Socialist Worker

Anti-racism hits the right note

Music: The Love Music Hate Racism campaign is hitting new heights with the launch of its new CD

Issue No. 1873

'THERE IS a mood among millions of people who understand that racism is on the increase fuelled by the attacks on asylum seekers,' says Lee Billingham of the Anti Nazi League (ANL). 'The majority of people are against the Nazis in huge numbers but it's a question of galvanising them.'

This is just one of the reasons behind the ANL's Love Music Hate Racism gigs and its decision to release an album.

So far 60 Love Music Hate Racism events have been held in the past year, including the 30,000-strong Manchester Love Music Hate Racism carnival, featuring top acts like Ms Dynamite and Doves.

Lee explains, 'Music brings people together and it's the type of culture that most young people are into-and it's multicultural and multiracial. The emergence of British Asians in contemporary music is a good example. And hip-hop is now in the mainstream with pop music. This all runs counter to everything the BNP stands for.

'We also wanted to involve more mainstream artists like the Sugababes, Doves and Basement Jaxx to show their support for fighting racism and raise the profile of the CD. To have someone like Daniel Bedingfield, who has had big chart success, in helping launch the album is fantastic.

'We also wanted bands from areas the BNP have been targeting, bands like Tompaulin from Blackburn, Milltown Brothers from Burnley and MC Hardkaur from the West Midlands. So when the CD comes out there will be reports in the local press about how we are challenging the Nazis.'

Hil Street Soul

'Racism IS worryingly on the increase and unfortunately is an integral part of our society. I am totally against it and feel it should not be tolerated at any level.'

Nihal Arthanayake, Radio One DJ

'YOU CAN kind of take things for granted when you live in the centre of London but there's a lot of filth hiding under rocks waiting to come out at election time.

'The agenda of the press has shifted to the right and this whole talk about asylum seekers is a racist smokescreen which is generating genuine fear among ordinary people.

'In terrible situations like Bosnia or Nazi Germany ordinary people became merchants of death.

'It's not good enough to congratulate ourselves on how liberal we are or how many black friends we have.

'We have to do something to keep the people who would rather create divisions in check.'

Skitz, hip-hop producer

'MUSIC BRINGS the consciousness to the kids. Not enough people are doing something with their voices so the ANL has started to get everyone together on stage and into the melting pot.

'There's so many people in the music industry who are talking shit. A lot of people forget that there's something worth saying through their music.'

Estelle, London rapper/singer

'THINGS ARE going backwards when it comes to racism-especially with asylum seekers. People are getting real ignorant about it. And the crazy thing is that people think it's OK.

'These gigs are to raise awareness. You might not change someone's mind straight away but at least you can influence them.

'I grew up in the 80s when you had skinheads. I never saw much of it but I was aware of it through other family members and friends.

'Refugees would come over here for whatever reason and be really qualified but have to get some bottom job and get paid £3 an hour or something and having kids and not having time.'

Aaron Fletcher, The Bees

'MUSIC IS a truly multicultural art form that crosses boundaries and unites people highlighting the stupidity of racism in this way can only be a good thing.'

Olly Knight, Turin Brakes

'MUSIC LOVERS and racists occupy totally opposite emotional positions. In music there's no place for borders or walls. No person who truly loves music could support racism.'

The Love Music Hate Racism album is in the shops now and proceeds will go towards funding gigs in places like Burnley and towards other anti-racist activities. Launch party Tuesday 21 October, Jazz Cafe, London. Ticket hotline 08701 500 044

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Article information

Sat 18 Oct 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1873
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