The people of Hackney stand up to prejudice, igonrance and xenophobia in their recent Stand Up to Racism meeting.
A little over 150 people showed up and every seat was filled, with some supporters taking up positions on the oversized windowsills and listened intently as the speakers told of their personal thoughts and encounters with racism.
The main speaker, Labour MP Dianne Abbott, delivered a speech rebuking everyone from Nigel Farage, Trump, his bed-partner Steve Bannon, all the way to her very own Labour government.
Abbott made it clear, that the biggest political agenda right now, the fear which is being instilled in people, is a tool used by the politicians and the mass media to distract them from the real issues.
This idea of scapegoating was a central part of her speech as she criticised all politicians, especially the Labour government “who should know better,” for blaming immigrants for their own failures as a government.
“Let me make this clear, immigrants don’t drive down wages and conditions, predatory employers, weakened trade unions and globalisation does that.”
She also talked about the divisions of the past between Irish and British workers which still plague the UK today. That this type of divisive thinking has done nothing to improve the country or the culture in any way.
The real issues, she said, are the ones everyday workers face such as short-term contracts, where employers purposely employ people on casual or part-time contracts to avoid paying benefits and pay less taxes.
“Anybody who thinks that the real solution to that is to exacerbate splits between the different types of working people, they clearly don’t have the interest of the working class.”
But the speaker who really sparked the humanity in all those attending was Gary Younge, the author and journalist from Guardian.
His speech was a deeply personal tale of his experience with racism in Paris intertwined with the politics in history and the way things are today. His speech ended with a lound and extended applause. Watch in full below:
Later in a closing statement Younge had this to say:
“I don’t fight islamophobia because I like muslims. I don’t fight anti-semitism because I like jews. I fight those things because they’re bad. I’m black and I know loads of bad black people, I know that goodness and badness knows no boundaries of race or religion. But however bad some of them may be, I’m a better person for [fighting] it. And society is a better society for [fighting] it, I do it because it makes things better. Not because they are better or worse people.”