Sunday, October 16, 2016

#SWPCulture: Stand Up To Racism/Stand up to rape culture

Image result for confronting rape culture swp

Here are two letters published in Media Diversified, relating to something I wrote about here. The first is from 6 October:

Stand Up To Racism: Stand Up To Rape Culture 
An earlier version of this open letter was initially addressed to several of the headline speakers, it has since been adapted since many have now cancelled their plans to attend. 
We, the undersigned, want all planned speakers and delegates to withdraw their attendance from Stand Up to Racism’s conference on 8 October. We ask because the speakers will share the bill with Weyman Bennett, Stand Up To Racism’s co-convenor and a central committee member of the Socialist Workers’ Party.
This must include refusing to lend any support to the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) either directly, or indirectly through its front organisations including “Unite Against Fascism”“Unite the Resistance”“Stand up to UKIP” and “Stand Up To Racism”.
We call on people to do this because the SWP’s well documentedfailing of two women members who accused the then central committee member of the SWP, known as “Comrade Delta”, of rape and sexually assault. The complainants were asked classic victim-blaming questions about their behaviour and drinking habits. Some members of the SWP leadership denounced the complaints as motivated by a “dangerous feminism”. SWP members who in 2012-2013 challenged the central committee’s kangaroo courts were expelled from the party – many more left in disgust. 
This is not about bad individuals. The SWP as a whole is an acute example of collective disregard for sexual violence. Their culture and leadership continues to put its own internal interests above tackling rape and supporting complainants within its ranks. Sexual assault and harassment are not unique to the SWP, or to left-wing organisations, but the SWP’s unwillingness to address its failings show it should not to be worked with.
As one survivor said, “I want people to know it’s a systemic thing. They’ve done this a few times, covered things up in the interests of the party and it’s a dangerous environment to be in.”
The racialised violence that has followed the Brexit vote demands a strong anti-racist movement; this movement must be principled and intersectional. This means recognising what Kimberlé Crenshaw and other Black Feminists have shown, that sexism and racism do not operate in silos rather oppressions often overlap and intersect. We cannot build an anti-racist movement organised by rape apologists and anti-feminists. We must end the bankrupt politics of the past, not rehabilitate some of the worst proponents. 
It is vital for women and non-binary people – particularly people of colour who wish to resist the racism they experience – to be able to organise politically without groups that facilitate or cover up sexual assault. The SWP and the campaigns they lead are demonstrably not capable of offering this. 
Jeremy Corbyn, originally billed as the headline speaker, has already pulled out of the conference. So has Owen Jones and other top billing speakers. We ask all invited speakers and delegates to stand up to rape culture and follow suit. Do not help the SWP rebuild itself through Stand Up To Racism. 
Editorial note: The authors later wrote an amendment to this letter after it emerged that Corbyn did in fact speak at the conference. Read the amendment here. 
Groups Signed 
AFem Conference organising committeeBis Of ColourBlack Lives Matter UK Brighton Solidarity FederationEast End Sisters UncutHousing Action Southwark and LambethLondon Campaign Against Police & State ViolenceNottingham Solidarity FederationSouthall Black SistersSouthwark NotesThe Free University of Sheffield 
Individuals: 
Reni Eddo-Lodge, Author
Dawn Foster, Author
Rahila Gupta, Author
Laurie Penny, Author
Daniel Trilling, Author
Alex Williams, Author
Gracie Mae Bradley, Coordinator, Against Borders for Children
Jude Wanga, DRC Campaigner
Charlotte Bence, former SWP member
Elaha Walizadeh, Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation
Samantha Asumadu, Media Diversified
Aaron Bastani, Novara Media
Ash Sarkar, Novara Media
James Butler, Novara Media
Manishta Sunnia, Oxford Black Women’s Group
Pragna Patel, Director, Southall Black Sisters
Alison Phipps, Director of Gender Studies, Sussex University
Sanaz Raji, Unis Resist Border Controls
Zoe Stavri, Writer
Roz Kaveney, Writer
Nikesh Shukla, Writer
The second is from 12 October:


Why We Are Standing Up To Rape Culture

We, the undersigned, are committed to resisting rape culture and rape apologists wherever they arise in our networks. 
Three weeks ago, we sent a letter to Jeremy Corbyn asking him to reconsider appearing as a speaker at ‘Stand Up To Racism’ conference, on 8th October. This letter was sent not only to Corbyn, but all speakers billed to appear at the conference. Our concern is that the Socialist Workers Party plays a leading role in Stand Up To Racism, despite its well-documented cover-up of rape allegations and treatment of sexual assault survivors in 2013.

After sending our letter to those billed to speak at the conference, at least one high profile speaker dropped out. We were also assured by a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s media team that Corbyn had agreed not to attend. However, on 8th October it was widely documented that Jeremy Corbyn went to the conference. We suspect that we were deliberately misled to stop us from going public with our concerns about Corbyn’s association with the SWP.
Some signatories have publicly defended Corbyn’s politics in the past. However we are all agreed that any platform for the SWP is counter-productive for grassroots community and labour organising. This is because of its leadership’s abuse and gaslighting towards women inside and outside the organisation. Stand Up To Racism cannot be an effective anti-racist movement if it actively condones misogyny by having rape apologists in its leadership and paid staff.

Signed By
Groups
AFem organising committee
Bis of Colour
Black Lives Matter UK
Southall Black Sisters
London Campaign Against Police & State Violence
Housing Action Southwark & Lambeth
Nottingham Solidarity Federation
Southwark Notes

Individuals (Women and non-binary people of Colour)
Reni Eddo-Lodge, author
Pragna Patel, director, Southall Black Sisters
Gracie Mae Bradley, Coordinator, Against Borders for Children
Susuana Amoah, Activist
Rahila Gupta, writer
Manishta Sunnia, Oxford Black Women’s Group
Elaha Walizadeh, Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation
Sanaz Raji, Unis Resist Border Controls

After the Guardian ran a story on this incident, we have decided to disclose an anonymised excerpt of WhatsApp messages which shows the “misunderstanding” and our agreed condition that a diary conflict (image 2) would not be an adequate explanation.

WhatsApp Excerpt 1WhatsApp Excerpt 1 
WhatsApp Excerpt 2WhatsApp Excerpt 2
WhatsApp Excerpt 3WhatsApp Excerpt 3
WhatsApp Excerpt 4WhatsApp Excerpt 4
WhatsApp Excerpt 5WhatsApp Excerpt 5


Also important reading on this:

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