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.
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In 1972 David Widgery wrote about the bitter intensity of love in capitalism
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Photos from The World Transformed festival in Liverpool, by David Walters
A short story by Kirsten Irving
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As man-made global warming gets closer to the tipping point, Andrew Simms finds reasons to be positive about averting catastrophic climate change
Greenwald speaks Trump, War on Terror, and citizen activism
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Report from the second Citizen’s Assembly of Podemos
Sol Trumbo Vila says the mandate from the Podemos Assembly is to go forwards in unity and with humility
Protect our public lands
Last summer Indigenous people travelled thousands of miles around the USA to tell their stories and build a movement. Julie Maldonado reports
From the frontlines
Red Pepper’s new race editor, Ashish Ghadiali, introduces a new space for black and minority progressive voices
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Jenny Nelson reports on a session at The World Transformed
In pictures: designing for change
Sana Iqbal, the designer behind the identity of The World Transformed festival and the accompanying cover of Red Pepper, talks about the importance of good design
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Guy Shrubsole gives some tips for finding out
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Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen
Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant
Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’
Utopia: Daring to dream
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A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank
News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions
Podemos: In the Name of the People
'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release
Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts
‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette
The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.
How to make your own media
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Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU
Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity
Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson
Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release
University should not be a debt factory
Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.
Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
Sheila Rowbotham reviews the memoirs of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett.
Power Games: A Political History
Malcolm Maclean reviews Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History
Book Review: Sex, Needs and Queer Culture: from liberation to the post-gay
Aiming to re-evaluate the radicalism and efficacy of queer counterculture and rebellion - April Park takes us through David Alderson's new work.
A book review every day until Christmas at Red Pepper
Red Pepper will be publishing a new book review each day until Christmas