Blog Archive

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Dear White People goes to Parliament; racism in the arts & culture sector must be challenged

BARAC UK are working with The New Black Film Collective (TNBFC)  campaigning against institutional racism in the film industry.



In the past months we have supported and participated in a wide range of campaigns against institutional racism in the arts and culture sector and the disproportionate impact of austerity on the sector. 




The BFI has refused lottery funding to distribute the film Dear White People in the UK even though by their own admission it meets their criteria and cinemas have been reluctant to screen it, especially outside of London with no cinemas agreeing a standard 7 day run. 

This week the BBC interviewed Director of TNBFC, Priscilla Igwe together with a spokesperson from the BFI  who was unable to explain their rejection of the film, you can listen here.

We can only conclude in the absence of any other explanation offered by the BFI or those cinema chains rejecting it that institutional racism lies at the heart of their decision. 

TNBFC has now lodged an appeal against the BFI decision, we challenge them to do the right thing and not only apologise for their blatant attempt to ghettoise the film as only suitable for black audiences but to grant lottery funding for its distribution. 

Racism is deepening every day and the film offers an opportunity to initiate dialogue about some of the issues explored in it. Whilst the film  is set in a USA university,  highly racist and offensive 'blacking up' is something that has taken place in universities in the UK as recently as this year; Stirling University Students Black Up and  York University students black up for fancy dress prank. These types of horrific events and the discrimination and isolation that black students face in the UK, in addition to the disproportionate impact of austerity on black students, mean that the work of the NUS Black Students Campaign is essential. 



The nine  people who were  murdered in Charleston

Black deaths at the hands of the State is a concern both in the USA and in the UK, since BARAC was formed in 2010 we have supported a number of family justice campaigns, a week ago we saw the horrific mass murder of worshippers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, yet the media both in the USA and the UK have been reluctant to call it out for what it is, a terrorist attack by a racist supremacist  even though the murderer himself declared his racist intent. The church, one of the oldest black churches in the USA  was burned down in 1822 and 35 people were hanged  in response to a slave rebellion. 



Bree Newsome has now been arrested for taking down the flag in the USA #FreeBree



A debate has followed in recent days about the permanent removal of the Confederate flag in the US because of its historic connection to  racism and the fact that photos were found of the killer posing with the flag.  



BARAC team at Glastonbury led by BARAC Women's Officer, far right, Donna Guthrie

Last week BARAC sent an all black woman team of volunteers to work at Glastonbury Festival but they had not anticipated yet another campaign against racism in arts and culture whilst there. After only one day at the renowned music  festival, they were shocked to discover  a Confederate flag on display.  They  staged a picket outside the staffing area the flag was situated in order to force its removal by the festival organisers but we believe that questions must be asked as to the intent of those bringing the flag to the festival in the wake of such a brutal racist massacre associated with the Confederate flag and will be writing to Glastonbury about this. 


Confederate Flag found at Glastonbury 
Racism is very real and its effects are deep and harmful.  Black Lives Matter and It is time that the BFI puts in place robust equality monitoring and equality proofing systems, ensuring that those who make the decisions are representative of the communities and diverse population that  they are supposed to serve. if the BFI really believe that a film entitled Dear White People which explores race and racism is only for black people to view, then  are they suggesting that the racism experienced by black people is a problem for black people to address and not the perpetrators?

How do young black film makers in the UK stand a chance of getting a platform for their work with attitudes like this from the BFI?  

As the general release date is only a couple of weeks ago we want to present the campaign petition to the BFI - please help us to build the petition by signing and sharing widely here.

Well known people who have signed the petition include Clive Lewis MP, Assistant General Secretary of Unison, Roger McKenzie, actresses Dona Croll and Judith Jacob and broadcasters Rosemary Laryea and Jasmine Dotiwala. 

Photo by: T Cobham, all rights reserved 


We are grateful to John McDonnell MP for hosting a screening and post-film discussion in the Houses of Parliament about how we challenge institutional racism in the film industry which took place on June 24th.  Speakers included  Co-Chair of BARAC UK Zita Holbourne and Director of TNBFC, Priscilla Igwe. Jeremy Corbyn MP also took time out of his busy schedule to attend and give support.  Those in attendance committed to support the campaign and bring together the various campaigns against race discrimination in the arts and culture sector in joint campaigning activities. 

