Never mind the petty Jay-Z at Glastonbur
y debate, there is a much more important event happening this year.
As the futile and ridiculous dispute about the world's most famous hip hop star headlining the world's most famous festival rages on, musicians and music lovers are in danger of ignoring a much more significant event – this Sunday's Love Music Hate Racism Carnival.
Thirty years ago, far-right political group The National Front were gaining popularity, with splinter groups taking over 40% of votes in Deptford, London in 1974 and two seats in Blackburn just a couple of years later. A growing xenophobia, which had been fuelled by Enoch Powell's 'Rivers of Blood' speech in 1968, was turning from pub chat or private discussions into brutality and, in a few isolated cases, racially-incited murders.
In opposition to the rising hatred a group of political activists and musicians joined to create Rock Against Racism (RAR) – a faction that married music and politics to combat the growing support for neo-Nazi groups. Exactly thirty years ago RAR put on a free musical carnival in Hackney's Victoria Park that merged artists from different ethnicities and musical genres. The Clash headlined the bash with support from Steel Pulse, Tom Robinson and X-Ray Spex and this Sunday the latest incarnation of RAR called Love Music Hate Racism is set to repeat the feat and host another huge event with The Good, The Bad and The Queen, Wiley, Hard Fi and The Clash's DJ Don Letts all set to appear. But are the organisers missing a trick?
I'm not saying that race relations in the country are ideal and there isn't any need to highlight the minority that still practice and preach racial hatred, but we have progressed greatly over the last three decades. However in the current social climate, after the enlargement of the EU in 2004, it's migrants from the old Eastern bloc that are facing the most prejudice, with similar undercurrents that black and Asian people endured in the seventies: being blamed for increased unemployment, undercutting wages et cetera . They may not have to suffer the Stop and Search laws, but they are still facing harassment. So why are Polish acts not being represented at this year's carnival?
This year's Wickerman Festival have successfully gained a grant from the local council to help integrate the influx of Polish migrants by featuring Polish acts at the Scottish bash. Festival Artistic Director Sid Ambrose said: "We want to open up the festival to the growing Polish community and we plan to produce publicity material for Polish speakers. We hope to feature some Polish acts and our world music stage would be the perfect platform. The Wickerman is very much a socially responsible event and with many thousands of Polish people in Scotland and the rest of the UK, we want to play a part in helping them integrate." Surely a Love Music Hate Racism concert should follow suit?
Whether they should or not currently remains an open argument, but whatever your own stance on the topic you should try and attend this weekend's carnival. Racism has to be halted in all forms and today's British National Party (basically the National Front under another pseudonym) are still gaining small, yet worrying, amounts of support in local elections – taking three seats in Burnley in 2002. The party may've created a more respectable front than their predecessors, but their prominent policies remain radically racist.
So rather than squabbling about Glastonbury's headliners down the pub, take a step outside and help quash a more pertinent issue – there's lots of great music too!
For more information on Love Music Hate Racism click HERE .