Supreme Court: Institutional Racism Is Real

First, racists are usually not dumb enough to leave records of their prejudice. They find some other reason to fire the employee, or keep the family out of the neighborhood.

Second, and more importantly, discrimination is often systemic and structural, not individual. Often, not only is there no smoking gun, but there’s often no individual “bad actor.” Even neutral requirements—a high-school diploma for employment, a family-size limit for housing—can have huge de facto discriminatory effects, which may or may not be intentional.

For example, why is it that, even today, there is a 33 percent economic differential between blacks and whites? Is it because corporations are racist and won’t hire African Americans for higher paying jobs?

Mostly, no. Over 80 percent of the time, as Harvard economist Roland Fryer has shown, it’s because black applicants lack the very specific skills to get the better job—and that’s because communities of color are woefully undereducated in underperforming schools. Indeed, the best predictor of one’s subsequent economic success is one’s skill level in eighth grade.

That’s the kind of structural racism that disparate impact reasoning addresses. You might not find any individual racist, but the system is stacked against people of color. That’s how privilege and oppression are maintained—not by villains like Dylann Roof, but by silent, macroeconomic factors that are structural in nature.

More here (Daily Beast)

Addressing the roots of Economic Disparities

afr

 I choose to write about these things because the plight of my people is tied to historical events which most of them do not know about. We are poor today, but how did we become poor. Have we always been poor? Were we created poor? Did evolution design that we would be poor? What happened before the here and now? Every one of them needs to know the unadulterated truth. Unbiased. Pure. I pray to the creator of the heavens and the earth that one day they will know such a truth…and I’ve made it my mission to make sure that as many as are interested, do get to know the truth.

“Sometimes history needs a push.”  — Vladimir Lenin

For the powerful, crimes are those that others commit.” ― Noam Chomsky, Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World

“The best way to predict your future is to create it” ― Abraham Lincoln

I began writing this article over a year ago, and I’m so glad I dithered. Because between then and now, a number of events took place which prompted people who are probably better placed than myself to delve into the debate on inequality, armed with better evidence and statistics.

Firstly we have Suzanne Moore writing for the guardian in an article titled Inequality isn’t inevitable, it’s engineered. That’s how the 1% have taken over in which she says:

 ‘Most wealth, though, is not earned: huge assets, often inherited, simply get bigger not because the individuals who own them are super talented, but because structures are in place to ensure this happens.’

This view is echoed by  Laura Sullivan, Tatjana Meschede, Lars Dietrich, & Thomas Shapiro of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University, who co-authored a report with Amy Traub, Catherine Ruetschlin & Tamara Draut of Demos, a public policy organization. The report titled The Racial Wealth Gap (neatly summarised by this article on Forbes here) which looks at the racial wealth gap in the United States says:

“The racial wealth gap is reinforced by federal policies that largely operate to increase wealth for those who already possess significant assets,” wrote the authors, noting that more than half of the $400 billion in annual federal asset-building subsidies, such to promote homeownership retirement savings, economic investment and access to college, flow to the wealthiest 5% of taxpaying households. The bottom 60% of taxpayers receive only 4% of these benefits.

It’s main findings include:

‘..in 2011 the median white household had $111,146 in wealth holdings, compared to just $7,113 for the median Black household and $8,348 for the median Latino household…’
‘…While 73 percent of white households owned their own homes in 2011, only 47 percent of Latinos and 45 percent of Blacks were homeowners…’

‘…in 2011, the median white household had an income of $50,400 a year compared to just $32,028 for Blacks and $36,840 for Latinos. Black and Latino households also see less of a return than white households on the income they earn: for every $1 in wealth that accrues to median Black households associated with a higher income, median white households accrue $4.06 …’

If the world’s largest economy can have such debilitating inequality, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if data emerged that showed that the problem is far worse elsewhere?

Allow me please to get satirical by introducing a new character from an old YouTube clip by Stan (Warning: Very strong language):

Ignoring Stan’s annoying robotic accent – which reminds me of the adobe acrobat text-to-voice reader – I was struck by just how blatantly forthright his assertions (or allegations if you like) are. But what’s my point with all this:-

1. Inequality and Poverty is engineered.
mndlaNelson Mandela said so, when he said

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”

And it doesn’t matter if you live in Tanzania, Togo, Brooklyn or in a refugee camp in South Sudan. If political leaders across the world wanted to, they could act to combat inequality. Unfortunately they don’t because:-
–Selfish Interests
— Ignorance. There are leaders of countries, and of black communities who were raised to believe they have to be subservient to white supremacy.
— Some of these leaders are afraid of upsetting big business, which funds their political parties
— Among those who genuinely want to orchestrate change for the masses, for the poor, such as Elizabeth Warren in the US, and say Julius Malema in South Africa, you will find that most of these leaders do not have the resources to create an alternative on their own.

