Monthly Archives: January 2014

Photos of Committed To Represent exhibition at GMIAU’s AGM

The full set of photos of the AGM can be viewed on our Flickr site, at:http://www.flickr.com/photos/virtualmigrants/sets/72157640215885753/

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Committed To Represent exhibition at GMIAU’s AGM

The Committed To Represent exhibition by Virtual Migrants will be shown at the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit’s Annual General Meeting on Saturday 25th January 2014.  Created by Kooj Chuhan with Ursula Sharma (GMIAU) along with photography by Mazaher, this exhibition celebrates the critical work of legal caseworkers in the difficult lives of refugees.  This from GMIAU’s news-mail:

GMIAU AGM and Public Meeting Saturday 25th January 2014 2.30pm
F
riends Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, Manchester M2 5NS (behind Central Library)
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Our exhibition ‘Committed To Represent’ will be displayed

A number of invited speakers will contribute to the discussions.

Drinks and light refreshments will be available.

We are in very turbulent times. During the past 12 months legal aid has been removed for most immigration cases and the government is ‘consulting’ on the next set of cuts which will include further restrictions on access to the law, including judicial review and appeals, and the insidious ‘residency test’. The Immigration Bill has been introduced and if it get passed as it is it will include duties on landlords and banks to check the immigration status of potential tenants and customers. Immigration will once again be top of the political agenda in the run up to general election in 2015 and none of the public debate about immigration is positive. This makes it even more difficult for the people that GMIAU is here to support and represent – not just in a legal sense but also to stand up against the injustice and discrimination that is the reality of many peoples day to day lives.

We need our supporters more than ever. We need to work together to steer the organisation through these challenging times, to make sure not only that we survive but that we’re stronger and louder than before in our defence of access to justice and human rights. Please come and join us on the 25th need to be doing over the next year and beyond to make sure we stay at the forefront of creating a better and more positive contribution to the lives of people in the North West who need immigration legal advice and representation .

The cuddlification of Black revolutionaries

To erase the political bedrock of people’s beliefs from the telling of their history is to distort their life’s work.

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This is a CROSS-POST by Jenny Bourne, Institute of Race Relations; the original is at:
http://www.irr.org.uk/news/the-cuddlification-of-black-revolutionaries/

The rewriting of history and reputation to chime with what the white-media-middle-class is ‘comfortable’ with does not just apply to Nelson Mandela,[1] it has for some years been applied in this country to Black revolutionary Claudia Jones too. After an almost complete neglect of her reputation from her solitary death in 1964 to Buzz Johnson’s 1984 book, I think of my mother: notes on the life and times of Claudia Jones, she has gradually become better known, her history reclaimed[2] and her contribution acknowledged beyond Britain’s black community. There are now two plaques commemorating her in London, in 2008 she made it onto a postage stamp (admittedly for Black History Month) and now it is rumoured that a biopic is under discussion by film executives. But the more revered and mainstreamed she has become, the more her genuine political talents and commitments have been slowly revised, cleansed and repackaged to meet contemporary fads.

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Claudia Jones was a staunch revolutionary. Her Communism, which for the most part, bound her (as it did her comrades) to following the Soviet line, informed everything she believed – her internationalism, her anti-colonialism, her stand against ‘colour bar’, her view that (when she became a Maoist) ‘women held up half the sky’ and so on. Read her speeches, her articles in the West Indian Gazette; examine the company she kept, such as that of partner Abhimanyu Manchanda. Under McCarthyism she was deported from the USA in 1955 and arrived in Britain because Trinidad and Tobago, her homeland, then under British rule, did not want her back.

To provide this backdrop is not, in any way, to detract from her tenacity and her achievements but rather to set them in their right context. For just as Mandela is now celebrated for his forgiveness and generosity of spirit – in a Christian saintly tradition – Claudia Jones, too, is celebrated in a similar vein. She is revered now for her contribution to Britain’s multicultural vivacity – via the Notting Hill Carnival. But today’s Carnival has very little to do with what she began in 1959 or why. She suggested a kind of spirited celebration with calypso to remind West Indians of home, and it was held in a town hall. The reason was to wash the taste of the racism of the anti-black riots of 1958 ‘out of our mouths’. Similarly, she is embraced now as a leading feminist. But her ‘feminism’ was about the emancipation of the ‘Negro woman’; for her the personal was not the political – rather the political was personal. She should not be read out of her time, put on a liberal pedestal to please contemporary palates. Claudia Jones was tremendously industrious, influential and majestic – a political icon and role model if ever there was one. But she also ran fashion pageants (the sort of beauty shows derided by feminists within a decade) and advertised hair straightening products in her paper. That was her time.

Just as in the case of Nelson Mandela, one can hazard that her greatness and strength were honed both through the hardships she underwent (including incarceration, deportation, poverty and ill-health) and the discipline and rigour of party politics. It was in the party that she began to analyse, write and to organise. She did not believe, as Mandela did not believe, that capitalism (like apartheid) would just roll over and die – it would take long and concerted revolutionary struggle. To erase the political bedrock of people’s beliefs from the telling of their history is not just a monstrous distortion of their life’s work, but is also a very bad political lesson for those trying to change the world in their wake.

Refusing The Refused video featured on ASHA website

The Virtual Migrants short film Refusing The Refused, by Kooj Chuhan in collaboration with ASHA (Asylum Support Housing Advice), is featured on the ASHA website in their new video section of critically important films about the asylum system.  Check the videos out at http://www.ashamanchester.wordpress.com .

Refusing The Refused is a film about asylum destitution, which was premièred at Z-Arts centre during Refugee Month 2013, and is reproduced here to view as follows: