Cultural Resistance – Effective Weapons Against Oppression

Caribbean Labour Solidarity Zoom Meeting – 2pm Sunday May 2nd

The two guests speakers for this meeting are the famous music personalities Dennis “Blackbeard” Bovell and Roger Huddle. They will share their experience of how the state attempted to prevent the cultural expression of discriminated groups being manifested and how these groups used the very culture under attack as a weapon against oppression.

Dennis Bovell was not able to attend the meeting in person, but he gave Dennot Nyack an interview about the Burton 12, some of which was broadcast as part of the meeting. If you wish to view the whole interview, it is here on YouTube…

The Burton 12: On the 13th of October 1974, coming 3 years after the infamous Mangrove 9 trial, the Metropolitan Police “mashed up” a blues dance held in the Carib Club, located above the Burton’s clothes shop in Cricklewood, North London. They claimed that they were attacked by the young, black Caribbean club-goers when they chased a motorist, who ran into the Club after being stopped. Many were assaulted by the police and a number were arrested and put on trial at the Old Bailey. Dennis Bovell, who was operating his sound “Jah Sufferer” on the night was one of the many arrested. After a very lengthy trial and retrial, during which he was held on remand, he was acquitted of all charges.

Rock Against Racism: Founded in 1976 by Roger Huddle and Red Saunders to protest the racism of the Nazi National Front, that had been given life by figures such as Eric Clapton, David Bowie, Tory MP Enoch Powell and others, Rock Against Racism, collaborated with the Anti-Nazi League to organise one of the largest anti-racist demonstrations of the time. After some serious organisation over 100,000 protested through London, ending in a music festival in Victoria Park that included punk, rock, and reggae.

The result was a slew of similar demonstrations and concerts across the UK and Europe.

Reflecting on the rise of fascist bands in Europe and the emergence of a few musicians spewing race hate, Huddle says,“Now, it’s much more difficult for people to express racist views through music because by and large the music is multicultural…

However, the Conservative Party, now imbued with the essence of those racists of previous years, has embarked on a new, dangerous and subversive racist strategy. That is to use compliant black, Asian and minority figures to lead attacks on anti-racist work by campaigners and figures such as Dennis, Roger, Red Saunders and others. For example, the Equalities Minister, Kemi Badenoch, who is of Nigerian descent, has declared total opposition to ‘critical race theory’, understood in the UK as ‘institutional racism’. This was followed by the notorious report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, led by Dr Tony Sewell, who is of Jamaican descent, which claimed amongst other incendiary statements, that the UK “…is still institutionally racist is not borne out by the evidence…”.

To what extent culture can be used to defeat these new forms of racism will be the subject of discussion and debate.