2. Religion has been a debilitating cancer upon people of African origin.

If you have been following commentary on African troubles, the chances are you couldn’t have missed this one. Not only have many of the wars that have divided communities which previously lived harmoniously alongside each other been religious in nature (Muslim vs Christian), religion has driven adherents into poverty, allowed systematic and unchecked exploitation of resources by nonreligious often white minorities while the religious majority suffered, praying and believing for salvation or help from some messiah or deity.
I think this picture is much more pronounced in Africa than anywhere else on the globe. It has caused genocides, created poverty that has led to the death of millions of people. It has impeded scientific and personal development, entrenched ignorance and encouraged misinformation.
Religion has created pockets of powerful and extremely wealthy but irresponsible elites living in proximity to extremely poor and vulnerable populations that are tossed about by every wind of ideology, by one heist after another, but which are incapable of successfully challenging the elites;
Religion has created extremism (the likes of Joseph Kony) extremist groups (Boko Haram, Al Shabab) claiming to be fronting some religious line, but who are in all manner and form terrorists bent on terrorism using brutal tactics that instill fear in those who disagree with them.
Religion has also created a dependency culture, where you don’t work hard enough, ‘because God will provide‘, where people say ‘its not by my own strength but by the Lord
And I do agree that whether you believe in a god or not, the paintings of the white Christ (which interestingly have been shown to be historically inaccurate – see here and here) are not exactly confidence-instilling stuff to the undiscerning African youth.
But I’m not saying that there have been no positives to having a faith, no that’s not what I’m saying.
What I’m saying is that it is idiotic for a people who by even the least anthropological research are one, be it in Nigeria, Sudan, Central African Republic, Uganda or Somalia to fight, kill and displace each other from homes and family, in their millions, because one’s pilgrimage is to Mecca, while the other faces Rome or Jerusalem. Its stupidity of the highest order!
If you need more convincing Consider these two articles here and here

3. Africans and black people have for long been made to believe (directly and indirectly) that they are inferior or at least not as good as white people.

The most honest and unbiased books on the subject include Peter Fryer’s Aspects of British Black History and Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain.
DSC_0001_20This assertion is not only false but inherently racist. As I tried to explain here and here, and as my colleague clarified here, this inferiority was invented.
Growing up in Malawi, a deeply religious country, one of the most annoying things I often heard was that ‘Mzungu ndi wa Nzeru‘ (the White man is Clever). I heard it everywhere! From friends, family, even domestic servants used to mention it. They’d say the statement when marvelling at something which they believed to be a western creation (to these people everything fantastic had been made by a white man – and obviously they didn’t know about innovations by non-caucasian people). No doubt they got this message somewhere, someone must have told them that ‘Mzungu ndi wa Nzeru‘?
Fortunately, my immediate family didn’t succumb to this kind of confidence-diminishing tosh. While my family were religious, they knew better and did not subscribe to this racist line. Instead, I was told by my immediate family that my father had been a very intelligent man, and that in our family we were extremely capable.
That if there were people who could do it, it was us.
I was told that no one had failed among my siblings in my father’s family. That if I failed, I would be the first one to do so, and my failure would be a huge disgrace to our whole family, and I would be the object of shame. I was told that my father would be extremely disappointed in me if I didn’t do well. So, from the word go, the pressure was on. I had to perform, there was no other option.
However way you want to interpret this kind of embellished encouragement, the result was that academically, I did very well, won two scholarships and was consistently in the top four of my classes.
My point here is that ideology that shaped western societies has been somewhat dishonest about the mental faculties of black and African people. And too little has been done to correct this anomaly.

4. Both historical and present events have created severe economic disparities between White and Non white people.

Unfair Advantage. That’s the real cause of the Racial Wealth Gap report I refer to above. You will find that this term Unfair Advantage is avoided or sugar-coated in discussions about poverty. When a writer brings it up, it’s often pushed under the carpet.
But it is unmistakably true; the actions of Europeans (and recently the US) throughout the last 500 or more years have given them an unfair advantage over others. And this unfair advantage translates into immense wealth for a significant section of white families, and poverty for the majority of non-white families.
As an example how this wealth trickles, I know a lady in Nottingham, whose husband is the 5th generation owner of their house. The house has been in their family for over 100 years.
But how many people from ethnic minority groups across the UK (or even in the US) have had a property be passed down through the family for over 100 years? Further what percentage of the wealth derived from colonial proceeds have trickled into white families today?

