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” Our side is winning We stand for the aspirations of the majority – for freedom and justice. When we expose injustice and challenge it we find many people on our side. Schools and institutions have policies on equality and diversity across-the-board; the way is wide open for us to make them real. Young people are often seen as problems and exam machines; on top of that black, Asian and ethnic minority youth too often have to deal with the extra pressure of being racially stereotyped, seen as a problem or a threat, are more likely to be expelled, and face a constant pattern of police harassment. When we try to speak up to change these things we are either invisible, or seen as a troublemakers. This pattern of racism CHS MFJ student leaders can be challenged and broken down when someone stands up, speaks out and inspires the people around them to join them and act. This is clearly proven in the campaigns of students at Sacred Heart and Catford High school. Racial discrimination and racial slights that black and Asian young people receive can only divide our communities, distort development and harm our education; we cannot accept this. What you can do now This is an invitation and a call for you to join us and spread the fight for equality and respect. Contact us. Come to the weekly Movement for Justice meetings (every Saturday). Bring other people from your school or college. Set up an MFJ group in your school or college. Discuss what is happening where you are and what you can do about it. Start by downloading the MFJ petition for equality at ... http://www.scribd.com/doc/2291156/OUR-BRITAIN-Equality-Petition Use this to start petitioning in your school and community, gathering support and building a movement. Together we can build a movement to fight for an education system where equality and respect is real for everyone, and we can be ourselves – for schools, colleges and universities where we can flourish and develop our creative powers to the full, and not be undermined by racist stereotyping, discrimination and harassment. Contact Movement for Justice: 7930 302 263 or 07986 953 435 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.myspace.com/movementforjustice and www.bebo.com/MFJBAMN MFJ, PO Box 27497, London, SW9 7HU
MOVEMENT FOR JUSTICE
By Any Means Necessary
Call to all the ambitious, talented, creative and determined youth of London...
Organise in your schools and communities against racism and for equality
Movement for Justice is proudly building a movement that is fighting for a future where we are all treated equally and where we can express our cultures and identities fully. We want to tell you about our experience and ask you to step forward as young civil rights leaders in your own schools, colleges and communities. Each of you has the capacity to be a leader, step forward, learn a method to win and learn through your own struggles what you need in order to lead society. It isn’t enough to think and feel you are against racism and discrimination; you must act. With a collective struggle and a method, you can shape your environment and education. This is a call for you to act in your school to win the opportunity for students to express who you are, through student-led events like Black History Month (BHM), Asian history events, multi-cultural days, anti-racist days… Students fight to win Black History Month & cultural day in their schools Students at two South London schools acted with determination, pride and unbending will to win, when they decided to fight for their schools to have full Black History Month events and cultural days. Last year at Sacred Heart School in Southwark, Joseph Semana, student member of MFJ, led a successful campaign. The school had stopped celebrating BHM several years ago. The head’s explanation to Joseph (then head boy) and the other student leaders, was that white students’ grades were failing and BHM would damage their self esteem and confidence. This is an argument often made when black and Asian people win programmes or opportunities that address historic discrimination – that doing something positive for black and Asian people is somehow damaging to MFJ ‘we are ALL Britain’ march for equality white people. THIS IS A RACIST LIE! Read inside how students at two South London Schools have put these words into action...
Black history is EVERYONE’S history, yet it is invisible in the curriculum for most of the year; Black History Month is the one time when it is allowed to shine through. So how did we fight this? We wrote a petition and petitioned at the school, Joseph describes the first day he petitioned outside the school when students were crowding around him, signing the petition, taking whole sheets to get others to sign, including someone who took it and got the entire year 9 football team to sign on. Students were happy and excited to have what they felt put into words and action. Petitioning gave a voice to students who thought they had no voice in the school, and you could feel how powerful that was. Students were confronting teachers in their classes “Sir, isn’t it just racist not to do BHM?” The new head boy marched to the head‘s office with a group of students to express how they felt; students were threatened with exclusion, while being secretly congratulated by other teachers who felt the fight was right. Students wouldn’t be kept quite. This organising continued despite resistance from school authorities. In the fourth week the deputy head banned Joseph from attending a school trip. We know that the actions of those we challenge become increasingly desperate when we are strong and winning. Joseph responded by writing an open letter to the head, given out to everyone, expressing wholeheartedly why he was making this fight and why BHM is important. He went on local radio; local and national press were calling the school to ask what was happening. Within days the head completely backed down – STUDENTS WON BLACK HISTORY MONTH AT SACRED HEART! As Joseph said in his victory letter to the students… “We put our effort and heart into the fight for what we know is right and we turned the individual feelings of 485 students into a collective action which won us the celebration of BHM at our school…” “It is time we can all laugh together and rejoice about what strength in numbers we have, because what makes society is the people within and what makes a school is not just the teachers but the students; because students themselves are teachers. Teachers and leaders of today’s and the next generation.” A determined, active, vibrant and creative Joseph Semana MFJ Student Leader fight, bringing students together and raising our voices loud and proud can win struggles in our schools to express our identities and shape our education.
This year MFJ members at Catford High School (CHS) in Lewisham felt inspired by this example and led a campaign to win back Cultural Day at their school, and make it part of Black History Month. Three years ago the old head at CHS cancelled cultural evening on the day when it was due to happen. Students felt furious & betrayed by this. It was part of the racism that is all around but often doesn’t get dealt with. This year there is a new head at the school, the MFJ group wrote an open letter and a petition to start getting out to all students. Here is some of what they wrote: “When cultural evening was taken away we all felt betrayed and felt like the school didn’t care about our cultural backgrounds. …Cultural evening was the one great thing we organised by ourselves and everyone got involved; we were leading it. …we don’t want to fit into one image or be treated as robots, we are proud of who we are and proud of our multicultural school. In our code of conduct it says that everyone should respect other people’s cultures; that needs to be acted on.“ After just 2 days petitioning students and getting the letter out the new head agreed to bring back Cultural Day. The MFJ group at CHS had this to say: “We feel so proud of what we achieved and we feel powerful as students doing something to change our education. We’re not stopping there. We are working together to make sure we get the kind of Cultural Day we want and to make it a great success. “When you stand up for what you believe, for what you know is fair and right, you are powerful. Bring people together, stand up for people who don’t feel able to speak out yet, take the first step and show people how they can step forward, that’s how you can win. “Campaigning & petitioning is exciting and fun, because you are standing up for yourself, for who you are and you can see how that is inspiring other people. It feels so great and we want you to feel that too. “If you feel there is racism in your school or college and nothing is being done about it, or if the school or college is being racist in anyway, don’t wait for someone else to say something. Don’t settle for doing nothing and feeling bad about it. Speak out, discuss it with other students, organise a campaign – Be a leader. “Remember, racism takes many forms. It can be in-your-face or it can be so-called ‘subtle’ racism. It can be as simple as when someone asks where you are from and if you say ‘London’ they say, ‘No! Where are you really from?’ It can be discrimination by a teacher or name-calling by a racist student. It can be being overlooked when you put up your hand. It can be your school refusing to celebrate Black History Month or not letting you express who you are. It’s all racist, and if you are at the receiving end you know it’s racist. We need to be ready to do what it
Weekly MFJ students meeting: Saturdays 12noon-2pm, Dragon Hall, Stuckley St WC2B (Holborn station) call, text or email if you want to be collected from your area to go to the meeting.
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