NEWS • VIEWS • INFORMATION • ADVICE
Hitting the right note on racism
The ongoing fight against racism has been boosted by the enthusiastic response of NASUWT members in the Eastern region to taking the message into their own schools and communities.
Delegates to the Eastern region’s 2010 Young Members’ Seminar were so impressed by the taster session held during the event by charity Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) that the regional centre recently invited organisers to run a full three-day training course for members.
LMHR uses music to educate young people about racism and challenge prejudice, highlighting how artists as diverse as Billie Holiday, Woody Guthrie and The Specials have raised and confronted issues of discrimination through their music.
The NASUWT has worked closely with LMHR for many years and has supported its work with schools and the wider anti-fascist movement to highlight the importance of continuing the fight against racism.
The course was led by Dave Smith from LMHR and Ian Solomon Kawall, a DJ and tutor who is known professionally as KMT. The pair have run several shorter LMHR workshops for NASUWT members in the Eastern region in the past, with the NASUWT also sponsoring several LMHR gigs in the local area.
Starting with an hour-long freeform beatboxing session, the course challenged participants to learn new skills as well as reflect on how they could be utilised to spread the anti-racism message. Beatboxers use just their mouths, rather than instruments, to make rhythms and sounds and the group used their newfound skills to put their thoughts on stereotyping into song, creating lyrics and using beatboxing techniques to produce songs about confronting assumptions.
Delegates learnt more about the history of the anti-racism movement and its links to music and were given much more advice about the range of LMHR resources that schools can use to take the message to their pupils.
As a result of the event, participants are now working on organising their own LMHR workshops and events in their own schools and wider communities, harnessing the power of music to initiate positive change.
To learn more about LMHR and its work with schools, visit www.lovemusichateracism.com or www.nasuwt.org.uk/BME
Equality under threat
The disproportionate impact of the Coalition Government’s programme of cuts on disadvantaged and marginalised groups in society has been condemned by the NASUWT.
The strides made in tackling inequality and discrimination are in danger of being reversed, the Union told the wider trade union movement, as the burden of the cuts starts to fall most heavily on women, the disabled, the young, and black and minority ethnic communities.
Fighting against the cuts and making the case for alternative methods to deal with the nation’s financial deficit was the central theme of the Union’s work at the recent series of TUC equality conferences.
The Coalition’s attacks on public services and the welfare state will disproportionately hit those groups already most marginalised in society, with NASUWT delegates at the TUC Women’s Conference, held in Southport in March, highlighting the threat to women’s physical safety and economic security.
A higher proportion of women than men are employed in the public sector and are therefore seeing their pay frozen, their pensions raided and their jobs coming under threat, the Union warned. Cuts to local authority funding are forcing the closure of many organisations dedicated to providing support for women experiencing domestic violence and rape, along with reductions in childcare and parenting support.
A similarly bleak picture is facing young workers, and NASUWT delegates to the TUC Young Members’ Conference, held last month in London, condemned the Coalition’s ‘slash and burn’ decision to scrap the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). The Union warned that, together with the planned rise in university tuition fees and the large-scale job losses likely as a result of the cuts, the employment and economic future of a whole generation is at risk.
The Coalition’s ‘patronising and colourblind’ approach to tackling inequality will do nothing to promote social cohesion and instead is likely to inflame racism, the Union warned delegates at the TUC Black Workers’ Conference.
Support was secured from Unions for coordinated lobbying of ministers for major changes to the Government’s Equalities Strategy. NASUWT delegate Michelle Codrington-Rogers, highlighted a series of flaws within the plan, including a shift away from enforcement action to merely encouraging individuals and organisations not to discriminate. “This will do little to progress the fight for greater equality,” she argued, “and will be exacerbated by the Government’s ‘shameful’ decision to drop the duty on public sector bodies to promote equality.”
“This Government has proven it doesn’t believe in human rights or equality, and that leaving people to fend for themselves is acceptable, as it promotes market forces,” she told the Conference.
Ms Codrington-Rogers was also elected onto the TUC Race Relations Committee.
The impact on disabled students and workers of the Coalition Government’s programme for education was highlighted by the NASUWT at the TUC Disability Conference.
The abolition of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, massive cuts to capital funding for schools and the tearing up of planning laws to enable schools to be set up in disused office blocks and abandoned shops will all restrict access to education, training and employment for learners, support staff and teachers with disabilities, delegates at the London conference held earlier this month heard.
Coalition attacks on workplace and trade union rights will also leave disabled workers more vulnerable to management bullying and discrimination, the Union warned.
For more information goto: www.nasuwt.org.uk/EqualityMatters