Open letter from the Commissioner of Human Rights, Council Of Europe
Dec 2009 02

Europe today is not free from racism, xenophobia, islamophobia, anti-Gypsism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and other phobias directed against others.

Minorities are made targets of hate speech, violence and systematic discrimination, not least in the job market. Responsible politicians must take such negative tendencies more seriously. There is a need to analyse and address the very root causes of these human and political failures.

It appears that intolerance has spread during the economic crisis. During my travels, I have observed that extremist groups and parties have become more active and more threatening and have succeeded in recruiting supporters from amongst young, unemployed men.

Groups such as Roma, who are already marginalised, have been increasingly targeted and subjected to particularly violent attacks. The response from mainstream political parties and other majority representatives has often been meek and confused.

The impact of “globalisation” is seen as one explanation for these problems. Increased migration inside and between countries [read more..]

Global Citizen Watch: Racism
Sep 2009 02

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“The British National Party represents the collective national, environmental, political, racial, folkish, social, cultural, religious and economic interests of the indigenous Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and Norse folk communities of Britain and those we regard as closely related and ethnically assimilated or assimilable aboriginal members of the European race also resident in Britain.” (quoted from Section 2 (1) on membership of the BNP constitution).

The UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) recently issued county court proceedings against the British National Party (BNP) concerning its constitution and membership criteria. This is not (as the BNP argue) a politically motivated move simply because the BNP won two seats in the European Parliament at the last elections (in fact right-leaning parties gained significantly more seats in June in many European countries). The Commission believes that the party’s constitution is in violation of the Race Relations Act as it excludes ethnic groups and ironically the court case was adjourned because BNP leader Nick Griffin had to be in Brussels for his first week of work since being elected. The travesty is that this man was elected in the first place, after all the reason the EHRC is seeking an injunction against the BNP is that the party’s constitution only allows white British people to become members. Stories have also emerged recently of a BNP campaign inspiring violence after a Muslim councillor was kidnapped in an attempt to intimidate him into not standing for election. As we can see from the Guardian article, the party’s response (“kidnapping is not British”) was far from endearing…

[read more..]

Dizzee Rascal for Prime Minister ??!!
Jun 2009 18

“A black man, a purple man, a martian man can run the country….as long as he does right by the people.”

The interview below took place on the BBC’s Newsnight programme the week of President Obama’s election in November of 2008. Although this is only an abridged version of the interview, when you watch the full interview, it should be clear to all that Jeremy Paxman (the interviewer) is inferring that the topic of conversation was above Dizzee’s intellectual capabilities (even though I do like how he calls him “Mr Rascal”)! In truth I think Dizzee more than holds his own (even if he could have been better briefed – Aspecks is available for such tasks!), he clearly appreciates the positive effect the election had and understands the importance of having a President who is mixed race, who can be held up as a symbol of unity.

‘Mr Rascal’ also makes some interesting points regarding political parties and appears happy to admit his slight ignorance of their activities and importance to the political process. He also reveals his apathy towards politicians (not exactly a revelation but one that reflects a wider public sentiment), effectively stating that they are all fairly similar irrespective of party allegiance and that every now and again you might get a ‘genuine one’. However, he then points out that change occurs when everybody comes together to make a difference and that whilst a high-profile individual such as Obama can have a morale boosting effect, it is the people, the community who can affect real positive change in society.

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Based on a true story
Jun 2009 14

12buffet

Two friends meet up in a city to do a pre-planned activity.  Afterwards, they are hungry and hence decide to try the all-you-can eat restaurant that they come have come across on their way home (although it is empty at what should be a busy hour). It has been a good day thus far and so they are in a boisterous mood when they get into the restaurant and proceed to eat heartily.  After a few trips back and forth to the buffet table their hunger is satisfied.  They sat loafing for a few moments (as you do when you have eaten your fill) and debated whether to leave or to go for some dessert.  Both agreed that they had eaten enough and decided to leave. This is where it gets interesting: Before they could get up, they saw the manager point to their table from a distance and send a waiter over. [read more..]

Iz it coz I iz black?
Mar 2009 11

From my understanding, a social construct is a system of interpretations (and corresponding behaviour) that comes into being because people collectively choose to follow it for any number of reasons. Stereotypes based on identity are powerful social constructs and Sacha Baron Cohen plays on them with both the Ali G and  Borat characters. He satirically plays the ignorant hip hopper and foreign idiot stereotypes to a hilarious tee. Let’s think about it though…

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