Disruption at the Point of Consumption: Can BlackLivesMatter Change What Solidarity Looks Like? – Adam Elliott-Cooper, University of Oxford
In November 2014, BlackLivesMatter solidarity actions in London brought together UK families campaigning for justice following a death in police custody, and other activist groups resisting racist police violence. But rather than protesting outside government buildings, town halls or police sta- tions, these protests mimicked those across the Atlantic, targeting commercial shopping districts. First Bond Street and Oxford Circus were shut down by hundreds of protesters, then 76 arrests we made when Westfield, London’s biggest shopping centre, was shut down.
Broadly speaking, there are three explanations for these newer patterns of activism. First, com- mercial shopping districts are easily identifiable symbols of power, which young people are more familiar with than a police station or Parliament. Secondly, these forms of direct action are a break from the A-B protest which has been common for deaths in custody campaigns over the past ten years. Thirdly, the confluence of deindustrialisation, the dismantling of trade unions, and the atomi- sation and casualisation of work in the Global North, has made large-scale, protracted, and effec- tive strike action an impossible tactic. Activists are no longer able to disrupt capital at the point of production through strike action, but by shutting down spaces of commerce – this opens up possi- bilities for disruptions at points of consumption.
This paper argues that in order to make significant changes to the patterns and embedded nature of institutional racism prevalent in organisations, we need as academics in our teaching and learning in higher education to consider the approaches we adopt, specifically in teaching and learning methods and models, curriculum and staffing.
The paper makes two main contributions; 1) research drawn from student and staff experience on teaching and learning of race and racism 2) exploration of the experiential group work model adopted on an undergraduate Community Development and Youth Work course.
Research, including HEFCE Differences in degree outcomes: key findings (2014) and the Equality Challenge Unit Equality in HE: statistical report (2014), highlight a gap in the attainment of Black and racial minority students in HE, even when other factors such as socio-economic status, level of education, age at entry to HE and family educational background are taken into account. Research has also shown that Black and racial minority students are less satisfied with their student experience in HE compared to white students, NUS Race for Equality report (2011) and Runnymede Aiming Higher report (2015)
The paper is based on qualitative peer research at a London University, which was conducted in order; to identify issues in the teaching and learning environment faced by black and racial minority students which impact positively or negatively on their engagement, retention and attainment; to gain insight into experiences of teaching and learning around race and racism; to improve the overall student experience; to raise the attainment of black and racial minority students; and to enhance the quality, development and dissemination of innovation and good practice in learning and teaching around race and racism.
The paper will articulate the good practice model developed by the Community and Youth Work programme that seeks to equip students with both an experiential and theoretical understanding, enabling them to engage with professionals and organisations to address racism.
Policing, Black Londoners and the Racialised Geographies of Empire, 1900-1958 – Dr Margarita Aragon, Goldsmiths, University of London
While the ‘hyper-segregation’ of people of African descent, a historically definitive feature of racialised urban landscapes in the US (Massey and Denton 1993), has been notably absent in London and other British cities, black people on both sides of the Atlantic have been disproportionately subject, even among other racialised groups, to intensive policing practices and imprisonment. Harmit Athwal and Arun Kundnani (2011) of the Institute for Race Relations have commented that outrage at police violence and racism has often been coupled with complacency about Britain’s own history of racism and police violence. In particular, black people’s encounters with the police in Britain in the mid and early 20th century have been under-examined. Arguing that these encounters are best considered within a post-colonial framework attentive to ‘the inter-connections between the histories of “metropolis” and “peripheries”’ (Hall 1995), this paper will use a range of historical documents, including the records of the London Metropolitan Police and the Colonial Office, to begin to examine if and how the demands of policing colonial populations in the Caribbean and Africa, and increasing unrest among them, inflected racial conceptions of blackness and the policing of black communities in cities ‘at home’. It will furthermore reflect on what these earlier histories might tell us about the legacies of colonialism and slavery that continue to be lived in London today.
Deported Black Britons – Luke de Noronha, COMPAS, University of Oxford
Recent developments in immigration law mean that ‘we are all border guards now’, whether landlords, teachers, doctors, employers or colleagues. That is the border is reaching further into the centre of political, public and intimate life in contemporary Britain. In this context it is vital that we interrogate the relationship between racism, identity and immigration control. In my work, I focus specifically on deportation: on the deportation of long-settled ex-offenders from the UK to Jamaica. In this paper I will explore my initial findings from ethnographic fieldwork, and ask what they tell us about racism in contemporary Britain – in its relationship to increasingly draconian forms of immigration control.
The ‘foreign criminal’, as a contemporary ‘folk devil’, is a figure nourished by fears and fantasies about crime, poverty, race, foreignness, and immigration. However, the deported persons that I have met are much more familiar than the tabloids would have us believe. That is, the deported persons I have met are not dissimilar to informants in New Ethnicities or in any other study of urban British youth, and yet they are now in Jamaica, banished from the cities they spent much of their lives in, often grew up in.
In this paper, I will describe some of these deported persons and reflect on what their life stories tell us about racism in contemporary Britain.