Sisters Uncut

Taking direct action for domestic violence services.

Why Sisters Uncut support Black Lives Matter UK #shutdown

Friday, August 5, 2016

Sisters Uncut pledge our commitment and solidarity to Black Lives Matter UK and our black, queer siblings who are leading the movement on this side of the Atlantic.

Black Lives Matter is part of a long struggle by the black community against police and state brutality. Though it was founded in the US, the parallels with police and state violence in the UK cannot be ignored. We support Black Lives Matter UK in their movement against brutalisation of black people by the British state, including racist deportation, incarceration, and the murder of our loved ones. Black women and non-binary people who experience domestic violence are some of the worst affected by state violence, and Sisters Uncut see our fight for specialist domestic violence services, refuge provision and safe housing as intrinsically linked with the movement for black lives.

Sisters Uncut stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement because black people remain prisoners of a system that rewards violence and punishes poverty. A system that denies a sister a decent place to live and then guns down her children in the street for the crime of being black. That prevents her from seeking help when she is being abused because she knows that they won’t believe her because she is black. That if she does report her experience, the police are more likely to violently abuse her than protect her from harm. That her children are three times more likely to be excluded from school than their white counterparts. That mental health services don’t acknowledge the daily survival of racism as a form of trauma. The daily injustice of racist oppression in this country and the culture of patriarchal violence inflicted on black people by the state has an obvious connection with the power dynamics and intimate violence faced by women in their homes.

We stand with those marching under the Black Lives Matter movement because state violence is intrinsically connected to domestic violence. The insidious, patriarchal and racist practices of the state trickle down into our homes and our intimate relationships. Racist violence against women of colour is sanctioned and enacted by a state that violently imprisons and incarcerates people who have themselves been abused. People who are also the victims of an immigration system that traumatises, isolates and humiliates black sisters who have survived sexual violence, homophobic and transphobic abuse. We know that violence against black women and non-binary people is part of system of racist oppression that dehumanises black experiences and cultures – that tells our black sisters they are not worthy of the same support and protection as white sisters when they experience abuse .  

Austerity makes the effects of racism – and the vicious rhetoric surrounding cuts to welfare, housing and support – even more acute. Specialist support services for sisters of colour have been decimated, resulting in 66% of women who need help being turned away. Meanwhile local councils in London like Southwark and Hackney leaving thousands of council homes empty or at risk of being demolished. Access to safe housing is now subject to immigration controls and tightening eligibility criteria. Our Prime Minister Theresa May refused to release information about abuse being perpetrated by guards at women’s detention centre Yarl’s Wood, whilst at the same time pledging to end violence against women and girls.  She is also responsible for callous response of the UK in dealing with the migrant crisis and failing to act to prevent the deaths of 3034 refugees fleeing violence abroad. Make no mistake, this is a crisis.

If you need more proof, look at the death of Sarah Reed in January this year. A 32 year black woman who died in Holloway prison after years of institutional abuse, police brutality and inhumanity in the mental health system. Look at Joy Gardner, bound and strangled to death in her home by police in 1993. Or our brother, Sean Rigg who was killed in 2008 by police who held him face down on the floor of a police cell for 8 minutes instead of getting him the mental health support he needed. Not one police officer has ever faced charges for any of these murders, or for any of 1563 deaths in police custody since 1990. This is a crisis.

2014 figures state that only 1% of 7,963 complaints of racism by Police have been upheld over an 8 year period. This lack of accountability, and blatant abuse of power by the criminal justice is evidence of how the state normalises violence against black people. We stand against the racist police brutality enacted against black people in the UK and abroad and we stand in solidarity with United Friends and Families Campaign who have been fighting for justice for the deaths of their loved ones since 1997 and whose work inspires Sisters Uncut and @blmuk.

The effects of this racism against our black siblings is felt every single day and it cannot be ignored. Sisters Uncut stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter because we are fighting the same enemy: racist state violence and police brutality – symptoms of state power that disproportionately affect black women. Safety is a right and not a privilege. We need to stand together and say loud and clear that around the world, black lives matter.

Make sure you get to the Black Lives Matter UK rallies happening nationwide tonight;

London – 6.30pm – Altab Ali Park

Nottingham – 6pm – St Peters Gate

Manchester – 6pm – Alexandra Park

Watch the Black Lives Matter UK video here!