21 May 2020 — Institute of Race Relations – Weekly Digest – Against Racism, for Social Justice
Dangerous ‘race’ thinking is on the rise, warns black health activist Wayne Farah, in a think-piece for IRR News this week, that warns that the New Right and the ‘race realists’ are attempting to use public inquiries into Covid-19 excess deaths as a battlefield for the normalisation of scientific and cultural racism. Whether we be community activists or health care professionals, NHS managers or trades unionists, we need to tackle these retrogressive arguments head on. What is really needed is an independent investigation into the extent to which racism today is the hidden public health crisis, he argues.
As well as attempts to obscure an examination of the impact of structural racism on Covid-19 deaths, the other side of the coin is the intensification of structural racism on the streets, in the name of public health. Our calendar of racism and resistance documents a shocking increase in the number of stop and searches carried out despite the streets being far emptier, as well as police lockdown abuse against Roma and Traveller communities in Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland.
In his latest piece for IRR News John Grayson, raises serious questions as to what is happening to former immigration detainees during the lockdown in the UK. He investigates the death of Adnan Olbeh, a Kurdish Syrian refugee who died in an ‘asylum’ hotel in Glasgow – the latest victim of the government’s hostile environment policy. Adnan was one of hundreds of asylum seekers forcibly evicted from their flats in April and transported to hotels, under Home Office directives. It seems that the UK government is returning to ‘business as usual’, as the Immigration Bill, which removes free movement rights from EU citizens and severely restricts the immigration of ‘unskilled’ workers, passes its first commons stage, despite recognition that the pandemic has changed public attitudes towards those the government considers ‘unskilled’.
IRR News team
As Public Health England conducts its controversial rapid review into Covid-19 disparities, lurking in the background is a new school of ‘race realists’ whose retrogressive biological arguments must be tackled head-on.
The death of Adnan Olbeh on 5 May in a Glasgow ‘asylum’ hotel raises serious questions as to what is happening to former immigration detainees during the lockdown. John Grayson of South Yorkshire Migration & Asylum Action Group continues his investigations.
A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe.