Racism must be opposed at every turn, and should have no place in our world. This message was broadcast wide and far at the recent Black Lives Matter demo that took place in Leicester last weekend, which saw around two hundred people took to the streets to march against racism at home as well as abroad.
The protest was organised as just one part of an effort to fight for justice and to oppose racism, with inspiration for the wave of protests currently sweeping the world coming from the latest racist police killings in the US.
In the present era of corporate democracy Jim Crow seems to be born again, this time disguising its brutal face beneath a rhetoric veil of justice. As George Orwell might have put it, war is peace, and freedom is prison; thus the massive incarceration bonanza of poor black folk in the US that masquerades in public as “The Drug War” in reality stands for institutionalized racism by another name. This is precisely why the global Black Lives Matter protests are so important.
Tragically, as Michelle Alexander points out in her disturbing book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010), overt racism is no longer considered polite in many circles, and so it has been replaced by “covert” racism, bolstered by a powerful legal system of social control.
“Rather than rely on race, we use our criminal justice system to label people of color ‘criminals’ and then engage in all the practices we supposedly left behind,” Alexander writes. In fact, she argues, the “widespread and mistaken belief that racial animus is necessary for the creation and maintenance of racialized systems of social control is the most important reason that we, as a nation, have remained in deep denial.”
Leicester is a city with a proud history of opposing racism, and following this outstanding first demo the next steps are crucial and must include continuing public action and the need for local organising committees to work out where the most effective place to next take Black Lives Matter is.
For further reading see: “Deaths in British police custody: no convicted officers since 1969”; “Police and Council Require Great Criticism, Not Credit” (Leicester Socialist Party, June 12, 2012); and Jack Gratus’s 1973 book The Great White Lie: Slavery, Emancipation and Changing Racial Attitudes.