Last year I posted on how Diane Abbott must be defended. She had just been discovered by the Daily Mail as having had a relationship in the past with Jeremy Corbyn.
Twitter was flooded with vile, disgusting, debased racist attacks on her. I wrote a post because nobody seemed to be paying any attention to this and I thought someone should.
Who noticed? Practically no one. Outrage was there none. Passed The Twittersphere by. F'all on Comment Is Free.
The whole experience was surreal. Look it up. Yes that actually happened and yes most ignored it / had no clue it was going on.
A year on and another black Labour MP is subjected to vile, disgusting, racist attacks. She is accused of 'playing the race card', an idea whose origins lie in the racist 'Southern Strategy' of the Reagan-era American Republican Party, by a website much of Labour links to.
She does not receive the same sexualised abuse as Abbott but the assault on her is similarly determined to silence a black voice.
Only this time Abbott and other left black voices are silent on her treatment, plus others, not of the far-left, also chime in, trashing her.
One of those black voices is Ahmed Sule. who wrote a fantastic piece about 'playing the race card' last year for Media Diversified, a website/group linked to a key website backing Jeremy Corbyn, The Canary.
Strangely (I jest) he has been silent on Chi Onwurah. In fact if you know of any 'radical' black voices speaking up for Onwurah let me know - they appear absent.
The assault on Onwurah
Onwurah is the black, Northern Labour MP whose criticism of Corbyn has been met with a racist assault - a reality, as with Abbott's, that has gone uncommented upon - as well as a dismissal as somehow her views are imposed upon her. Like this black woman is a puppet.
For the Corbynites that must-read Canary website hosted an assault by white author James Wright on Onwurah. Tl/DR: the black MP lies.
It cited another white author on Corbyn's history of opposing Apartheid. This has been widely circulated. The reality is that the entire Labour community opposed Apartheid, not just Corbyn. For his work the 'Blairite' Minister Peter Hain was given a medal by the South African government (Corbyn has no such medal). The image circulated of Corbyn comes from a protest organised by a Trotskyist sect, the RCP. that the African National Congress (ANC) in exile opposed.
To shame a black Labour MP Corbyn supporters circulate an image of Corbyn, pretty much, defying the ANC.
I can understand defying the ANC but that wasn't what was happening for those circulating that image to trash Onwurah. They were deifying Corbyn. And in sharp and illuminating contrast to a black MP.
The apogee of the reaction to Onwurah criticising Corbyn must be a black Corbyn supporter tweeting that Corbyn is the anti-racist hero. Never mind all those, like Abbott, who fought for representation.
Racial discrimination and racism
At the core of the very serious issue with Labour reaction to Onwurah is her stated concern about racial discrimination.
She says that the treatment of her and another black woman MP could constitute racial discrimination. This is based on how when you have low representation your actions could diminish that even more. Hence you end up discriminating.
It's almost two decades since the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. That explained how institutions can be subject to racial discrimination in how they practice. That also said that a claim of racial discrimination should be taken at face value and not automatically dismissed.
Understanding how racial discrimination works in practice is something muggins thought we'd got from all that history. More fool me.
Cos British media headlines said Onwurah'd accused Corbyn of racism. (This line was swallowed whole by Smith supporter Kevin Meagher, who blogged, against her, at Labour Uncut.)
This is not true. Racism and racial discrimination are not the same issue - and seeing how little this was understood vis Chi made me feel as if nothing had been learnt from the Stephen Lawrence experience or what has followed since. And I was truly shocked to see she got little support - including from her fellow MPs.
So we end up, in 2016, having a black female Labour MP being told her experience is not valid by vast swathes of the party. And how dare you raise your experience as a black woman. And being left to fend for herself by the entire party. Not silenced - ignored. It appears so.
Am back to Abbott and what happened a year ago...
G&d this is truly pathetic ...
In her piece today for The Guardian Onwurah underlines that:
"Conflating issues of representation with accusations of racism is one of the ways in which minority voices are silenced."Corbyn needed to take care in how he treated Labour's few black female representatives. To do otherwise is not 'racism' but 'racial discrimination'. Because Labour has representation problems. Because meaning outcomes. Forgetting who 'they' are. Forgetting what 'they' represent. Forgetting what got 'them' where they are.
Forgetting who 'we' are. Forgetting who he is. Or who he is supposed to be.
Neglect - competence! - amounts to discrimination. That's her point, as I get it.
It ain't hard to understand yet we have a party which yells at her to STFU.
If Labour 2016 does not understand this, Chi's, basic point then WTF is Labour? And can someone else do some lifting on this than this old queen?
The Corbynite leadership is white male heterosexuals.
If you aint demanding of them cos that you aint nothing. Chi just did. She is something. F'yeah she is.
We can do better. We can do more.
- For more on Jeremy Corbyn's history on Anti-Apartheid see Twll Dun 'The right side of history'