Anti-Racism

Villanelle: Joint Enterprise

Osime Brown

The courts prejudge and penalise,
applying law, not playing fair,
convicting of 'joint enterprise'

Two words that catch and criminalise
the skin you're in, the clothes you wear,
they prejudge and they penalise

You're guilty in the system's eyes
and though they know you were elsewhere
convict you of 'joint enterprise'

Black culture and resistance: the Harlem Renaissance

Augusta Savage

One hundred years ago, an arts movement was forming in a mainly-black district of New York City. Later known as the Harlem Renaissance, it was primarily cultural but also inescapably political. Literature, poetry, jazz, theatre, sculpture and more articulated the lives and demands of African-Americans no longer willing to be grateful that they were no longer enslaved.

O black and unknown bards of long ago.
How came your lips to touch the sacred fire?

How, in your darkness, did you come to know
The power and beauty of the minstrel’s lyre?
Who first from midst his bonds lifted his eyes?
Who first from out the still watch, lone and long.
Feeling the ancient faith of prophets rise
Within his dark-kept soul, burst into song?

James Weldon Johnson

Bristol's Brilliant Bus Boycott (1963)

Bristol bus boycott

Back before barring blacks became banned
Bristol buses blocked brown-skinned blokes becoming buscrew

But better Bristolians batted back
bit the bullet and boycotted the buses

Bent-backed, booted bipeds bicycled,
as bitter brushes blazed between bile and benevolence

Bands of brave, belligerent banner-bearers
branded the ban biased, barbarous balderdash

Joint Enterprise: unjust and racist

Joint Enterprise article
  • published in Solidarity 564

British courts’ application of ‘joint enterprise’ is unjust, and criminalises black and working-class youth.

‘Joint enterprise’ is a common-law doctrine that allows courts to convict not only the person who carried out a crime, but others who helped them to do it. In principle, that sounds reasonable. But since 1984, British courts have used it to convict people who they think knew the crime was going to happen, even if they did not help carry it out.

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