to those on the right-wing of his party.
Even when it comes to racism, there is a hierarchy, and Muslims are at the bottom
This attempt was a success, as he became prime minister the following year in a landslide electoral victory. A July 2020 YouGov poll showed a staggering 57 per cent of Tory Party members had a “negative attitude” towards Muslims. Members who had a “very negative attitude” towards Muslims constituted 21 per cent, compared to three per cent for either Jews, Sikhs or Hindus. In a detailed letter sent to the EHRC in early 2020, the Muslim Council of Britain detailed over 300 examples of anti-Muslim sentiment expressed by Tory members and affiliates but nothing was done. If the members of the ruling party hold such contempt for Muslims, where does that leave the public? Critics cite that Islam is not a race so it is not racist to be Islamophobic.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group defines Islamophobia as “rooted in racism and a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness”. The Tory Party are the only major party to not accept this definition. Warsi recently referred to Islamophobia as “Britain’s latest bigotry blind spot”. Even when it comes to racism, there is a hierarchy, and Muslims are at the bottom. Islamophobia has now been normalised in the UK. This Conservative government must acknowledge and then condemn Islamophobia within in its ranks, or else the standardisation of anti-Muslim sentiment will continue.
Baroness Warsi Photo: S Meddle ITV/Shutterstock
Islamophobia needs to be taken seriously
Statues not torn down ‘on a whim’
The base of the Colston statue after it was torn down Photo: Simon Chapman/LNP/Shutterstock Justifying the new laws, revealed that nearly half of residents over wording meant that none came Jenrick wrote: “Local people should wanted the statue gone. to fruition. have the chance to be consulted on Alternative plaques recognising Over the last six years, petitions whether a monument should stand Colston’s actions were put up on the calling for the removal of the statue or not.” statue by activists and removed by gained thousands of signatures, but The people of Bristol had that Bristol City Council. nothing happened. chance and they took it. Although the council came up All that time the statue remained, In 2014, a poll in the Bristol Post with its own suggestions, arguments commemorating the abridged
version of British history that no one in power wants to challenge. The tearing down of the statue was the result of years of indecision and inactivity of a council and a society who were reluctant to relinquish their rose-tinted view of their colonial past. It was anger at the fact that, had it been white lives that Colston had profited from, the statue would not have been erected. If you are looking for examples of what happens when people are listened to, look no further than the statue of Robert Milligan, a notorious slave trader, outside the Museum of London Docklands. Labour councillor Ehtasham Haque set up a petition on the day the Colston statue was toppled asking for it to be taken down. It attracted over 4,000 signatures and the statue was taken down by the Canal and River Trust just two days later. The statue of John Cass at the University of East London was peacefully removed. Hans Sloane in the Biritsh Museum was moved to a different exhibition to highlight his involvement in the slave trade. The examples above are of calm and orderly removal, all conveniently ignored by the government. The tearing down of the Colston statue was a lot of things; angry, exuberant and powerful. Some may say it was wrong. But it was not done on a whim.
By ALEX FRAMPTON The Green Party councillor behind efforts to rename the Queen Anne suite in the Kingston Guildhall, due to the former monarch’s links to the slave trade, has spoken about her campaign. Councillor Sharron Sumner wrote a letter to the town mayor, Margaret Thompson, in June saying the chamber should instead be named after Cesar Picton, a slaveturned-business-owner who came to Kingston from Senegal in 1761. Sumner said: “It seems to me, renaming one of the council’s debating chambers seems like a very simple step we as a community can take to show solidarity with our Black community.
was set up to address inequities among Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups in the borough, does not support the proposals on the grounds that they won’t improve people’s lives. John Azah, CEO of KREC, said: “Changing the name of the Queen Anne suite will not make much of a difference to all the people who suffer deprivation, poverty and discrimination. “We feel our campaign ought to be about tangible, permanent and real change which makes an impact on people’s lives, not cosmetic emotive changes which make people feel better but do little for the ordinary person in the street.”
