So, it's the start of October, which in the United Kingdom, also means the start of African History Month. This is supposed to be the time when schools, councils, libraries, the media, some corporate bodies and community groups, highlight the great and good among the global African family, and senior politicians such as the Prime Minister, mayors, Council leaders, and equalities and culture portfolio holders offer platitudes that speak to the valuable contributions made by Africans to society generally, and specifically to some borough or region.
The irony of words such as Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying: “Black British history is all our history,” aren't lost on most people. What happens on the ground might of course be very different. We all know that if this history was really appreciated, what I call The Big Shame or the Commonwealth And Windrush Scandal, might not have happened.
Worse still, few would know that one of the PM's ministerial departments, which is in grave need of rebuilding trust among the African and other marginalised communities, recently withdrew advertising from a small, specialist publication because of a perceived slight or criticism. Are publications expected to accept everything the wings of government say without criticism, or else face withdrawal of advertising revenue?
Anyway, I digress. So back to the matter at hand.
I, as TAOBQ (The African Or Black Question) co-ordinator, have launched this petition at the start of African History Month, and intend reminding BBM subscribers each week to sign or forward the petition until it closes at the end of the Month. And if the weekly frequency of an otherwise decidedly ad hoc newsletter gets too much, thankfully we have a simple Unsubscribe link.
Anyway, soon after the Afriphobic death of George Floyd in late May, the image of a “white” St Michael standing on the neck of a “black” devil surfaced. My initial reaction upon seeing one of the different versions of the image that adorns the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) insignia was that it was fake!
It seemed unbelievable that such an image of “European/white/good/saint” and “African/black/bad/devil” could still be in use. That's until Lord Simon Woolley confirmed its provenance at a Zoom meeting on decolonisation and pan-Africanism.
In addition to the exchanges of the image on social media and WhatsApp messages, someone set up a petition asking that the medal be “completely redesigned in a more appropriate way and for an official apology to be given for the offence it has given”. All very reasonable. It garnered over 15,000 signatures and coverage in newspapers such as the Daily Mail and the Guardian.
In my view, the only problem with the petition was that it was directed to the UK Parliament. I tried unsuccessfully to make contact with the petition proposer to suggest it be re-directed to those who have direct control over the Order.
As we can now see, although the petition has amassed a laudable 18K-plus signatures, there's been no forward movement three months on since the Cabinet Office said the premise of the petition is 'inaccurate', because the current image was redesigned in 2011 and now features a "light-skinned" devil. Also, it adds, those with the pre-2011 insignia can request an exchange.
So to the Cabinet Office, the matter is solved. Like it's OK because the devil's now “light-skinned” (see left). But we think not! The latest iteration still perpetuates the colour racist hierarchy. It's still racist against both olive-skinned people and those of multiple heritage.
What is it with a Eurocentric or white supremacist mindset that depicting the devil with wings or a lower body of a serpent is not grotesque enough without making the devil look African, dark, brown or “light-skinned”? As if this is not bad enough, this grotesque racist iconography has been internalised by some Africans on the African continent, where at least one life-size statue can be found in the grounds of a Catholic church in Ghana!
It is for this reason, and wearing my hat as TAOBQ (The African Or Black Question) co-ordinator, that I'm appealing to conscious Africans, allies and Afriphiles, to call out these racist images, and where possible campaign for their removal or withdrawal.
For our part, we're launching a petition today directed at the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) Chancellor The Rt Hon Lord Robertson and Prelate Bishop David Urquhart, requesting that the Order withdraw the current “light-skinned” devil iteration, make a formal apology for unwittingly promoting racism and Afriphobia, promise to institute anti-racism training within the Order's organisation and embed anti-racism awareness within its processes that will commission, review, sign-off and promote the 'non-racist' GCMC replacement image and other images on its other insignia.
In the summer Jamaican governor Sir Patrick took the decision not to use the insignia anymore. He went as far as writing to the Order's Chancellor, suggesting the image be “changed to reflect an inclusive image of the shared humanity of all peoples.
