Rise festival not anti-racist anymore – thanks Boris

// 17 June 2008

The Rise festival in London will no longer be advertised as specifically anti-racist, thanks to a diktat from the Mayor’s office, Dave Hill says over at the Guardian today.

From its inception in the mid 90s – when it was known as Respect – it’s been a campaigning event, explicitly opposing racism. Originally organised by trade unions, it became primarily a GLA promotion from 2001 and until this year its agitational purpose was never in doubt. But when the GLA’s proposed poster for Rise 2008 began circulating among Rise’s union sponsors this element was absent from the artwork. There was no mention of anti-racism at all.

Then the National Assembly Against Racism (NAAR) issued a press release saying: “We were contacted by the Greater London authority last week and told anti-racism will no longer be the central message of the Rise festival,” and claiming that “the sincerity of Boris Johnson’s claimed commitment to opposing racism in his election campaign is shown to be false”.

Meanwhile, Cuba Solidarity has also been told it’s not welcome:

The Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC) has also been told that its annual Big Cuba Fiesta stage is barred from this year’s event.

The Greater London authority’s director of arts policy , Munira Mirza, told the group in a letter that “it is no longer appropriate to have overtly political organisations involved in the programme or in the community area”.

Am I surprised? No. Expect more of the same until at least 2012.

Photos by j-sin and Luke Robinson, shared under a Creative Commons license

Comments From You

Anne Onne // Posted 17 June 2008 at 6:46 pm

What else is it supposed to be about? You can’t have a message about cultural diversity without the dimension of supporting anti-racism, because without that, it implies that racism, and treating people from different communities differently Is acceptable. A celebration of different cultures is PRECISELY where anti-racism must be preached, because without anti-racist sentiment, you can’t have an appeciation of people from diverse cultures.

Well done Boris.

Sarah Jones // Posted 17 June 2008 at 9:10 pm

Disgustingly, it seems it can’t be anti racist because we now have a BNP assembly member, who pointed out Rise Against Racism was spending public money campaigning against him and his policies.

I am so angry I could spit.

I want to join this chap: http://www.markmcgowan.org/index.html

Sarah Jones // Posted 17 June 2008 at 9:26 pm

Sorry – in my angry rant above I forgot to give you this link!


Apparently the marxist revolution is over! I didn’t even realise we’d begun…

Alex B (male) // Posted 17 June 2008 at 10:57 pm

What’s your objection to the ban on Cuba Solidarity?

Polly // Posted 18 June 2008 at 12:53 am

Can we all go and heckle/rush the stage/bite Tories?

Jennifer-Ruth // Posted 18 June 2008 at 9:24 am

But didn’t you hear? There IS no racism anymore! Everyone is equal! It says so in the law…trufax.

Anyone who brings up the issue of racism is just a racist themselves because they see people in terms of colour. So an anti-racist message is racist in itself.

Everyone is just colourblind now – besides…slavery was over 100 years ago, what are they complaining about?!

SM // Posted 18 June 2008 at 11:39 am

How can that statement possibly be defended? He can’t say that it isn’t appropriate for political reasons, because being against racism isn’t party politics, it should be a given. Oh but I forgot, it’s fine to be sexist and homophobic, why should racism be any different?

(bangs head repeatedly against wall)

carey ostrer // Posted 18 June 2008 at 12:57 pm

Rise Festival, I hope that everyone is directing their anger to boris and his new cronies at gla, and cc’ing them to naar and cuba solidarity. what else can we do?

David T // Posted 18 June 2008 at 1:05 pm

The SWP and the Cuba Solidarity Campaign should be excluded from a festival which is designed for all Londoners, and particularly recent immigrants.

Many many new Londoners came to this country after having suffered under incredibly repressive Communist regimes. There’s a blindness on even parts of the fluffy Left to this. People from Poland and East Germany will have spent the early parts of their lives living in a nightmarish repressive state.

A festival which is open to all Londoners CANNOT be led by, and should not even have involvement by, Communist groups like the SWP, Socialist Action, or the Cuba Solidarity Campaign. They certainly shouldn’t be leading it.

I mean, this is like inviting a KKK linked group or a pro-Nazi group to help run a festival which was meant to bring together all Londoners, including black and Jewish people.

Steph Jones // Posted 18 June 2008 at 2:04 pm

David T: None of the groups you mention are ‘Communist’, they are Socialist. There is a difference, unless you are a Daily Mail reading right-winger.

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