As part of the international Labour movement, we believe that showing solidarity with one another across the world – showing up, taking part and taking care – is crucial to our work to bring about a better world.
One way you can do this is through education. Committing to learning about the relationship between police and state power, racial discrimination and the oppression black people face in society is a fundamentally important part of playing your part in the fight to liberate all people from the oppression we face in society. It helps us to understand why the world is structured in the way it is, and some of the barriers to freedom for the Black community.
Here are some fantastic resources to help. This is in no way an exhaustive list, but a start to help you identify some areas. Some of these resources are free, or available through subscription. Others are paid, and some ask for a donation. We ask that you don’t try and find access to these for free wherever possible. As much as we can dedicate time and effort ourselves towards our own learning, we’re still regularly relying on the goodwill, activism and labour of Black activists and educators. It is important we value that, and support this work financially.
Documentaries and Film Clips
13th by Ava DuVernay
13th is a feature length documentary series that looks at the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It explores how this exception within the amendment has acted as the base to mass incarceration of black people.
Injustice by Ken Fero and Tariq Mehmood
Available for free online, Injustice looks at the struggle for justice for the families of those who have died in police custody in the UK, starting with the tragic story of David Oluwale, the first black person to die in police custody.
Ferguson: A Report from Occupied Territory by Fusion
Available on YouTube, this documentary looks the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, looking at the links between racially targeted law enforcement and the court system.
The British Black Panthers
This BBC radio documentary looks at the journey of black power in Britain
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
This exceptional book, now 10 years old, explores what legal scholar Michelle Alexander calls the rebirth of the caste system in the US, through mass incarceration of black people and the relationship between this, ‘the war on drugs’ and how the criminal justice system is used as a system of control.
You can read an up to date interview with the author here as well as listen to a podcast:
Against Equality: Queer Revolution Not Mere Inclusion - edited by Ryan Conrad
This collection of essays asks some hard questions about our community and its struggle for ‘equality’, challenging more mainstream conceptions of inclusion with critiques that are particularly relevant for now on state oppression. Although the book covers a broad range of topics, the selection of essays in ‘Part 2: Don’t Ask to Fight Their Wars’ and ‘Part 3: Prisons Will Not Protect You’ are particularly useful reading to explore the intersections of LGBT+ and Black struggle.
Rest in Power by Sybina Fulton and Tracy Martin
This book is a tribute to Trayvon Martin, a young black man murdered by a local gun-wielding neighbour whilst walking home from the shop with a bag of Skittles. It explores the hostility and inaction of the response to his murder by the police and the legal system as well as his mother and community’s organising around this.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
The book that sparked a national conversation. Exploring everything from eradicated black history to the inextricable link between class and race, Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race is the essential handbook for anyone who wants to understand race relations in Britain today.
- Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez
When did you last read a novel about a young, black, gay, Jehovah Witness man from Wolverhampton who flees his community to make his way in London as a prostitute? Rainbow Milk is an intersectional coming-of-age story, following nineteen-year-old Jesse McCarthy as he grapples with his racial and sexual identities against the backdrop of a Jehovah's Witness upbringing and the legacies of the Windrush generation.
- Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
Big hearted and dizzyingly flamboyant, Atta’s verse novel about a black gay teen reclaiming his identity as a drag artist is an outspoken triumph from opening couplet to last. A beautiful book about self-discovery and embracing the real you, The Black Flamingo is suffused with optimism, positivity and love.
- I am Nobody's Nigger - Dean Atta
Exploring race, identity, and sexuality through poetry, Dean Atta shares his perspective on family, friendship, relationships, and London life, from riots to one-night stands.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
Kaleidoscopic in theme and incandescent in tone, Evaristo’s panorama of modern black womanhood resounds with an astonishing diversity of voice and character as seen across a changing century. Tracking the lives and loves of a dozen British women through generations and social classes, Girl, Woman, Other weaves a distinctive, illuminating tapestry of modern British life.
Surge by Jay Bernard
An astounding, incendiary collection that takes the New Cross Fire of 1981 as a jumping off point for an exploration of injustice, prejudice and the turbulence of black lives in the decades since. An urgent new voice in British poetry, Bernard invokes Jamaican patois and the rhythms of the dancehall to craft a richly evocative verse-world.
- Will Not Be Erased from Gal Dem
Inspired by the trailblazing website written by women and non-binary people of colour, I Will Not Be Erased is a propulsive set of essays from the site’s contributors to their younger selves. Raw, powerful and immensely important, this is essential reading.
Racism and Criminal Justice by Rebecca Roberts, Centre for Crime and Justice Studies
This article looks at the evidence base as well as the social and historical context for the disproportionality against the Black community in the criminal justice system in the UK. It also explores some possible solutions towards a fairer system.
Race and Policing by the Runnymede Trust
A series of publications related to race and policing in England and Wales - both the main report, “Justice, Resistance & Solidarity: Race and Policing in England and Wales” as well as supplementary articles.
“Black trans people are disrespected in life and barely acknowledged in death - our lives matter too” by Melz Owusu
Melz Owusu looks at the situation for black trans people facing police violence and brutality, in relation to the case of Tony McDade. You can also see Barack Obama’s words about this here via PinkNews.
‘There’s overwhelming evidence that the criminal justice system is racist. Here’s the proof.’ by Radley Balko, Washington Post
A forensic long read from the Washington Post summarising a huge amount of studies into racism in the US criminal justice system.
Read about Kara Springer’s piece - A Small Matter of Engineering - and the response to it.
- Creatives respond to racism and police brutality
- 50 artists interrogate 25 years of police brutality
- Betye Saar: the artist that helped spark the black women’s movement