The Murder of George Floyd

*This article has been written by a white student and is offering their perspective on what other white people, as well as themselves, can do to recognise their privilege, and work to undo systemic, institutionalized racism in our society. ‘ I know I will never understand, but I will always stand’.

On Monday 25th May, another Black man, George Floyd, was murdered by a white policeman in America. The policeman, Derek Chauvin, was filmed kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for eight minuets, and forty five seconds. Two other policemen held Floyd down, and another ‘controlled’ the crowd. All  while Floyd shouted ‘I can’t breathe’, until he lost consciousness and died.

 As a white woman, I cannot fathom the feelings of Black people both in America and across the world, the privilege of having white skin will never allow me to understand the fear of Black people going about their everyday lives.

This however, does not mean white people should be silent. We have benefitted from a system which has discriminated against people of colour for centuries. Since Britain began colonising nations, to the first shipment of slaves of which profits built cities such as Newcastle and Bristol, racism has been institutionalized within Britain and America, to ensure white people benefitted from being white.

A saying which is very commonplace for understanding white privilege explains that white privilege accepts that you may have faced hardships, however these were not due to the colour of your skin. It is thus our duty to undo centuries of systemic oppression. It is our duty to teach about colonization in schools, it is our duty to be uncomfortable. It is our duty to be called out for appropriating certain parts of Black culture that we deem ‘acceptable’.

It is not the responsibility of Black people to fight for their equality. As white people, it is our responsibility to address the system we created, we benefit from and to educate ourselves and fight for a system free of injustice. Before the heroics start, and the ‘likes’ pour in, white people should understand that we should not be seen as ‘fighters’ or ‘the good ones’ for standing up against racism, for we would should never have been benefitting from a corrupt system in the first place.

We should have been outraged since Emmett Till was sentenced to death on false accusations with a biased trial that only cared about white opinion. We should still be outraged over the murder of Michael Brown, being shot six times was no accident by the white police. We should still be outraged when Eric Garner also screamed ‘I can’t breathe’. His words should never have found home in another dying black mans last breaths.

American history, since its colonization, was built on status differentiation and white supremacy. It is not the ‘land of the free’ until Native Americans have what’s left of their land and ancestral sites back. It is not the ‘land of the free’ until Native American land is not torn apart for pipelines, their culture not appropriated globally at Halloween, and their genocide not swept over like that of the Aborigines in Australia.

 It is not the ‘land of the free’ until every school teaches about America’s role in the slave trade, slavery in America and the repression of the rights of Black people to this day. It is not the ‘land of the free’ until there is collective action from a white population whose ignorance towards issues of race and injustice is as astounding as Britain’s denial to face its colonial and imperialist history.

It is not the ‘land of the free’ until the rate of black male arrests is unbiased.

African-American adults are 5.9 times as likely to be incarcerated than whites. As of 2001, one of every three black boys born in that year could expect to go to prison in his lifetime, as could one of every six Latinos—compared to one of every seventeen white boys. In 2016, Black Americans comprised 27% of all individuals arrested in the United States—double their share of the total population. Black youth accounted for 15% of all U.S. children yet made up 35% of juvenile arrests in that year.  It must be stressed that the rise  of mass incarceration begins with disproportionate levels of police contact with African Americans.

It is imperative white people take accountability for their role in allowing the continuation of institutionalized, systemic racism that perpetrates the ideology that discrimination is a ‘Black peoples problem’. It is instead necessary that we change ourselves and our institutions.

 It was a white officer that murdered George Floyd.

It was white officers who did not stop him.

It is a white settler society that now rules an already occupied indigenous land, it is a white settler society built off the backs of slaves, the genocide of Native Americans, and the compliance to live in a society where Black people are continuously murdered by white people. There should have been protests every day for the fact Black people are three times more likely to be killed by police than white people. There should have been protests every day that police killed 1,099 people in 2019, and that Black people were 24% of those killed despite being only 13% of the population .  Another Black person should not have had to die to recognise what has been happening in America, and Britain, for centuries.

It is, and always has been imperative to address racism in all its forms, and Britain is certainly not exempt from this task. We, the white people, must be outraged that everyday by being compliant, we are killing Black people and people of colour. We must confront uncomfortable truths about who we are, and how our western, liberal societies came to be.

This rage should not die out. It is long overdue that we address one of, if not the, most deep rooted injustices in our society. As Desmond Tutu famously said: ‘If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor’.

George Floyd should not have died that day. It is as simple and as complex as that.

 May the injustice being faced by Black people and people of colour be finally, properly addressed. Our complacency, our sympathy is not beneficial. We must stand as allies, we must deconstruct the basis of our society, until it no longer forces the life out of Black people and people of colour.

Written by Sarah Tennent

SIGN THE PETITIONS/DONATE HERE-

Black Lives Matter UK Fund- https://www.gofundme.com/f/ukblm-fund

The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust- https://www.stephenlawrence.org.uk/support-us/donate/

The Minnesota Freedom Fund- https://minnesotafreedomfund.org/

Justice for Belly Mujinga- https://www.change.org/p/govia-thameslink-justice-for-belly-mujinga

Justice for Breonna Taylor- https://www.standwithbre.com/

Petition to suspend UK export of tear gas, rubber bullets and riot shields to USA- https://www.change.org/p/suspend-uk-export-of-tear-gas-rubber-bullets-and-riot-shields-to-usa

Petition for the UK government to condemn President Trump’s response to BLM protests- https://www.change.org/p/boris-johnson-the-uk-government-must-condemn-trump-s-response-to-the-murder-of-george-floyd?utm_content=cl_sharecopy_22522561_en-GB%3Av3&recruited_by_id=d21766b0-a5a4-11ea-9a05-b3d780603ee9&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_initial&utm_term=4931b21bd4f04c7cbdd896d94658b364&pt=AVBldGl0aW9uAMGqVwEAAAAAXtew7gG9E6s5OWZkZjM3ZA%3D%3D

Petition for British schools to implement teaching British children about Black history- https://www.change.org/p/gavin-williamson-mp-teach-british-children-about-the-realities-of-british-imperialism-and-colonialism?recruiter=1100366940&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_petition&recruited_by_id=63f782c0-a35e-11ea-8907-8fc7af712ec3&use_react=false

Reading List to educate yourself-

Nikesh Shukla – The Good Immigrant: 26 Writers Reflect on America

Layla Saad – Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World

Reni Eddo-Lodge – Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

Akala – Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire

Ibram X. Kendi – How To Be an Antiracist

Wesley Lowery – They Can’t Kill Us All: The Story of Black Lives Matter

Support Black owned businesses, find them here- https://www.ukblackowned.co.uk/

How the ‘Washington Consensus’ allowed the global core to exploit the global periphery though unfair exchange from a World Systems Theory lens.

What is ‘The Washington Consensus”?

A neoliberal economic plan to introduce the free market to periphery states in the form of Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) which made less economically developed states (LEDS) increase funding in their industrial and manufacturing sector. This was done while state recipients of Structural Adjustment Loans (SALs) had to cut their health spending by 25% and education by 50% for some of the poorest citizens on earth. This was masked as a form of ‘development’ but saw the devaluing of developing states currencies and a lower standard of living.

How did “The Washington Consensus” affect trade?

One of the prerequisites of SALs was for periphery states to embrace free trade thus opening their economy to the world, SAPs would mean that their economy was suddenly transformed into one like their western counterparts. This in turn made recipient states reliant on Western trade in order to stay afloat. Periphery states that received SALs had to take on SAPs such as reducing their tariffs to 10-20% which allowed other states to export goods to them at very low rates. This is while developed states such as the United States (US) kept their tariffs high on agricultural products and continued to subsidies their agriculture sector.

Through these means developed states have made periphery states dependent on agricultural imports which are cheaper than produce grown in those less developed states due to western agricultural subsidies. This has lead to the top ten agricultural exporters being core states, the majority of which are Western. This partnered with other SAPs such as the introduction of foreign direct investment (FDI), privatisation and deregulation allows for periphery states domestic economies to be taken over by core states.

What affects of “The Washington Consensus” can we see today?

Since SAPs brought their recipient periphery states into the free market dependency has only grown, both in terms of food and aid. Since the implementation of SALs the states that inhabit the core, semi-periphery and periphery have changed, as they do depending on power and economic influence. One of these changes has been China’s move to the core. Since then China has gained a massive amount of influence in Africa and now holds a monopoly on most of the African Union’s (AU) economy. This level of economic control has given China, now a core state, a huge amount of fiscal power over the AU. The AU now have no choice but to back China on the international stage in exchange for their continued ‘support’.

In exchange for this ‘support’ China not only has a fiscal monopoly but exploits AU states open economies. Through FDI China has opened mines in a variety of African states, for example Zambia. FDI from China has been shown to have a negative effect on the standard of living on Zambians as well as the erosion of trading regulations and working conditions. This is further highlighted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where China have purchased both the rights to copper and cobalt mining. Cobalt being a highly sought after material, as it is used in virtually all rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, China takes it from the DRC at a very low price, this shows the amount of unequal exchange that can be brought about by a lack of FDI regulation, via The Washington Consensus, as the cobalt market “will hold an aggregate global market value of $12.93 billion between 2019 and 2025”. Despite being the top global producer of cobalt the DRC only sees roughly 15 per cent of the revenue as their revenue from cobalt is $1.9 billion, the rest goes to technological manufacturers after being distributed by China, a clear example of unfair exchange.

A similar situation can be seen in Haiti, but not so blatantly. Haiti has a very high rate of food dependency with a huge 36.12 per cent of their imports being food, agriculture or animal products, and the US being their single biggest importer. Conversely, a huge 83 per cent of Haiti’s exports go to the US, 89 per cent of which are textiles.

Before SAPs Haiti was virtually self sufficient when it came to rice, this was until they were encouraged to liberalize their economy by The Washington Consensus. By 2010 Haiti was importing 80 per cent of their rice, which has had an overwhelmingly negative impact on rural Haitians. Because of this effect Haitians have been forced to produce textiles, in order to survive in their own states now free market economy, which are in demand in core states like the US.

Both the examples of the AU, and Haiti, on a smaller level show how states that have received SALs in accordance with The Washington Consensus have been pushed to the periphery due to mounting economic pressure form core states.

Despite Bill Clinton, former US President and later the United Nations’ (UN) Envoy to Haiti, saying that the US supply of rice to Haiti was “a mistake”  the US has continued its export of the product. In 2015 Haiti is receiving its largest imports of rice from the US, supplying 90 per cent of their rice. This costs Haiti almost two thirds of the aid sent to them by the US, and once all other imports from the US are taken into account the US has made a profit out of this periphery state, this exploitation has stemmed entirely from the SAPs imposed by The Washington Consensus causing an unfair exchange.

What does it all mean?

Without major international trade reform such as debt forgiveness regarding the $15 billion structural adjustment lending in sub-Saharan Africa alone, and help from core states, self sufficiently for the periphery states will not be achievable.

What little action has been taken since the Doha 2001 round table we have seen as well as international inaction towards the US and China’s FDI in Haiti the AU, respectively can be expected to continue as the demand for fast fashion and minerals such as cobalt grows.

Written by Josh Trood

UCU Strikes, we have been here before- but what next?

On Monday 24th February, it happened, again. The UCU launched fourteen days of strike action. Last term from Monday 25th November- Wednesday 4th December, round one of strike action commenced, with a vote held by the Students Union concluding ‘70% of eligible voters, voted to support UCU’s strike action and its stance in its entirety’. This forms a consensus that the student body is on the side of the UCU, which means our anger is turned to Paul Layzell and the college.

