This week Stormzy faces backlash for saying racism exists, while the Windrush scandal continues
In this Race Review, we give you a briefing of all the news you need to know this week from influencers advertising Saudi Arabia and a Stormzy race row.
23 Dec 2019
Courtesy of BBC
Don’t ever take aim at Stormzy, our national treasure. It was sickening to see bigots, with Katie Hopkins at the helm, trending #StormzyIsAMassiveBellend on Twitter after he confirmed that he had experienced racism in Britain in an interview with an Italian newspaper. When asked if Britain is still racist, the rapper replied: “definitely, 100%”. Anyone with a brain cell knows that racism exists (we’ve just experienced a General Election where the Windrush scandal was barely mentioned), but instead of analysing his comments and educating the misinformed public the reaction was defensive. If only English people hated racism as much as they hate being called racist.
Here’s what else went down this week.
Influencers flock to Saudi Arabia to rehabilitate image
You may have noticed an influx of, mainly white, influencers and models posting pictures on the sand dunes in Saudi Arabia. The country, known to be causing the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis” in Yemen, attempted a PR stunt by paying off international Instagrammers to come and geo-tag an electronic festival called MDL Beast.
Just over a year on from the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi government for exposing their crimes. Then followed the arrest of women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, and the public outing of a gay Saudi journalist and his partner, who then received death threats. Understandably, the country is trying to change its perception and naively influencers are doing the PR for them. Hot models are posing against desert backdrops for likes, ignoring the human rights violations against women, LGBTQIA+ people, and the victims of the Yemen crisis.
Emily Ratajkowski, who turned down the trip, told Diet Prada: “It is very important to me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community, freedom of expression and the right to a free press. I hope coming forward on this brings more attention to the injustices happening there”
After Fyre Fest, Demi Lovato’s Israel debacle, and BBC Three’s recent prank that revealed these people would sell their followers cyanide, influencers are under increased scrutiny. Is dirty money worth more than standing in solidarity with those who are being violated and oppressed?
Offering Windrush victims £22k for a decade of devastation is insulting
Glenda Caesar came to the UK legally as a “baby in arms” in 1961 from Dominica and has lived in the UK ever since. In 2009, 58-year-old Glenda was sacked from her job in the NHS because the Home Office refused to believe she was living in the UK legally. They also refused to give her son, who was born here, citizenship.
After a decade of not being allowed to work, Glenda was forced to live by sharing her daughter’s disability benefit and by “selling old trainers on eBay”, leaving her with £10,000 rent arrears and emotional trauma. Glenda is one of the first recipients of a Windrush compensation offer, but she plans to turn it down as they offered her a very small sum of £22k for a decade of loss of earnings.
She told gal-dem: “I feel as if they can just chuck anything at us and we’re expected to take it because they know we’re at the age where we’re going into retirement, and we need money to live on. It’s like breadcrumbs.” Only last year were Glenda, and her now 31-year-old son, given their citizenship papers, something that she said led to a feeling he didn’t belong, triggering depression and constant stress.
After all the trauma that Windrush descendants have already faced, it’s shameful that the Home Office can offer such pitiful amounts in compensation. £22k for a decade of lost work – that’s just over £2k a year, or £166 a month. As Glenda said: “Do the maths.”
This week saw another case where three generations of one Windrush-descended family are struggling to prove they are British. So why did the Conservatives apologise for the scandal if they were going to keep on terrorising black communities? Maybe this is what Stormzy is talking about.
• Japanese journalist Shiori Ito has been awarded damages after going public in 2017 with rape accusations against a prominent TV reporter, something that turned her into a symbol of the country’s #MeToo movement. She held a sign outside court reading “victory”.
•Boris decided to remove protections for refugee children in the Brexit bill.
• Queer activists from LSGMigrants have replaced hundreds of London tube adverts with a festive message calling on British Airways to stop deportations of vulnerable people.
• A designer from the Ivory Coast, 21-year-old O’Plérou, has designed a range of African emojis, including a plate of plantain, an afro brush, and girls with braids.
• The Australian immigration system that Boris Johnson is pulling inspiration from released some very dark anti-immigrant Horoscopes to discourage Sri Lankans from seeking asylum in the country by boat.
• Camilla Cabello has been forced to apologise after her old racist Tumblr account was exposed where she used the n-word and shared racist memes between 2012 and 2013.
•LGBT asylum seeker Espoir Njel is anxiously waiting for refugee status in Birmingham after fleeing Cameroon, where she would be arrested or killed as homosexuality is illegal.
• China’s top legislators have been advised to legalise same-sex marriage, something that local LGBTQ+ groups think is likely to bring about change.
• A live stream of a debate in Beijing blacked out on Thursday December 19 just as candidates were questioned on China’s human rights violations against, and detention of, Uighur Muslims.
•The Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa in North Dakota have finally been recognised by the US government after being denied a homeland and being forced to scatter over a century ago.
• Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies has deeply problematic comments on gender and drag queens. She is being heavily criticised after comparing drag shows to blackface.
•New York City’s annual celebration of black-owned restaurants and bars, the Kwanzaa crawl, returns on Boxing Day, with over 5000 people expected to attend.
•Gandhi’s great grandson was amongst the 25,000 protestors who joined a historic 5- mile walk to Chasera village to protest the islamophobic new Citizenship Act brought in by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government.
• London youth centre Voyage Youth has created a collection of biographical stories of people from the Windrush generation.
Moment of the week
Queer Black Christmas happened! Inspiring youth worker and writer Tanya Compas crowdfunded £7,522 and organised a safe space for black queer people, who are estranged from their families, to celebrate Christmas as a chosen family. The photos are warming for the soul.
This article is a part of gal-dem’s Race Review column, a weekly news roundup centring the issues faced by people of colour.