Who Is Black In UK? And Who Are The Beneficiaries Of Black Programmes And Funding? Version 2

Following on from George Floyd's Afriphobic murder, and the #BlackOutTuesday, #TheShowMustBePaused and #BlackLivesMatter/#AfricanLivesMatter campaigns, there's been a number Black-focused programmes and funding. This article calls for the clarification of who Black refers to, as it has an ambiguous meaning in the UK.

JustSayAfrican

Who Is Black In UK? And Who Are The Beneficiaries Of Black Programmes And Funding? Version 2

Aug. 14 2020

May 25 2020, which ironically was Africa Day, was the day much of the world witnessed the slow death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Floyd was an African man, and what played out in plain sight was the ultimate form of Afriphobia – racism or discrimination against an African person.

Following Floyd’s death, African communities in and outside the US demonstrated their anger and disapproval of this wanton killing of an African by a police officer.

And like never before, non-Africans, particularly European youths and corporate America, demonstrated their solidarity and allyship with a tragic African experience. The former marched, demonstrated, and some carried Black Lives Matter placards. The latter, particularly music companies that supported the June 2 #BlackOutTuesday and #TheShowMustBePaused initiatives, talked about career progression programmes for African American executives, and funding for anti-racism and Black community projects.

The same sort of thing is being replicated in Britain. However, the point of this article is to raise the issue of how imprecise language is bound to potentially disadvantage the people that these current Black programmes and funding are supposedly aimed at.

That’s why one has to ask: “Who is black in UK? And who are the beneficiaries of Black programmes and funding?”

It must be noted that our use of African refers to all people of African heritage, irrespective of whether they come from the African continent, the US, the Caribbean, or are born in the UK.

In the US, when they talk about Black, it unequivocally refers to African people. However in the UK, it isn’t necessarily the case. From my experience, apart from the reference to so-called ‘Black on Black crime’, where it unambiguously refers to African people, Black in other circumstances, particularly were funding is involved, can sometimes mean the political Black. That’s akin to BAME, which we eschew, preferring to use AAME (African, Asian, Minority Ethnic) umbrella term.

Here in the UK, we’ve seen in the last few weeks music organisations make pledges to Black and BAME communities. Although we don’t like it, we understand BAME is an umbrella term for essentially non-European and other racially discriminated groups, as is BME (Black, Minority Ethnic). But when Black is used in isolation, it’s very difficult to understand who it specifically refers to. That’s why in our soon to be published ‘RE:IMI Black Out Tuesday UK Music Industry Race Diversity Report’, we were upfront in trying to talk in terms of Africans and AAME.

There is a presumption that Black refers to African people. This not always correct. Therefore the use of Black by music industry organisations must be interrogated for clarity. Or better still, these organisations ought to take it upon themselves to offer such clarifications within their literature. The exception might be the Musicians’ Union, whose use of Black can be assumed to be the political Black, which most unions use as an expression of solidarity with racialised people.

Hence, in the case of the newly formed Black Music Coalition, which aims to work for the betterment of UK Black executives, we asked who the Black referred to. The answer was that the Black referred to African people. We got the same answer from Women In CTRL, which recently published a gender-facing music industry diversity report which includes analyses of Black women representation on executive teams or boards, or who are chairs or CEOs.

There have been two recently closed funding streams, which it is easy to assume are for African people. It might be understandable if one thought that way about funding by MOBO, on account of the organisation being about promoting black music. But the MOBO Help Musicians Fund clearly states that it is open to any creative “working within any genres of music of black origin”. So race/ethnicity was irrelevant. However race/ethnicity was relevant in the case of the PRS Foundation’s Sustaining Creativity Fund*, as it was targeted at “Black music creators, working in any genre”. Except there was no clarity as to who the Black referred to.

Take the BBC’s Creative Diversity Commitment, for example. It talks of its response to the George Floyd murder, then mentions Black people in one breath and BAME communities in another, and trumpets a £100m commitment over the next 3 years for diverse programming. There’s no guarantee what percentage will benefit people of African heritage.

There’s a whole raft of programmes and funding that’s come on stream or are in the works, as a consequence of George Floyd’s Afriphobic murder. If the raison d’etre is to redress the decades, if not centuries of discrimination and marginalisation of African people, then there should be no obfuscation – be overt in mentioning and talking about African people! And if one must use Black, then clarify who it refers to.

There should be no apology batting for the African cause, if those who express solidarity and allyship with the African experience and #BlackLivesMatter/#AfricanLivesMatter sloganisation, recognise that the African is usually at the wrong end of the social indices, from employment, career progression, prison sentences, to deaths in custody, to mention a few. It ain’t going to change, if African-focused remedial programmes aren’t put into place.

