IRR News (22 April – 6 May 2020)

IRR News (22 April – 6 May 2020)

Fortnightly Bulletin

Written by: IRR News Team

Dear IRR News subscriber,

As mutual-aid groups continue to work tirelessly across the country to meet urgent needs neglected or engendered by the state, we publish an Editor’s collection of Race & Class articles published over the last thirty years on the black tradition of self-help and mutual aid, free to download from tomorrow. Ranging from a tribute to Brother Herman Edwards, who set up Harambee to prevent the incarceration of young black youth in 1969, to the Latin American cleaners fighting for their rights in 2016, the collection reveals that although the impact of oppressive policing, state neglect and poverty wages may be starker during the pandemic, racialised communities have been living this reality for decades, and have often, by necessity, responded with collective resistance.

This week, the IRR’s research on the Origins postcode classification system pioneered by the Webber/Phillips consultancy and utilised by Public Health England in its rapid review into Covid-19 disparities led to a news story in the Guardian. The IRR believes that the Origins classification system, marketed to police forces and others for a specific purpose, is not neutral, and that the participation in the PHE inquiry of Trevor Phillips, who tends to focus on issues of ‘cultural deficit’ and argues that aspects of ‘minority disadvantage’ are ‘self-inflicted’, is sending out all the wrong signals.

The argument that BAME communities are somehow responsible for their own marginalisation for refusing to integrate plays well on the far Right. In our calendar of racism and resistance, we’ve been documenting the ways that the far Right has been stigmatising BAME communities during Covid19. The kind of fake images circulated online by Tommy Robinson and Britain First to show Muslims apparently attending a ‘secret mosque’ in inner Birmingham during lockdown are now being directed against the Roma, to whip up prejudice against the Roma community in Glasgow’s Govanhill.

Elsewhere on IRR News, an educational review carried out as a public online consultation by the UK regulatory body for exams and qualifications is critiqued by Black Learning Achievement and Mental Health UK (BLAM), which finds that ‘the whole consultation process is flawed’. And John Grayson broadens his investigation into the housing of asylum seekers beyond English borders, looking at forcible movement of people out of flats to hotels in Glasgow, forced sharing of accommodation including bedrooms in direct provision hostels in Ireland, and the situation for asylum seekers in Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece, Spain, Sweden and Portugal.

Finally, on Tuesday 12 May, 19:00–20:30 CEST (18.00-19.30 BST), the IRR is participating in a webinar event to discuss issues of Covid-19 and launch a new Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung publication on the Racist Right’s approach to climate change. Liz Fekete will join author Hilary Moore and panellists from the Institute for Black People in Germany and the Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project in the US. Register for the event here.

IRR News team

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.