Left to right, Priscilla Igwe, Zita Holbourne, John McDonnell MP     Photo by : T Cobham, all rights reserved 


John McDonnell MP talked about film being a powerful medium for challenging negative views, Priscilla Igwe talked about the challenges she has faced trying to get the film distributed and her commitment to doing so and Zita Holbourne talked about the link between austerity and cuts and the deepening institutional racism in the film and wider arts sector. 

Zita Holbourne & Jeremy Corbyn MP      Photo by T Cobham, all rights reserved 


In the same week the film was screened as part of the Images of Black Women Film Festival at the Tricycle in Kilburn, London, followed by  a post film Q&A with Rosemary Laryea and Zita Holbourne. The film received a very positive response from the audience who also endorsed the campaign to get it screened and challenge the institutional racism in the industry.

Zita Holbourne & Rosemary Laryea


Links to the campaign media, social networking, forthcoming screenings and events can be accessed via the website www.dearwhitepeoplemovie.co.uk.  #dearwhitepeopleuk 

Dear White People cast



Zita Holbourne; National Co-Chair BARAC UK 







Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Press Release: Dear White People

PRESS RELEASE
10th June 2015
Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK & The New Black Film Collective
Screen ‘Dear White People’ in UK cinemas

‘Dear White People' is an award winning USA produced satirical comedy-drama film set on a University campus, directed and written by Justin Simien. The film won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Justin Simien has been named in Variety magazine's 2013 "10 Directors to Watch" list.
Black Activists Rising Against Cuts and The New Black Film Collective have launched a campaign to get the film screened in cinemas.
The film is due for general theatrical release in the UK from July 10th but so far very few cinemas have agreed to screen the film with no cinemas agreeing to standard full 7 day run.
The BFI has refused lottery funding to the New Black Film Collective (one of only two black film distribution companies in the UK), which would have supported the distribution of the film with no justifiable reasons given and a major independent art-house cinema chain has turned it down even though they stated that they like the film.
The response to 'Dear White People' by the UK film industry is part of a wider problem of institutional racism in the industry, whereby films featuring black characters, exploring race and identity and / or made by black producers / directors  are repeatedly rejected for theatrical release, meaning that they go straight to DVD  / Blue Ray release unless they portray black people in negative stereotypical roles or there is a tokenistic response of one-off screenings linked to cultural events such as Black History Month with very limited or no screenings outside of London.
'Dear White People' and other intelligent films exploring the issues of race, racism, identity and intersectionality should be available for mainstream and diverse audiences to view and enjoy and are important in creating dialogue about the issues and in tackling racism.  Set on a USA university campus, the film reflects the experiences of black students in universities here in the UK:   a study carried out by the National Union of Students found that one in six black students in UK universities had experienced racism in their institution, a third felt their educational environment left them unable to bring their minority perspective to lectures and tutorials, and 7% openly labelled their learning environment as "racist".
Charmaine Simpson, Chair of The New Black Film Collective said:
 ‘We refuse to become Oliver Twist begging ‘please sir can we have some more’ but rather emulate Lenny Henry and Greg Dyke in calling out the bastions of British culture for being ‘hideously white’.  We must not let them allow diversity to be a talking shop or a box to tick – instead put their lottery money where their mouth is instead of hiding behind fake excuses that are used to preserve the status quo. There has to be a spotlight put on white privilege and black disadvantage – this sense of entitlement and old boys network must be brought crashing down. Dear White People is addressed to you – Britain, so let this be a love letter for change’.

