Last week on Thursday 29th June The Everyday Bigotry Project and Post Ref Racism hosted a frank debate on hate crime in Central London. We were joined by a panel of expert speakers from academic, community and political spheres. You can watch the debate in full here, and the main conclusions are summarised below.
We need to rebuild the equalities infrastructure that used to exist to deal with racism and support communities.
Previously there has always ben an infrastructure at the community level to ensure proper support for victims and proper handling of cases of racism. This infrastructure has been eroded, in part by austerity
Pitting people against each other feeds division.
Austerity has fed into racism and created the illusion of a zero sum game. Discriminatory immigration policy has also embedded a competitive edge, where certain people have rights and others don’t which creates a tension. These dynamics have led us to engage in a “good immigrant” narrative, which forces people to justify their existence.
The antidote to hate is community.
How do we bolster the institutions we already have? The value of comprehensive schools, nurseries, scouts clubs etc as places to foster unity should not be undervalued. We need to carve out spaces where communities can come together, for example in work places, or across student movements.
There is mainstreaming of racism and islamophobia.
Far-right actors are deracialised and depoliticized. The distinction between far-right and mainstream is designed to insulate mainstream actors from being held responsible for exacerbating hate crime. Far-right extremism cannot be tackled until the government sorts out its in house problems and problems with the press. Hate speech, as well as hate crimes, needs to be addressed.
We need to be purposeful with the language we use to talk about racism.
It is easy for political actors to condemn hate but far more difficult to condemn racism or anti-muslim violence. We should try to specific in our language to avoid white-washing the issues.
It could be counter-productive to analyse hate crime and far-right violence in the existing framework for terrorism.
We need to be careful about calling too many things terrorism and bringing forth more anti-terror legislation. Securitization of more communities is not a good thing. The existing infrastructure to tackle terrorism may not be appropriate for white-national extremism. Theresa May has tried to democratize Prevent and expand it to include far-right, but this may just be more of something that isn’t working. Prevent psychopathologises and securitises communities. Attempts to work with communities to tackle terrorism need to be bottom up, not top down as Prevent has been.
We need to “mainstream” the conversation about hate crime and racism
We want to avoid initiatives like The Everyday Bigotry Project and Post Ref Racism being seen as extreme. This conversation needs to be accessible to everyone and needs to be fought on the centre ground. This needs to be a cross-party conversation.
Dr Aaron Winter – Senior Lecturer in Criminology at University of East London. Expert on organised racism, right-wing extremism and terrorism.
Aaron Winter is Senior Lecturer in Criminology at University of East London. At UEL, he is a member of the Terrorism and Extremism Research Centre (TERC), Centre for Human Rights in Conflict (CHRC) and Centre for Migration, Refugees and Belonging (CMRB). Prior to UEL, he taught at Abertay University, the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton. His research is on organised racism, right-wing extremism and terrorism. He is co-editor of Discourses and Practices of Terrorism: Interrogating Terror (Routledge, Critical Terrorism Studies, 2010) and Reflexivity in Criminological Research Experiences with the Powerful and the Powerless (Palgrave, 2014). He is currently part of the ESRC project Racism and Political Mobilisation and London Scholars project Step Up To Stop Hate, and co-editing the Manchester University Press series Racism, Resistance and Social Change (with Satnam Virdee and John Solomos). His latest article (co-authored with Aurelien Mondon) is ‘Articulations of Islamophobia: From the Extreme to the Mainstream’ in Ethnic and Racial Studies. He is also a Trustee of the British Sociological Association (BSA) and on the editorial board of the journal Sociological Research Online.
Liz Feteke – Director of the Institute of Race Relations
Liz Feteke is Director of the Institute of Race Relations and head of its European Research Programme. She has worked at the IRR since 1982. She writes and speaks extensively on aspects of contemporary racism and fascism, refugee rights, EU counter-radicalisation and anti-terrorism policies and Islamophobia across Europe, and is author of A suitable enemy: racism, migration and Islamophobia in Europe published by Pluto Press. Liz was part of the CARF Collective, and an expert witness at the Basso Permanent People’s Tribunal on asylum and the World Tribunal on Iraq. She is currently an associate of the International State Crime Initiative at Queen Mary University of London, and the Border Crossing Observatory at Monash University, Australia.
Magda Fabianczyk – Visual Artist, and Polish women’s rights activist
Magda Fabianczyk is an artist and member of Dziewuchy Dziewuchom London – a group of Polish activists that formed in April 2016 in response to the Polish government’s plans to introduce a complete ban on abortion in Poland. She is currently teaching at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. She incorporates the narrative mediation process into her educational and art projects, which explore notions of conflict and otherness. She recently spoke at WOW Festival at Southbank Centre, where she also curated ‘Five Nation Film’ for the Alchemy Festival in 2015. Her work includes EU funded collaborative projects for Banglanatak NGO in India (2010), self-funded initiatives on the Leopold Estate in London (2011 – 2012), projects developed with the Roma population of Bytom Bobrek (2010) and Chechnyan refugees in Lublin, Poland (2011). Exhibitions include Kochi-Muziris Biennale (India); Colombo Biennale (Sri Lanka);Trafo, Bunkier Sztuki, Silesian Museum and Kronika CCA (Poland); DOCVA Centre for Visual Arts (Italy); Alliance Française (Ghana); VASL – Triangle Arts Trust’s Network (Pakistan); C. Rockefeller CCA (Germany); John Johns and Folkestone Fringe (UK).
Catherine West MP – Member of Parliament for Hornsey and Wood Green
Catherine West is Member of Parliament for Hornsey & Wood Green and a Shadow Foreign Office Minister. Before becoming an MP she was Leader of Islington Council, Chair of London Councils’ Transport & Environment Committee and a member of the LGA Finance Panel. In 2013 she was awarded the ‘Local Authority Leader of the Year’ award by the Local Government Information Unit for her work leading the Islington Fairness Commission. Catherine speaks five languages and holds a degree in Social Science and Languages and a Masters Degree in Chinese Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies.