Racism : Where And How The Fight Begins

From our Editor.
People often ask, and wonder, how I, a White European Able-Bodied Straight Male, got into fighting for all minorities. We all have our stories. (I know the other moderators have had different journeys, we're a variety of ages, with different influences)

It started for me with skinheads in the UK, Apartheid in SouthAfrica, a school connection, an interest in history - and music ....

In the late 70's I was a teen, one of my classmates was named Dillon Woods. (I'm sure he won't mind me mentioning him).

I knew his father was quite famous, but I wasn't in the same 'crowd' as he was so we didn't interact very much. I wish I'd done so more, now.

His father was Donald Woods, CBE, a South African journalist and anti-apartheid activist, friend and biographer of Stephen Biko. Woods was forced into exile for attempting to expose the truth surrounding Biko’s death.

At the same time the rise to prominence in the UK of the National Front was happening. At 17, I saw them. At 18, I was fighting them. The National Front was (still is) a Fascist Party.

With a passion for history, I could see the direct link between the 1940's British Union of Fascists, to the National Front. I was learning about WWII and thinking, knowing ... "Wait .. these are the same people who wore swastikas."

And then Peter Gabriel released 'Biko' in 1980 and I finally made the connection between what was happening elsewhere on the news, and in my home town. But what really woke me up - more than 'Biko' - was the Latin Quarter track in 1985 "Radio Africa". And on the same album, the song "No Rope As Long As Time". What poetry.

I became more of an activist, and I've been here ever since.

My history education at school ended at WWII, but for myself I read, and read, and read. Apartheid and Zimbabwe, Israel and the West Bank, Jim Crow and the American South, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Harvey Milk and Stonewall. NF and the BNP.

In 1987 Richard Attenborough made the film 'Cry Freedom' about Donald Woods ... but it was as much about Biko, too. Kevin Kline played the former, Denzel Washington the latter.

And his son Dillon Woods now runs the Donald Woods Foundation.

My path was set long ago by the influences I came under, by self-education, by self-awareness. For me, my activism has moved from the streets to the 'net, but I still enjoy a good face-to-face in person with a racist thug on a demo.

Regarding the current Race Riots ..
Is this, what we're seeing now, a turning point in the fight against Racism and Bigotry ? We hope so, but we have seen many false dawns. In many ways we have to continue fighting just to keep a lid on it.

Do. Not. Quit. Do. Not. Bend.
Remember, the youth of our world care far less about skin colour, nationality, race, sexual orientation, or faith. There is real hope amongst our young.

Thank you. Stay strong.