It is worth pointing out that this race-facing discourse and changes are taking place in the middle of the UN’s International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD) 2015-24.

In essence, this UN initiative recognises the pervasive discrimination and disadvantage faced by African people globally. It urges member states and organisations that are so minded to, among other things, to promote a greater knowledge and respect for the diverse heritage, history, culture and contribution of African people to the development of societies. This can only be achieved by a willingness to combat systemic and structural racism within organisations, and the wider society.

We believe any George Floyd/#TheShowMustBePaused inspired initiatives should be focused essentially on redressing the endemic disadvantage experienced by African employees, consumers and communities. And as stated before, this can only come about if there’s a genuine effort to combat systemic and structural racism within organisations and the wider society.

Just as organisations have recently had a reawakening of their race/ethnicity-facing diversity responsibilities – and there’s been some frank talk on the matter in the RE:IMI Report – we believe we need clarity as to the language used in diversity and anti-racism programmes.

Without unambiguous language, there’s the potential that once again African pain, will be someone else’s gain. Beneficiaries have to be overtly identified. If it’s African people, state it. If it’s for AAME communities or subsets within that, be clear about it.

There’s also a need to start using Afriphobia within anti-racism discourse, when speaking specifically about racism against African people. Not to mention there’s a tendency among anti-racists to omit Afriphobia, when other forms of racism are listed. For example, although BBM/BMC and RE:IMI support the #NoSilenceInMusic letter, we nevertheless had to point out to the organisers that they were remiss in not including Afriphobia, when mentioning other forms of racism, such as anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Hopefully the awareness will grow, as there are presently discussion forums on identity terminologies. Some aim to advocate for councils, statutory, voluntary and political organisations to adopt Afriphobia, whilst others are aiming for the eventual ban on the use of BAME. Incidentally, last month Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre dropped the use of BAME.

Indeed, we’d hope in the interest of getting a clearer handle on appropriate language, especially anti-racism activists and EDI (Equality, Diversity & Inclusion) professionals, would join our associated Zoom meeting: African History Reflection Day 2020: Interrogating Language Of Identity on Aug. 31, which is focused on identity politics and language.

Kwaku
bbmbmc@gmail.com
BBM/BMC (BritishBlackMusic.com/Black Music Congress)
RE:IMI (Race Equality: In Music Industry)

*It’s since been brought to our notice that the PRS Foundation’s Sustaining Creativity Fund actually does list African heritage ethnicity categories within the eligibility section. We’ve however suggested that the first instance of the mention of Black should either be followed by the eligible ethnic categories, or by an asterisk, which puts the reader on notice to look out for clarification elsewhere in the publicity material.

The Marcus Garvey Annual Pan-Africanism Presentation 2020 Anniversary Forum
Aug. 17, 6-9pm

African History Reflection Day 2020: Interrogating Language Of Identity
Aug. 31, 6-9pm

Comments

Hi I would to join and be a member to be able to participate in zoom meetings and conferences


    Booking links are in article


Why annual?.EVERY DAY is his day. Marcus Garvey is so important in the lives of the descendants of Africa so much so that when I woke up in my childish dream of an African and why are we so miseducated, I set up the SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF AFRICA (SADA) (Africanization Society) at 2509 22nd Street NE, Washington, DC 20018-2121 TEL: 240-417-0299 Fax: 301-593-0576 and proclaimed to the whole world that we, Africans, the descendants of enslaved Africans are the most important peopple in the world because we are the first of all creation of humanity and no color can exist without black and I am still wondering why the Europeans and Arabs never said anything about us all the years we have been with them and they tried to usurp our history in our book the Bible. Do you know that only Africans and our history are recorded in the Bible. You can search anywhere in the world and will not find any written record on the Europeans and Arabs by any group of people.in the world. Yes, and we owe our resurrection from buried alive to Marcus Garvey and no school in the world teaches anything about him and for that I am requesting all Africans to join us at the Africandiasporadirectorate.org or AfDiDi.org..


    Thanks for your feedback. I wish you all the best with your daily celebration of Marcus Garvey. Since you mention the Bible, I guess that’s the same as Christians ought to be celebrating Jesus every day, but do we? Peace


We black people are the only people in denial of ourselves, we don’t know if we are black or afrikan. I sometimes hear my people been referred to as afrikan and black but its is not recognisable by all that we are either black or afrikan.

Yet we are marginalize as political black, cheek, that’s white supremacy practicing their say as to who they can bully which is always us or the BAME, we are black supremacy too, only we where disturbed in our history which has created all this indifference within our race. Black Supremacy was first which present other races and now we are marginalised by followers.


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