Zita Holbourne, Co-Chair of BARAC UK said:
‘Institutional racism in the film and wider arts & culture industries must be challenged, austerity and cuts are impacted disproportionately on young black people wishing to enter the industry as well as access for black communities. It is simply unacceptable to pigeonhole a film as suitable only for black audiences because it is directed by a black man and addresses the issues of identity and race and then reject it on that basis.  The film is important in exploring issues of racism which is a responsibility of all, not just those on the receiving end but ultimately the film is a piece of art and art deserves to be enjoyed by everyone’.
A petition started four days ago on change.org has already gained hundreds of signatures: https://www.change.org/p/uk-cinemas-bfi-screen-dear-white-people-in-cinemas-across-the-uk and a screening of the film is due to take place in Parliament together with a discussion on the issue of institutional racism in the industry as part of the campaign.
Supporters are encouraged to organise their own screenings and to book tickets to the UK Premiere taking place at Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square in July.
www.ourscreen.com/film/Dear-White-People

Ends

Contact:
Tel. 07860613246
Twitter: @tnbfc     @baracuk
#DearWhitePeopleUK
           http://www.tnbfc.co.uk/

 Reviews & Synopsis

Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a rating of 92% saying;

'Dear White People adds a welcome new voice to cinema's oft-neglected discussion of race, tackling its timely themes with intelligence, honesty, and gratifyingly sharp wit.'

The New York Times said of it;

'Everyone should see this movie, and everyone will see it a little differently. Maybe you will think it goes too far, or not far enough. Since I happen to belong to the group to which it is explicitly addressed, a direct response seems warranted. Dear “Dear White People”: Got your message. Keep in touch.'

Variety said:

'“Dear White People” nonetheless provokes admiration for having bothered to ask some of the hard questions without pretending to know any of the answers. It also works as a fine showcase for its actors: Fleshing out characters that could have been little more than one-note mouthpieces, Williams, Thompson, Parris and Bell all make strong, distinctive impressions, with Thompson perhaps the standout as the film’s sharpest and most enigmatic figure.'

We call on cinema chains across the UK to screen 'Dear White People' when it is released in July and to consider screening it for 7 day runs or more and for the BFI to reverse its decision not to provide lottery funding for the distribution of the film. It is important that they are held to account on their commitment and promises around diversity.

Film Synopsis:

Sam White is a mixed race film production major at Winchester University, a prestigious and predominantly white school. With her sharp tongued and witty radio show Dear White People and her self-published book, Ebony and Ivy, Sam causes a stir among the administration and student body alike, criticising white people and the racist transgressions at Winchester.


When Sam wins the election for head of house of Armstrong/Parker, the all black house on campus, tensions rise. In winning the election, she beats her ex-boyfriend Troy Fairbanks, the son of the school's dean. Troy harbours dreams of being a comedic writer rather than a lawyer, but his father prefers that he not give white people a chance to profile him, and will accept nothing less than his best. Coco has an issue with Sam because the reality TV producer she is trying to win over would rather do a show on the witty light-skinned black girl than her. Lionel Higgins, a black gay student, gets a chance at finally finding his place at Winchester by being recruited by the school's most prestigious student paper to write a piece on Sam and the black experience at Winchester. When Kurt, a white student and son of the school's president, and his club come up with a blackface theme for their annual party in response to Sam's outspoken show, black students appear at the party, and a confrontation ensues, leading to a brawl.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Dear White People - Give Us Your Ears; Guest Blog by Charmaine Simpson of The New Black Film Collective

Introduction by Zita Holbourne, Co-Chair of BARAC UK 

BARAC together with the New Black Film Collective (TNBFC) have launched a new petition, calling on the UK film industry to support the screening of 'Dear White People' when it goes on general release in July.


Whether you love or loathe the film , for us at BARAC UK we are participating in this campaign as a matter of principle. Why shouldn't a film that tackles race and racism, that is written and directed by a black man, be screened in UK cinemas? Why should we only get to see films  at our cinemas where black characters are ridiculed, beaten or are the first to die? Furthermore it's a film for diverse audiences and because it explores the issues of racism experienced by black people should not be pigeonholed as a 'black film'. The reaction to Dear White People by the BFI and cinema chains is indicative of the wider racism we encounter throughout the arts  and wider society and must be challenged.  If not us then who? If not now then when? 


