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Global unity and belief

Simon-in-GenevaIn a speech to a United Nations conference on ‘minority issues’, Simon Woolley of Operation Black Vote says that the election of Barack Obama gives us every reason to believe in our own self-worth

“We find ourselves in a special place here in Geneva, a place with a great history in the struggle for Human Rights. Equally we have a special space over the next few days in which we highlight our individual challenges, share ideas, and above all consolidate our global solidarity.

But who are we and why are we here? We are minority voices. Sometime we are minority people. Not always, of course: In Brazil, Black people are the majority and yet like many of us across the globe we are the minority power.

But although this conference is entitled ‘minority issues’ and political participation, we must not ignore the blinding obvious: That is in the last 700 years global power has been constructed on racial lines; or as W E De Bois put it – the colour-line.

Whether it’s on the Indian sub-continent, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Africa, The  America’s north and south, and the Far East, division is based on the colour-line.


Delegates in Geneva

It’s important to understand this historical context because although we no longer have global slavery, colonialism, or ‘Jim Crow’ racism, we are left with an unwritten racial contract which sadly maintains the status quo.

Governments across the globe talk about race equality, but never truly deliver it. They talk about diversity but never truly embrace it. Both the majority and minorities are often complicit in maintaining the present situation.

The majority are compliant because the status quo confers them great privilege. A privilege so ingrained in every facet of our society-not least politic-that it is no longer seen as privilege.

We unwittingly play our role because we readily accept their perception that we are inferior. How does that manifest?

Well, if, three years ago we would have been told that Barack Obama would become vice president of America, our physiological condition of inferiority would have not only accepted that scenario but embraced it.

Obama’s victory has taught us to truly believe in our own self worth. So what should be our focus? Many within our communities are not able to fully engage in the politics of power or governance, simply because they are involved in the politics of survival: finding shelter, a job, and putting food on the table.

So those of us who can be active must be supremely active. It’s not enough that you are good or even brilliant. You must be smart.

You must acutely understand your political environment: Where are the pressure points. Where can you get the greatest result with the least amount of effort? Focus on empowering your community. Governments are forced to engage with a powerful block.

If you need to, ensure your communities are registered to vote. You, know Dr Martin Luther King had more than a dream – he had a plan: step one of that plan was to register to vote African Americans.

Engage in focused lobbying, find political allies; those politicians who will speak with you about social and racial justice.

Where necessary use the gender discourse to make the case for racial equality. White women understand the framework for gender equality. Swap race for gender and it is difficult for them to disagree.

Above all nurture your own representatives. Black representatives that have not been nurtured by the community can do more harm than good. They must be accountable, they must have links to the community.

And finally Brothers and sisters we must embrace this global unity, this solidarity that states you challenge is my challenge, and my  challenge is your challenge too. ”


One Response

  1. true talk, bravo !!

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