By DAISY STEPHENS On January 16, the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government Robert Jenrick announced plans for new laws to protect Britain’s statues. But the laws, designed to preserve statues up and down the country, are proof that, yet again, the government is not listening. The new laws will mean that local authorities must grant planning permission for statues to be taken down. This would prevent, as Jenrick put it, “heritage assets” being torn down “on a whim or at the behest of a baying mob”. These “heritage assets” include statues commemorating Britain’s most notorious slave traders. The millions of people who took to the streets in 2020, the “baying mob”, wanted to declare that their lives, Black lives, matter. There is a fundamental flaw in the laws – often these statues are not torn down, as he put it, “on a whim”. The most famous example in 2020 of a felled statue was that of slave trader Edward Colston, which was torn down and thrown into Bristol Harbour by Black Lives Matter (BLM) protestors on June 7 2020. To refer to them as a “baying mob” and call their actions whimsical is not only unnecessarily insulting but factually untrue.
Kingston’s Green Party campaigns to rename Guildhall’s Queen Anne suite
Queen Anne Photo: Michael Dahl, National Portrait Gallery
“We know history can’t just be about commemorating the achievements of historical figures who prospered from the pain and exploitation of others. “It also needs to explain these dark times and remind us of the progress we’ve made since then.” Neither the town mayor nor the council responded to Sumner’s letter, causing the local Green Party to call for a reply on its Twitter page. The Party did not receive a response to the proposal online. Queen Anne was a principal investor in the South Sea Company which transported and sold African slaves to the Spanish West Indies.
She secured a contract as part of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 which granted Britain the licence to supply Spain with 4,800 slaves annually for 30 years. The contract was sold to the South Sea Company, taking over 20 per cent of the profits for herself, a move which prompted the National Portrait Gallery to include her as a slave trader in its Portraits and People of Abolition exhibition. Sumner said: “Queen Anne’s murky history is recognised by other institutions including the National Portrait Gallery, so now is an appropriate time for Kingston to do the same.” However, the Kingston Race and Equalities Council (KREC), which
18 VOICES Biden’s pledge to tackle racism By MARIA AZZURRA VOLPE After a very turbulent and muchdiscussed election, Joe Biden, President of the United States, has promised all Americans he is committed to ending systemic racism. In his first few days in office, Biden signed several executive orders aimed at tackling discrimination and xenophobia. “I’m going to sign these executive actions to continue the work to make real the promise of America for every American,” he said at a press briefing on January 26. “I’m not promising we can end it tomorrow, but I promise you, we’re going to continue to make progress to eliminate systemic racism, and every branch of the White House and the federal government is going to be part of that effort.” According to the White House briefing room, Biden’s signed executive orders include: “A memorandum for the secretary of housing and urban development to redress our nation’s and the federal government’s history of discriminatory housing practices and policies. “Reforming the incarceration system by eliminating the use of privately operated criminal detention facilities. “A memorandum for the heads of executive departments and agencies on tribal consultation, and strengthening nation-to-nation relationships. “Condemning and combating racism, xenophobia, and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.”