We are yet to hear the Order's response, or indeed that of the other African recipients of this particular Order. Their silence perhaps speaks to their suffering from Afri-victimised syndrome, in that they cherish this accolade from the top of the British Establishment too much to think of it as tarnished, even if it's Afriphobic.
As we mark African History Month, each Monday, a mail out will be sent reminding you to sign the petition, and if you have, to forward it to someone else to sign. The petition will close on Oct. 31, after which it will be officially handed to the two officers of the Order. And we'll be on their case for a formal reply.
The motto of the insignia reads: “Auspicium Melioris Ævi”, which means 'Token of a Better Age'. We hope in light of this petition the Order will do the right thing in this current age of heightened racial equity awareness.
At a Zoom meeting on June 10 - 2020: Marcus Garvey @ 80: Moving Towards A Unifying African Identity - attendees overwhelmingly voted for the use of the four band Global African Quad Flag. The results of a poll at the end of the meeting was 81% for the four band and 19% for the 5 band, which has two black bands, each representing Africans of the continent and of the diaspora.
The 5 band version was an addition to the original 4 band, which came out of the 2014 100th anniversary commemoration of the founding of the Universal Negro Improvement Association-African Communities League, organised by TAOBQ (The African Or Black Question) and partners in London.
The African Global Quad Flag combines the four common colours of the two pan-African colours - Ethiopian/Rastafari's green, gold and red, and the UNIA's red, black and green.
Going forward, TAOBQ and The African Coalition advocates the use of the Global African Quad colour to visually represent issues of African interest or concern, particularly Afriphobia.
Blam! Pow! BAME Advocates African Identity Group, Which Acknowledges An MP And A Community Group For Using AAME
May 25 2020
To mark Africa Day/African Liberation Day, UK-based African identity campaign group TAOBQ (The African Or Black Question), in association with The African Coalition, launches its latest slogan attacking the BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) terminology, which has attained an unprecedented ubiquitousness in its use especially in the current discourse on the disproportionate manner in which Covid-19 is affecting particularly non-Europeans in Britain and elsewhere, such as Brazil and the United States.
Today, TAOBQ introduces its latest slogan: Blam! Pow! BAME = Use AAME. TAOBQ, which coined the AAME acronym, which stands for African, Asian, Minority Ethnic, or African, Asian and/& Minority Ethnic, has been consistently campaigning for the use of African since its conference in 2012 passed a resolution to use African, instead of black, to refer to people of African heritage, irrespective of whether they come from Africa, the Caribbean, Britain or other parts of the African diaspora.
After years of writing directly to the Labour Party and anti-racist organisations to use AAME, African, Asian, Minority Ethnic, African, and Afriphobia, which specifically refers to anti-African racism, and publishing articles – the latest being the pre-International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Anti-Racism Day) 2020 piece 'The Politics Of Racism, Terminologies And Imagery', TAOBQ recognises some rays of hope.
Last week, Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe was accused by the Jewish community of discrimination by not including them when she made reference to the African, Asian and minority ethnic communities in her question to Prime Minister Boris Johnson during Prime Minister's Questions (PMQ) on the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on minority communities in the UK.
In a reply published in The Jewish Chronicle, Webbe, who described herself as an “African woman”, was forthright in clarifying her position that she did not discriminate against the Jewish community, as they are included in the “ethnic minority” bit. It would seem this response has put a lid on the non-issue, as we have thus far not heard any accusations of anti-semitism or a call for an apology.
Incidentally, talking about discrimination, the African community has a legitimate cause for making allegations of discrimination. Africans face the worse forms of discrimination in Britain and other parts of the diaspora, from unemployment, educational attainment, housing, the criminal justice system, to deaths in state custody. This is the reason why the UN launched the International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD) 2015-24 initiative, which Britain and most Western UN member states have not engaged with.