But is it really historical, this inequality?

Economists Graziella Bertocchi & Arcangelo Dimico writing on The historical roots of inequality, on VOX CEPR’s Policy Portal say that:

.. we turn to the impact of slavery on current income disparities and we find that it is indeed associated with a higher degree of income inequality. In other words, former slave counties are more unequal in the present day. They also show a higher poverty rate and a higher degree of racial inequality. Moreover, the data say that the impact of slavery on economic inequality and poverty runs through its impact on racial inequality, and not vice versa.’

So how do you fix it?

Well, as I wrote here, almost 2 years ago now, what should help are a combination of fixes including addressing educational outcomes for black and ethnic minorities. This also means changing the way black people have been taught, with a message that empowers.

You cannot have an empowered black population without a decent level of education that deconstructs the negative stereotypes. And while we are on this topic, giving black people handouts or free money will not help without addressing some of the other problems. Giving them preference in the form of positive discrimination on its own is also unlikely to go very far.

5. There are people who don’t want things to change. Who depend on systems within law that negatively affect black people and ethnic minorities more than they do white people.

Systematic Discrimination. Repression of Black, African and ethnic people. My observations based on a small sample of people I know, and others I’ve read about is that it doesn’t make a difference where you live. Black and African people have been victims of the system.

Whatever the real intentions of that system, the effect has been the same: Subjugation and dispossession leading to debt, poverty and all the associated ills….including bad credit histories, which affects their ability to get loans, which in turn affects their abilities to start businesses and be independent. A perfect storm.

As an example, read this, titled Trillion Dollar Scandal, and tell me how such a thing could be happening in the 21 century? Yet strictly speaking, not all form of siphoning money from developing countries are a crime. So the question becomes who made the rules that allows such plunder to be legal?

6. Black and African people are generally terrible at organising themselves

Again most of the people affected know this, but it’s not thought about any deeper than to accept the situation. Which sounds a bit like: ‘I know I’m disorganised, but what can I do about it’
It’s accepted as the way things are, a permanent disposition than cannot be changed. And when you take this to a community, organisational or even personal level it’s even worse.
In the UK, I’ve been deeply disappointed by some of the African businesses I’ve conducted trade with:-
— the Shipping company that said they would come on a Monday to pick up a consignment but turned up three weeks later on a Friday. No phone call, no email, not even a text to say, ‘Look we’re a bit tied up’ or ‘Theres a problem, we are sorry‘;
— then there was the computer repair shop that promised that my laptop would be fixed by a certain date, only for me to find it hadn’t been fixed when I went to collect it on that date. They didn’t care enough to inform me that the work hadn’t been completed, even a text would have sufficed and I wouldn’t have had to drive 3 miles for nothing. How the hell do they expect to grow as a business if they are so disorganised and have virtually no customer service?? This behaviour may be okay to other Malawians, but it’s not acceptable on a professional level.
— Then there is the church which wanted an event for their youth team. Having bent over backwards to request help from a dance collective run by some Brazilians in London, who put in a lot of effort in planning and creation of a schedule for the youth team, I was disappointed when the whole thing was trashed, after we’d put in so much effort to help them. There was no acknowledgement of our efforts, and in the end I had to apologise to my Brazilian friends for the trouble…
And then there is the time keeping, which frankly can be terrible…. Several years ago, one of my closest friends once turned up for work drunk and with a hangover from the previous night only to inform the befuddled and unamused manager that he wouldn’t be able to stay for work??

I can give many other examples, but I won’t.

However, when these habits permeate into other aspects of your life, such behaviour will vex the majority to the point businesses run by African or black people can lose clients/ potential customers.

The consequence of all this is disorder. And with disorderly conduct, you can’t operate successfully at a higher level or deal with people who have a sense of professionalism. And if you can’t operate a successful business, then you can’t have an income that allows you to train and empower your young people for a lifetime. And if you can’t train and empower your young people and create a positive culture of discipline that is patronised and passed down, then your young people have to find jobs elsewhere, working for someone who may neither give  the right transferable skills (that will help them be independent in the long run) nor pay them adequately.

