Archive for the ‘Cuts’ Category

No More Austerity March

In Cuts, QUAC on 18/06/2014 at 6:28 pm


Come join us on No More Austerity March

Saturday 21st June 2014

The march, called by the People’s Assembly,  will be from BBC HQ in Portland Place to Parliament Square.

We hope to form a LGBTQ block with other radical LGBTQ groups.

We shall be meeting up in front of the University of Westminster Regent’s Park Campus:

309 Regent St


W1B 2UW,-0.1414864,16z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x7eeacce91dcc14fe?hl=en-GB

12.45 – prompt

Looking forward to seeing you


How cuts are affecting our lives

In Benefits, Cuts, Health on 24/05/2013 at 10:56 am

by Nacho Diaz

I’d like to begin this talk by affirming that I am not a person who likes stats, hence, I can only tell what I observe and what I research. I’d like to be a little bit more optimistic but I’m afraid I’ll have to begin by describing the death of a good friend of mine and a founding member of “4in10”He went away so soon under strange circumstances. Heart attack was the official cause but behind it laid a long period of ups and downs. Like many other people, Peter, not his real name, used to go to mental health day centres and spend his time helping other people. He was very concerned about the cuts. Peter spent the last two years of his life witnessing how his friends were lacking the most elemental things to .

On one occasion he came to me very upset because one his closest friends had demanded the restoration of three tea bags he had borrowed from her. This could be anecdotal if it wasn’t because Peter had given the same lady £400 a few weeks before. I don’t know about you but, in my opinion, things must be pretty awful when someone needs to claim back three tea bags.

Peter died in November but he began to feel unwell in midsummer. He was first diagnosed with flue, then with an allergy and finally before he died he was diagnosed with a chest infection. Along the way his mental health deteriorated a lot and he was not the same. He stopped laughing, he complained all the time I saw him and his medication changed a few times with no apparent results. He did not say goodbye. One day we found out he was dead. We think he spent the last days of his life almost isolated just like if he didn’t want to bother anyone with his problems.

I have chosen this example to illustrate how some people suffer on their own with mental health problems and also how the physical, psychological and psychiatric services fail to protect them.

Another member, let’s called him Andrew, had to leave London because he could not stand any longer the victimisation he was suffering from his neighbours. He was the crazy queer in the building and his tormentors did not give him any sort of break. They were always ready to get him. Andrew was living in constant fear. To complicate things even more he was discharged from secondary services to his GP due to the cuts and he lost his empowering relationship with his CMHT (Community Mental Health Team). Andrew’s problems, however, did not stop there. He was diagnosed with cancer and he was suffocated by the appalling treatment given by his deceased partner’s family. I’m sure you’ll know what chemo means and how important is to be supported. He spent most his days alone. “4in10” helped him when we could but there were many things beyond our control. Those things were mainly related to the discharge to the GP and the lack of proper treatment.

The social services didn’t know how to deal with the homophobic bullying or his personal circumstances.  Andrew couldn’t stop complaining about the lack of knowledge of his GP and did everything in his power to be readmitted into secondary care. He was also continually talking about his fears of losing his DLA. His story is a story of someone lost in the system.

Continuing with the same circumstances of negligence I’d like to refer now to Paul, who like me is bipolar. Paul had been signed off sick for more than 20 years when one day he received the famous Athos letter. Before that he had his ups and downs but he lived a normal life. However, that letter changed everything. He went high, he filled in the ESA50 form without any help and went to the interview alone, knowing nothing about the procedure, and he was declared fit to work. There were some bureaucratic problems which I won’t go into detail and his benefits were stopped over Christmas.

He attempted suicide and failed. He was hospitalised and when he left he had to continue searching for jobs. One day, he collapsed after a panic attack in the Job Centre. He was told that unless he was sick he would have to continue looking for jobs or his benefits would stop again. At the moment he has being signed off by his doctor and he is the same person as he was before but it is only a matter of time, maybe just months, before he is called up again. I could give you a very realistic view of how Paul changed during all this process. He stopped eating, showering and shaving for more than four months. While he was dealing with all these problems he looked like a person who needed help and he was receiving nothing. Paul, to my eyes, was the real face of social injustice. Listening to his problems made me think all the time about how our lives were before the cuts and how, now, people with mental health problems were becoming the archetypal Victorian models of exclusion.

I decided to bring Paul’s appearance into  the spotlight not only because he was discriminated by his looks at the Job Centre but also because to the general public the image of a person going through the path of self-destruction is the image of someone to blame. By this I mean that for the public opinion the appearance of selfneglect implies the ultimate proof that people on benefits are lazy and deserve no consideration. I have witnessed this so many times in job centres and newspapers covers. The loony looks help to create a bad image, raise social concern and preach that only work can return dignity to people.

Those were the same comments I heard when I was discharge. My CPN told me that if I worked I would be able to buy a plasma TV, something really stupid considering that I don’t want a TV at home.

Many people with mental health problems can work and are quite happy doing so. I’m one of them and that allows me to see not only the discrimination faced by my peers but also the barriers to access work after long term unemployment. Some Medical staff has been encouraging people to return to work. I remember my friend Peter saying that he would die if he had to work in Tesco.

The main problem people living with mental health problems, queer or straight face at the moment is the Work Capability Assessment. This, happens because the assessment doesn’t take into consideration any of the particularities of having a mental health problem. There are many examples to illustrate this but to refer to something already explained let me tell you that we have lots of people coming to our group who do not understand how to fill the forms or where else to go for help. It’s advised to go with someone else but many people are scared of showing their solidarity in case is used against them when their turns come.

Being declared fit to work by a panel which doesn’t understand what they are assessing isn’t the worst thing that can happen. There is a bigger risk. This risk is no other than being put on forced medication and treatment, a risk which is an attack on human rights and dignity, a risk that stigmatises people and leaves them hopeless and merciless to the hands of the of the present system.  I’m sure you’ll know the harm that pharmaceutical drugs cause people leading in many cases to aggravate the problems or even suicides. The idea of the magic pill to become productive and rehabilitate individuals is denying us the basic principle of managing our lives and our problems without the interference of external agents like the added pressure becoming the members at the bottom of this consumerist society.

It’s precisely this environment in which people on benefits are being judged that deteriorates our mental health. Contrary to the biomedical model of illness we believe that the social circumstances surrounding an individual affect their wellbeing. Many people feel vilified all the time and the lack of specialist benefit advisor makes things even worse. The cuts are closing down day centres and returning people to their homes. That can only mean more isolation.

Forced isolation and seclusion is a form of social abuse. It has been demonstrated that LGBT people suffer far more abuse than straight people. A good example of this comes from another member of our group who is also a father. He lives in constant fear of his son finding out he is gay and can’t find the best way to come out to him. That stress never leaves him and he can’t find the right support to try to explain his other life to his child. As a result he tries to be the best father in the world by hiding the very best of himself.

We have more members who never leave their homes. Last week, for instance, Douglas came to a social event completely obsessed about paying his Bedroom Tax. He was so worried that he wanted to sell the cigarettes his mother had given him as a present. He decided to meet us because we were his only friends and also because he needed more information about the tax. Once again this case shows a clear lack of support from social services and personal desperation. Thanks for listening, things seem pretty hopeless for us at the moment as far as help from State is concerned. Just as well then that we have “4in10” for mutual support.

A few thoughts on the Benefit Summit.

In Benefits, Cuts on 22/03/2013 at 8:56 am

Packed room at the Benefit Justice summit

By Zack, a QUAC member

I’m glad I went to the Universal Benefit Workshop as it was really informative. The standard of the contributions, not only from those people running the workshop but also from those attending, was almost without exception very high. I found myself feeling quite humbled by what I’d witnessed!

I was approaching this subject as a novice having been fortunate enough (so far!) not to have had to negotiate the benefit system, and it was a steep learning curve. In a packed programme the stand-out points for me are in the small practical details of delivery of this system. In theory to have one universal benefit in place of the muddle of the different benefits we have now would seem like a no-brainer, but the government intends that access to it should be conducted online.

I am always concerned about this assumption of widespread computer literacy and access as I am pretty certain that a significant proportion of the client base are the very people who would have difficulties with this. It doesn’t bear thinking about either that you would be moving away from being able to discuss things with a human being in the event of having to appeal something – I can imagine the frustration, stress and despair this might give rise to. Government IT systems don’t have a good track record either.

The motivations for delivering it this way are money saving of course and you’d be able to employ less people – we did hear from Jane Aitchison of PCS whose members will be expected to deliver Universal Benefit, some of whom are in receipt of benefit themselves. With that in mind it was pointed out that most people in receipt of benefit are in fact working (the rise of non-permanent, part-time/not enough hours jobs that is the reality of the Tories’ private sector, so-called job creation efforts, must be adding to this picture). A further practical niggle is that benefit would be paid monthly, and whilst a fair proportion of people would already be used to monthly budgeting this would be difficult for a significant number of the most vulnerable people, giving rise to money-management issues. And all this against a background overall of probably less benefit money anyway thanks to cuts and caps etc.

Taking an overview and from a personal perspective I’d be fearful of the ‘Big Brother’ nature of this (if they actually get the IT to work of course!) and my instinct has been to keep under the radar. The nearest brush I had with benefits was contemplating jobseekers allowance and we heard from Mark Dunk of Right to Work who had personal experience of this and how your efforts to apply for jobs on line (however futile you believed that process to be rather than going out and knocking on doors etc., as some prefer) could be monitored and that you were required to do this as proof. How much easier it would be under the new system to track you and impose a set number of hours doing this sort of thing.

After the workshop I did go on to the plenary session which was really about where does the campaign go from here. I was succumbing to a bad headache by this time so my concentration was not at its best, but the most immediate, acute concern for some was fear of eviction due to bedroom tax/benefit reduction/caps whatever. It is hoped that Labour councillors might play a part in stepping in to prevent this on the ground – it’s the usual cry of where is the Labour Party in all this and what is it doing? In fact as we’ve seen this week Labour’s Bedroom Tax campaign has borne some fruit and IDS has had to publicly retrench a wee bit. Otherwise it was hoped that people would rally round their neighbours to oppose bailiffs and physically prevent evictions – all rather desperate stuff really. On a more positive note, we were encouraged to support some of the bigger protests coming up, for example the PCS Strike Day on the 20th March, and to link up with unions, trades councils and supportive councillors (Labour/Green Party) etc., as a united front. There is going to be a follow-up Benefit Summit on 11th May 2013.

To see OccupyNewsNetworkUK coverage of the Benefit Justice Campaign Summit click here

Queers Against the Cuts -Annual Report

In Cuts, QUAC on 13/01/2013 at 1:42 pm

Queers Against the Cuts was first launched on the 19th January 2011 in Brixton. The aims of the group were agreed to as follows:

• To campaign and defend all jobs, services and benefit rights and oppose privatisation.
• To highlight the disproportionate and adverse impact the huge reduction of public spending has on LGBTQ communities.
• To mobilise the LGBTQ communities against the cuts.
• To promote discussion of alternatives to the cuts and reconstruction of a more LGBT friendly public service
• To work in partnership and build alliances with others the fighting the cuts.

While at the time it felt like an uphill struggle, looking back over the last two years of Queers Against The Cuts we have achieved a lot more than we often realise and especially when you consider most our active members are largely extremely stretched activists. Nevertheless I feel that we had laid down solid foundations for Queers Against the Cuts both organisationally and financially for the future.


We have managed to build up a mailing membership of 119. By looking through the names the gender mix can be estimated at 50% male; 42% female; and 8% unclear or queer.

We have also had an affiliation from the Unison London Community and Voluntary Sector branch.

QUAC Meetings

Meetings sizes have been smaller, however since we have regularised and introduced political discussion items at the beginning of the meetings the numbers attended have, on the whole, crept up.

We organised a public meeting on 1st November 2011 at Conway Hall the speakers included Maria Exall, Chair of TUC LGBT committee, Phyll Opoku Director UK Black Pride, and Deborah Gold GALOP

We also organised an ‘open’ meeting on 28th July 2012 which began with a presentation by Joseph Healy on benefit cuts: DLA and HIV+ people, and Housing Benefit cuts.


A core part of our activity has been helping to ensure a visible LGBT presence on major marches and protests including:

• A Defend the NHS TUC ‘candle-lit’ vigil outside Parliament – 7 September 2011
• TUC ‘March for Alternative’ – 26th March 2011
• Pension Strike March – 30th November 2011
• TUC ‘Future that Works’ March on 20th October 2012.
• CoR Europe Against Austerity protest – 14th November 2012


Another core activity has been ensuring an anti cuts presence on Pride marches. We have taken the banner to the last two London Pride Marches and Brighton Pride marches where we have given out leaflets.