‘Dear White People – Give Us Your Ears!’
By
Charmaine Simpson
Chair
The New Black Film Collective

Displaying tnb_bw-filmcollective.jpg

Dear White People is not just the title of the film I am desperately trying to distribute in this country but also a case of ‘life imitating art’ as a Black person who is beseeching you not to allow another injustice to prevail where we, as a race, have been once again treated like second-class citizens. Like a fairytale, I shall start from the beginning but it is a shame that unlike a nightmare, we can’t wake up at the end knowing that this is all a dream.

Dear White People is a ground-breaking, Sundance awarding-winning debut feature from Justin Simien that a hit in the US but for some curious reason, was not picked up for theatrical distribution in the UK. Now, even though this is the first of many crimes against art that has been thrown at this title, it was a golden opportunity for The New Black Film Collective – a network of film programmers, educators and exhibitors of Black representation on screen, to finally do what we say on our ‘tin’ and that is to be a champion of cinema from the African Diaspora. It is only by literally bringing these stories to the mainstream that the dominant culture learns not to be ‘afraid of the dark’. That white people can go against the conditioning by the elite that enforces the ‘system of disadvantage based on race’ as quoted in the film by the leading lady, Sam - and realise that Black people are human too with complex, fully rounded characters instead of wanting to shoot us unarmed because you are scared of what is ‘under the hood’.


The feature is a satire based on sweeping stereotypes that challenges racial discrimination and other areas of inequality where nobody is perfect, where the ‘dirty laundry’ of the Black community is also aired and realities of homophobia, class, mixed relationships and segregation are also a collective slap in our faces. Therefore, it is paramount that we all fight for this film to screened far and wide and say Dear BFI this is not right. Like the BBC and BAFTA, you are institutions that are supposed to serve all members of society and denying this film lottery funding for its release because you think there is not enough demand from audiences, or there is not the appetite from cinemas to take it, are ‘little white lies’ to stop people from being enlightened.

We refuse to become Oliver Twist begging ‘please sir can we have some more’ but rather emulate Lenny Henry and Greg Dyke in calling out the bastions of British culture for being ‘hideously white’.  We must not let them allow diversity to be a talking shop or a box to tick – instead put their lottery money where their mouth is instead of hiding behind fake excuses that are used to preserve the status quo. We may not win the appeal to overturn your decision but if making a compliant means that you think twice about rejecting the next Black distributor that knocks on your door then it is worth it. If it means having a separate diversity team monitor the application process objectively for Black applicants, then it is worth it. If it means that we have to dig into our own pockets to fund the release of this film ourselves so it is not ‘ghettoised’, then we are certainly worth it - because it will lead to our empowerment and independence to bring our films to market and build our cinematic ‘underground railroad’.

However, it is not fair that once again we have to work that much more harder, sacrifice that much more when the BFI are continually funding flops distributed by the same white, middle-class companies that don’t even need the money. BFI cites Nymphomaniac distributed by Curzon as a successful release that they have funded yet it has it own chain of cinemas and video on demand platform. All we asked was for £30k to match fund a total spend of £60K on print & advertising. Instead they said that because we have a shortened window between the release of the film on screen and then on DVD, it is a challenge too difficult to overcome when there is traditionally a 16 week gap and also feel that they are really underwriting our campaign.  Nonetheless, Nymphomaniac, a dressed up pornographic movie by Lars Von Trier, was released the same day in the cinema and online with an 18 certificate. The BFI gave the distributor £50k of its £200K budget, which is equivalent to David Cameron claiming benefits after losing his job as prime minster. (We are still dreaming, remember?)

There has to be a spotlight put on white privilege and black disadvantage – this sense of entitlement and old boys network must be brought crashing down. We live in a global village and we are stronger for respecting difference and embracing our commonality. The shining light in all this are the independent cinemas who have taken us on and are willing to take the risk because they love the film as a piece of art and a mark of activism. Prince Charles Cinema is giving us a fighting chance by hosting our premiere, and if it does well, they will screen it over the all-important opening weekend of July 10th. Then it is our turn to vote with our feet and make a difference by turning out in numbers and buying a ticket which will mean more cinemas will open their doors to us - then it stops being about the colour of our skin and starts being about the colour of our money.

