No Lives Left Behind – Statement on the Black Lives Matter campaign

“A black man was killed last night, murdered for the crime of being black.

“I hate the violence of racism, I hate that death is in our lives, but more than that, I hate the way we turn our back.

“I hate the atmosphere of hate.”

– Moraene Roberts, August 2000

As a movement rooted in the affirmation of the human rights and equal dignity of all people, ATD Fourth World stands against racism in all its forms. Anti-black racism has a long and painful history in the UK. This is evident right now in British society: from the massive overrepresentation of young people from BAME* communities in young offenders’ institutions and of non-white children in the care system, to the terrible impact of the Home Office’s Hostile Environment policy on the Windrush generation. We stand with all those calling for change to ensure that future generations no longer experience the oppression of racism.

ATD Fourth World is also a peace movement. We must always be the change we want to see and therefore it is very important to us that protest is peaceful. Black lives should be valued because all lives are of inherent and equal value. Unfortunately, slogans are being twisted and manipulated in order to scare people and pit them against one another. Acts of provocation serve only to deepen divisions and drive people further apart.

Racism and poverty have a common root: the belief that some human beings are worth less than others — because of the colour of their skin, the place they were born, or their socio-economic status. As a community, ATD Fourth World refuses this kind of pernicious “othering”, discrimination and oppression, and is actively engaged in deconstructing them by creating new ways of being together.

People First

ATD Fourth World is a movement that puts people first. People need safety and security when they share their experiences of racism and discrimination — in any form. We always strive to listen to one another with respect. Nobody should fear being silenced or insulted when they try to find the right words.

The “ATD” in ATD Fourth World stands for “All Together in Dignity”. We do not believe that one group’s liberation is the prerequisite for the emancipation of another. Here solidarity does not lie. Such beliefs are very painful for people whose suffering goes ignored or unrecognised. It is not possible to hear that you must wait your turn. Saying “you are either for us or against us” is not our way. In the flames of social injustice, we must endeavour to tackle every blaze. Where we have hope and love, it is always hope and love for all.

In these incredibly difficult times, we miss greatly the wisdom and compassion of our dear friend and colleague Moraene Roberts, but we feel her presence.

National Coordination Team and Board of Directors

them and us

We are they,

they are we.

I am you and you are me.

If you had lived my life

I am who you would be.

Remember that

when you look down on me.

Judge not by only what you see.

Be a partner,

hear a voice,

give another some real choice.

For we are they and they are we.

If you had lived my life,

You would be me.

– Moraene Roberts, August 1994

To read Moraene’s poem “Basic Human Rights”, please click here.

*BAME means black, Asian and minority ethnic people