Black Lives Matter: The UK Is Not Innocent:
This document was made to compile examples of racism in the UK and to suggest personal action that you can take to resist it. This is by no means an exhaustive list of either examples or resources; it is the result of just a few hours of research and discussion. It focuses primarily on anti-blackness, as this is the particular area of concern raised by the death of George Floyd and the recent outcry. Undertaken due to a feeling of powerlessness when faced with the crisis in America, it is also the product of exasperation: a belief that while we stand in solidarity with the BLM movement in America, we must also properly acknowledge and analyse our own responsibilities here in the UK as well. As such, it is made in the hope that it will be useful in informing your own activism, reinforcing your debate and educating others on the necessity of change at home. All information in this document is hopefully as up to date as possible. I cannot personally attest to its accuracy, except that it is all based on what I trust are credible sources. All sources can be found in the footnotes which are visible when viewing on a laptop. For opinion pieces, I have tried to use the work of BIPOC authors and journalists. More information will be added as research continues. This is intended to be a collaborative effort: if you feel you have something that can be added, or that something should be removed, just send me a message.
Modern examples of racism and anti-blackness in the UK:
- The Death of Belly Mujinga:
- Mujinga was a black TfL worker who died after being spat on at work by a man claiming to have COVID-19. Police did not press charges as the man tested negative for COVID-19.
- Racism towards Diane Abbott:
- The Treatment of Meghan Markle in the Media:
- The Murder of Stephen Lawrence and the MacPherson Report:
- Stephen Lawrence was a black British teenager from Plumstead, Southeast London, who was murdered in a racially motivated attack. He was 19 years old. After the initial investigation, five suspects were arrested but not charged. Eventually, two of the perpetrators were convicted of murder in 2012. It was suggested during the investigation that Lawrence was killed because he was black, and that the handling of the case by the police and Crown Prosecution Service was affected by issues of race. A 1998 public inquiry, headed by Sir William Macpherson, examined the original Metropolitan Police Service investigation and concluded that the force was institutionally racist. The publication in 1999 of the resulting Macpherson Report has been called "one of the most important moments in the modern history of criminal justice in Britain".
- Grenfell Tower fire:
- The Windrush Scandal:
- In 2018, an unspecified number of British citizens were wrongly detained, denied legal rights and threatened with deportation. In at least 83 cases, British citizens of Caribbean descent were wrongly deported from the UK by the Home Office. Many of those affected had been born British subjects and had arrived in the UK before 1973, particularly from Caribbean countries as members of the "Windrush generation”. An unknown number were also wrongly detained, lost their jobs or homes, or were denied benefits or medical care to which they were entitled. A number of long-term UK residents were wrongly refused re-entry to the UK, and a larger number were threatened with immediate deportation by the Home Office. Public outcry caused the deportations to be paused in 2018. However, in February 2019 it emerged that the Home Office intended to resume deportations. In response to the outcry, Sajid Javid claimed that all of the people due to be deported were guilty of "very serious crimes ... like rape and murder, firearms offences and drug-trafficking". This claim was later rebutted by the Home Office.
- In February 2020, it was revealed that the number of people wrongly classified as illegal immigrants could be much greater than previously thought and that as many as 15,000 people could be eligible for compensation.
- By April 2020, the Windrush taskforce, which was set up to deal with applications from people who were wrongly categorised as illegal immigrants, still had 3,720 outstanding cases. 1,111 of these cases had yet to be considered, more than 150 of these had waited for over six months, and 35 had waited for over a year for a response. The Home Office revealed that it had thus far identified 164 people from Caribbean countries who it had wrongly detained or deported. 24 people who had been wrongly deported had died before the UK government had been able to contact them. 14 people who had been wrongly deported to the Caribbean, had thus far not been traced. Officials refused to attempt to trace people who had been wrongly deported to non-Caribbean Commonwealth countries. Up to that date 35 people had been granted “urgent and exceptional support” payments, totalling £46,795. The payout was expected to be between £200m and £570m.
