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Race, they say, is an American obsession, not our own – though in 2017 we find ourselves staring down the barrel of a future marred by rising hate crime, a resurgent far right and a culture that on both sides of the Atlantic appears increasingly amenable to the use of racist lines. Brexit and Trump mark the coming-of-age of a political tradition, best described by Stuart Hall as an authoritarian populism, that has nurtured distrust of black communities for decades through its narratives of immigration, terror and crime. Now, emboldened by an age of violent economic inequality, that story, the same story that Jo Cox was preparing to raise in parliament when she was murdered last summer in Batley, bears its strange fruit.
Violent extremism, though, is only the sharp edge of a system of injustice that plays out in every aspect of black lives, from access to housing, education and employment, to the way our cities are policed, our borders controlled, even in the way our illnesses are diagnosed. That widespread distrust, played on by Thatcher and Blair, Cameron and May, has by now been institutionalised. It has been internalised, and sits at the heart of a political culture that has seen us appease the expansion of a surveillance state, indiscriminate stop and search, the use of torture, rendition and drone-strike executions. It has seen us surrender our civil liberties and turn a system of asylum at a time of mass displacement into a business of security and illegal deportation. It’s this chronic illiberalism, secured against a public anxiety, against blackness as an undigested fact of life in contemporary Britain that now threatens to define our 21st century and on a global scale.
For this reason, race, and the cause of anti-racist struggle in all its diversity, can no longer be thought of as someone else’s business. Black experience lives on the frontline of the injustices of today, of austerity and the security state, of climate change and global inequality.
If we are to turn things around, if we are, in fact, to transform the world and re-shape the 21st century along lines of social and environmental justice, then we need to put anti-racism back at the heart of our political culture.
That’s why I’m thrilled to be taking on this role of race editor and to be working with the support of Hilary Wainwright, Gary Younge and all the co-editors here at Red Pepper to do just this. We urgently need both new voices to speak of the black experience and the platforms that will allow our voices to speak to and as part of a wider community. I hope to be able to play a role in facilitating that space in the months ahead.
In part, I write this now as a call out to writers, whatever your level of experience, because the greater goal we have is to build this new section of the magazine out of an open and participatory process, one that nurtures community and provides a space where we can learn from one another.
This will include a monthly meeting that anyone can attend. Anyone can submit in advance a topic for discussion, an idea for a piece, or a presentation. Everyone at the meeting will have the opportunity to voice and debate their own sense of what is discussed as a political priority. That discussion will in turn inform what gets commissioned for the magazine. Through collective action, we believe, this can become a space that strengthens the black progressive voice, one that challenges racist populism at its root and brings a new generation of talent into view.
If you’re interested in being part of this, then please get in touch. We’ll be building up lists of key associates in the weeks ahead and if you’re into what we’re doing we’d love to hear from you. E-mail email@example.com
Thank you to everyone who donated to get this project off the ground. If you’d like to help this new section of the magazine thrive, please consider donating here and send us an email to confirm that your donation is for the Black Journalism Fund. The majority of people at Red Pepper magazine, including the co-editors, are involved on a voluntary basis, but through this fund we are prioritising remuneration for black and minority writers.
The Spanish state is seizing ballot papers and raiding meetings, write Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte – but it is being met with united resistance
The crunch executive meeting ahead of Labour conference agreed some welcome changes, writes Michael Calderbank, but there is still much further to go
Dipesh Pandya speaks to documentary film-maker Sanjay Kak, who for 30 years has been working outside the mainstream to tell a story rooted in the struggles of those excluded by India’s militarism and its narrative of neoliberal growth
Jeremy Gilbert on how radical Labour politics can be inspired by the utopianism of the counterculture
Disasters have unequal impacts – it's the poor and marginalised who suffer most. David Harvey writes on Hurricane Harvey
Survivors of the fire are still relying on thousands of community volunteers, writes Dan Renwick - but the failed council is plotting a comeback
What if it's not us who are sick, asks Rod Tweedy, but a system at odds with who we are as social beings?
The people could reach a democratic and non-violent solution if they were freed from US meddling, argues Boaventura de Sousa Santos
A decade after the start of the crash, economic power is in our hands – we must take it, writes Ann Pettifor
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
A very social economist
Hilary Wainwright says the ideas of Robin Murray, who died in June, offer a practical alternative to neoliberalism
Art the Arms Fair: making art not war
Amy Corcoran on organising artistic resistance to the weapons dealers’ London showcase
Beware the automated landlord
Tenants of the automated landlord are effectively paying two rents: one in money, the other in information for data harvesting, writes Desiree Fields
Black Journalism Fund – Open Editorial Meeting
3-5pm Saturday 23rd September at The World Transformed in Brighton
Immigration detention: How the government is breaking its own rules
Detention is being used to punish ex-prisoners all over again, writes Annahita Moradi
A better way to regenerate a community
Gilbert Jassey describes a pioneering project that is bringing migrants and local people together to repopulate a village in rural Spain
Fast food workers stand up for themselves and #McStrike – we’re loving it!
McDonald's workers are striking for the first time ever in Britain, reports Michael Calderbank
Two years of broken promises: how the UK has failed refugees
Stefan Schmid investigates the ways Syrian refugees have been treated since the media spotlight faded
West Papua’s silent genocide
The brutal occupation of West Papua is under-reported - but UK and US corporations are profiting from the violence, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
Activate, the new ‘Tory Momentum’, is 100% astroturf
The Conservatives’ effort at a grassroots youth movement is embarrassingly inept, writes Samantha Stevens
Peer-to-peer production and the partner state
Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Kostakis argue that we need to move to a commons-centric society – with a state fit for the digital age
Imagining a future free of oppression
Writer, artist and organiser Ama Josephine Budge says holding on to our imagination of tomorrow helps create a different understanding today
The ‘alt-right’ is an unstable coalition – with one thing holding it together
Mike Isaacson argues that efforts to define the alt-right are in danger of missing its central component: eugenics
Fighting for Peace: the battles that inspired generations of anti-war campaigners
Now the threat of nuclear war looms nearer again, we share the experience of eighty-year-old activist Ernest Rodker, whose work is displayed at The Imperial War Museum. With Jane Shallice and Jenny Nelson he discussed a recent history of the anti-war movement.
Put public purpose at the heart of government
Victoria Chick stresses the need to restore the public good to economic decision-making
Don’t let the world’s biggest arms fair turn 20
Eliza Egret talks to activists involved in almost two decades of protest against London’s DSEI arms show
The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services
With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas
Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world
A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle
Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune
Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali