Gary Younge summed up the mood of the weekend’s thousands strong Stand Up To Racism international (online) conference: Mobilising The anti racist majority – How do we defeat Johnson’s Racist offensive, when he said in the closing speech of the conference:
“I’ve never seen a government quite as brazen as this one when it comes to racism, quite as open. The rise in attacks, Islamophobia, a litany of statistics show that things are really really bad… but on the other hand I’ve never seen the potential for so much anti racism as we are seeing now.
“If we go back to last June there were two competing viruses: the viral video of George Floyd being killed that spread like bushfire around the world, and mobilised hundreds of thousands of people, and the virus of covid that disproportionately affected Black and Asian people, and poor people around the world… we saw racism is a matter of life and death… but we also saw a latent community rise up and take to the streets all around the world and say we have had enough – that community was a multiracial community led by the young…
“What I love about the work of Stand Up To Racism is that if we are talking about defeating Boris Johnson, you have to form a coalition… Black people can’t do it on their own, Asian people can’t do it on their own, Muslims can’t do it on their own, the trade unionists can’t do it on their own. But we can do it together. The potential for anti racism in this country is far more potent than the potential for racism.”
The conference was a celebration of that anti racist spirit, that broad coalition of forces that we must unite in the movement into active and connected anti racist activity to take on the racist offensive.
Stand Up To Racism is proud to announce that 4,000 joined us live across streaming platforms for the final plenary on Sunday evening, with over 2,000 who joined Saturday’s plenary. Since, many more are continuing to still watch the videos of the plenaries online and we hope people will continue to share them and spread the anti racist message. Videos of the panels from all 13 workshops will be added to this report and shared on our social media platforms too.
With 15 sessions including 13 workshops across the two days, Saturday’s International plenary (watch and share HERE) and Sunday’s closing plenary (watch and share HERE), the conference showcased an incredible line up of speakers from across the anti racist movement here and internationally.
Others at the closing plenary included newly elected Unite General secretary Sharon Graham, who stressed the importance of engaging black workers and organising at the level of the workplace, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP, Dawn Butler MP, Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP as well as singer and activist Jermain Jackman, 2014 winner of The Voice, who had also joined sessions on decolonising and spoken alongside rapper Lowkey in the Love Music Hate Racism workshop.
Both days saw 2pm workshop sessions attended by around 500 people each.
A packed session of over 100 on No Hostile Environment – uniting against the Nationality & Borders bill was a particularly key session. It brought together a broad spread of panel speakers from organisations and campaigns central to opposition to attacks on refugees and migrants. This included Mohammad Asif, Afghan Human Rights Foundation & leading activist in Pollokshields mass action that stopped dawn raid, Rosa Crawford, TUC Policy Officer for immigration and borders, Enver Solomon, Refugee Council Chief Executive, Clare Moseley, Care4Calais, Pinar Aksu, human rights campaigner & leading activist in Pollokshields mass action, Kenan, ex Penally refugee, Zita Holbourne, PCS National Vice President & Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC).
All stressed the importance of working together to oppose the bill, and many pointed to the victory in Pollokshields against a dawn raid in May, delivered by mass united action, as an example of how the anti racist movement can take on this racist attack and build solidarity with refugees and migrants, as well as challenge the argument that migrants or refugees are to blame.
The session pointed towards actions this week, from a national day of action this Wednesday 20 October with local SUTR groups encouraged to hold protests and a London demonstration at parliament, to the demonstration this Saturday 23 October called by the Amnesty International UK team, and supported by a whole host of organisations including SUTR.
Workshops were joined by a fantastic spread of speakers including All Black Lives UK, journalist Paul Mason, Sukhdev Reel who is still fighting for Justice for her son Ricky who died after a racist attack and recent survivors of racist attacks Dr Peng Wang and Yuanzhao Zhang.
Throughout the weekend, the workshops reflected a serious level of debate and discussion that flowed out of the immense level of activity that anti racists have been engaged in, in their local SUTR groups and wider, since the explosion of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The scale of anti racist work covered showed both the intensity of the challenge we face from a multifaceted racist onslaught from the government, and the vibrancy of anti racist campaigning taking place. This was a common theme that ran through the sessions, from the trade union session on Fighting for anti racist workplaces, to sessions on racist policing and opposing the the policing bill and defending GRT communities; from sessions on football and the powerful #TakeTheKnee actions by players and the way this has reshaped the debate in society around racism, and Love Music Hate Racism, to sessions debating how we can take on the far right and the threat of fascism; from sessions on challenging Islamophobia to opposing sinophobia and racism towards Asian communities; from sessions on migration and climate justice to Black Lives Matter and decolonising the fight for reparations.
Videos of the panel discussions from all these sessions will be available here to watch, learn from and share shortly.
The full list of speakers taking part can be seen HERE
Outcomes and upcoming focuses from the conference include:
19 March 2022 will see events and actions around the world for UN Anti-Racism day. To help build actions in Britain, please join & share the facebook event posted in chat
Our campaigning work is only possible because of your support. Please consider donating by clicking the ‘Join or Donate’ tab on our website
Wednesday 20 October is the National day of action: Oppose the Nationality and Borders Bill: No to hostile environment – details of this will be posted in chat
Saturday 23 October 12 noon: Defend the right to asylum’ protest called by Amnesty UK Europe – details of this will be posted in chat
November is Islamophobia awareness month. SUTR will be holding events on Islamophobia and supporting initiatives led by Muslim groups – find out more about #IAM20 on the MEND website
Over 5,6 and 7 Nov events will be taking place around the COP summit
Including 6 Nov – the anti racist bloc at the Glasgow demonstration
7 November national online meeting as an official event at the COP26 People’s Summit
– keep an eye on twitter.com/antiracismday for details
19 October –Ricky Reel: Time for Justice event on anniversary of Ricky Reel’s Murder – details of this will be posted in chat
Show Racism the Red Card’s annual Wear Red Day will be taking place on 22nd October 2021. Details at: theredcard.org/
In January we will organise a national event marking Holocaust Memorial Day, to unite against antisemitism & fascism & say loudly & clearly Never Again.
To find your local Stand Up To Racism group, visit standuptoracism.org.uk and check the list on the left of the page
Speakers at the conference included: • Diane Abbott MP • Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP • Anas Sarwar MSP, Scottish Labour Leader • Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP • Dawn Butler MP • Lowkey • Gary Younge • Sharon Graham, Unite General Secretary • Kevin Courtney, NEU Joint General Secretary • Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary • Sarah Woolley, BFAWU General Secretary • Mick Whelan, Aslef General Secretary • Enver Solomon, Refugee Council Chief Executive • Marwan Muhammad, Former Director of Collective Against Islamophobia, France • Martvs Chagas, former Minister for Racial Equality, Brazil • Mohammad Asif, Afghan Human Rights Foundation Director • Petros Constantinou, KEERFA Greece United Movement Against Racism & Fascism • Peter Herbert, Society of Black Lawyers Chair • Zita Holbourne, BARAC UK Founder & Co-Chair • Steve Hedley, RMT Senior Assistant General Secretary • Wilf Sullivan, TUC Race Equality Officer • Margaret Greer, Unison • Victoria Showunmi, UCU • Amit Malde, FBU • Ged Grebby Show Racism The Red Card • David Rosenberg Jewish Socialists’ Group • Patrick Vernon, Windrush campaigner • Lindsey German, Stop the War Coalition • Kate Hudson CND + many more