- The Mangrove Nine:
- The Mangrove Nine Trial was Britain’s most influential Black Power trial. The London police and the British Home Office orchestrated the arrest and trial of nine black leaders in 1970 to discredit London’s growing Black Power movement.
- The Mangrove trial focused on the police harassment of the Mangrove restaurant in west London’s Notting Hill area, which was owned by Frank Crichlow, a Trinidad-born community activist. The restaurant was the heart of the Caribbean community and was also popular with white and black celebrities. Because Crichlow was a Black Power activist, police raided his restaurant 12 times between January 1969 and July 1970, calling the Mangrove a den of drugs without finding any drugs.
- In response to this intense police harassment, Crichlow filed a complaint to the Race Relations Board accusing the police of racial discrimination. Furthermore his employee Darcus Howe, a Trinidad-born Black Power activist, encouraged Crichlow to work with the British Black Panthers (BBP) in London to organize a demonstration against police harassment of the Mangrove.
- On August 9, 1970, 150 protesters marched to local police stations and were met by 200 police who initiated the violence that ensued. Nine protest leaders were arrested and charged with incitement to riot: Crichlow; Howe, who later became a BBP member; Althea Jones-Lecointe, head of the BBP; Barbara Beese, BBP member; Rupert Boyce; Rhodan Gordon; Anthony Innis; Rothwell Kentish; and Godfrey Millett.
- The nine defendants used a radical legal strategy in the subsequent trial. Howe and Jones-Lecointe defended themselves arguing that this was a political trial and ultimately all nine of the defendants were acquitted on the charge of rioting. This was the first time a British court judge acknowledged racial discrimination and wrongdoing by the London police.
- The Death of Smiley Culture:
- Smiley Culture was a British DJ and reggae artist popular in the 80s. He died under suspicious circumstances on March 15th 2011, aged 48, during a police raid on his home. The official inquiry declared that death was a suicide. A post-mortem found that the cause of death was a stab wound through the heart. At the request of the coroner, the final police report was made neither public nor available to his family.
- The Death of Sarah Reed:
- Sarah Reed was found dead in her cell, aged 32, on 11th January 2016. Previously, Met police officer James Kiddie was found guilty of common assault in 2014 during a 2012 shoplifting allegation against Reed. Kiddie, 45, was caught on CCTV grabbing Ms Reed by the hair and then punching her as she lay on the floor of Uniqlo, Regent Street. During the inquest over her death in 2016, a prison officer testified that colleagues had suggested they delay the ambulance after discovering Reed unresponsive in her cell. Her family was not allowed to see her body for three days and were given conflicting accounts of how she was found. Reed had been taken to Holloway after an altercation at a mental health hospital which campaigners say had seen her defend herself against sexual assault by another patient.In prison, charged with grievous bodily harm, she was awaiting trial. Her family claimed she should never have been moved to prison or denied her medication.
- Marilyn, the mother of Reed: 'My Daughter Was Failed by Many and I Was Ignored
- Racism and Coronavirus:
- Black people are 54% more likely to be fined by Police over breaches to coronavirus laws.
- At the time of compiling this document, the UK government is withholding a report on the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on BAME citizens.
Institutional racism and anti-blackness in the UK:
- According to the charity Inquest, 1,741 people have died in police custody or otherwise following contact with the police in England and Wales since 1990. These were disproportionately PoC. Not a single police officer has been convicted in connection to these deaths.
- According to the Institute of Race Relations, 509 people from BME, asylum seeker and migrant communities have died in suspicious circumstances, in custody, between 1991 and September 2014. On average, this is about 21 deaths per year. The majority of the deaths documented – 348 (68% of the total) – took place in prison; 137 cases (27%) were in police custody and 24 cases (5%) were in the immigration detention estate (including immigration removal centres and short-term holding facilities). Just over half of the people whose cases are featured were black or black British. One-in-three of the total deaths (169, or 32%) we documented were apparent suicides, or as a result of self- harm. In 64 of the total cases (13%) the person who died had known mental health problems. Medical neglect was a contributory factor in 49 of the total number of cases (10%) and in 48 of the cases (9%) the use of force appears to have contributed to the person’s death.
