Racism, policing and the politics of surveillance in times of pandemic
A timely and important webinar was hosted on 6 July 2020 by Social Scientists Against the Hostile Environment (SSAHE), chaired by IRiS Director, Professor Nando Sigona, from the University of Birmingham and Dr Bahriye Kemal, Lecturer in Contemporary and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent.
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Racism is ingrained in our capitalist societies which are built on historically-defined regimes of racialized accumulation. It inflicts violence and structural disadvantages on racialised citizens and migrants. The brutal murder of George Floyd in police custody is the tip of an iceberg made of hundreds of black and minority ethnic lives who are daily subjected to police violence and silenced by a judicial system unwilling to protect them.
The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown the extent of social inequality and racialized oppression into sharp relief through the disproportionate number of deaths among black and minority ethnic communities in Europe and North America, fuelling pre-existing and deep resentment among those who experience them everyday. The Covid-19 pandemic has also escalated the state surveillance and monitoring capabilities and weakened checks and balances to executive and police powers which are likely to disproportionally impact negatively on racialized communities. George Floyd’s murder has triggered a global social movement that has united behind the banner ‘Black lives matter’ a broad and diverse alliance of groups, communities and individuals.
The SSAHE webinar brings together a range of perspectives on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on new and existing forms of racism and racial oppression, and the spaces and geographies that make and break black lives. It examines policing of black and minority ethnic lives and the changing politics of surveillance fuelled by big data and technological innovation, and suggests alternative ways we can re-read, reconstruct and remap the contemporary moment and everyday life, so as to police the imagination of the racist minds to take responsibility for their actions.
The webinar speakers comprise of:
Gracie Mae Bradley, a Policy and Campaigns Manager at Liberty where she leads strategy and campaigns across policing, immigration, counter-terror, and surveillance.
Dr Adam Elliott-Cooper, a Research Associate in Sociology at University of Greenwich. He sits on the board of The Monitoring Group, an anti-racist organisation challenging state racisms and racial violence.
Dr Maya Goodfellow, a writer, academic and broadcast commentator. She has written for a range of publications including the New York Times and Guardian. Maya is the author of Hostile Environment: How Immigrants Became Scapegoats (Verso, 2019). She is a trustee of the Runnymede Trust, an independent race equality think tank.
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