For example, accusations of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party were enough for the party to conduct an internal investigation into anti-Semitism, where Afriphobia and “other forms of racism” were nothing but footnotes in the resulting report. The same accusation has led to an on-going investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
In contrast, there have been no moves to investigate the Afriphobic activities by Labour Party staff that have been revealed in the leaked Labour Party documents. The party leader Sir Starmer Kier has shown no signs of addressing this. He was however quick in making a public apology to the Jewish community within the first week of gaining the helm of the party. Perhaps he'll make his position privately known when replying to the numerous letters sent to him by Labour members and activists.
Considering that the national equality body has seen no reason to investigate the accusation of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party,what chance is there of it taking it upon itself to investigate the Afriphobic activities by Labour Party staff ?
Talking about activists, we are heartened by community activist Olalekan Odedeyi, who after our presentation on identity terminologies at the IDPAD Coalition UK's launch on its Afriphobia document last December, with the support of the leadership of his Middlesbrough activist group, changed the group's name to Tees Valley Labour AAME Forum.
So on this day that African Day/African Liberation Day is marked by Africans and their allies across the world, TAOBQ is proud to present the first Blam! Pow! BAME = Use AAME Award to Olalekan and Tees Valley Labour AAME Forum, for making an organisational shift in supporting the use of AAME.
The second Blam! Pow! BAME = Use AAME Award goes to Claudia Webbe for consistently using African, Asian, and minority ethnic in her House of Commons contributions. Hansard captures three occasions – the first on March 9 2020, when the new MP made her maiden speech; May 18, during the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill debate; and on May 20, when she asked the Boris Johnson during PMQ what he was going to do, in light of the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on AAME communities.
One hopes Webbe's fellow African Labour MPs, particularly Diane Abbott, Dawn Butler and Clive Lewis, who were the targets of Labour Party HQ Afriphobic undermining activities, will start using AAME, instead of BAME, and African, instead of black.
Incidentally, TAOBQ is against the use of black in reference to African people, but not against black in describing concepts, such as black politics, black power, black music, or the accounting term “in the black”.
Four years ago on Africa Day/African Liberation Day 2016, Africans For JC Values and dozens of pan-African co-signatories, made a submission to Labour Party's Chakrabarti Inquiry to investigate “Anti-Semitism and other forms of racism”, which was also published as an open letter entitled 'Call It By Its Name: Afriphobia Is Racism Against African People'.
TAOBQ (The African Or Black Question) Manifesto 2020+
1. Describe people of African heritage as African or as of Africanheritage (not origin), instead of black. Click here or here 2. The opportunity for study of African history or Africana to be made more accessible, and either descriptor be used, instead of black history or black studies. Click here 3. When itemising racial discriminations, then use Afriphobia (note the spelling with an “i”), which refers to the prejudice or discrimination against; fear, hatred, or bigotry towards people of African heritage and things African, instead or anti-black racism or lumping it under racism. Click here 4. Use AAME (African, Asian, Minority Ethnic) terminology, instead of BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic), which excludes the African identity. Click here Supplementary items: 5. Use the Global African quad flag/coloursas the visual identifier of African-centred matters. Click here NOTE: As of June 10 2020, the 4 band version was adopted as the Global African Quad flag/colours.
6. People of African heritage to consider adopting African names, in order to assert their African identity. Click here 7. Make time to observe August 31 as African History Reflection Day. Click here
Our abiding quotes: "We are African people. Get comfortable with it. And learn to love your African self." Ronoko Rashidi, historian
"There is no greater fulfillment than knowing who you are and accepting who you are as an African." Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, originator of African (Black) History Month UK
"A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots." Marcus Garvey, pan-Africanist icon
Global African Quad Flag: A Visual Signifier Of African-Related Matters
Update: Click here for details of related 2018 events
December 17 2017
As we enter the 4th year of the UN's IDPAD (International Decade For People Of African Descent) 2015-24 initiative, a new symbol aims to provide a quick, short-hand, visual representation of all things African, be it good or bad!