- Deaths in police custody: 6 out of the 11 people who died in police custody 2017-2018 were from ethnic minority backgrounds.
- According to the Institute of Race Relations:
- In 2011, police were 28 times more likely to use ‘Section 60’ stop-and-search powers (where officers do not require suspicion of the person having been involved in a crime) against black people than white people.
- In the year 2013-2014, 59% of people stopped under Section 60 by London’s Metropolitan Police Service were either Black British or Asian British, despite constituting only 3.4% and 6.8% of the UK population respectively.
- Analysis of all stop and searches in 2014-2015, by StopWatch, indicated that people from all BAME groups are twice as likely as white people to be stopped and searched.
- Stop and search practices are frequently ineffective. Around 86% of the 539,788 stop and searches made in England and Wales from 2014-2015 did not lead to an arrest.
- According to Government statistics on stop and search:
- Black people are nearly 10 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people, and three times more likely than Asian people.
- StopWatch is a really, really valuable resource for ‘research and action for fair and accountable policing’. Full of really detailed research and explanations.
In The Criminal Justice System:
- According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, there is greater disproportionality in the number of black people in prisons in the UK than in the United States.
- According to the Lammy Report, black people make up around 3% of the general population but accounted for 12% of adult prisoners in 2015/16; and more than 20% of children in custody.
- Despite making up just 14% of the population, BAME men and women make up 25% of prisoners, while over 40% of young people in custody are from BAME backgrounds.
- Despite being over-represented in most stages of the criminal justice process, people from BAME communities are under-represented in senior positions of employment. In 2014: 6% of senior judges were from a BAME community. 8% of practitioners in the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) were from a BAME community. 5% of police officers of senior rank in England and Wales were from a BAME community.
- From 2009 to 2017, one in four black teenage boys guilty of manslaughter were given maximum jail terms, while white children found guilty of the same crime were sentenced to no more than 10 years, with the majority getting less than four.
- There are no black, Asian and minority ethnic MPs in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
- Following the 2019 General Election, 65 or 10% of Members of the House of Commons were from non-White ethnic backgrounds. But if the ethnic make-up of the House of Commons reflected that of the UK population, there would be about 90 non-White Members. 41 (63%) of the ethnic minority Members are Labour, 22 are Conservatives.
- 3 of the 22 members of Cabinet are from an ethnic minority background.
- 6.1% of Members of the House of Lords were from ethnic minority groups. The Commons report on ethnic diversity in politics and public life states: ‘It is difficult to compare figures internationally, but the ethnic make-up of the 116th (current) US Congress is very close to that of the wider population, at 24.2% and 23.5% non-White respectively’.
- 2 (1.6%) of the Scottish Parliament’s 129 members and 2 (3.3%) of the 60 Members of the National Assembly for Wales were from ethnic minority backgrounds. None of the 90 Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly were recorded as being from an ethnic minority group. 7 (28%) of the 25 Members of the London Assembly were from ethnic minority backgrounds in May 2019, compared with about 40% of London’s population.
- In England, the most recent (2018) Local Government Association census found that 4.2% of councillors were non-White. This compared with a non-White population of about 15.6%. In Scotland, 2% of councillors were from ethnic minority groups compared with 4% of Scotland’s population as a whole. In Wales, 1.8% councillors were from non-white ethnic groups. The corresponding ethnic minority population of Wales was 4.4%.
- Racists in Positions of Power:
- Whitewashed and racially exclusive history:
- Primary/Secondary Education:
- From the IPPR ‘Making the Difference Report’: 
- Though most pupils in PRUs (Pupil Referral Unit) are white British (70%), Black Caribbean pupils are educated in PRUs at nearly four times (3.9) the rate we would expect, given the proportion they make of the national pupil population. Mixed ethnicity Black Caribbean and white pupils are also more than twice as likely (2.5) to be educated in a PRU than they should be.
