Hi Michael,

I hadn't heard of the organisation SUTR, but I've now joined... Thanks for your bit in making this country decent - your work in Harlow sounds really important. 

Thanks Furtherfield for enduring and caring and being a focus for so much good work and many good people.

In sorrow, 
Ann

On Mon, Jun 19, 2017 at 5:19 PM, Michael Szpakowski <m@michaelszpakowski.org> wrote:
There clearly has been a rise in Islamophobia recently , fuelled in no small measure by the government's attempt to scapegoat all Muslims with the despicable Prevent strategy. We also saw the beginning of an attempt by May to ratchet this up with her 'Enough is enough' speech towards the end of the election campaign.
I wanted to say, though, that it's important not to sink into despair.
I've been very active around Stand up to Racism over the last year and I've experience some interesting and often counter intuitive things.
When Arek Jozwik was killed in Harlow last year the vigil we organised a couple of nights after was attended by significant numbers of the white working class poor who live in the area. These will statistically have been 'leave' voters...
We've campaigned pretty much every week since then, largely around opposition to racism ,in the town centre on Saturday mornings. It was certainly not always easy going but there was always a minority of people willing to engage. ( especially the young, in a prefiguring of the huge pro Corbyn upswell)
We also held a 60 strong rally against racism in early March -again very much dominated by the under twenties.
What changed the atmosphere completely was the Labour manifesto - all of a sudden people had hope, focussed on improving the lives of all not 'competing for resources' ( a myth of course - stop spending millions on Trident, on wars of intervention and tax the rich and resources would be no problem, but a potent myth especially in the absence of hope that things might change). Even after the two horrendous attacks in Manchester then London this enthusiasm and this change of atmosphere was maintained -we heard very  little overt racism and experienced next to no hostility.
This has continued since the election with the humiliation of both May and UKIP - what was interesting last week though was that although the racists were in a small minority they were coming out with all sorts of filth around Grenfell ( but once again large numbers of people were signing the May must go, people not profit, working class lives matter ,petition ).
In short I'd put forward three propositions.
(1) Racism  and Islamophobia are clearly a major problem and  one encouraged by this weak and nasty government
(2) We are not, though, powerless bystanders -whether it's directly combatting the racists through SUTR or offering hope through agitating for this government to go and for us to have the very real chance of one committed to a real improvement in the lives of ordinary people there is lots of very concrete, very practical work to do.
(3) Although there will be some ways in which artists can bring their specific talents to bear in this ( I have got very good for example at making large banners each week:

 )

we should participate along with as many and diverse people as we can in organising, protesting, demonstrating... This is not a time for any sort of guild mentality but for getting stuck in.

I particular urge anyone in the UK not a member of Stand Up To Racism to join today.



best wishes to all
Michael


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