Socialist Worker

Racism is not black against white

Issue No. 1745

What we think

Racism is not black against white

"I'M NOT racist, but..." Everyone has heard those four words. They are usually followed by a tirade of racist myths. That's what the Tories and the right wing press are spewing out today. They claim opponents of racism are creating conflict by demanding politicians condemn it.

That is like blaming the doctor for the disease. The press and politicians promised to respect the findings of the Macpherson inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Now many dismiss criticism of police racism as "political correctness gone mad". The media say racism is about Asians attacking whites. An attack on a white man in Oldham is assumed to be evidence of this.

But white people are not stopped and searched by the police for no other reason than the colour of their skin. White people are not denied jobs simply because they are white. White people do not face intimidatory marches demanding they are all "sent back".

Black people suffer all of this and are still at the bottom of the pile in housing. Black people face discrimination from the police and the courts. This is racism. This is systematic discrimination. Racism is a product of the bosses' attempt at divide and rule. They laugh all the way to the bank if white workers are conned into blaming black workers for the problems we all share.

The extreme end of that racism is violent attacks. A tiny minority of whites, often encouraged by organised racists and Nazis, can target black people. The united response of black and white people against such attacks has played a key role in undermining racism.

But official scapegoating and despair in working class areas mean they continue. Continuing racism can lead some black people to wrongly believe that all whites are racist. In very rare circumstances that can mean blacks lashing out at whites. But that is the product of the racism that permeates the most powerful institutions in society, not the cause of it.

The powers that be then excuse themselves and claim that the rest of us just cannot get along. Everyone on the receiving end of big business and their friends in parliament should send a clear answer to that.

We should go further than fine words. We should unite-black, white, asylum seekers and those who are not-against the racism that comes from the top, and against the rich elite whose interests it defends.


THE MOVEMENT against the multinationals can celebrate a huge victory after the humiliation of the giant drug firms in the South African courts last week. The growing mood across the globe for people to come before profits forced some of the most ruthless firms to back off from their attempt to defend patents which stop people with AIDS in South Africa affording treatment.

The 39 companies lost, even though they had their money, expensive lawyers and political influence. Our side won. As the Financial Times reported, "South Africa is to the global pharmaceutical industry what Vietnam was to the US military. Nothing will be quite the same again." Of course this is not the final battle. The companies will come back to defend their profits. But the clear message is that protest can humble even the mightiest.


Mayor's May Day shame

KEN LIVINGSTONE, the mayor of London, has started an advertising campaign to try to stop people attending the May Day demonstrations in central London next Tuesday. In the adverts he urges "genuine peaceful demonstrators not to go on potentially violent May Day protests".

Ken Livingstone was mauled by the press last year when he said, "Every year the international financial system kills more people than World War Two." Now he has backed down and become part of the campaign by the media and the police to criminalise all those who take part in the May Day protests. They want to whip up an atmosphere of fear and intimidation that stops people protesting against the inequalities and exploitation of the world.

It is right to protest against capitalism. Multinationals, bankers and their financial institutions kill 19,000 children every day through their insistence on debt repayments from poor countries.

Some 80,000 workers, students and environmentalists protested in Quebec City last weekend against the global free market. Like them, we must not let politicians and the media silence our opposition.$ Join the protests

Saturday 28 April

  • NEWCASTLE: March and rally, assemble 11am, Times Square

Tuesday 1 May

  • GLASGOW: May Day carnival, assemble 1pm, Buchanan Street
  • MANCHESTER: Protest at Balfour Beatty, assemble 4pm, Piccadilly Gardens
  • LEEDS: Anti-capitalist tour, assemble 12.30pm, WH Smith, city centre
  • BIRMINGHAM: Assemble 12.30pm, Virgin Megastore, Corporation Street

LONDON:

  • Protest outside World Bank offices: 1-3 pm, corner of Pall Mall and Haymarket
  • May Day march: Assemble 12 noon, Highbury Fields. Backed by South East Region TUC, UNISON, TGWU and Greater London Pensioners' Association
  • Solidarity with Hackney council workers' strike: Assemble 12 noon, Hackney Downs
  • Come together: 4pm, Oxford Circus. See www.mayday monopoly.net for more protest details

Saturday 5 May

  • EDINBURGH: Assemble 11.30am, Market Street. Speakers include Tony Benn MP, Tommy Sheridan MSP and Bill Speirs (STUC)
  • MIDDLESBROUGH: Assemble 10.15am, The Bottle
  • PLYMOUTH: Assemble 12 noon, shopping centre

Monday 7 May

  • LIVERPOOL: Assemble 11am, Central Park, Wallasey. Speakers include Dave Prentis (UNISON), Alan Simpson MP and Tony Woodley (TGWU)

Vietnam the American war Speaker: Jonathan Neale

Socialist Worker public meetings MARGATE: Friday 27 April, 8pm, St John's Business Centre, Victoria Road BRIGHTON: Saturday 28 April, 6pm, Cinematique, Brighton Media Centre, Middle Street BIRMINGHAM: Sunday 29 April, 7pm, Custard Factory, Gibb Street, Digbeth MANCHESTER: Thursday 10 May, 7.30pm, Mechanics Institute, Princess Street NORWICH: Monday 14 May, 7pm, Lecture Theatre One, Elizabeth Fry Building, UEA


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Article information

News
Sat 28 Apr 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1745
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