Global African Quad Flag. Final version by TAOBQ (c) 2017
NOTE: As of June 10 2020, the 4 band version was adopted as the Global African Quad flag.
The Global African Quad (GAQ) Flag was officially launched on November 18 2017 at the BTWSC/African Histories Revisited organised African History Month UK Network Conference at Unite The Union's headquarters in Holborn, London.
It combines the four common colours of the two pan-African tri-colours - the Ethiopian, Ghanaian and Rastafarian green, gold and red, and the Universal Negro Improvement Association/African Communities League's red, black, and green.
TAOBQ co-ordinator Kwaku unfurls GAQ flag at the conference, whilst book-seller Emmanuel Amevor is the first to publicly wear a GAQ badge. November 18 2018 @ Unite The Union HQ, London
In an age where logos and other visual symbols are meant to provide instant meaning, it is hoped that the GAQ colours will come to be recognised as representing African-related interest and issues, be it expressing African pride, Afriphobia*, or atrocity, such as the recently revealed incidents of Africans being enslaved in Libya or protests against African deaths in state custody.
For background and the development of the flag,click here to read 'August 31 Declared African History Reflection Day', and click here to read 'Colours For African Pride And For Marking Atrocities Against Africans?' Although ideally there should be a single black stripe representing all Africans, when the two black stripes version representing Africans of the continent and the diaspora was shown at the 2017 African History Reflection Day event, it was favoured by a small majority. It's a small compromise to make and one hopes we'll reach a time when we'll revert to a single black stripe because most diasporan Africans will recognise that they are African, period.
* Africans For and TAOBQ define Afriphobia as: The prejudice or discrimination against; fear, hatred, or bigotry towards people of African heritage and things African.
It is also racism specifically against Africans. For more, click here to read 'Call It By Its Name: Afriphobia Is Racism Against African People'.
·Spread the word and attend the Jeremy Corbyn/John McDonnell
Celebration/MSF Lake Chad Emergency Fundraiser onSunday June 11, 3-6pm at location in central London, by
Russell Square. Book at www.bitly.com/GE2017MSFLC
·NOTE: Remind voters that unless their constituency is Islington North,
they will NOT see Jeremy Corbyn’s name on the ballot – they are supposed to
vote for the Labour candidate on their ballot paper.
·When canvassing or during your routine engagement with people, you
must focus on what their interests are. Such as health, education and
housing, and how Labour policies will make a positive impact e.g. Privatisation of
the NHS or public ownership?
·Most importantly, encourage your contacts to go out and vote on June
8th. Supporting a Jeremy Corbyn-led Laour Government, but not going out to
vote on 8th June will not help Labour win the general election.
·To counter Jeremy Corbyn is not a string leader – remind them that the
popular Labour Manifesto would not have been passed without Corbyn's
·Counter arguments about what makes a strong leader. Is it a person
who has no qualms about pushing a nuclear button or one who invests in peace? Is it one who does U
turns or one who has strength of character, has consistently been on the side
of the marginalised, supported anti-apartheid movement when it was not popular
and Margaret Thatcher described Mandela as a terrorist? A person who has been
resilient and not abandoned socialist values in spite of negative onslaught
from the media and undermining from members of the Parliamentary Labour Party
and Labour Party, and has increased the membership of the Labour Party is a
·Highlight May's weaknesses. Is she strong and stable, or one who
makes U turns?
·Financial Literacy. Explain that Bonds are not just Government debt
when used to buy income generating assets. They can be a safe way of buying
·Check alternative media, such as The Canary, Evolve Politics and
Morning Star online for positive news about Corbyn and Labour.
Draw attention to videos by Lowkey, JME, Stormzy,Akala and other artists and community activists, such as
Toyin Agbetu, and the NME interview with Jeremy Corbyn,which can be
found on Youtube, or check list at AFJCV Mail out at: www.bitly.com/CorbynVideosPlus.