Pledge for young leaders of the civil rights / immigrant rights movement

I PLEDGE to build a new Britain, far better than it is now, far better than it has ever has been. Britain is becoming the most diverse, multi-cultural society in Europe. Millions of people across every continent see this country as a beacon of hope, a land of opportunity, and a haven of democratic freedoms. Some come to our nation to improve the lives of their families. Others to escape from tyranny and political, religious or ethnic persecution. Britain is the nation that offers the hope of freedom, dignity and equality to women and lesbians and gay men who face brutality, rape, imprisonment and death in their native lands for simply demanding the right to live and love as who they are and to be treated as equal members of their societies. What distinguishes the people who are immigrating to Britain from so many born here, is not their different languages or customs, but rather their deep appreciation and commitment to preserve the democratic freedoms and rights that are now under attack in this country. The core values the vast majority of British citizens believe in and want their society to provide – good jobs for everyone able to work, world class health care for all, decent housing, free education from nurseries through the university, a good quality of life for those can not work, and other basic human needs – are no different from the values of those who come to Britain for political asylum or a better life.

I am certain that we can build a new alliance between the British workers and oppressed of all races and many different nationalities who fought so passionately and resolutely to create Britain’s social welfare state, and those who have sacrificed far too much to get here to ever accept living in a society that denies basic rights and needs to the great majority of its people. I know this the only way for us to win.

For so many decades the Irish, Asian, African and Caribbean masses streaming out of Britain’s exploited and impoverished colonies were the motor force for progress in our society. Today the immigrants and asylum seekers drawn to our shores provide Britain with a new bold, fearless and optimistic group of young leaders, determined to defend and build on all that is progressive in our society. Uniting the new immigrant and asylum seekers communities, most of whom are young with the best and most progressive elements of Britain’s established black, Asian, Irish and Muslim communities and white working class, middle class and poor, in a single movement bold enough to fight for equal rights and opportunities for everyone; we can create a new Britain. If the oppressed of this nation unite and assert our great collective social power through the building of a new youth- led, mass, militant, integrated movement, independent of the Labour Party, Britain can become our nation: a truly egalitarian and deeply human society, a model of diversity, equality, mutual respect and human progress for rest of the world to emulate.

I PLEDGE to build an integrated, independent youth-led Civil Rights and Immigrant Rights Movement because this is the only way to create the new Britain. Integrated mass actions that unite poor, working class and middle class white communities with black, Asian, Muslim, immigrant and other oppressed communities in a single movement for our shared demands are the only way to breakdown the racial and ethnic divisions created by ignorance, fear, mistrust and segregation. Standing together we can take on and defeat the ideology pressed by the Tories, the Lib Dems and the Labour Party, that the way to achieve economic recovery is by destroying the social welfare state, lowering the living standards and aspirations of the vast majority of British people, widening the gap between the rich and the poor, and increasing nationalist and racist sentiment. We can stop the politicians attempts to eviscerate the precious and broadly popular gains won by the mighty trade union struggles and social movements of the past. But this requires our overcoming the racism, and the anti- immigrant and anti-Muslim bigotry and scapegoating that is the major obstacle to unity. Racism, anti-immigrant scapegoating, anti-Muslim hysteria, and the fear and mistrust born out of segregation and ignorance are the most powerful divide and conquer tactics possessed by our enemies: we have no use for them.

I PLEDGE to accept the challenge of becoming my generation’s voice of freedom. I know this requires always speaking for and to the oppressed, speaking the plain truth about racism and inequality, and expressing both the anger and the aspirations of our communities. I reject the popular, wrong and dominant ideology of most of those who claim to support progressive reforms, who say that the only people who can make and change history are the rich and powerful. Accepting this false assumption places the oppressed and poor in the dead-end position of having no alternatives other than making moral appeals to the rich and the powers-that-be, or trying to find ‘clever’ arguments to convince them that granting our demands will make it easier for them to exploit us. Those who are in power and currently decide the social, economic and political policies of our nation are completely aware that their determination to prioritise profits over people causes the vast majority of the world’s people to live in squalor and in despair. We can only change the actions and attitudes of the rich and powerful and their political representatives if we assert the superior power and will of the oppressed and exploited through mass action. This is the only road to victory.