7. Black and people of African origin are among the most undereducated people on Earth

Allow me to give some links to others who have studied this issue better:-

Why the Poor Stay Poor
Unemployed And Undereducated: Study Finds Black Youth Are Disconnected

14,000 British professors – but only 50 are black 

Black students and the class ceiling

My view is that the situation is a lot worse globally.

8. A historically peaceful disposition and accommodating culture of people of African origin has been used against them

While the arabs were fighting wars in crusades against ‘invaders’ and much recently while militants in Afghanistan and Iraq have been fighting against occupiers, using terrorism and brutal killings (none of which I support) as part of their campaign, in comparison with Africa, the African chiefs of the pre-colonial era were either largely fighting against each other, or welcoming and accommodating foreigners. Dancing to them, selling them slaves, carrying them on chairs. In Malawi for example, most people grew up being told we were ‘friendly people’. And in this fashion, people who for hook or crook took away what belonged to us, were tolerated, even celebrated

sedan-chair
source: usslave.blogspot.com

The result was that while Europeans found it hard to get a foothold in the Middle East, and were knocked back again and again, their attempts in Africa were significantly easier.

In Malawi today we have extremely wealthy foreigners living side by side with very poor people. Their wealth has been passed down the years from generation to generation, whereas the majority of Malawians living in Malawi fail to overcome the grip of poverty.

Inequality is a problem that’s not going to go away unless it is squarely addressed with the intention of ending it. I can bet my life on that.

Other links

Satan’s Neonazi conmen: The Institutional Discrimination and Racism hidden within Immigration (part 1)

racism

“Institutions can behave in ways that are overtly racist (i.e., specifically excluding people-of-color from services) or inherently racist (i.e., adopting policies that while not specifically directed at excluding people-of-color, nevertheless result in their exclusion). Therefore, institutions can respond to people-of-color and whites differently. Institutional behavior can injure people-of-color; and, when it does, it is nonetheless racist in outcome if not in intent.”  via http://racism.org/

“Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.” Arthur Schopenhauer, Essays and Aphorisms

“I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.”  ― Martin Luther King Jr., I Have A Dream

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” —Malcolm S. Forbes.

“Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.”   Muhammad Ali

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” – Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

I was going to subtitle title this post as ‘Stupid & Repressive laws from Stupid & Repressive institutions’, but that subtitle was too long, sounded angry and would have messed up the layout of this article.

A more moderate subtitle would definitely be more effective in getting the important message across. Then I thought of calling it ‘A radical experiment on Immigration’ in a similar fashion to Sam Richard’s brilliant video ‘A radical experiment in empathy’, but that subtitle didn’t explicitly specify the Racism and Discrimination aspects…

A few months ago, I read an article on the Guardian website, in which the writer wrote that “Unless universities realise that merely paying lip service to equality will not eliminate society’s prejudices from their campuses, racism will continue to flourish” [posted on Guardian blogging Students website by one Conrad Landin].

As a migrant who is proud to have come out of two British Universities with two good degrees, I couldn’t agree more. I was racially abused in University (not once or twice), my first encounter with the practice on British soil, but even then I recognised that it was a part of a much bigger and wider problem. A problem that in other forms extended to double gold medallist Mo Farah being stopped and questioned by US customs, over his Somali origins.

Up to the time I began writing this article, I had been asked to write something on immigration and racism by three of my closest friends, and up until recently I gently resisted their requests. Not that I didn’t want to write about the subject or that I didn’t care so much about their requests, nor that it hasn’t affected my own family, no, not because of all that. Instead, it’s quite a painful subject to write about when one’s experiences have been hellish in this regard, and when the institutions involved have caused one’s family members (especially my mother) a lot of grief and hardship. Extremely painful, in more ways than words can describe, so to an extent I was shunning the topic because of the inevitable pain writing about it would cause…..

To put it into perspective, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has been described as Cruel (Roseline’s journey: a kidney transplant patient meets UK Border Agency contractors , Child refugees harmed by ‘cruel’ detention systemState-sponsored cruelty  , Medical Justice : “‘State Sponsored Cruelty’: Children in immigration detention” and here: Child detention is ‘state sponsored cruelty’- report finds); they have been accused of Harrassment; described as Oppressive (The UK Border Agency’s long, punitive campaign against children (helped by G4S and Serco), Not fit for PurposeRacist (Indians to pay £3,000 cash bond deposit for U.K. visa ) , (Why Is the UK Border Agency Racially Profiling People On the Tube?), (Exclusive: Doreen Lawrence pledges to condemn ‘racial profiling’ spot checks in the House of Lords) and (CABIN CRUELTY: MORE TROUBLE AT THE UK BORDERS AGENCY – via Liberty ) which contains the paragraph:

