Today is officially Martin Luther King Day, a time to commemorate the contribution of Dr King to the struggle against racism. I could not think of a better day to launch my blog which I will use to update people on what I am up to as an elected member of the NUS National Executive and a proud activist in the NUS Black Students’ Campaign.
I wanted to use my first post to highlight the realities of racism in Britain today as the past few weeks have been momentous for the Black community and all those opposed to racism. Two of the racist thugs who murdered young Black student Stephen Lawrence were finally brought to some justice after 18 long years. The struggle of the Lawrence family to secure this bittersweet achievement is a timely reminder of the threat of racism in today’s society. When hatred and bigotry go unchallenged, the ultimate conclusion ends with a knife or a bullet.
If we look to the United States (as Gary Younge writes), where nearly 1 in 10 of young Black men are actually in prison and more Black men face jail than were enslaved in 1850, we can see one of the most advanced forms of racism. I study sociology and cannot help but think of the title of a book I remember reading: The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison. This is too true, especially if you are poor and Black.
In the UK, over half of all young Black people are unemployed, contributing significantly to the 1.2 million young people who are unemployed. In the UK we are witnessing a rising tide of racism, whether it’s deaths in custody, the English Defence League rampaging on the streets terrorising Muslims or the fact that the chance of being stopped and searched if you are Black has doubled in the 10 years since the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. Racism pervades every aspect of society. Education cuts are already excluding Black people and the most oppressed in society from education, and according to a poll by The Voice the significant majority of Black communities feel that racism is rising.
Martin Luther King was a leading figure in the struggle for civil rights, a struggle that continues to this very day. Racism is an issue that we have to put back on the political agenda as we cannot allow any other lives to be lost to it. Dr. King famously said that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and those words that inspired me, will continue to inspire others for generations to come.
Watch Martin Luther King’s iconic “I have a dream…” speech in full: