An Open Letter To Labour Party’s Chakrabarti Inquiry From A Group Of Africans Concerned About The Inquiry’s Focus & Language
May 25 2016
We the undersigned note that the Labour Party has set up the Chakrabarti Inquiry (Inquiry) to investigate “Anti-Semitism and other forms of racism”.
We are of the view that the terms of reference: ‘Anti-Semitism and other forms of Racism’ are unwittingly discriminatory, as racism against Jewish people is set apart from racism and prejudice against other peoples, particularly Africans (Afriphobia) and Muslims (Islamophobia).
Even though there is only one race, the human race, a more appropriate title could be on the lines of ‘Investigation into Racism, which includes Afriphobia, Anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia’.
We note that over the years there have been allegations of racism towards Africans (Africans from the continent of Africa and Africans from the Diaspora) and Asians within and outside the Labour Party, but no independent public inquiry has been set up to investigate these allegations.
Undoubtedly the Jewish holocaust (properly known among the Jewish people as Shoah) is a terrible blight on human history, but we must remember that there were holocausts before and after. The Congolese holocaust in the name of King Leopold II, is said to have claimed 10 millions lives.
The holocaust perpetrated on Africans, also properly known by African people by the Kiswahili words Maafa or Maangamizi, led to the deaths of tens of millions of Africans in holding cells on the continent of Africa, in the process of capture and kidnappings, in the Middle Passage, in enslavement and plantation systems in the Americas, Caribbean, and in the German-governed death camps in Namibia.
The survivors of the Middle Passage suffered unimaginable torture and hardships at the hands of enslavers and plantation owners, and their descendants continue to suffer acute deprivation and are the object of discrimination and racism in America and in the UK, where they are under represented at every level of public life, including in the Labour Party, and over-represented on all indices of social deprivation and criminalisation.
It is for this reason that pan-African Reparation organisations continue to work on repairing the damage to Africans and Africa caused by the trafficking of enslaved Africans, colonialism and neo colonialism. This damage is still being experienced by people of African heritage today.
How is it that commentators can freely blame Africans for the atrocities they suffered with little understanding of the context of the Maangamizi or Maafa without any public uproar? In addition, the school curriculum does not currently teach sufficiently about non-European civilisations, the contributions of non-Europeans to world civilisation or the uncomfortable truths about the British Empire. This in itself contributes to the structural racism which is in society in general, including the Labour Party, where ignorance of the history of the peoples of Africa pervades.
Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are recognised as challenges that need to be addressed, but Afriphobia is so ingrained in our society that it is not acknowledged as an issue that needs to be challenged, or called by its specific name.
People of African heritage can be vilified and even blamed for the genocide they suffered without any public inquiry or calls for a public inquiry. However when comments perceived to be negative are made about Zionism or the state of Israel, this is perceived at times to be anti-Semitic by those who do not like the comments, whether or not these claims are supported by evidence. This often results in suspensions from the Party and other unfair censures.
We reject the idea that opposition to Zionism or the Israeli government is necessarily anti-Semitism.
The United Nations has declared 2015-2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent, and has recognised that Africans represent a distinct group whose human rights must be promoted and protected.
We therefore call upon the Inquiry to investigate and accord equal importance to Afriphobia and its manifestations within and outside the Labour Party.
We also ask the Inquiry not to unwittingly promote discrimination by the exclusion of the Afriphobia* terminology, and advocate the use of the AAEM (African, Asian, Ethnic Minority) terminology instead of BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) which excludes the African identity.
* We define Afriphobia as: The prejudice or discrimination against; fear, hatred, or bigotry towards people of African heritage and things African.
Awula Serwah, Africans For JC Values secretary
Kwaku (RE:IMI (Race Equality: In Music industry))
Dr KB Asante
Adekayode Oke (AFRIKAATUUU Convention for Afrikan Networking (AFRIKAATUUU-CAFRINET), Nigeria)
Adwoa Oforiwaa Adu (All-Afrikan Students Union Link in Europe (AASULE))
Althea Gordon-Davidson (Pan-Afrikan Community Educational Services (PACES))
Beverley Wong (Momentum Black ConneXions)
Boucka Stephane Koffi (Pan-Afrikan Fora International Support Coordinating Council (PAFISCC))
Chris Jones (Africans For JC Values)
Esther Stanford-Xosei (Global Afrikan Peoples Parliament)
Darla Migan (Vanderbilt University, US)
Delia Mattis (Momentum member)
Dr Barryl Biekman (Europe-Wide NGO Consultative Council on Afrikan Reparations (ENGOCCAR), Holland)
Enigye Adjoa Ayebea, Grassroots All-Afrikan Women's Internationalist Solidarity Sisterhood (GAAWISS), Ghana)
Explo Nani-Kofi (Kilombo Centre for Citizens' Rights and African Self-Determination, Ghana)
Glenroy watson (RMT London Transport Regional Council, Global Afrikan Congressuk)
Jackie Walker (Momentum, South Thanet Labour Party (suspended), LRC Executive and Labour Briefing Editorial Board)
Kofi Mawuli Klu (Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe)
Kwame Adofo Sampong (Trade Unions and the Pan-Afrikan Community Link (TUPACOL))
Kwame Dede Akuamoah (NKRUMAHBUSUAFO Kwame Nkrumah Convention Family Movement, Ghana)
Linda Bellos (Linda Bellos Associates)
Maatyo Dede Azu (ADZEWAGBETO Pan-Afrikan Women's Liberation Union (ADZEWAGBETO-PAWLU), Ghana)
Marlene Ellis (Momentum Black ConneXions)
Mawuse Yao Agorkor (VAZOBA Afrika and Friends Networking Open Forum (VAZOBA-AFNOF), Ghana)
Nana Asante (Africans For JC Values, Momentum member)
Omowale Ru-Pert-em-Hru (Pan-Afrikan Society Community Forum)
Nehemie Zeguen Toure (Mouvement Social Panafricain pour le Development Integral (MSPDI), Cote d'Ivoire)
Ngoma 'Silver' Bishop (Bema Arts)
Opeyemi Araromi (Pan-African Congresses-United Kingdom Organising Committee (PACs-UKOC))
Professor Lewis Gordon (University of Connecticut, US, Rhodes University, South Africa, Birkbeck School of Law, UK, Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, France)
Professor Paget Henry (Brown University, US)
Prophet Kweku & Jendayi Serwah (Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March Committee (AEDRMC))
Samantha Asumadu (Media Diversified)
Shemi Leira (Momentum Black ConneXions)
Simeon Stanford (Afrikan Reparations Transnational Community of Practice (ARTCoP))
Sumana Nandi (Grassroots Women's Internationalist Solidarity Action Network (GWISAN), India)
Toyin Agbetu (Ligali Organisation)
Wedam Abassey (Forum of Nkrumaist Thought and Action (FONTA), Ghana)
Xolanyo Yawa Gbafa (EDIKANFO Pan-Afrikan Youth and Students Internationalist Link (EDIKANFO-PAYSIL), Ghana)