Biden and Harris Can Radically Invigorate UK Anti-Racist Agenda

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Edited by: Viv Ahmun


The US presidential elections and the defeat of Donald J Trump was all about race. It was cited as second only to the economy by Americans when polled about their electoral concerns. Trump’s contemptuous response to the death of George Floyd and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, coupled with his quasi-fascist sympathies enraged and mobilised the Democrats, liberals and the young electorate of America amongst others.

On this bright, shiny post-Trump day as the fog of the electoral war lifts, what is discernible is a pathway to fresh and more measured discussions on how the Americans tackle their brand of systemic racism.

Any objective analysis of the US elections must conclude that the new reality has in no small part been informed by the global Black Lives Matter movement’s success in fundamentally shifting the dial on all discussions in relation to racism and antiracism.

Indications are that the election of Biden and Harris will complete the process of pressing the reset button in relation to the global antiracist debate. The implications for the entire world are both deep and profound.

The Biden Harris plan to ‘build back better’ by advancing racial equity across America’ provides an important framework for multibillion-dollar investment in public services and private sector entrepreneurship.

This indicates a clear policy focus by the Biden Harris team on tackling the historical inequity of American systemic racism which speaks directly to the post-Black Lives Matter agenda.

This perceived gargantuan shift in American policy - we will have to see to what extent all that is promised actually materialises - comes at a time when institutionalised and systemic racism in Britain has become ever more resurgent under the auspices of Boris Johnson, who in his efforts to curry favour with the now redundant Trump Administration, took to aping his hero’s racist political position in domestic British policy.

Proxies like Trevor Philips, the brightest, yet most dysfunctional of the bunch, (Does he really believe what he says), have rarely been out of the press as they dutifully expedite their bosses bidding. Their modus operandi is clear: They forcibly, tell white society; ‘stop feeling guilty about systemic racism, there’s nothing much to answer, and then gaslight Black people out of any confidence,-sadly with some success,- regarding the extent to which institutional racism plagues most areas of our life: ‘If racism is so bad why do we have so many Black doctors, Asian Cabinet members of parliament, whilst the real inequality is about poor white kids who do the worst at school’. Shtick!

The cat is unequivocally and permanently out of the bag. In short Boris Johnson and his Government have fundamentally rejected and refused to accept the realities of systemic institutional racism in Britain and now they do not even have Trump to keep them warm at night.

When all the smoke and cameras disappear and President Joe Biden walks into the White House accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris, there will be an unprecedented opportunity to further consolidate and advance the anti-racist agenda here in the United Kingdom. It will be interesting to see what Trevor and Kemi have to say about that. The defeat of Donald J Trump couldn't have come at a more critical time for Black British communities.

The election of Biden and Harris is seen by many as a huge political and ideological blow against recent attempts by the Tory party under Boris Johnson to erase the concept of institutionalised racism from the British political landscape. Going forward, the political and ideological challenge to Boris Johnson and his team will be immense, since the opportunities to restate the realities of institutional and systemic racism as political realities have now taken a considerable step forward in world politics.

You can hear the crunching of the Boris Johnson government’s gears as they slam into reverse on this issue. If I were one of the PM’s Black outriders and racism denial advisers, (Tony Sewell, and Trevor Phillips) who have all nailed their colours to the Johnson cross, I would be deeply concerned.

 

In cities across the United States, from Philadelphia, Atlanta and Detroit, the African American turnout in this election was unprecedented. Driving the change was young Black Americans, who in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, Jacob Blake and others determined that whatever their concerns about Joe Biden, Donald J Trump had to go: and they were not alone. Early US polling data clearly showed that young people, in general, turned out in precedent of numbers.

The defeat of Donald Trump provides a warning for British Conservatives and a real opportunity for Keir Starmer's Labour Party.

Britain, like America, is a growing multi-cultural democracy. Studies show that Black, Asian and other ethnic minorities will rise from 8% of the population, as recorded in the 2001 census, to 20% by 2051.

There is a real crisis here in the United Kingdom with the devastating impact of Covid-19 on our communities, resulting from that pre-existing inequality as shown by the Lammy report, and others (increases in unemployment and poverty throughout our communities, widening race economic and health inequalities as recorded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission etc.)

They say that history repeats itself in 30-40 year cycles and next year sees the 40th anniversary of the 1981 Brixton uprisings that erupted in response to the use of the dreaded SUS law. Today, Stop and Search remains a critical fault line in relations between British Black communities and the police. Community relations are the worst we've seen in decades with an increase in racial profiling, the ongoing criminalisation of Black communities through racially focused British drug laws and consequent rising tensions, massively increasing the likelihood of civil disturbances.

 

The thought of Vice President Harris coming to the UK to negotiate a trade agreement, demanding Boris Johnson strengthens race equality legislation, is a compelling and beguiling prospect on so many levels. One can only imagine the frantic discussions at No 10 Downing Street at the thought of such a possibility. Such an intervention could also drive the radical remodelling of the Labour Party's approach to race equality. The Biden- Harris election could provide the party with a real unmissable opportunity, to set out a radical race equality agenda.

Mainstreaming race equality as Biden and Harris have done could translate into an unprecedented turnout from British Black communities.

Lee Jasper

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