- Black pupils are the ethnic group most likely to live in poverty – with more than one in four children eligible for free school meals.
- Black people are 21 times more likely to have a uni application investigated. Oxford University did not admit a single, black student between 2015-2017.
- In 2015, only 15 black students were admitted to Cambridge University.
- BAME academics earn ¾ of their white counterparts pay.
- British Universities employ no BAME staff for management roles 2014-2017.
- TUC survey on racism in the workplace:
- 70% of the ethnic minority workers surveyed said they have been bullied or harassed at work in the last 5 years.
- 60% said that they have been subjected to unfair treatment by their employer because of their race.
- Almost half reported that racism had negatively impacted on their ability to do their job, and almost half have been subject to ‘verbal abuse and racist jokes’.
- Nearly half of BME people who experienced unfair treatment did not report the incident to their employer. Instead, nearly half of BME workers experiencing bullying and harassment confided in a friend or colleague at work.
- Nearly half of BME women did not report the fact that they had seen racist material being shared or racist remarks directed at them.
- 41% of BME women reported wanting to leave their jobs because of bullying and harassment but could not afford to.
- Young workers who did raise the issue of seeing racist material being shared said that they were treated less well at work.
- Over 40% of those who reported a racist incident said they were either ignored, or that they had subsequently been identified as a ‘trouble maker’. More than one-in-ten respondents raising a complaint said that they were subsequently disciplined or forced out of their job as a result of doing so.
- 43% of those from a minority ethnic background have been overlooked for a work promotion in a way that felt unfair in the last five years – more than twice the proportion of white people (18%) who reported the same experience.
- Black workers with degrees earn 23.1% less than their white counterparts.
- 40% of African-British graduates are overqualified for their role.
- 57% of minorities surveyed said they felt they had to work harder to succeed in Britain because of their ethnicity, and 40% saying they earned less or had worse employment prospects for the same reason.
- Black, Asian and minority ethnic unemployment stands at 6.3%, compared with 3.6% for whites, despite achieving better average attainment in school than their white counterparts. 
- Black Women are 5 times more likely to die in childbirth than their white counterparts (40 deaths per 100,000 births, compared to 8 per 100,000 for white women).
- BAME doctors and NHS staff are twice as likely to face disciplinary action.
- Medical students who come from a minority background are less likely to get a job, with 75% of white applicants who sought speciality training posts being appointed compared to just 53% of their BAME counterparts.
- The British Medical Journal’s page on racism in medicine.
In UK Culture and Entertainment:
- The number of race related hate crimes accounts for around three-quarters of hate crime offenses (78,991 offenses).
- People from ethnic minorities are three times as likely to have been thrown out of or denied entrance to a restaurant, bar or club in the last five years.
- 38% of people from ethnic minorities said they had been wrongly suspected of shoplifting in the last five years, compared with 14% of white people, with black people and women in particular more likely to be wrongly suspected.
- Minorities were more than twice as likely to have encountered abuse or rudeness from a stranger in the last week.
- 53% of people from a minority background believed they had been treated differently because of their hair, clothes or appearance, compared with 29% of white people.
- Imperial Mentality and the Little Empire Mindset:
- In 2016, a YouGov poll found 44% were proud of Britain’s history of colonialism while only 21% regretted that it happened. 23% held neither view.
- The same poll also asked about whether the British Empire was a good thing or a bad thing: 43% said it was good, while only 19% said it was bad. 25% responded that it was “neither”.
- The Appropriation of Notting Hill Carnival (an Example of Cultural Appropriation):
- The 1958 Notting Hill Race Riots:
In LGBT spaces:
On Social Media and The Internet:
- Racial abuse is rising both on social media and amongst younger people. At the end of 2016, 37% of people saw racism on social media on a day-to-day basis, but that has now risen to 50%, and is even higher for younger minority ethnic people aged 18 to 34.
- Online racism has more than doubled since before the EU referendum, and there were rises of about 50% in the number or people reporting hearing people ranting or making negative comments about immigration or making racist comments made to sound like jokes.
