Submission to the Shami Chakrabarti Inquiry into

anti-semitism and other forms of racism including Islamophobia,
within the Labour Party.
Women of Colour on behalf of Global Women Strike
We are a non-party political group of women of colour, some of whom joined the
Labour Party in order to support Jeremy Corbyn. Soon after he was elected, we
wrote and circulated a statement addressed to Black/people of colour aimed at
explaining why we should all support Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, so it fully
represents the whole community (see below).
We are alarmed at the orchestrated attempts to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s
leadership, which is anti-austerity and anti-racist, through false allegations that the
Labour Party is riddled with anti-semitism.
The attack began during the run up to the May elections. The Labour candidate for
London mayor was a Muslim man, now the first Muslim mayor of a European capital.
His opponent, a white Jewish Tory millionaire, ran a campaign that dripped with
racism. Allegations of anti-semitism fed into the genuine Islamophobia spewing from
the Tories and UKIP. That the Tory was defeated tells us that Londoners were not
taken in, and shows that they tend to be anti-racist and pro-Corbyn.
Some of the political reality for Black/people of colour is as follows:

Official reports showed a 65% increase in hate crime against Muslims and a
further 10% increase in 2014/15.

Violent attacks in the UK spiked by 300% the week after the Paris bombings;
almost half the victims were Muslim women.

There have been over 100 racist killings in the UK since the Stephen Lawrence
Inquiry.

There have been 509 deaths of Black people in police custody and immigration
detention, without one successful prosecution of officers involved.

Stop and search allows the police – who have been found to be institutionally
racist -- to target people of colour who are 17.5 times more likely than white
people to be stopped. These stops are part of a biased criminal justice system in
which black people are three times more likely than white people to be arrested,
and more likely to be charged and receive custodial sentences. In one court Black
defendants were 79% more likely to be jailed than white defendants.

Over 25% of the prison population is from a Black/ethnic background; more than 1

in 7 are Muslim.

The Prevent strategy targets Muslim children and their mothers especially,
resulting in children being forcibly seized from their families and taken into care.

Black people are under-represented in Parliament but over represented in low
waged jobs: 45% of employees of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin earn under the
living wage, and 41% of employees of African origin.
Women of colour and immigrant women get the lowest wages, The pay gap
between white British men and Black women is: 14% for Black Caribbean women,
18% for Bangladeshi women, 21% for Black African women, and 26% for
Pakistani women.

Many of us are refugees and asylum seekers who suffered or are suffering
detention, including mothers separated from children and rape survivors, who
have escaped wars and starvation foisted on us by imperialism, and are being
refused entry into this country. Jewish people know well how many faced death
because the doors were closed to most of those who tried to escape Hitler, the
same way as they are now for hundreds of thousands crossing the
Mediterranean. (Some Jewish people have drawn on their experience of
Kindertransport, for example, to demand that Syrian children be allowed into
Britain.)

At this moment there is no evidence - and none is offered, of a comparable
experience of discrimination against Jewish people now, unless they are people of
colour. Yet we are being urged to elevate anti-semitism, thus overshadowing the
most widespread forms of racism and discrimination today.
Prioritising anti-semitism in this way is in itself racist, especially considering that most
Jewish people in the UK are white. Some of the worst effects of this are:
1) to divide antiracists by asking Jewish people to focus on anti-semitism at
the expense of supporting the life-and-death struggles of people of
colour/immigrant and refugee people;
2) to discourage people of colour from participating in politics, precisely at a
time when the Labour leadership is inviting grassroots people to be actively
involved in making policy.
Increasingly communities of colour include thousands of mixed race families. The
white people of those families are often committed to anti-racism, so that many white
people have direct experience of racism and the struggle against it.
We are particularly concerned that so many of the known Labour Party suspensions
are of people of colour, Muslims, committed anti-racists, some of whom are Jewish.