Let’s Do the Right Thing with Dear White People because although we may not have the seats in parliament that we wanted in the past election, we can still take our seats in theatres and make our voices count! Let us not predict a riot this time but a revolution of ideas, reform and policy where fairness and good practice can be guaranteed under the watchful eye of a diversity watchdog which is key as we know we are probably only one of two Black distribution companies in this country and the first to be led by Black women. Dear White People is addressed to you – Britain, so let this be a love letter for change.

#DearWhitePeopleUK

Displaying tnb_filmcollective.jpg


 SIGN THE PETITION HERE

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Dear White People - Coming to a cinema near you soon - or perhaps not!


The reluctance of the UK film industry to support black produced and directed films and / or films exploring the issue of race / racism is not a new situation but behind the scenes those involved in trying to get such films screened in cinemas and prevent them going straight to DVD / Blue Ray is a thankless and often unseen task.
This is why Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK has teamed up with The New Black Film Collective to campaign for Dear White People to be screened in cinemas in July when it goes on general theatrical release in the UK. TNBFC is one of only two black run film distribution companies in the UK and the only black female distribution company. 
Following the withdrawal of lottery funding by the BFI and the withdrawal of Picture House Cinemas in showing the film we have launched a joint petition. SIGN THE PETITION HERE
Dear White People is the creation of black director and writer Justin Simien.  It explores race, racism and identity and is set on a University Campus.  If the film is being rejected because it is perceived to be for black audiences that's bad enough but the clue in the title makes clear that it is not a film aimed only at black audiences.  As a satirical comedy it is a film that can be enjoyed by everyone and the messages in the film are relevant to all. So we are asking you to please sign the petition and share widely but to also contact your local cinemas and ask them to screen it and if they refuse to ask the question why?
Image result for dear white people
Petition Letter 
'Dear White People' is an award winning USA produced satirical comedy-drama film set on a University campus, directed and written by Justin Simien. The film won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Justin Simien has been named in Variety magazine's 2013 "10 Directors to Watch" list.
The film is due for general theatrical release in the UK from July 10thbut so far very few cinemas have agreed to screen the film with no cinemas agreeing to standard full 7 day run. 
The BFI has refused lottery funding to the New Black Film Collective (one of only two black film distribution companies in the UK), which would have supported the distribution of the film with no justifiable reasons given and a major independent arthouse cinema chain has turned it down even though they stated that they like the film.
The suggestion that the film is not mainstream enough and is only suitable for black audiences is not true at all. We believe the film is current and relevant for all audiences in the UK as is evident from the film synopsis below. 
We believe that the response to 'Dear White People' by the UK film industry is part of a wider problem of institutional racism in the industry, whereby films featuring black characters, exploring race and identity and / or made by black producers / directors  are repeatedly rejected for theatrical release, meaning that they go straight to DVD  / Blue Ray release unless they portray black people in negative stereotypical roles or there is a tokenistic response of one-off screenings linked to cultural events such as Black History Month with very limited or no screenings outside of London. 
We believe that 'Dear White People' and other intelligent films exploring the issues of race, racism, identity and intersectionality should be available for mainstream and diverse audiences to view and enjoy and are important in creating dialogue about the issues and in tackling racism.  The issues explored in the film are relevant to UK audiences, tackling racism is a responsibility of all, not just those on the receiving end.  A study carried out by the National Union of Students found that one in six black students in UK universities had experienced racism in their institution, a third felt their educational environment left them unable to bring their minority perspective to lectures and tutorials, and 7% openly labelled their learning environment as "racist".
Many linked their experiences of racism with a drop in their self-esteem, confidence, motivation and desire to continue their education, reporting that they felt marginalised and socially excluded. Worse still, we continue to hear stories of how black students are being pushed down before they've even really had a chance to get their feet off the ground.
Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a rating of 92% saying;
'Dear White People adds a welcome new voice to cinema's oft-neglected discussion of race, tackling its timely themes with intelligence, honesty, and gratifyingly sharp wit.'
The New York Times said of it;
'Everyone should see this movie, and everyone will see it a little differently. Maybe you will think it goes too far, or not far enough. Since I happen to belong to the group to which it is explicitly addressed, a direct response seems warranted. Dear “Dear White People”: Got your message. Keep in touch.'
Variety said:
'“Dear White People” nonetheless provokes admiration for having bothered to ask some of the hard questions without pretending to know any of the answers. It also works as a fine showcase for its actors: Fleshing out characters that could have been little more than one-note mouthpieces, Williams, Thompson, Parris and Bell all make strong, distinctive impressions, with Thompson perhaps the standout as the film’s sharpest and most enigmatic figure.'
We call on cinema chains across the UK to screen 'Dear White People' when it is released in July and to consider screening it for 7 day runs or more and for the BFI to reverse its decision not to provide lottery funding for the distribution of the film. It is important that they are held to account on their commitment and promises around diversity. 
Film Synopsis: 
Sam White is a mixed race film production major at Winchester University, a prestigious and predominantly white school. With her sharp tongued and witty radio show Dear White People and her self-published book, Ebony and Ivy, Sam causes a stir among the administration and student body alike, criticising white people and the racist transgressions at Winchester.
When Sam wins the election for head of house of Armstrong/Parker, the all black house on campus, tensions rise. In winning the election, she beats her ex-boyfriend Troy Fairbanks, the son of the school's dean. Troy harbors dreams of being a comedic writer rather than a lawyer, but his father prefers that he not give white people a chance to profile him, and will accept nothing less than his best. Coco has an issue with Sam because the reality TV producer she is trying to win over would rather do a show on the witty light-skinned black girl than her. Lionel Higgins, a black gay student, gets a chance at finally finding his place at Winchester by being recruited by the school's most prestigious student paper to write a piece on Sam and the black experience at Winchester. When Kurt, a white student and son of the school's president, and his club come up with a blackface theme for their annual party in response to Sam's outspoken show, black students appear at the party, and a confrontation ensues, leading to a brawl.
Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK & The New Black Film Collective 
Image result for dear white people