What would London look like if Shaun Bailey was mayor? Alex Frampton discusses the London 2021 mayoral election and Bailey’s chances
This year’s upcoming London mayoral elections will be the first time the UK’s two major political parties have put forward Black and Asian candidates to lead England’s capital. Incumbent Sadiq Khan was born to Pakistani parents, while Conservative outsider Shaun Bailey grew up in a Windrushgeneration household. The latter’s background is notable as a Tory candidate, as he was raised in the working class of London’s West End. In stark contrast to the City’s last Conservative mayor, Etonian Boris Johnson, Bailey grew up in a council house and, after losing his job as a youth worker, endured several years living homeless, or sofa surfing, as he prefers to call it. As the first Black candidate from a major party,
Shaun Bailey has opposed the extension of ULEZ Photo: Andy Rain/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock a Bailey victory would be historic, LTNs last summer, protests erupted Bailey is calling for mandatory albeit unlikely given that the most with 2,000 people gathering outside membership of a drug testing charter recent poll from Redfield and Wilton Ealing town hall. for London firms that employ more showed a 21 per cent lead for Khan. They claimed it led to more than 250 people. But if he did win, what would his emissions on busier roads and slower Workers would be randomly mayorship look like and how would moving traffic, a perspective that checked for illegal narcotics to tackle it change the direction of the capital? Bailey shares. London’s cocaine epidemic. Bailey has been highly critical The Kensington-born candidate But despite all these plans, there of Khan’s approach to transport also said he would halt the proposed is a chance that Bailey’s candidacy during the pandemic expansion of the Ultra Low Emission could be killed off by freshly brought and has vowed to Zone (ULEZ) which operates in the criminal accusations. scrap low traffic same area as the congestion charge The Labour Party reported him neighbourhoods and forces motorists with high to the Crown Prosecution Service (LTN) as well emission vehicles to pay a daily charge last week for sending out letters as the hike in of £12.50. branded as official City Hall congestion The area is due to expand out to documents, warning Londoners charge the North and South Circular Roads to vote against Khan or receive a 21.2 which was in October. per cent increase in their council tax. increased However, if Bailey wins, he says With the polls already in Khan’s from he will halt this, instead spending favour, this scandal could sink £11.50 more money on electric buses. Bailey’s mayoral bid for good. to £15.00 He is also positioning himself But one thing that has been made in June. as the candidate of law and order, clear over the past decade is that After the promising 8,000 new police officers you can never truly count out a introduction of for the capital. political outsider. Shaun Bailey Photo: James Veysey/Shutterstock
Kamala Harris: Who is the new US vice president?
Kamala Harris at the US presidential inauguration Photo: Carol Guzy/ZUMA Wire/Shutterstcock
By NATALIE CROOKHAM Kamala Harris made history as she became the first woman and first African American and Asian American to serve as US vice president. As she stood in her striking purple coat at the inauguration on January 20 – a colour symbolising women’s suffrage and unity – there was an unavoidable sense that the day was no less Biden’s than Harris’. Elected to the Senate in 2016, Harris has been a vocal supporter of racial justice legislation, backing proposals to overhaul policing.
She described herself as a “progressive prosecutor” and argued it is possible to be tough on crime while confronting the inequities of the justice system. “I was raised that, when you see a problem, you don’t complain about it, you go and do something about it,” Harris said in a Good Morning America interview. She believes it is possible to change the system from within, which later became a core message of her pitch as a presidential candidate. She wanted the country’s leadership to reflect the people of the US.
She has continued to be vocal in her support for social issues, including Black Lives Matter. She most recently called for the removal of racial discrimination and investment, both economic and educational, in BAME communities. Through her vice-presidency, Harris hopes to transform the office and prove the significance and power of her position. It is clear the former Senator and California Attorney General is unlikely to play a background role with some analysts titling her as a co-president.
Ed Davey: ‘Our party’s record on diversity is poor’ By ALEX GILHAM Kingston and Surbiton MP and leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has acknowledged work needs to be done to fix his Party’s shortcomings on racial diversity. Race and diversity are issues that Davey said he takes very seriously. His first political campaign, 34 years ago, was persuading his college at Oxford University to disinvest from Barclays Bank due to the ties the company had to apartheid in South Africa. Speaking at a race equality hustings for the Liberal Democrat
leadership on August 5 2019, Davey said: “What I am clear on is that we need a team to tackle race equality within the Party. “This is an urgent issue which we have failed on continuously as a Party. “We don’t need another review. We need action. I will deliver that.” Davey believes his work with ethnic minority communities within his constituency will help improve diversity within the Party. He helped establish Kingston’s first gurdwara and has said he
regularly engages with every community in the area, visiting mosques, Hindu temples and churches. The Liberal Democrat Campaign for Race Equality (LDCRE) aims to improve racial equality both inside and outside the Party, launching a 10-point anti-racism pledge. Both Davey and the LDCRE believe action must be taken against suspicionless stop and search by the UK’s police forces, something that Black people are 47 times more likely to experience than white people.
Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP/Shutterstock
Servant to coal merchant: The life and death of Cesar Picton By JASMINE PATTERSON The fate of African enslaved people in the late 18th century was tragic, inhumane and cruel. Traded into a life of servitude with the prominent Philipps family, this is the story of Senagalese born Cesar Picton, who reached the pinnacle of Britain’s social hierarchy and progressed from servant to wealthy coal merchant in Surrey. “A Black boy from Senegal given to me by Captain Parr, also a parakeet and a foreign duck,” said Sir John Philipps about Cesar’s arrival in the UK. Among some of the exploits of a trans-Atlantic slave trade gifted to Sir John Philipps, a British wealthy MP and Baronet from Pembrokeshire who lived in Norbiton, was a six-year-old Senegalese boy whose African name is not on record. He was sold into slavery, along with his mother, and arrived in England in 1761, though his mother did not. That same year, he was baptised into the Philipps family and given a singular Christian name: Cesar. He was given three godparents, and later, would become a successful coal merchant and member of the British gentry. Far removed from the experiences of enslaved Africans in the West Indies, life as half servant, half family member was a remarkably privileged one for Cesar. Historians believe the main reason Cesar was given an education, trained as a servant and
Plaque in memory of Cesar Picton raised as an addition to Philipps’ Some speculate Sir Philipps family was that at the time there acted in this way with Cesar were no available jobs for him because his only surviving son had within the Philipps household. already employed a servant.
Photo: Peter Hills/Flickr His story, however, is not unusual for the period. It was a fashion statement in Regency period London for wealthy white
upper-class people to dress their African servants in extravagant garments and turbans. This is what Cesar would have experienced. Slavery ended in Britain in 1772 and would later be abolished in the West Indies in 1807. Sir Philipps was a prominent member of the Holy Club, a philanthropic and religious organisation who positioned themselves as integral to the antislavery movement. According to the Kingston Archaeological Society, there is no record of Cesar’s involvement in the abolitionist movement nor signatory of petitions against the trans-Atlantic slave trade, but he was listed as a member of the Holy Club. At the death of Lady Philipps, Cesar inherited 100 pounds and he adopted the Picton surname, after Picton Castle in Pembrokeshire, Wales, where Sir John was raised. He began exploring coal trading interests and built his mercantile trade using another small fortune from Philipps’ three daughters. Through successful business acumen, Cesar accumulated over two acres of land from his wharf, a property in Thames Ditton, and the Picton House on Kingston High Street, where he lived until 1836. Picton never married and left a significant portion of his assets to his goddaughter, Sarah Lock Pinner. He died at the age of 81, a wealthy and respected businessman. He rests at the historic All Saints Church in Kingston upon Thames.
England Hockey begins to address lack of diversity
Racism can be a large part of players’ hockey experience, as Ellie Ng reports Ore Ogunlana, one of English elite hockey’s few Black players, said his worst encounter with racism in the sport was during an away game for his university team, where the opposing side’s fans “hurled abuse” at him. Introduced to hockey at Whitgift School, south London, Ogunlana went on to play at county, regional and national levels before returning to Surbiton Hockey Club, where he now plays goalie in the Men’s England Hockey League Premier Division. At every level and in every team, the 23-year-old said race, and often racism, were part of his hockey experience. In August 2020, an open letter to England Hockey condemned the sport as having an “endemic race issue” across national, regional and club levels, sparking conversation and reform.” Ogunlana said the issue stems from hockey’s status as an elitist sport. “[With] football, all you need is a ball and two jumpers,” he said.