Predictably the UKBA refused to disclose its policy in full. But even what we were shown set alarm bells ringing. There was no provision whatsoever for training staff for aircraft removals – all scenarios related solely to prisons. The approach towards medical care was inconsistent at best, and little or no attention had been paid to de-escalation techniques. It’s not hard to work out that dealing with a distressed deportee on a long flight, confined inside a claustrophobic cabin, might pose particular challenges and health risks. But there was absolutely nothing to suggest the UKBA appreciated this

IncompetentDamning report says practically all UK LGBT asylum claims are being refused; Border Agency “cruel and discriminatory” ) , a law unto itself – a link that contains the paragraph:

“The hearings at the Home Affairs Select Committee enquiring into the running of the UK Border Agency were hard to credit. Keith Vaz, the Chairman of the committee, asked the Head of The UK Border Authority for information about their operations, and the Head of the UKBA replied that he was unwilling to provide said information. It was entirely obvious that the UKBA has become a law unto itself. “

and even Murderous (Jackie Nanyonjo, Jimmy Mubenga and Joy Gardner: all killed by Britain’s racist deportation regime)

The issue has become politicised with people separated from their families ( My battle with Britain’s mean, ineffective immigration system:  ‘Controlling immigration’ means being rude to foreigners — as I found out ); genuine weddings have been wrecked:-

“We travelled down to the venue from Nottingham, only to find that the Bride had been arrested by the Police upon arrival at the Church. It was stated it was due to an Immigration matter. They detained her over night and released her on Sunday without charge. They claimed she had indicated in her application that she was married in the USA and that it was a sham wedding. The girls father had travelled all the way from Malawi, they had friends and guests from all over the country and everything was ruined. The Bride is Malawian who has a USA Green card and lives in America. The groom is a Malawian student who has finished his studies and is waiting for his passport which is with UKBA so that he can leave.They had done all the necessary paperwork to enable them to get married here, gone to the registrar etc and all was in order.”

Even those who served in the armed forces are being harassed.

Another source told me:

“My own sister and niece, who obviously are black – and now American citizens have been denied a visitor visa once, even when they are fully settled in the US, and have no intention of moving to the UK, they have a good life there…much better than what I have here, and at the time of making the application, they supplied all the material that was required for the application…and paid a lot of money, only to have a visa denied, after all that money!”

And all this is just scratching the surface. Indeed the sad stories (that includes staff at UKBA slamming the phone down on nervous applicants) are many and heart wrenching and we don’t have time or room to list them all here.

But how can this kind of treatment of other countries’ nationals be fair game? And why hasn’t the coalition government done something decisive to end the harassment? Do they approve of such heavy-handedness? How many people must die before the UKBA is finally brought to book, and its officers prosecuted? In case you didn’t know, the guardian reported here that detainees at Yarl’s Wood immigration centre were ‘facing sexual abuse’, with guards preying on isolated women at the institution (which is run by Serco), and orchestrating a cover-up. How bad can it get?

Nelson Mandela once said that “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity. To impose on them a wretched life of hunger and deprivation is to dehumanise them.”  In other words, such treatment simply means the victims are being stripped of their humanity; deeply ingrained in the persecutor’s head is the notion that the persecuted are not humans (or are lesser humans). Precisely the very same type of racist ideology that was partially responsible for apartheid, slavery and the holocaust.

Just because it’s happening to a non-white non-British national, does it mean that abuse, cruelty, force, harassment, mental torture, murder and other evils are justified?

Would the British authorities (let alone the officers responsible for these crimes) be happy or content if in quid pro quo fashion, British nationals abroad (there are 5 million of them living outside the UK) were treated inhumanely in the same manner that the UKBA (and its associate agencies) treats migrants here in the UK?

I think not. I think if you showed the majority of British subjects living abroad how migrants are treated by the UKBA, and asked them what they think of the practices, and whether it would be fair game for the authorities in the country in which they are living in to treat them in a similar or identical manner, most would be appalled by the UKBA’s conduct and would not be happy to be treated anything like it.

Someone needs to inject some common sense into this madness…

To some christians in pentecostal and other churches, the UK Border Agency is the very embodiment of Satan, his machinery, the officers – employees of organisations such as Serco and G4S (which have been implicated in numerous heinous scandals [see here, here, here and here]), possessed by his demons.