One way to support the campaign is to purchase a ticket for the screening of Dear White People at Prince Charles Cinema so that they can release the film during opening weekend. 

http://www.princecharlescinema.com/events/events.php?seasonanchor=dearwhitepeople

You can also get updates about screenings on the Dear White People UK Facebook page via the link below. 

#DearWhitePeopleUk 
www.facebook.com/DearWhitePeopleUK 
There will be a special preview of the film screened in the Houses of Parliament followed by a post film discussion - details to follow in due course. 




Thursday, 2 April 2015

Racist Britain First Declares War on Black and Anti-Racist Activists



Racist Britain First Declares War on Black and Anti-Racist Activists

Leading members of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC)  UK and anti-racist activists are being physically stalked, racially harassed and threatened with violence due to the fascist and racist Britain First declaring that  it intends to teach BARAC and others 'a lesson' in response to a recent event  in opposition to UKIP leader, Nigel Farage. 

We consider the fact that Britain First has now targeted black and anti-racist leadership to be a serious escalation. This decision by Britain First will have profound implications for black and anti -racist leadership in the UK.  We note the deafening silence from UKIP in condemning the racist violence of Britain First. We conclude from this that their actions enjoy the tacit approval of Nigel Farage and UKIP.

BARAC now calls upon black communities, organisations, faith groups and the broader labour and anti -racist movement to defend black and anti -racist leadership from this racist attack and condemn this violent escalation from extreme right racist groups.  

BARAC reaffirms its total commitment to fight racism and fascism in Britain. We will not allow Britain First to intimidate, harass or attack our members without the most resolute and robust defence. 

Britain First's support for UKIP means that they have now assumed the role previously occupied by Combat 18 storm troopers who were the violent criminal arm of the now collapsed British National Front.  

The background to this attack is the recent action to oppose UKIP's sexism, racism, homophobia and xenophobia. The action was designed to challenge UKIP bigotry with satire and humour.  

On Sunday 22nd of March, approximately 80 people including some BARAC members, attended the Beyond UKIP Cabaret event in a local pub in Downe, Kent, called to oppose UKIP's politics of hate and division.   

 The event was a creative celebration of British diversity themed into a party atmosphere. A whole range of artists and performers plus organisations and campaign groups including disability rights groups, migrant rights groups, LGBT groups and anti-racist groups were invited and attended.  
 
