Friday 1st May 2020

Dear Keir,

I attended a Zoom meeting organised by Don’t Leave Organise on Wednesday 29th April 2020.

I did so because the discussion, following contributions by Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy, was to focus on the appalling racism revealed in a leaked report commissioned by and into my Labour Party. To discuss the implications for Black socialists organising in the party; how Black self-organisation fits with task of re-building a unified party; where Black self-organising is happening in an effective way and how to support this and get involved.

And to agree what demands, comrades should put on our leadership now, especially in the light of the extraordinary impact that Covid 19 is having on Black communities after years of historic and current institutional and societal inequalities.

It was a very positive step from our parliamentary party to have two such senior Black MPs witness our discussions with over 600 people, many Labour Party members, in attendance. I congratulate and commend their attendance and the inspiration we drew from it.

We are living through extraordinary times and I would urge you to ask the Board of Deputies to take a moment to consider this before they continue in their actions against those of us who attended.

Most of us are working day in and day out in service to our communities. Many members are working in our hospitals and our care homes, on our buses or in other key essential work. If we are not, members of our families will be. Family we cannot spend precious time with but who are foremost in our minds whilst we work to help our neighbours through mutual aid groups or stay shut in to help the contagion from spreading. And for Black members especially, the risk we/they are taking in service to us all weighs heavily upon us.

We need to be free to meet online to share our thoughts and ideas for a better future. A future that will not see our communities continuing to die in extraordinary numbers.

I understand the role that the Board of Deputies have set themselves in protecting the wellbeing and interests of the Jewish community. There is still very necessary work to be done towards an equal and just society for all.  But I believe that on this occasion, the Jewish community would demand compassion and understanding for their Black neighbours and friends at this very difficult time. They would understand the oppressive practices that are leading to our deaths in unprecedented numbers and seek to offer support and kindness not the vitriol and anger being expressed.

I would therefore urge you to stand strong in your support of all members and especially those Black members like myself, who have remained loyal in spite of being at the receiving end of the type of racism evident in the report.

Ekua Bayunu

Manchester Central CLP

Arts & Culture Officer

Member : Socialist Health Association, Unite Community, Artists Union England

Pronouns Her/She

I choose to use the term Black to express my solidarity with all communities adversely impacted by White Supremacy.

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