To aggrieved intellectuals, the UKBA are Neo Nazis, similar in manner to the Gestapo; they are the 21st century’s version of the Ku klux Klan. If their behaviour is anything to go by, there is certainly a case that they have crossed the line, especially with reports (After Serco, what rights do asylum seekers have in detention?) that a manual that authorised guards to use force to incapacitate detainees (including to kick, punch and target pressure points on detainees)  was as recently as last year still in use.

Some say the UKBA is just a money-making scheme (see here , here and here[UK Border agency accused of charging excessive fees for visas – made £225 million PROFIT in 2012]); a profiteering scam with government blessings designed to suck money from already impoverished foreigners (and from wealthy ones); an institutional conduit of funds and a modern-day servitude for the deprivation of foreign nationals. As someone who has had to dish out over £10,000 (a sum that at the time would have completely wiped away all my family’s debts) for one visa or another (including exorbitant solicitors fees), I agree with this allegation to a great extent, and to be honest I’m a little bitter about having had to pay so much. Especially since a lot of that money was paid by my mother, a single parent who at over 60 years of age still had to work (while I was unemployed).

But if you are prepared to use force and even go as far as kill innocent people, to enforce your oppressive laws, what’s a mere low-level scam that causes untold financial hardship?

And this ‘scam’ didn’t start just yesterday. As far back as 2006, some rational people were already questioning the UKBA visa fees policy, with one account in the Financial Times here, stating:

“Students who need visas will already be paying much higher tuition fees than British and other European Union students. If it is argued that if you can afford the tuition fees you can afford the visa fees, a thoroughly incorrect attitude is revealed.

Are we trying to drive away students in need of visas? The visa service is said to be largely self-financing, a typically short-sighted arrangement that ignores the external benefits of accessible visa fees.”

And somehow, despite the complaints against the UKBA, there is nothing wrong with all this, apparently….??

Further, you rarely hear any of their ill-treatment of innocent people in the mainstream media, especially on Tv, which to me is highly suspicious. With the exception of a few bold publications (see Guardian report here) and specialist publications such as New Statesman, which has a story (published March 2013) titled “The UK Border Agency: after four years, a car crash in slow motion finally comes to a stop“, that includes the paragraphs:

“..But incompetence is one thing – cruelty quite another. The fact the new body was kept at arm’s length lead Theresa May to conclude it had created a “closed, secretive and defensive” culture. Staff from sub-contractor Reliance were transporting Roseline Akhalu when she ended up pissing all over herself because she wasn’t allowed to use a toilet. Staff from Tascor – which superceded Reliance – allegedly beat Marius Betondi and broke his nose during a failed deportation attempt. That was one of thousands of distressing cases, the product of a system in chaos.

The failure to prosecute G4S staff over the death of Jimmy Mubenga has been described as “perverse” by the former Chief Inspector of Prisons. Just as it failed to protect victims of torture, so the system failed to protect victims of slavery. The right-wing Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) found a litany of flaws in UKBA’s procedures and concluded that “too often the CSJ has been told that UKBA involvement in the . . .  process acts as a major barrier to victims [of slavery] to make a referral.”…

When a reckless banker misuses the funds of his bank, leading to loss of millions of pounds, it is reported as news, often with glee. When a sea creature is washed up on a beach, the story is reported, even the polar bear cub Knut (who sadly died 2 years ago) received so much publicity!

Is the media saying that such ill-treatment of innocent people (who are HUMANS) as reported in the articles above is not newsworthy?? Or is something more sinister going on?

The way I see it, the silence of large media houses suggests either an indifference (in the same way as Hitler was initially tolerated before everybody realised [rather late] he was pure filth and evil) by the media to atrocious treatment of migrant by UKBA (i.e. we don’t think it’s news) – a massive miscalculation and a failure of judgement; or the silence suggests complicity (i.e. let them get on with it, somebody has got to do it).

In addition, you rarely hear of anyone white, especially from non-EU countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the US or even countries such as Israel being mistreated or harassed?? In the 11 years that I have been living in Britain, and following these issues, I’ve never read a single report of people from these countries being a victim. Instead by far the majority of those who are victimized by what is by all appearances a Neo Nazi fascist organisation are Black Africans, Afro-Caribbeans, Arabs or Asians, which is appalling and quite shameful in a post-apartheid post-slavery 21st century.

It doesn’t speak well at all of Britain’s race relations, or indeed its Human Rights record.

So, given the material I possessed, part of the reason I hesitated in writing this article is because I was still trying to resolve my thoughts and feelings regarding what my true position on the topic was.

And since its pretty clear that there was nothing positive about the Nazi’s, I’m struggling to find anything positive about the UK Border Agency.

Also, the fact that the topic was too broad and requiring formal research didn’t make it easy. Add to that the many facets deserving consideration, the history, multiple implications for the lives of tens of people I know and thousands I don’t know, and the picture couldn’t be fuzzier. That was until a couple of months ago, when a friend told me of his ordeal, which although not as heart wrenching as some of the above cases, demonstrates that the problem is not only in the UK, and even when you have legal status, if you are an ethnic minority, discrimination is everywhere.

Good friend A lives in England with his family (a wife and 3 young kids – the oldest is 6), and has a good job. ‘Good job’ meaning he’s in a managerial position with 8 people below him and earns a good salary. He lives in a 4 bedroom house, and has some savings. Good friend A regularly supports at least 5 relatives back in Africa from his salary (almost every month). I know all this because he told me. He holds a Malawian passport and has travelled extensively over the last 10 years or so, to Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria and other European countries. Recently he wanted to attend a 2 day music festival in a European country with his family. Having made his visa application, showing the festival tickets which costed him around €200 in total, the officials at this country’s embassy in London told him to book his hotel, which he did, spending an additional €200 even when he didn’t know when they would issue the visa, and therefore when he would travel. Then, just before the weekend of the event (and too late for him to cancel his hotel) they requested that he submit additional documents, even when he had supplied everything that was stipulated on both their website and their application forms. Then he went for the interview at the embassy, to find staff who were so haughty, condescending and disparaging, he came out feeling disgusted.  Suffice to say, he missed his festival, and €500 (including the cost of the visa and trip to the embassy) went down the drain.

I’d love to say that there is no racial discrimination in the immigration system, but I’m afraid as all the above demonstrates I can’t. There are too many stories like those above – whose victims are ethnic minorities – which suggests otherwise.

If you look across Europe, just as its undeniable that there has been an increase in ‘hostilities’ against muslims (another type of largely baseless discrimination), there’s an ‘anti-immigrant wave’ blowing across the continent, in France, Sweden, and other countries, and a large part of that wave is directed towards non-white, non-european migrants from outside the EU.

But I’m not saying that there are no other aspects of immigration worth considering. It is perfectly clear that not everybody can live in Europe, or America, or Canada or Australia, for all sorts of reasons (and I’m going to outline them in my next post), but to exclude and discriminate against people robotically on the basis of their race and nationality is in my view simply wrong. To use force to wreck lives without a basis is inexcusable, to harass people who have a genuine case is atrocious, to kill innocent people or separate families is a criminal act.

In addition, I’m concerned that very few people are prepared to ask, why are all these people wanting to live here, and not in their own countries, what is happening in their own countries that’s causing them to want to live here?

And predictably with such pressure and harassment some people get desperate, and in an attempt to stay in the country from which they are being threatened with removal utilise every means possible, from fake passports to shady lawyers. The effect, it diminishes the credibility in the genuine cases of other migrants such that everyone is viewed with suspicion.

And because usually with such stories, people have had some extremely bad and painful experiences, emotions run high, and some can be dismissive. One friend recently declared:- “the west pillaged resources from other continents, and then created a ‘apartheid’ immigration system, a walled fortress to keep out everyone from the wealth that was built on the proceeds of the plunder. You see it in Canada, in Australia, in the US, in Britain and most western economies.” 

And in countries which have non-white ‘native populations’ such as Australia and the US, the parodies are never in short supply:

grg

Many years ago, I used to wonder, why some people fail to forgive. Why some people get hardened. What exactly is happening in their hearts? Why can’t they just let things go? For example why is retaliation the song of the day between Israel and Palestine? Why can’t one of them say,

Look we’ve caused each other too much pain already, enough lives have been lost, enough is enough, this has got to stop. This ends now.”

I couldn’t understand it. Then recently, while doing research for this article, that led me to places where I heard views from many people who have been affected by the Immigration system in the UK, I began to see it, I began to realise that sometimes, undue persecution, institutional harassment and violation can run so deep, and the unhealed wounds can continue to be painful after so many years, and be so many of them, such that forgiveness is impossible. It appears like one can literally lose the capacity to forgive. In such out of control circumstances, I can imagine why an eye truly and only calls for another eye.

