Austerity is hitting Black people hardest and racism is on the rise

Notes from the front 25-08-16

Austerity is hitting Black people hardest and racism is on the rise

A new report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission ‘Healing A Divided Britain’ reveals new evidence indicating continuing high levels of racism and oppression of Black people across widespread aspects of life, from work and education to housing and treatment within the criminal justice system.

According to the report 82 per cent of all hate crime committed in Britain is motivated by race and racist attacks have risen sharply over the past couple of months in the wake of the EU referendum campaign. Given the Brexit vote and the continuing campaigns against migrants and freedom of movement of people this situation is not improving.

The brunt of the government’s austerity offensive are being disproportionately experienced by Black communities.

The report indicates that longstanding institutional racism remains firmly in place. As a result Black workers with degrees earn 23.1 per cent less on average than white workers with a degree. Over the past five years long term unemployment has doubled for young ethnic minorities whilst for white people it has fallen slightly during this same period. Ethnic minorities are twice as likely to live in poverty compared to white people.

In the realm of education Black Caribbean and Mixed White/Black Caribbean children have rates of permanent exclusion which are three times that of the pupil population as a whole. On the question of health and care the report found Black African women were seven times more likely to be detained under mental health legislation in hospitals in England and Wales than white British women.

This damming report exposes enormous levels of racism and discrimination facing Black people in Britain today. The situation is further deteriorating, encouraged by the racist agenda set by the tabloid media, spurred on by the Tories and UKIP. Also right wing currents within Labour are wrong to call for concessions on issues of race, immigration and free movement of people.

All real evidence, such as in this Equality and Human Rights Commission report, confirms that it is Britain’s non-white population that is clearly oppressed because of race. The ridiculous right wing myth, that there is a ‘white working class’ suffering oppression because of race, is just racist nonsense.

Anti-foreigner hostility is the ideology promoted to stoke the false claims that low wages and job insecurity are due to immigrants. Capital is clearly responsible, and it has identified and points out the scapegoats it hopes will instead get the blame.

Immigrants make huge net contributions to economic growth and public finances. It is immigrants and Black communities that receive the worst healthcare, education and housing, as indicated in this report. The myth that there is a ‘white working class’, which is not relatively privileged but instead is oppressed, turns reality on its head and encourages political reaction and undermines working class unity against capital’s attacks on people’s living standards.

Progressive people should read the report. It documents important aspects of the real racism that exists in society, which also helps counter the myths and bigotry promoted by the right wing.

Turkey invades Syria

Since the agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme and the Russian military engagement in Syria new alignments amongst states have begun to emerge in the Middle East. The failure of the July coup in Turkey has recently accelerated that process and on 22 August the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildrim announced that Turkey would accept Assad in power during any transition in Syria.

This latest shift reflects the Turkish government’s growing concern at the advances of the (Kurdish) YPG led forces in northern Syria, alongside the Turkish border. At the same time, ISIS actions inside Turkey are becoming a destabilising factor, most recently with the bombing in Gaziantip resulting in 54 deaths. In these circumstances, Assad appears a lesser enemy.

But even such a shift can be disruptive in the political context of the region. Hence the invasion of Syria by Turkish forces on 24 August to ensure pro-Turkish forces took over Jarablus from ISIS, rather than allow it to fall to YPG forces. This involved two hours of heavy bombing by Turkish jets, 20 tanks and 450 troops. The Turkish government has said that the aim is to create ‘a security zone free of “terror troops” and limiting the advances of the Kurdish militias’. The same source said that Turkey had 15,000 troops ready for further action in Syria.

This invasion has been supported by the US. It has been opposed by the Syrian government, and the Russian government said that the Turkish operation risks ‘further degeneration of the situation in the conflict zones’.

Unfortunately, the Edrogan government has not used its stronger position, post-coup, to resolve its domestic conflict, by restarting the peace process with the Kurds. Rather it has gone on the offensive against the Kurds, including pressing the US to limit Kurdish military action in Syria against ISIS. However as the shift in state relations unfolds, it is certain that it will be chaos that continues to dominate.