Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

Dissident organising

New community group Black Dissidents is taking direct action for racial justice. Zak Suffee explains why

October 1, 2015
3 min read

Post-war Britain has seen a 60-year history of black resistance, from the African Caribbean protest marches of the 1950s and 60s to the Asian Youth Movements of the 1970s and the police monitoring projects of the 1980s. Now, once again, in our Tory-dominated decade, the ugly bile of racism is rising.

New protest groups have been emerging in response. I am a member of a new group, Black Dissidents, which is promoting community grassroots organising and direct action around racial justice. Our members are exclusively people of colour. Principles of decoloniality and intersectionality are integral to our organising. We are non-hierarchical and try to be critical of ourselves and our society.

Using a critical lens to examine capitalism, white supremacy and patriarchy, we have supported and organised actions that challenge borders, detention, state violence, domestic violence and transphobia, as well as solidarity actions with international liberation groups such as in Kobane. We are as much about direct action as we are about community engagement and self-education.

Actions we can talk about publicly include a ‘die in’ at parliament against drowning in the Med, graffiti on Yarl’s Wood’s walls, flyposting on the anniversary of Mark Duggan’s death, and a vigil and march to mark one year since Mike Brown’s death.

The treatment of people of colour by the police has hardly improved since the Macpherson report in February 1999. A disproportionate number of those who die in police custody are from black and minority ethnic communities.

Tackling white supremacy in everyday life, as well as homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, ableism and patriarchy is essential. Understanding these complex intersections as well as their impact on our everyday lives and our way of thinking is essential for radical social change.

Defeating white supremacy involves challenging racism, but also drawing links between housing, immigration, policing, imprisonment, security, health and welfare and the broader neoliberal onslaught on rights and freedoms. This relies, of course, on the assumption that those particular rights include people of colour to begin with. New and emerging decolonial discourses have challenged the roots of a rights-based analysis. When the human is thought of as a white, middle-class man, what space is available for people of colour? When feminism directs itself at middle-class white women, what space is there for black feminists? As Sojourner Truth famously asked, ‘Ain’t I a woman’?

Deconstructing the basis of race and understanding its history can be a tool in the debate. Rich political elites have held administrative and legislative power for centuries, built on the thriving city of London, historically linked to slavery and oppression, capitalism and patriarchy. Exploring this can widen the agitation; only a movement that includes everyone, and is for everyone, can triumph.

Race is not just an American problem. Groups such as Black Dissidents exist because political movements in the UK have neglected a racialised critique, which can be used as a lens to examine the intersections of capitalism and patriarchy. Whether through organising with other campaign groups, such as Movement for Justice, or taking the lead from the United Friends and Families Campaign in commemorating the fallen, Black Dissidents is stepping into to a space left void by traditional left groups.

Talking openly about white supremacy allows for the unpacking of the systemic abuse of state power felt not only by people of colour but by all oppressed groups within the wider framework of power in the UK.

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
Why not try our new pay as you feel subscription? You decide how much to pay.

#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny

Universal credit isn’t about saving money – it’s about disciplining unemployed people
The scheme has cost a fortune and done nothing but cause suffering. So why does it exist at all? Tom Walker digs into universal credit’s origins in Tory ideology

Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke

The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana

Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth

Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company

You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild

Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University

This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback

Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein

Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up

Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement

‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic

Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden

There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright

Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones

‘Your credit score is not sufficient to enter this location’: the risks of the ‘smart city’
Jathan Sadowski explains techno-political trends of exclusion and enforcement in our cities, and how to overcome this new type of digital oppression

Why I’m standing with pregnant women and resisting NHS passport checks
Dr Joanna Dobbin says the government is making migrant women afraid to seek healthcare, increasing their chances of complications or even death

‘Committees in Defence of the Referendum’: update from Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte on developments as the Catalan people resist the Spanish state's crackdown on their independence referendum

The rights and safety of LGBTQ+ people are not guaranteed – we must continue to fight for them
Kennedy Walker looks at the growth in hate attacks at a time when the Tory government is being propped up by homophobes

Naomi Klein: the Corbyn movement is part of a global phenomenon
What radical writer Naomi Klein said in her guest speech to Labour Party conference

Waiting for the future to begin: refugees’ everyday lives in Greece
Solidarity volunteer Karolina Partyga on what she has learned from refugees in Thessaloniki

Don’t let Uber take you for a ride
Uber is no friend of passengers or workers, writes Lewis Norton – the firm has put riders at risk and exploited its drivers

Acid Corbynism’s next steps: building a socialist dance culture
Matt Phull and Will Stronge share more thoughts about the postcapitalist potential of the Acid Corbynist project

Flooding the cradle of civilisation: A 12,000 year old town in Kurdistan battles for survival
It’s one of the oldest continually inhabited places on earth, but a new dam has put Hasankeyf under threat, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson

New model activism: Putting Labour in office and the people in power
Hilary Wainwright examines how the ‘new politics’ needs to be about both winning electoral power and building transformative power

What is ‘free movement plus’?
A new report proposes an approach that can push back against the tide of anti-immigrant sentiment. Luke Cooper explains

The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme

Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it

The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going