UN Day Against Racism - Statement from ASLEF's BAME Committee
San Senik, Chair of ASLEF's BAME Representative Committee, writes to mark International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:
This day is observed annually on the day the police in Sharpeville, South Africa opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demo against apartheid.
Nowadays there are laws in place to protect people from racism - assuming that they are applied fairly.
According to the Leeds-based charity, Stop Hate UK, 48.5% of hate crimes reported to them are racially motivated, whilst Victim Support, another independent national charity, reported a 73% increase in race and nationality hate crimes in 2021.
Of course, while statistics demonstrate the magnitude of the issue, we don’t need statistics to expose the problem we have within society:
The treatment of England footballers Rashford, Sancho and Saka following Euro 2020 was completely a racial attack. The exposure of historical racism within Yorkshire County Cricket Club showed us how casual attitudes are towards racism, that it was seen as only banter.
The footage coming out of Ukraine showing black people being blocked by white Ukrainians and Polish Nationals to flee to safety, being told they are not Ukrainian therefore don’t have the right to flee.
The words of the Ukraine’s Deputy Chief Prosecutor on the BBC "It’s very emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blonde hair being killed" describing the ideal Aryan race.
The words of the CBS foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata, "this isn’t Iraq or Afghanistan... this is a civilised European city".
The words which Daniel Hannan of the Telegraph chose in expressing his shock at the breakout of the war.
The shocking stance of the representative of the Polish government on C4 proudly spewing racist rhetoric.
These are all examples of inherent racism that exist within society which, unfortunately have also seeped into politics and are being nourished by right wing politicians for their own gains. Our PM is also guilty of this.
The war is both heartbreaking and extremely shocking. It is equally shocking that, in 2022, racism is still an issue even in everyone’s hour of need. It is abhorrent that there are still people who believe a safe haven is for those with white skins, that people of African descent do not have the right to get to safety away from the killing machines.
This behaviour should concern and alarm all of us as, unless we all take a stand against racism and discrimination of all kinds, nothing will improve for anyone. Racism will continue to rot our communities and destroy people’s lives.
I, for my part, want to live in a society where my child can attend school without being told by his peers he is not welcome in the country that he was born in and that their "father is in the army to kill people like us".
Not much to ask.
BAMERC Chair & D4 rep