Discovering disparages: Using the Resource Centre to uncover BME experiences in the criminal justice system

The final post in our Race and Crime series comes from Shu Chee: A guideline for students researching disparages in sentencing, and how the Race Relations Resource Centre’s Criminal Justice collection can help.

Your task: Write an essay on the racial disparities in trial and sentencing.

So it’s assessment time again; you have organised your lecture notes, exploited Google Scholar and the Westlaw database, gone through dozens of journal articles…and yet you just can’t seem to begin writing. Why are all my readings all over the place? Do I have sufficient evidence supporting claims of ‘lighter skin, lighter sentence’? Are my sources reliable and relevant? Continue reading

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The O.J. Simpson case: The racial divide underlying the ‘trial of the century’

For the first post in our Race and Crime series, Shu Chee provides a short commentary and personal afterthought on Walter L. Hixson’s Black and White: The O. J. Simpson Case (1995) found in Annette Gordon-Reed’s ‘Race on Trial’.

In Harper’s well-acclaimed To Kill A Mockingbird, Tom was treated as a second-class citizen and received an unfair trial after being accused of raping a white woman. Despite significant evidence proving his innocence, he was convicted, based largely on his skin colour. Although it is an overstatement to say that Tom is the fictional equivalent of the average, working-class African American defendant, it is undeniable that some institutionalised racism and disparities in sentencing do exist in real life.

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From Manchester to Belarus

Julie met Frank Pleszak at Polish Heritage Day back in May, and was fascinated to hear about the hidden histories he has uncovered, whilst researching his father’s experiences as a Polish refugee in the Second World War. Here he talks about his family, his research and his ongoing relationship with his father’s land.

I was born in Manchester and have lived and worked here all my life. I’m proud to be a Mancunian. I love it when people ask me where I’m from and I can say Manchester.

But my surname clearly isn’t local. My mum was from Salford but my dad, who died in 1994, was Polish. He never spoke much about his early life, I know he’d fought in Italy at the famous battle of Monte Cassino but it wasn’t until after his death that I began to think about why he was here in Manchester, why he’d been in Italy, and why he hadn’t gone back home to Poland after the war. I had no idea of the monumental series of events, together with World War Two, that had created me a Mancunian.

At the house my dad lived in until his arrest in 1939

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The FBI’s most wanted woman, a former Black Panther who survived it all – Book review

Have you caught the dramatisation of Assata Shakur’s autobiography on Radio 4 this week? In a coincidence of timing the book has also made it to the top of Jo Manby’s review pile!

Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur. First published in the UK by Zed Books Ltd, London (1988). This edition Lawrence Hill Books (an imprint of Chicago Review Press, Incorporated): Chicago, Illinois, 2014

Assata Shakur is the FBI’s most wanted woman. Since 1979 has lived in Cuba as a fugitive after being granted asylum there following her escape from prison. She is also a founding member of the Black Liberation Army and godmother of Tupac Shakur. This autobiography tells the story of the circumstances that brought her to her present day situation.

the picture shows a book on a table. The book cover has a young black woman's face in profile, with a red target on her face. The title is Assata: An Autobiography Continue reading

Pages to light the dark paths to freedom of ‘a thousand Maria’s’ – Book review

Jo Manby

A Different Kind of Daughter – The Girl who Hid from the Taliban in Plain Sight
by Maria Toorpakai with Katharine Holstein. First published in the UK by Bluebird (2016). This edition Bluebird (an imprint of Pan Macmillan): London, 2017

Maria Toorpakai is Pakistan’s number one female squash player, and is a professional player now living in Canada. This autobiography follows her journey.

image show the book cover, showing a girl holding a scraf blowing in the wind, silhouetted against a sunsetIn her prologue, Maria says ‘I needed to be outside, under the open sky and running free.’ However, born and brought up in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), specifically Waziristan, in Pakistan, this kind of behaviour was forbidden by tribal law. Even more punitive and suffocating were the edicts of the Taliban, which began to invade people’s lives in this conflicted area and beyond during Maria’s childhood and teens.

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Voices of Kosovo in Manchester… and in Kosovo

The welcome was magnificent, unexplainable. Not just our first steps off the plane at Manchester Airport, but also the processing of all the refugees. And yes, it’s true, the English removed the rags of oppression and truly brought smiles for the first time to our kids’ faces – our kids, who had seen nothing but violence, burnings and killing.

Bedri Hyseni, Voices of Kosovo in Manchester archive

Oral histories are a significant feature of our collection. We currently have in the region of 400 interviews covering a range of experiences, from the life stories of Windrush immigrants to recollections of the 1945 Pan-African Congress.

image shows a bunch of yellow flowers, a large blue book with 'voices of kosovo in manchester on the cover and a photograph of a woman, displayed on a table

Image courtesy Manchester Aid to Kosovo

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Celebrating Polish Heritage Day

We celebrated Polish Heritage Day on Saturday. Julie Devonald (our Project Manager) reflects on the experience.

I was delighted to support Eva Szegidewicz and the Kresy Family Polish WWII History Group, hosting celebrations for the UK’s first ever Polish Heritage Day here at Manchester Central Library. This annual celebration has been established by the Polish ambassador to the UK, as a way for the 980,000 Poles living the Britain to celebrate and share their rich heritage with the rest of the country. Continue reading

‘Humpty Dumpty’, Ahmed Kathrada, and the death of a conscience…

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

 

It may not have felt like it at the time, but on 28th March this year we all lost something special. No, I don’t mean our wallets or our smart phones. What we lost was something even more important – a bit of global conscience. What do I mean? It was the day South African veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle Ahmed Kathrada died, aged 86.

Ahmed Kathrada may not be a name you’re very familiar with. Yet even as a youth this man had stood shoulder to shoulder with Nelson Mandela and other great anti-apartheid leaders right from the beginning of the campaign against the consolidating apartheid state in the 1940s. He was also with Mandela throughout his long incarceration.

Ahmed Kathrada

Ahmed Kathrada in 2016. Source: Wikimedia Commons

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10 steps to binding a book: A lesson in conservation

By Daniella Carrington

As part of my placement, I got a half day to learn about preservation techniques, by getting hands on experience in book binding. Leading the lesson was Nic Rayner, Conservation Officer at Archives+ – the archive partnership the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre is a part of. Nic assists the Centre by assessing the condition of new archival material acquired, and in general advises on preservation.

Getting into the book binding process. Photo taken by Hannah Landsman.

Getting into the book binding process. Photo taken by Hannah Landsman.

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From Symarons, Maroons and Iberian Africans to the African Ink Road – Book Review

This review is adapted from an original piece published in the Centre’s journal Ethnicity and Race in a Changing World.

Book review: Blackamoores: Africans in Tudor England, their Presence, Status and Origins, Onyeka (Narrative Eye and the Circle with a Dot, 2013)

Review by Jo Manby

In Blackamoores Onyeka presents the results of exhaustive research, which challenges accepted British history and allows Black, or African, people living in Tudor times to take their place in our country’s historic social fabric.

Image of the book front cover Continue reading