The idea behind the action was to creatively challenge UKIP by holding a ‘diversity carnival’ and performing a multicultural Cabaret in Nigel Farage’s home town. 

A function room in a local pub was booked. The party was a gentle affair with a party cake, a pin᷈᷈᷈᷈᷈ata, performances, fancy dress, balloons, poetry and dance.
Around 80 people, of different races, religions and ages, including a holocaust survivor and breast feeding mothers, attended.  Just before it was due to end attendees were informed that Nigel Farage was in a pub across the road.  

People then formed a conga line and danced from one pub to the other with a portable music system playing the Pointer Sisters Motown classic ‘We Are Family’.  

However since these events BARAC members have been targeted by Britain First who claim to be defending UKIP and its leader and have threatened to ‘hunt the organisers down’.

They claim that BARAC was responsible for ' attacking' Nigel Farage and then began posting tweets that wrongly claimed that BARAC officers including myself were responsible for organising the Beyond UKIP Cabaret and wrongly stating that members of BARAC attacked Nigel Farage and his children.  

Subsequently, BARAC members, in particular black women have been on the receiving end of a welter of threats, attempts at violent intimidation and the subject of disgusting racist abuse.  

Then matters seriously escalated after Britain First physically attacked a Beyond UKIP Cabaret debrief meeting, which they wrongly assumed BARAC members were co-convening.
 
At that meeting, that took place on 30th of March, organised by social justice activist, Dan Glass, Britain First broke into the building and attempted to smash their way into the meeting room ignoring requests from those working in the building to leave and assaulting one person who was outside of the meeting room.  

Over 15 racist thugs then launched a terrifying attack on the meeting. Luckily people had managed to lock themselves into the meeting room to protect themselves.  

Outside the room these violent criminals beat on the walls.  This was captured on video, filmed by those in the meeting room. Britain First then brazenly published a video of their attack. In that video, the leader of Britain First, Paul Golding wrongly claims that BARAC members were at the meeting. 
 
On a point of accuracy we want to make it clear that BARAC members had no involvement in the organisation of the Beyond UKIP Cabaret or the meeting on Monday. On a point of principled politics, BARAC unites with all anti-racists in condemning UKIP’s divisive politics and racist and fascist violence. 

We understand that the Metropolitan Police have now arrested one member of Britain First; we are horrified at this police response and ask the wider labour and anti-racist movement to support our demand that the Police arrest and charge, all those who broke into the building on Monday night and sought to violently attack and threaten those inside.
  
This serious incident reflects the rising tide of institutional racism in the policing of black communities.  Racial profiling of black people means that, had this been black people breaking into a building and threatening and attacking people, they would most certainly have all been arrested and facing charges  under Joint Enterprise law. 

It is shocking that Paul Golding and his Britain First thugs can make threats on internet sites, inciting racial and homophobic hatred and violence, targeting individuals and then carry out their online threats with impunity, even uploading videos of their attacks after. 
 
The actions of Britain First in defence of UKIP demonstrate an unholy alliance which means it is more important than ever to challenge the racism and division fostered by parties that seek to whip up xenophobia and bigotry in the run up to the forthcoming elections.  

BARAC will continue to stand together with those that seek to oppose and challenge racism wherever it raises its head.  

BARAC calls upon the anti- racist movement to redouble efforts to confront UKIP politics of hatred and division. We call for expressed support for all those targeted by racists and fascists, now actively targeting the black community and anti- racist campaign leaders.   

In addition to escalating opposition to UKIP we ask that you support the following demand:   

We call upon the Metropolitan Police Service to immediately arrest and charge all those Britain First members and supporters, who have incited racial hatred, issued threats and violently attacked participants in the London Beyond UKIP Cabaret that took place on the 30th March 2015.  

Please join us in defending our anti-racist movement and black leadership and stand up to racism and fascism. 

Watch the video: Britain First Storm Beyond UKIP Meeting,30.03.15: https://youtu.be/hfnph0PFQh8   


Lee Jasper 

National Co-Chair BARAC UK