Striking lecturers do not enjoy, I assume, missing work to stand outside in the cold and rain, moping about with no students to pester, losing their income- so what provokes this action? The strikes are protesting on issues regarding contributors to pension schemes, with the UCU calling for the university (employer) and not the lecturers (employees), to cover the deficit. The second disagreement is on pay and working conditions, the UCU believes pay has dropped for academic staff by 17% in real wages since 2009, based on findings from the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA). The working conditions element of the dispute focus on gender and BAME pay gap, increased casualisation of staff contracts and increased workloads. These are the exact same reasons lecturers walked out in November 2019, according to the UCU ‘the employers only agreed to properly discuss casualisation, workload and inequality arising from our decision to strike in November 2019. While their offer does represent progress, it is not enough, and they have now said their latest proposal is final – just as they did last May!’

Now, for a university which boasts of its history entrenched in women’s liberation, proclaiming through a very expensive four floor library, that Emily Wilding Davison herself attended the college (for one term until she could no longer afford the fees), the issues surrounding pay disparity is surely a huge embarrassment for this institution. Paul Layzell, what is going on? Well, we all know of Paul’s comments made back in November 2017 in a staff meeting, stating women have a  “natural tendency to not have a go and put themselves in for promotion”. Furthermore, his comments came after figures released by Times Higher Education (THE) revealed the university has a 10% gender pay gap for full-time professors,  making it the seventh worst in the country.

This questions the integrity of Mr Layzell to effectively address the strike action, how can we trust Layzell to support the rights of women and BAME academics if he can make these claims? As stated by the UCU, the universities had deemed their latest proposal their final after the November batch of strikes, however on the 5th March the UCU realised their latest update stating ‘It’s clear that most employers have changed their position since our last dispute over USS. They are now willing to agree with us on a range of issues. The two reports of the Joint Expert Panel have vindicated our position.’ This is a glimmer of hope for students and striking staff,  with more talks taking place on the 6th March, could this be the last we see of the strikes?

As we prepare for the last five days of strikes, the progress of negotiations are imperative to how the next academic year will look. As a third year student who lost most of first year and now third year to strikes, based on the findings by the UCU and many conversations with striking lecturers, there is no short term fix. If the college and the UCU do not reach agreement by the end of this strike period, there can certainly be expectations that next academic year will look the same. The issues raised by lecturers and the UCU are not to be overlooked, and shake to the core the integrity of many high ranking universities, including Royal Holloway. What message is a university giving to its students if it cannot facilitate an environment of equality within its staff? How am I expected to trust the university on matters such as sexual harassment and discrimination if the university does not address pay disparity between its staff, and the structural, institutionalized, inequality at the centre of this disparity? Paul Layzell, it is time for change; and no matter the individual stances on strike action, the calls for change being made by the UCU are valid, and do deserve student support. Students and lecturers make this institution what it is, and we can shape it to how we see fit.

Everyone hopes there is an end to this strike action, but if conditions are not met, there must be student outcry against the injustices faced by academics at this institution, and the lack of reparations by the university to students missing an invaluable, expensive, education.

Written by Sarah Tennent

Sources:

https://www.su.rhul.ac.uk/news/article/surhul/UCU-Referendum-Result/https:/

/www.ucu.org.uk/media/10714/Pre-strike-negotiators-briefing-for-members–four-fights-11-Feb-20/pdf/ucu_fourfights_pre-strike-briefing_11feb20-.pdf

https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/10667/Negotiations-update-more-USS-talks-on-Friday

Forgotten Ideas: Emma Goldman on Anarchism, Gender, and Prison

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By Peter Marshall

“Anarchism, then, really stands for the liberation of the human mind from the domination of religion; the liberation of the human body from the domination of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government. Anarchism stands for a social order based on the free grouping of individuals for the purpose of producing real social wealth; an order that will guarantee to every life, according to individual desires, tastes, and inclination” (p. 35)

Content Warning: Minor reference to sexual abuse and harassment

“My goodness,” I am sure you thought to yourself, “I did enjoy that article about Robert Owen but I wonder if there will be anymore?” How kind of you to ask, let us celebrate because there is another one!  For those reading who do not know, I hope to introduce you to political thinkers who you are most likely not going to come across on your syllabus, and hopefully broaden your thought. I openly encourage others to do the same. This time I shall be exploring the 19th/20th century anarchist thinker Emma Goldman. I shall do this by briefly summarising her life before splitting her work into three sections. The first is anarchism, the second gender, and finally prison. I trust my reader’s ability to critique the work for themselves. Continue reading “Forgotten Ideas: Emma Goldman on Anarchism, Gender, and Prison”

What We’re Reading: ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Feminist BookThroughout this short and insightful book there is one powerful and potent message: Gender does matter, no matter the sex you are born with, the money you have, or where you come from.

 

The main purpose of this book is to act as a rallying cry, a point of call to use when confronted by someone who is yet to accept that gender is still a major issue in societies across the globe. Whilst addressing the issues that women, particularly those in countries that are too often neglected by other feminist writers, Adichie focuses on an issue which owing to the rise of ‘white European feminism’ is negated: that because of the roles forced onto children from birth, men to are also disadvantaged, because their “humanity is stifled”. Many feminists may take issue with this, arguing that a focus on men’s issues distracts away from the central issues of gender, that is: the inexcusably high percentages of sexual harassment that women face compared to men, the lack of opportunities we are offered because we are taught from birth that we can have ambition, “but not too much”; we “can aim to be successful but not too successful otherwise” we “will threaten the men” and the roles we are expected to take. Continue reading “What We’re Reading: ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie”

The Paradise Papers: Central to Society

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By Sarah Jasem

The Paradise Papers are 13.4 million leaked documents spanning the period between 1950 to 2016, which reveal the extent to which the assets of corporations like Facebook, and wealthy public figures from the Queen to Harvey Weinstein, are held offshore where they can be unregulated and untaxed. Almost 7 million of these documents are related to a law firm called ‘Appleby’, filled with lawyers who specialise in registering trusts and companies in overseas jurisdictions with little to no tax rates such as the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda and Mauritius. The leaks were passed on from German Newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, ICIJ. Similarly, in 2016, the same newspaper leaked 11 million documents to the ICIJ where the tax avoidance was orchestrated not be Appleby but by Mossack Fonseca, a law firm in Panama, hence the 2016 leak being marked, ‘The Panama Papers’. Continue reading “The Paradise Papers: Central to Society”

The New Right: Fictitious Yesterdays and Fabricated Tomorrows

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By Ovais Malik

In contemporary political discourse, doctrine and reality tend to be radically divorced from each other. We often hear from the New Right about the alleged glories of private enterprise; the wonders of the “free market”; and the incompetence of government intervention. When it comes to reality, however, sinister hypocrisies pervade this rhetoric. Continue reading “The New Right: Fictitious Yesterdays and Fabricated Tomorrows”

Comparing ‘populist’ revolutions: Ukraine and Egypt

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By Vladimir Ivlev

“The ultimate difference between a truly radical emancipatory politics and populist politics is that the former is active, it imposes and enforces its vision, while populism is fundamentally re-active, the result of a reaction to a disturbing intruder.” – Slavoj Žižek, “First As Tragedy, Then As Farce” (2008)

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the overreaching Soviet social and political structure was replaced with swift liberalization of the markets and a bright promise of democracy. Yet, ironically, the Soviet structures of corruption and authoritarianism remained, giving the elite free reign over the new national civil and economic playgrounds. Two countries, Ukraine and Egypt, both having history in socialist policy, revolted against corruption at more or less concurrently. Continue reading “Comparing ‘populist’ revolutions: Ukraine and Egypt”

NGOs and Their Role in Human Security

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By Gavin Davies

Humanitarian efforts have saved countless lives, but have been accused of making bad situations worse. The impact of this duality has grown after the end of the Cold War, when the USSR and the US removed support from their respective spheres of influence and left a power vacuum. With no interest or support coming from other states, individuals organized means for assistance much like that which they had done for local charities. The internationalization of charity work spread, and now there are nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) for every need and occasion for relief and development all over the globe (Michael, 2002, p. 4). But as NGOs proliferate, what effects does this have on the world? Continue reading “NGOs and Their Role in Human Security”