In a unique alliance, activists and faith leaders with large Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) populations across the UK are using the internet to fight for equality and renewal. Moreover, their websites send a clear message to their communities: make sure you are registered and vote.
What do leading organisations say?
A united front of Black and minority ethnic voters in 168 marginal seats could put race equality and social progress at the centre of the 2015 general elections.
Simon Woolley, Director of Operation Black Vote, said: “The heart of any democracy is its people and their engagement within it. Registering to vote ensures you are as important as any other voter in the land, no matter what your faith, your gender or your race.”
Others agree that collective action through the ballot box can make a difference to beleaguered communities.
In the fold are representatives of Black Christian, Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim associations. Now is the time to make a difference they say.
The Black Church leaders credit the scriptures for their involvement. Pastor Agu Irukwu, of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, who twice annually convenes a single audience of 40,000 members, stated: “Politically, the Black Church has been a sleeping giant. That giant has now awoken and we will confront the challenges that our communities face.”
Speaking in support of community activism Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo, representing one of the largest churches in the country, stated: “It’s simply not enough we have Black councillors and Black MPs. For politics to work well we all have to be involved.”
The Black Church manifesto, written by Dr David Muir and Pastor Ade Omooba, sets out the leaderships view on areas such as education, health and the criminal justice system.
They affirm that the scriptures should lead the way to direct political involvement in pressing issues such as prisons and mass incarceration of Black people, citing Matthew 25:35-36.
Why are these leadership manifestos important?
Aware of their new strengths they could deliver a strong message to candidates and party leaders:
“We demand plans for a future without the deepening ordeal of poverty.”
“We want safeguards against the local effects of elaborate political schemes.”
The election figures reinforce the strategic size and potential political influence of 21st century British BME communities.
Divisive anti-immigration policies and rhetoric will alienate them.
Equal opportunity proposals for hard hit people - for jobs, schools, health, and favourable trade, aid, relief, and overseas development policies - will attract support.
Hence, all party candidates in marginal and BME-heavy constituencies will have to fight hard to win their votes.
What is interesting of course is how the new “digi-generation” can use their smartphones and social media to get out the votes that favour the peoples of the marginal abyss. A prospect that is literally in their hands.
Over the final weeks we’ll share our five favourite smart tips for community empowerment. Your comments are welcome.
* Thomas L. Blair is a sociologist and political blogger on the Chronicleworld 'for creative renewal in Black Britain and Afro-Europe'.
Further essential readings include:
Migrants’ Rights Network Report
Chronicleworld at the British Library