In The UK’s Global Influence: (TBC)
Action You Can Take:
- Call / Email MPs to Question What They Are Doing to Combat These Issues:
- Join Protests:
- Check social media for events coming up in your area.
- Research issues related to racism and anti-blackness in your area beforehand, so that you can address these specifically.
- See information on how to protest safely below.
- Engage in Discussions About Racism with Family and Friends:
- Particularly those who feel unable to discuss these issues due to unawareness or lack of information.
- Be actively anti-racist. If you feel something said in your presence was inappropriate, standing up to it does not have to entail causing a scene or drawing attention to yourself. A simple (yet pointed) adverse opinion will do, one that challenges the concession of silence. There is a brilliant passage about this in My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem.
- Sign and Share Petitions:
- Support UK groups who fight racism:
Support BAME Communities in times of COVID-19: https://www.ubele.org/covid19-supporting-bame-communities?fbclid=IwAR2e6GyGjwaIGaIwyJZTo7qW8qqr2WXz0V5G63foPmW6VgdBIA7EkLcSOhY
Support Black Businesses: https://www.ukblackowned.co.uk/
Resources for Self and Collective Care:
(A lot of the contents of this document was sent to me via my uni and I’m passing them on in good faith that they might be useful to others as well. If I have used somebody else’s content by mistake and you want it credited or removed, let me know).
- Free Psychotherapy Network: professionals offering free or cheap therapy for people on low incomes in the UK
- Black Mental Wellness: US based, founded by Black Clinical Psychologists. They have fact sheets on mental wellness issues, audiovisuals resources, & health, relaxation and behavioural strategies
- Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM): US based, black virtual therapist directory. Online tool kits and videos on black healing.
- Black Zen: beginner’s guide to meditation, articles and mindfulness-based podcast to remove social and financial barriers from the benefits of meditation.
- Podcasts: Therapy for Black Girls, The Emotional Lives of Black Men, NamingIt!, The Extraordinary Negroes.
- @ogorchukwuu has a lot of content on Instagram on racial trauma, both for those who experience it and those who want to support.
- Guidelines for Being a Strong White Ally
Resources for supporting PoC in LGBT spaces:
Some UK-based organisations that focus on black mental health and support:
Some useful content and visuals on protest rights and safe protesting can be found here:
- There is also a google drive here, given by my uni, full of books by black activists that is accessible for free!
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad (Combat Racism, Change the World and Become a Good Ancestor)
Protesting isn’t the only way to express frustration and demands for a more equal and just society, but when the time comes, there are some key actions to take to protect yourselves and others.
- wear a mask and casual, plain clothing (so as not to be recognised)
- bring water, snacks and first aid kit if you can
- if you foresee law enforcement using tear gas, prepare 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda with 3 cups water in a bottle of water and bring it with you - apply directly to the eyes (if you have limes, these help too)
- Go in groups or at least one other person and stay together
- bring/wear heat-proof gloves if you can and hand sanitiser
If something seems off:
- Protect each other, especially from the police. If a POC gets arrested, white people MUST go to jail with them. If a trans/non-binary gets arrested, cis people MUST go with them. Protect the most marginalised, always.
- If the police get called and things escalate, it may be appropriate for white people to create a physical barrier between black people and the police.
- Keep emergency numbers on hand and document/intervene for strange behaviour
- Turn your data and GPS off, try to contact your friends through text/call only
- If a member of law enforcement speaks to you, keep comments and personal details you give them to a minimum - ask for their warrant or power if they ask (giving personal details once at the station may speed up release, but responding ‘yes’ to mental health problems may place you under suicide watch).
- Prepare a bustcard with legal details and emergency information for you and who you go with - if you don’t have one, bring a pen to write said info on your body.
- Don’t take/post photos of easily-identifiable protestors!!
- We’re in a pandemic: maintain 2m distance where you can and watch out for symptoms of heat exhaustion; nausea, feeling faint, an excessively dry mouth.