Image for Racism

From the vicious (murderous) racism which still haunts daily life in the United States to the new wave of official racism aimed at migrants in the UK and Europe.

Martin Luther King is dead, but racism lives in the USA

Scotland on Sunday diary column, January 18 1988

Junior Garner had only one problem, and on Christmas Day it cost him his life. That evening he left his wife and six children at home in Louisiana and drove off in his old pick-up truck with two friends through the pine woods into Texas. It was only a 30-mile trip to collect a car.

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The long-lost truth about native Americans

The Scotsman and The New Zealand Dominion, February 29 1988

In February 1911, Woodrow Wilson was just launching his campaign to become President of the United States, more than 500,000 automobiles clogged the streets of American cities, an aeroplane made the first transcontinental flight from New York to California and on a grassy hillside in Nevada, a lone band of untamed native American Indians made its last stand.

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Scandal, rumour and racial politics in New York

Scotland on Sunday diary column, March 21 1988

It takes a city as crazy as New York to produce a mystery like
the saga of Tawana Brawley, a story which starts off with a
sensational crime, rapidly turns into a twisted political plot
and then becomes a city-wide debate where everyone shouts at
everyone else, everyone has an opinion, and no-one knows the

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The town that loved lynching

The Scotsman and The New Zealand Dominion, April 10 1989

The old sheriff of Montgomery County, Ben Hicks, had an answer for everything.

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The black Russians and Stalin's Promised Land

Previously unpublished, October 1 1990
Written in October 1990

Oliver Golden grew up like any other young black man in Mississippi at the end of the 19th century, dirt poor and eyes-down humble. His parents had been born in slavery. When he was a child, he went to the black school and the black church; when he grew up he worked in the cotton fields; when he was old enough, he ran away to New York.

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The deadly secrets of a small town in Texas

The Guardian, February 2 1991

Conroe looked like a nice little town. I had cruised up the freeway from Houston for half an hour, through the forest that blankets this part of east Texas, turned off by the Holiday Inn and a couple of minutes later, I was in the courthouse square with its clean streets and its neat shops and the Stars and Stripes up high on the courthouse roof like a feather in Conroe's cap.

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Laughing at racism

The Scotsman, February 9 1991

It was the day after the crime. Everyone in Conroe was talking about the report in the Courier: "Girl found slain at Conroe High. Police say teenager strangled." Politicians and church ministers were pleading for calm. The captain of detectives was on television, disclosing that the girl had been raped by her killer. Her body had been taken to the morgue down in Houston.

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A black man in a white town

The Mail on Sunday magazine, February 10 1991

Clarence Brandley always knew the truth. Long before his own trouble started - before the white girl was killed, before he was blamed, before he was condemned to death - he knew how dangerous it was to be a black man in a town like Conroe.

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The death row lawyer from Wolverhampton

The Guardian, December 11 1993

The Pope does not often speak up for convicted killers. But earlier this year, he joined Vaclav Havel, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Jesse Jackson, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, Kenny Rogers, every Catholic bishop in the state of Texas, the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People and a world-wide campaign by Amnesty International in pleading for the life of a young black man on Death...

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The stolen children

The Guardian, May 25 1996

When Archie Roach was a small child in the early 1950s, he lived in a place called Framlingham, a short row of tin shacks and little brick houses which stood on a dusty, dry plateau near the edge of a gorge about 300 miles west of Melbourne. Once, his family had lived by a riverbank, where they could hunt and catch fresh fish, but the white people had come and ordered all of them - Archie and his...

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Problems of a black police officer

The Guardian, July 30 1997

Police Constable Richie Clarke had always loved his work. It didn't matter to him that he was black. In fact, he wanted to believe that it helped him - that some black people might show him a little extra trust and that some white officers would be less likely to get out of order if he was around.

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How Europe created a theatre of cruelty to deter migrants

The Guardian, April 18 2010

"British jobs for British workers." It's an easy thing to say. Gordon Brown came out with it in June 2007, just before he became Prime Minister. Since then, the easy words have been picked up and recycled by pundits and pickets and politicians from the British National Party on the right through to the biggest trade union in the country, Unite, on the left. The reality, however, is a little more...

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