There is a huge amount of political activism within ALL communities. Although white anti-war activists recognise that communities of colour are engaged in longstanding struggles against white supremacy and for self determination, most do not see, or want to see, the linkage between these struggles and building the anti-war movement. BAME communities suffer daily injustices. As a black peace activist said ‘We are at war every day. Every day I come home injured’. Global Peace becomes more an abstract intention as activism is needed to simply survive. Many in the BAME community have fear of taking part in front line actions. As an example, the ‘War on Terrorism’ has a huge effect on the BAME community as in the media their ‘skin colour’ identifies them as being ‘terrorists’ and they don’t wish to iite more trouble onto themselves by engaging in front line political activism. They might risk becoming the target. “I can’t do the same type of activism right now that a white person can because I have so much more to lose”
There is a need to focus on what is immediate, not an abstract of peace based on colonial and capitalist realities. The whole system has to change before ‘no war’. Activism to “stop war” without addressing the inequalities, poverty and injustices throughout the world and the white domination which perpetuates it will ensure that the military machine and resulting wars will continue. It is an overwhelming task, therefore there is a tendency to concentrate on one aspect; but everything is so inter-connected. We need to all strategise together and addressing racism is central.
In an open letter signed by 15 anti-war activists in the US concerning racism in the anti-war movement:
“Most white activists don’t see how ‘whiteness’ privileges them and perpetuates white supremacist social relations in movement work. White activists have a responsibility to struggle against white supremacy, a struggle that includes:
- sharing leadership with, and being willing to follow the lead of people and organizations of color.
- Maintaining an attitude of collectivity and not dominating discussion
- Challenging racist language and actions (especially within movement spaces)
- Prioritizing the issues, experience and struggles of people of color.
Although this open letter was written in 2003, from my experience in many organisations, these sentiments sadly hold as strong today as they did then.
For mass movements to be effective they need to become the mainstream. But if this ‘mainstream’ is viewed as white, and middle class, even though the movement is multicultural and multiracial, then only the ‘white voice’ is listened to and taken notice of. The BAME communities have many other ‘battles’ to be fought rather than be marginalised yet again. ‘White’ is not just the colour of skin but a ‘signifier’ of many differential and discriminating historical associations, institutions, political and societal structures. The BAME communities have to try and fit into this, but are excluded and marginalised but the whole point being made clear is the need to CHANGE THE STRUCTURES, HISTORICAL BALANCE OF POWER TO FORGE A NEW AND TRUE EQUALITY.
WE HAVE TO BE AN INTEGRAL PART OF THIS.
- I ask myself when did I last talk to and listen to someone from the BAME community about their thoughts about war and racism and their daily lives?
- How many people from the BAME community are in any peace or anti-war groups you are part of?
- How many are in a decision making role?
- What have we done in MAW to listen to, engage with and become involved with all communities?
- How shall we in MAW reframe, re-examine and refocus ‘our’ ways of approaching activism which is truly multi racial and multi cultural?
- If you feel very comfortable and heard in the organisations and spaces you’re part of, have a look at why that is. Would that be the case for someone coming from a different class background, a different ethnic background, a different country of origin, someone visibly queer? If you think it would, are you sure?
‘No Justice, No Peace’