stormzy

Stormzy ‘100% right’: the UK is Squeamish in its Approach to Racism

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Stormzy is a powerhouse grime artist, altruistic campaigner within education and all-round activist when it comes to political engagement. He highlights many key issues in contemporary Britain and modern society at large.

Stormzy criticised ITV and the media for ‘intentionally spinning [his] words’. [Image: Tristen Fewings/Getty Images for Global Citizen in the Guardian.]

Due to enormous success in recent years, including headlining Glastonbury this year, he often tops charts and makes headlines for his political so-called ‘controversy’. UK media chose to use Stormzy’s response in an interview with an Italian publication to claim he labelled the UK as “100 per cent racist.” The artist was asked “is the UK racist?” and responded with “definitely, 100 per cent”, but this didn’t prevent outlets such as ITV News from reporting his answer to suggest otherwise. A furore of outrage followed, with outwardly racist tweets sent that reinforce a cultural belief amongst some of the UK that people of colour can never be “fully” British.

Stormzy, a British citizen with Ghanaian parents, has spoken about the trend of racist chants at football matches which seem to have strengthened since the General Election:

“We’ve just had a general election in this country where both main parties and the leaders of both main parties are accused of fuelling racism and accepting racism within their parties. We’re not talking about it at a micro level, we are talking about it at… the highest level in the country.”

The Windrush scandal saw individuals who had come to the UK to help rebuild the country after the war treated despicably by the Home Office.

Under the Conservative minority Government, catastrophic treatment of BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) individuals was widespread. However, there is now a fear this will be amplified with the recent majority Conservative Government which cannot be brushed aside as people overreacting.

The Windrush scandal saw individuals who had come to the UK to help rebuild the country after the war treated despicably by the Home Office, including being wrongfully detained and unlawfully deported. Many had their legal rights restricted including being barred from public funding, kicked out of their family homes and prohibited from working. Some have sadly passed away while stuck in legal limbo, including some of those who were deported.

The Windrush catastrophe targeted BAME individuals with a focus on eliminating them from the country. The effects are still ongoing.

Glenda Caesar is launching a legal challenge into the Home Office’s ‘insulting’ Windrush compensation offer. [Teri Pengilley/The Guardian].

One woman, Glenda Caesar, age 58, came to the UK legally as a baby in 1961 from Dominica. Yet despite having lived in the country ever since, she became ensnared by the Windrush fiasco and was forced out of work for a decade while simultaneously barred from unemployment benefits while trying to take care of her deaf daughter. The Home Office designs this system in a bid to encourage ‘voluntary returns’. Others see it as deliberately starving people out of the country.

“We’re not talking about [racism] at a micro level, we are talking about it at… the highest level in the country.”

Stormzy

Despite a significant haemorrhage of funds, loss of earnings and legal footing in the UK, the Windrush compensation scheme has only offered Caesar £22,264 which clearly pales in comparison to the losses she and her daughter has suffered from.

The Lawrence’s have all been affected by the Windrush fiasco with Courtney, centre, facing homelessness as a result. [David Lavene/The Guardian.]

Another victim, Courtney Lawrence, 25, born in London, still faces homelessness with her infant son due to ongoing disputes around her family’s documentation. Lawrence’s parents arrived in the UK from the Caribbean as part of the movement and their case highlights the exhausting nature of the issue. There seems to be no end in sight 18 months after awareness about the plight of the Windrush generation was brought to national attention.

As the case with Stormzy shows, he was right to call out the UK for its racism problem.

The scandal’s awful legacy is one of shame as it seeks to ‘other’ people based on the colour of their skin, giving confidence to those who abuse strangers by telling them to “go back where they come from” due to racist assumptions that anyone non-white or who is bi/multilingual isn’t UK-born.

As the case with Stormzy shows, he was right to call out the UK for its racism problem. Those who rose in anger only served to prove him right by seeking to demean, humiliate and ridicule his comments.

In what’s been labelled ‘Twitter Blackface’, senior politician Micheal Gove made the shocking decision to mock the artist on twitter using Stormzy’s lyrics following attempts to belittle Stormzy by saying he is a “far better rapper than he is a political analyst.” Gove knows the meaning beneath his words is he believes Stormzy has no right to interfere with politics and is somehow inferior because of his celebrity status, amongst other reasons. It’s an insidious, powerful move that centres the extremely privileged, rich, white man with a certain accent and dialect as superior and reduces working-class black men to something smaller.

Stormzy refuses to sit down and be quiet, as Gove and his ilk expect of him and for that, he resembles something we all desperately need: hope.