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TUC Black Workers’ Conference Carries MU Motion to Support Art Not Evidence

Our motion for the TUC to support Art Not Evidence and promote the restricted use of creative expression in court was passed at the TUC Black Workers’ Conference.

Published: 14 June 2024 | 10:21 AM Updated: 14 June 2024 | 1:16 PM
MU delegates and visitors standing outside of the Congress Centre in London for TUC Black Workers' Conference 2024.
TUC Black Workers' Conference saw delegates come together in celebration and solidarity. Image credit: The MU.

Members Xidus Pain and Vicky Ngamsha formed the MU Delegation to the 2024 TUC Black Workers’ Conference held in April at Congress Centre in London.

MU moves motion tackling discrimination against Black culture

The MU motion followed our ongoing support for the Art Not Evidence campaign, asking conference for the TUC to also adopt support for the campaign.

The motion was moved by Xidus Pain, who shared testimony from working in prisons as a music practitioner, addressing the impact of how Black culture is treated.

Xidus called attention to the double standards that single out art of Black origin, while other forms of art and media are not used as evidence despite glorifying violence.

Citing his own encounters with people through his work in prisons, who have had their music used as evidence against them, Xidus rounded off his speech with the conference hall chanting in call and response, “Art Not Evidence!”.

About Art Not Evidence

Research has identified over 100 cases in the UK since 2005 in which rap music has been used as evidence in criminal trials.

In the last three years, at least 240 people have had their fate in court decided, at least in part, by their taste in music.

Art Not Evidence campaigns for law reform and advocates for a restriction of the use of creative expression as evidence in court.

The MU believes that using creative expression in this way risks miscarriages of justice, perpetuates racist stereotypes and stifles creativity and freedom of expression. An artist’s creative or artistic expression should not be used against them in court.

The MU supports the decriminalisation of creative expression

Following the passing of the MU motion, the TUC will now be required to:

  • Lobby government for new legislation that limits the admissibility of creative expression as evidence in criminal courts
  • Support and promote the Art not Evidence campaign

We hope this will enhance the reach and power of the campaign, by putting it on the radar of other sectors, and bringing the collective power of the TUC as a lobbying force.

TUC Black Workers' Conference saw delegates come together in celebration and solidarity 

The conference was a packed weekend, with workshops on Day 2 including Black Women’s Experiences of Sexual Harassment. This was a moving workshop, with many sharing their own experiences, and a discussion of what unions and employers can do to create better pathways for reporting incidents.

The MU has been involved in the TUC’s Steering Group for Black Women and Sexual Harassment, including supporting the development of a survey to map people’s experiences.

MU delegate Xidus Pain performed in tribute to the late Benjamin Zephaniah. Image credit: Rez Kabir. 

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer Dr Diljeet Bhachu attended conference as a visitor, alongside Eunice Obianagha from UK Music. Conference also heard from Dr Hind Benammar, Executive Secretary of the Arab Trade Union Confederation.

On the Friday evening, delegate Xidus Pain also performed at a reception in tribute to his mentor and friend, the late writer, poet and anti-racism activist Benjamin Zephaniah.

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