“For hockey you need so many more materials, Astroturf, sticks, goalie kits and it is all expensive. Notoriously, only people from certain backgrounds play.” Just six per cent of those playing at England Hockey clubs were of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, according to their recent national survey. The governing body has no BAME members. Ogunlana said the Black Lives Matter movement ignited a drive to expose and tackle racism in English hockey. “It is something that is being talked about now,” he said. A Stick It To Racism campaign was launched under GB, England, Scottish Hockey and Hockey Wales. In a statement, GB Hockey said: “There is no place for racism in our sport or society.” Praising the initiative, Ogunlana said the sport might easily have avoided engaging in these conversations due to other sports having a bigger following.
How kneeling for BLM began
Ogunlana celebrating his wins in 2020
Photo: Tim Reder
Micah Richards: Racism in football needs to end By ALEX GILHAM Micah Richards made his name through his jovial approach to punditry but has allowed the public to see the dark side of his life by bravely recalling the racism he has experienced. The Sky documentary Micah Richards: Tackling Racism follows the retired footballer, of Caribbean heritage, as he explores the ever-present issue of racism in football. The programme provided the view that football’s inequality can change. Richards aimed to break down the barriers preventing racial understanding, enlisting the help of many pertinent figures to illustrate how this is possible. He spoke to fan education manager for Kick It Out, Alan Bush, to discuss how a lot of racism comes from the failure to understand
Kaepernick and Rei Photo:AP/Shutterstock
Micah Richards Photo: Paul Greenwood/BPI/Shutterstock what other ethnic groups have the pitch, they’re on social media,” gone through. He read tweets sent to Black The role social media plays footballers Paul Pogba and Tammy in amplifying hate speech is a Abraham that were unashamedly prominent theme. hateful, broadcast for all to read. Richards opens his Instagram and Richards spoke with Fadzai showed viewers the abhorrent abuse Madzingira, public policy manager that litters his inbox regularly. He of Facebook, who assured viewers said: “Instead of bananas thrown on of slow improvements being made.
Perhaps the most powerful moment of the documentary is Richards’ interview with fellow pundit Gary Neville. Neville spoke frankly about his struggles to keep up with the pace of change and admitted he had been complicit in accepting racism in the dressing room during his playing days by not addressing it. “Keeping quiet is as bad as being racist,” he said. The viewer is forced to look introspectively and ask themselves whether they are doing enough to prevent racism. Over 30 per cent of players in the Football Association (FA) are Black, yet there are only six Black coaches in 91 clubs. Richards’ documentary has placed racism in football firmly under the microscope and succeeded in starting a confident conversation on racism.
By MATT GRANT The act of taking a knee gained widespread popularity following protests after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. Public figures around the world have participated in the act as a sign of solidarity with those fighting for racial equality. Despite the Premier League being the most prevalent arena where those in the UK witness the act, taking a knee traces its origins to another large corporate sports league: the United States’ NFL. In a 2016 pre-season game, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose to sit on the bench during the national anthem. In a post-game interview, he explained: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of colour. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.” Kaepernick was joined by his teammate, Eric Reid. They later chose to kneel as a form of peaceful protest to call attention to the issues of racial inequality and police brutality. This decision was reached after they spoke with Nate Boyer, a retired Green Beret and former NFL player, and it was agreed kneeling was a respectful gesture. Despite Kaepernick repeatedly stating he meant no disrespect to military personnel, he received widespread criticism, particularly from those on the political right. Kaepernick said: “I am not protesting the anthem or the nation, I’m protesting organised brutality.” Then president Donald Trump was one of the most vocal critics. Despite this backlash, Kaepernick continued to kneel for the rest of the season and was joined by over 100 different players who either knelt or raised a fist in solidarity. Despite not playing since 2016, Kaepernick reached an undisclosed settlement with the NFL after filing a grievance against the league with the quarterback accusing owners of colluding to keep him out.