I PLEDGE to be a youth leader of mass actions led by the youth themselves. I do not fear the anger, boldness or power of youth in struggle. I refuse to condemn youth who riot because they see no other way to express their anger and opposition to the Government’s policies. I stand with Dr. Martin Luther King who stated the plain truth that “riots are the language of those who are not heard”. To those who criticize the legitimacy of student and youth-led marches, walkouts, occupations or other mass actions by claiming that “most of the students/youth cannot even say what they are fighting for”, I say – rest assured, we are always fighting for our dignity, equality, respect and justice. We understand that actions speak louder than words. We judge leaders by what they do, not by their ability to make great speeches that they never deliver on. Some of our greatest leaders are those who lead in action and fight to win.

I PLEDGE to be a great leader by always being proud of who I am and by just being myself. I am a role model for others when I am not ashamed to be myself. I cannot stand on the truth if I am trying to act like the people in power who oppress us and assign us to second-class status. I know that to secure progress, equal rights and a fuller life for people of all races in Britain we must fight racism in all its forms, including the racist lie that black and Asian people and those from the world’s poor countries are inferior. Speaking the plain truth about racism and imperialism must be a principle of our movement.

I PLEDGE to be a youth leader who acts at all times with the fierce urgency of now. I reject the advice of all those who tell us that we must wait for the support of the trade union movement to act and to win. Over the past three decades the struggles of black and Asian communities and youth have been the most dynamic and radical force in British society, and our struggle to eradicate Britain’s time-worn and institutionalised racism and win equality is the key issue for the future of the nation. I know that if we build our independent, integrated youth-led movement we can revitalise all the progressive forces in British society: the trade union and student movement, the fight for gender equality and lesbian/gay liberation, and the movement against climate change.

I PLEDGE to be a leader who is not scared to challenge the wrong and dangerous policies put forward by any leader or organisation that will weaken or divide our movement and lead to defeat. I prefer to disagree with authority figures I am told to respect even if I am a lone voice. I prefer winning to politeness. Our movement must reject the false, cynical and insulting view of the Labour Party and trade union misleaders, shared by virtually all of their left critics, that the only way to achieve unity amongst the oppressed is to silence any discussion of racism and build struggles around a single narrow, economic demand. This is a recipe for disaster.

I PLEDGE to work collectively with other young leaders of the new movements, struggling to overcome the ignorance, prejudice, and bigotry that is imbued in everyone who grows up and lives in a society so divided by race and distorted by racism, sexism, anti-LGBT bigotry, anti-Muslim prejudice and national arrogance. I understand that being a leader requires sacrifice, dedication, strength and the courage to grow and change. I know that I must learn to think critically and question the views of anyone, no matter how well-meaning they might seem, who urges me to put off fighting until a later time in my life (until I finish school, college, university, etc). I cannot win a bright, happy or hope-filled future for myself by fighting only for my own prosperity or immediate self-interest. I know my future is bound up with our shared future.

I PLEDGE to the millions of oppressed people around the world, most of whom I will never know but all of whom I regard as my sisters and brothers that I will fight for freedom, equality and the right of all of us to democratically decide the future of each of our own nations. Winning freedom and justice for all in Britain is not possible so long as hundreds of millions of other people throughout the world live in desperate poverty, battle small and large man-made disasters on a continuous and regular basis, and are forced to accept the dictates of wealthier foreign powers. To win, our movement must be an international movement of the oppressed. The issues of racism, immigration, the right of all to real, direct, democratic control of our governments, and what social forces and power will determine the policies of our nations, are the questions of the day everywhere.

And so, to all those who are oppressed, I say as a proud young leader of the growing, integrated, independent, youth-led civil rights/immigrant rights movement: your blood is my blood. Your enemy is my enemy. Your struggle for freedom is my struggle for freedom. Your dreams and hopes echo in my heart and mind. The borders that separate us will not divide us. We will win as one. We have the power to make this world into the world we want to live in. We can, if we act, create a new society in which the needs of humanity come before the enrichment of a few and for the first time in human history, human beings can finally think, love and socialise as equals while protecting and realising the great potential of both human beings and all that inhabit this earth.

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