In the wake of this week’s public protests, Black Lives Matter UK has announced an action for members of the public who don’t feel comfortable protesting outside: playing Jimmy Cliff’s reggae classic The Harder They Come as loud as possible.
The “doorstop protest” has been co-organised by collective and grassroots organisation Race & Health whose mission statement is to be “a catalyst in achieving equitable health for all”.
Their partnership with BLMUK is a direct response to the recent Public Health England report into disparities in the risk and outcomes of Covid-19. It was revealed two days ago that the risk of death among those diagnosed with Covid-19 is between 10% and 50% higher in BAME communities than it is white. As reported by Huffington Post, deaths from all causes were four times higher than expected among black males for this period.
“Following the deaths of black key workers in the NHS and TFL we wanted to call for a government action plan to keep black people safe,” says Race & Health co-organiser Rosa-Johan Uddoh. “At the moment no action from the government has been taken on the findings. We say, ‘Black Lives Matter.’”
Drawing on Black British tradition, the campaign flyer depicts political activist Claudia Jones, who was instrumental in organising London’s first Caribbean Carnival in 1959.
So why this song? “We were really trying to bring up the spirit of the first Caribbean carnivals in the UK,” continues Uddoh. “The Harder They Come is a carnival classic! The first Caribbean carnival in the UK was organised to unite the black community through music and call for change, after race riots and killings of black people then. Sadly, the UK and US are still acting like black people do not matter.”
The protest is set to recur every Thursday at 7pm until governmental action is taken. “We’re going to be protesting and uniting through sound, to call for government action on black health. A lot of black key workers who are now most susceptible to Covid-19 came up from the Caribbean with that song. This song is for them.”