Similar links

Imagine an African continent…” – Kofi Annan

Among the comments underneath the video on YouTube are:

1. “I want to be optimistic but judging from the butt licking seen at a recent Africa Business Forum (held in Dubai), I can assure you the African has a long way to go. It’s about change of mindset. Nobody is interested in HELPING you, they want your RESOURCES stupid! I almost plucked my lashes on hearing Prime Ministers, Ministers and top African leaders trashing each other and worshiping foreign. Over 50+ years after independence, you still cannot put your house in order! African Union my foot!”

2. “I wish this message is played over over in the bedrooms of these insensitive leaders in Africa.”

and

3. “Bless u Papa”

The issue Annan addresses is one that is critical to Africa’s economic development. Africa will not develop if African leaders are squandering African resources. If they are giving away Africa’s riches liberally. It appears like few African leaders ever question whether the contracts they sign with investors are truly in the country’s best interest. Do they ask third-parties for comment, or solicit views from across the country? Is there even a consultation?

Remember my observations here, about ENI which has been given a 70% interest in a Natural Gas finding off the coast of Mozambique? That’s precisely the unwise decisions which Annan refers to. Surely, there is little justification in giving away such a large interest, when Mozambique has more need for such resources which are essential to help it in eradicating poverty. Mozambique could have bought the required equipment and done the appraisal or exploration themselves. In the current global economic crisis, where jobs are scarce, I’m not convinced that anyone would have struggled to find the right talent, with the right experience to do the job to a satisfactory level of competence. In any case, no Mozambican (or African) company is likely to ever be awarded such a large interest in a natural resource in Italy (or indeed in Europe, America, or in Asia).

It’s simply not going to happen, and the Italians would never allow their government such obtuse liberties. Certainly not to the tune of $10 billion.

How then can African leaders justify giving away that much wealth, when their country folk are poor, and when the technology for mapping, finding and extracting Natural gas is somewhat elementary? And readily available. It’s not Space Science, or Nuclear Physics. But even if it were, in the current recession where governments are pushing for cuts throughout the western world, how many Nuclear Physicists or Space scientists, or Geophysical surveyors or Engineers out there are currently out of a job, and would relish such a challenge for less than $150,000 a piece, saving Mozambican government billions? Did the Mozambican government even consider doing the exploration or extraction itself using employed staff?

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a sobering question. Despite the fact that ENI have already sold part of that stake to the Chinese, do you know where the money they get from this deal will go? As in what does a company that makes billions in profits do with an additional $10 billion or more?

Will it be used to build schools or hospitals in Mozambique, some of which unfortunately look like this:

Or would the majority of such funds be used to multiply ENI’s wealth, possibly to issue dividends to ENI’s shareholders in Italy & Europe (or other industrialised and rich countries), where their schools and hospitals look like this:

Where will the majority of this money be invested? In Italy, in Europe? Or  in Africa?

If you showed the contents on this blogpost to any Mozambican, and asked them where in their view those resources are most required, what do you think they will  answer you?

I’d like to know how much (if any) of the actual monetary benefit ENI receives from this interest eventually remains in Mozambique ( for use in development, for Mozambican banks to make investment in foreign markets, etc). Surely if we are to take what Annan seems to clearly allude, Mozambique is the rightful owner of the natural resource. Why then should they receive peanuts from it? Shouldn’t they receive the lions share?

I’m not saying that ENI hasn’t contributed to social programs in Africa, or in other parts of the world, where they have operations,no that’s not what I’m saying. To the contrary ENI has supported social programs, most recently in Libya.

My point is, if European and American companies display wildly unrestrained greed in the form of behavior that suggests that they do infact own African resources, and African politicians are unable, unwilling or pressured from objecting to grossly unfair deals that are ‘discriminatory’ in every meaning of the word, and clearly unfair; and if civil society is unable to force African governments to renegotiate these unfair contracts (ideally before they are signed), how does anyone expect the continent of Africa to ever achieve economic development??When the resources that matter, and could make a huge difference to millions of lives, are given away so easily, moving only from South to North, or only from South to East, or from South to West??

Similar:

1. Who Owns the Land? Cameroon’s Large-Scale Land-Grabs

2. ‘The Resource Curse’: Why Africa’s Oil Riches Don’t Trickle Down to Africans

3. Africa Debate: Will Africa ever benefit from its natural resources?

4. Scramble for Africa

5.  Resource curse not the only reason for Africa’s poverty

6. Gazprom Said to Seek Stake in Eni’s Gas Assets in Mozambique