One of those suspended (recently reinstated) is a Black Jewish woman, Jacqueline
Walker. She had (privately) compared the genocide of Jewish people with the
genocide of African people in the slave trade.
At the same time, Malia Bouattia, the first Black and Muslim woman to be elected
president of the NUS, has been under unprecedented attack by university Jewish
societies, closely connected with Zionist bodies which oppose the Palestinian-led
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
The allegations of anti-semitism in the Labour Party began by equating anti-semitism
with opposition to Israel, separate from other forms of racism. In both the NUS and
the Labour party, such attempts to conflate anti-semitism with anti-Zionism aim to
stifle any discussion or protest about the genocide the Israeli state is perpetrating
against Palestinians.
People of colour know exactly what we think about apartheid and what is happening
to people in Palestine, and many of us have been active against that genocide
including demonstrating in front of the Israeli embassy, especially during the
bombings of Gaza. We noticed that many of those arrested and given
disproportionately long sentences were visibly Muslim. For example, one young man
was given a year in jail for throwing a plastic bottle.
Some of us were also in the movement against apartheid in South Africa, and take
particular note of what Archbishop Desmond Tutu said about Israeli apartheid. He
described Israel’s government as having created an “apartheid reality”. In supporting
Palestinians’ call for BDS, he wrote: We learned in South Africa that the only way to
end apartheid peacefully was to force the powerful to the table through economic
pressure . . . It’s about naming an unjust system and refusing to participate in it.
We totally oppose the Jewish Labour Movement’s proposed rule change that is being
raised at some Constituency Labour party and other meetings. It seeks to monitor
private conversations and even thoughts, in the name of fighting anti-semitism. Even
if the rule change includes other forms of racism, it must be firmly rejected. Such a
Big Brother strategy would destroy the Labour Party. It is the first step towards a
dictatorial regime which people elected Jeremy Corbyn to refuse. We also know that
it would be used first of all against people of colour and anti-racist and proPalestinian activists, as recent suspensions have already shown.
For us anti-racism aims to lift the whole population out of discrimination and injustice.
We have nothing in common with those few of any race who use anti-racism in any
form to protect an apartheid state, or to undermine the new Corbyn-led movement,

and/or for their own personal advancement.
10 June 2016

Women of Colour/Global Women’s Strike
Crossroads Women’s Centre, 25 Wolsey Mews, London NW5 2DX
E: womenofcolour@globalwomenstrike.net, T:0207482 2496
www.globalwomenstrike.net

Why people of colour should support the new
Corbyn/McDonnell movement
Our organisation is non-party political, but we rejoiced when Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour
leadership election and John McDonnell, his close colleague and friend of 30 years, became
Shadow Chancellor.
Corbyn’s victory was the result of many campaigns and activists coalescing around a
candidate who finally expressed our total opposition to cuts, exploitation, poverty, low wages,
rape and other violence, stop and search, deaths in custody, detention, war and
environmental devastation, which have infuriated and depressed communities, especially
people of colour.
It is in our interests as communities of colour to support Corbyn and McDonnell, and mobilise
together with these two principled politicians.
Some reasons to support Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell
Both are anti-austerity, at a time when people of colour
and women in particular are among the hardest hit by
Dickensian levels of poverty and homelessness.
Around 2 in 5 Black and immigrant families in London
live in low-income households, twice as many as white
people.
A quarter of all children live in one-parent families: the
biggest percentage of lone-parent households is
Jeremy Corbyn arrested at antiapartheid protest, 1984

among Black/ethnic groups. 48% of Black Caribbean
and 36% of Black African households have one

parent. Across the UK, 40% of those affected by the benefit cap are people of colour and
immigrants, though we are only 14 % of the population. The last round of cuts hit 1.25m
families of colour (over 4m people).
Over 44% of employees of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin earn under the living wage, and
41% of employees of African origin are on low wages. People of colour will be particularly
affected by cuts to working tax credit – a benefit for low-waged workers. Women of colour
and immigrant women are among those most likely to be on zero hour contracts, and most

affected by cuts to jobs in caring and local services.
Anti-racist, anti-sexist track records -- second to none

From the time of his maiden speech in Parliament (1983), Corbyn has protested cuts and
poverty in his constituency, including unemployment and lack of opportunity for young
Black people.

Both politicians have personally intervened on countless occasions to prevent
deportations, for example, Corbyn’s Early Day Motion for Mr Liaquat Ali. McDonnell has
persistently defended his constituents detained in Colnbrook and Harmondsworth
Immigration Centre.

Both fight for higher pensions, and defend local services, such as Whittington hospital’s
A&E department.

Nationally
McDonnell has worked closely with Black Women’s
Rape Action Project and others to defend women
asylum seekers. His EDM 406 called for official
recognition of rape as torture in asylum applications,
and EDM 909 for an independent investigation into
rape and racist abuse in Yarl’s Wood IRC. He has
hosted meetings in Parliament where women asylum
seekers in our network spoke about hunger strikes
against sexual abuse and racist attacks by guards in
detention.

John McDonnell on ”Close Yarl’s
Wood demo”, 2015

Both have attacked abusive, discriminatory policing such as stop and search powers; the
disproportionate number of people from Black/minority ethnic communities in psychiatric
institutions; and police spying and covert operations against families campaigning for
justice.

Corbyn attended the inquest into the death of Leon Patterson who died in police custody
(1992). He took up the case of Roger Sylvester (1999) and got the solicitor general to
reverse his decision to deny the family legal aid. Corbyn has tabled many questions on
deaths in custody, including after Mark Duggan’s killing by police (2011). We Young
people of colour in Corbyn’s constituency gave personal accounts of how he defended
them against racism from the police and criminal justice system.

Corbyn pressed for an inquiry into the joint enterprise law which imprisons in particular
young people of colour for crimes they didn’t commit. This and other racist policies such
as Stop and Search and Prevent allow police – who all agree are institutionally racist – to
target people of colour: over 25% of the prison population is from a Black/ethnic
background, and one in 7 prisoners are Muslim.

Corbyn and McDonnell oppose privatisation, including of policing, prison and immigration
services by unaccountable and often brutal corporations like G4S and Serco.

Corbyn’s EDM 407 called for the Serious Fraud Office to investigate G4S, highlighting

their killing of Jimmy Mubenga during his deportation, and the treatment of other
vulnerable people in their care, including that of Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

They both support the valuing of women’s unwaged caring work and a living wage for all
workers.

McDonnell supported Asian women in his constituency striking at Gate Gourmet.

Internationally

Corbyn and McDonnell were among the handful of MPs who consistently opposed the
war on Afghanistan and Iraq, and who stood firm against bombing Syria.

Corbyn protested against apartheid, long before it became a popular cause, and was
arrested at the non-stop picket outside the South African embassy (1984).

Corbyn has spoken for Palestinian people’s rights since he entered Parliament. After
Israel’s bombing of Gaza (2014), he challenged the UK selling arms to Israel and
dissociated himself from anti-Semitism: “Does questioning the behaviour of the Israeli
state towards Palestinians lead to anti-Semitism? No, it mustn’t and shouldn’t . . .
Whether it’s a synagogue or a mosque under attack we must all come together to be as
one in confronting it.”

Both MPs have supported Latin American movements. Chile under Allende’s popular
government was a formative experience for Corbyn; he later participated in attempts to
extradite dictator Pinochet to be tried for mass torture and murder. McDonnell was the
first MP to support the Venezuelan revolution led by President Chavez. Latin American
refugees in the UK organised to support Corbyn’s election.

McDonnell spoke for the people of Haiti (the first to end slavery but often disregarded)
and supported the international campaign to bring home from exile the beloved former
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide after the 2004 US backed coup. He raised
Parliamentary questions about the disappearance of Haitian human rights activist,
Lovinsky Pierre Antoine.

After his landslide victory, Corbyn’s first public address was
to tens of thousands gathered in Parliament Sq in support of
refugees, reflecting his long-standing commitment to justice
for immigrant people and people of colour everywhere.

Conclusions

To disparage Corbyn and McDonnell for being white, middle-class, heterosexual men, as
some men of colour have done, is to hide their track record of anti-racist, anti-fascist
work, and for justice.

No other MPs (including MPs of colour) have done such consistent work in our defence.
We judge people by their political actions, not their race. Otherwise, any MP of colour
should be our choice, even if they are Tories peddling murderous cuts. Equally, we won’t

back women MPs who have supported austerity or war making life so much harder for
women, especially women of colour, the primary carers in every community.
Many people don’t know Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell’s principled track
records. We are spelling it out to rally communities of colour to defend them and work
in the movement they have called forth, to fight for policies that reflect our needs
against racist, sexist and imperialist brutality. This is our chance to make our voices
heard.
Women of Colour Global Women’s Strike
25 Wolsey Mews, London NW5 2DX
020 7482 2496 womenofcolour@globalwomenstrike.net
https://www.facebook.com/womenofcolourglobalwomenstrike