Last year we also attended the East London Pride with the banner taking a prominent place on the march. We also had a stall at Oxford House and a ‘platform’ speaker at one of the workshops.

At this year’s Brighton Pride we were guests of the new formed Brighton Queers Against Cuts (BQAC). The bloc was moved to the back of the march where we received harassment by the police. At one point members of BQAC were kettled for the ‘crime’ of letting people join the parade. If had not been for the intervention of Caroline Lucas MP and Peter Tatchell we would have been thrown off the march. Perhaps more worrying was that this was instigated by the Pride stewards with one them questioning whether we should be at Pride at all as we were “too overtly political”.

A more friendly pride has been Black Pride – which we attended two years running, where there was a higher level of political awareness among both the organisers and many of those attending.

Following the problems at World Pride in London QUAC members attended a meeting organised by the TUC. Colin Wilson was elected to represent QUAC at a future meeting which finalised the establishment of a set of principles which London Community Groups demanded that London Pride be based on.


We have set up and managed a blog on called We have made 20 posts including reproducing press releases; reproducing articles published elsewhere; news items and information about events and activities. It has a small but regular readership and has played a vital role in raising our profile particularly at times of high interest such as after Brighton Pride.

Press Releases

We have produced over 5 press releases sent to the left press; LGBT press; and the Guardian. These press releases include:

• Panning the Prime ministerial speech given at the Downing Street reception for the LGBT community.
• Yes to sex and relationships education, No to Nadine Dorries’s sexist proposals on abstinence education
• Calling for Cameron to rethink Housing Benefit Cut
• Queers Kettled at Brighton Pride.
• Joining Us on 20th October 2012 – March and Remembrance

Out Against Austerity

We support the SERTUC LGBT Committee initiative to bring together LGBT community groups including 17-24-30 no to hate crime campaign; Brighton Queers Against Cuts; Left Front Art; NUS LGBT Campaign; Campaign for Homosexual Equality; The London Queer Social Centre, Queer Resistance; and Queer Strike; to work towards a maximising LGBT presence at the TUC ‘Future that Works’ March on 20th October 2012.

This finalised in a well attended public meeting on the 27 September 2012 at UNITE House in Holborn. (for which we moved our regular meeting).

Coalition of Resistance

It is QUAC policy to support all Anti-cuts alliances (including the Right to Work; National Shop Steward Network; People’s Charter; Unite the Resistance and Coalition of Resistance) while calling for uniting between all of them.

However the anti-cuts alliance with which we have worked with most closely with has been Coalition of Resistance (CoR). As Convenor I have attended National Council and Joseph Healy and Terry Conway are currently members of the Officers Committee (although not in a QUAC capacity).

We have had delegations to 3 conferences organised by CoR and we have had platform speakers in two workshops.

Other Activities

We have undertaken other activities including:

• Having speakers at Lambeth Peoples Assembly; the Campaign for Homosexual Equality
• Leafleted November 21st LGBT History Month pre-launch; Soho 19th November 2011; Queer Question Time February 2012; Mayoral Queer Hustings April 2012;
• Distributed over 2500 ‘postcard’ leaflets
• Produced QUAC enamel badges that are selling like hot cakes

The Future

At the October 2012 meeting the future of campaigning was discussed. The feeling of the meeting was that QUAC was at a turning point. Whereas hitherto we were largely raising awareness within other campaigns or community events QUAC needed to move on to focus, although not exclusively, on a limited number of specific campaign. The campaigns or issues it was agree to focus on for 2013 were:

• The effects of Housing Benefits/Council Tax Benefit cuts on LGBT people;
• The effects that benefit changes (particularly PIP) are likely to have on HIV+ people.
• Supporting and prompting the NHS “No Private Providers” campaign organised by Keep the NHS Public

It was also agreed that in LGBT history month we should organise an event that draws parallels between the rise of Fascism in Europe in the 30’s and now.

In order for these campaigns and events to be successful we need to strengthen the organisation including the following:

• Broaden the workload which is currently left to a very small number of individuals.
• Develop the blog including getting more regular posts and a wider group to write for it
• Build better relationship with other campaign groups particularly Queer Resistance and LGBT trade union groups.
• Get speakers at other groups
• Increasing the number of affiliates
• Increasing the number of regular donations
• Improving internal communication (possibly through a ‘private’ blog)

Other things we may consider in doing include:

• Writing a pamphlet on QUAC position
• Organising a funding event
• Producing more fundraising/promotional material
• Support the development of QUACs in other parts of the country.
• Organising social activity

R Farnos
Richard Farnos – Convenor

LGBT and Disabled communities fighting the cuts

In Benefits, Cuts, QUAC on 04/11/2012 at 12:39 pm

By Dr Joseph Healy (This article first appeared in Eco-socialist)

Firstly, it is necessary to state that as a HIV+ gay man I straddle the divide between both communities but it is also necessary to point out, that there is already a large overlap between both communities. Many older LGBT people are disabled, there are many disabled people who are LGBT and, of course, there is the large number of people living with HIV, some of whom, like me, for over 20 years. Both communities are in the firing line for these cuts, although it is more obvious how it affects the disabled community than the LGBT one. The response of both communities has also been markedly different and there are lessons to be drawn from this and also warnings.

Apart from the large pan anti-cuts organisations such as Coalition of Resistance (where I am a national officer) a large number of anti-cuts organisations have arisen voicing the protest of various communities and putting their agenda forward to both government, trade unions and national anti-cuts bodies. These have ranged from Women Against the Cuts to Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts. One of the most active has been DPAC (Disabled People Against the Cuts) although it is necessary to state that there have been other disabled groups also actively campaigning against the cuts, such as Black Triangle, based in Scotland. DPAC have organised high profile protests, such as the Alternative Paralympics, which included a large picket outside the HQ of ATOS Medical Services. DPAC members have also spoken at national anti-cuts rallies and seem to have a national structure as well as several very active bloggers. They have brought to the attention of the press and public the deep impact that cuts in the welfare budget to payments such as Disability Living Allowance will have on the lives of disabled people, including those living with illnesses such as HIV, cancer and sickle cell.

Less obvious, and partly because of its relative lack of protest until now, is the impact of the cuts on the LGBT community. There is a general view of ‘the pink pound’ etc and that the LGBT community is insulated against austerity. This is not the case. Much of the LGBT voluntary sector which meets the needs of those such as young homeless LGBT people who have often been the victims of bullying etc, are threatened by the cuts. One such organisation is GALOP which deals with hate crime against LGBT people and also relations with the police. Many older LGBT people also live alone and a recent Stonewall survey indicated a high rate of social isolation and mental illness among this group because of a history of harassment and discrimination. In order to mobilise the LGBT community against the cuts we formed QUAC (Queers Against the Cuts) a year ago and I am its Treasurer. So far we have marched in the Brighton and London Pride parades, taken part in Black Pride and held public meetings on issues such as the impact of the cuts in housing benefit on young LGBT people as well as the reduction in disability benefits and their impact on HIV+ LGBT people. Both communities are being targeted by these cuts which hit the most vulnerable and both are determined to resist.

Resisting Austerity

In Cuts, QUAC on 23/10/2012 at 4:17 pm

the next Queers Against the Cuts meeting shall be:

Thursday 25th October 2012


Vida Walsh Centre

2b Saltoun Road



We plan to have a round table discussion concerning the successful TUC demo on last Saturday and were to go from now.  This will include prioritizing and develop our campaigning activity.

I hope to see you on Thursday

Join Us on 20th October 2012 – March and Remembrance

In Cuts, QUAC on 15/10/2012 at 1:45 pm

Despite Cameron’s fluffy words about inclusiveness, the Tories at their conference have exposed themselves for whom they really are.  With Ministers attacking women’s right to choose; a mass rally against Gay marriage; and Osborne, the Chancellor, seeking to slash employment rights – which will drive a horse and cart through equalities legislation.  The nasty party is clearly back.  This is only the start for as the economy falters and fails due to their austerity program, they will come for more and more escape-goats.

This is just three reasons among many ConDems attacks for joining us with our friends in 17-24-30 no to hate crime campaign, Brighton Queers Against Cuts; Left Front Art; NUS LGBT Campaign; Campaign for Homosexual Equality; The London Queer Social Centre, Queer Resistance; and Queer Strike;, in a pink&black bloc on the TUC’s March for Jobs this coming Saturday 20th October 2012.

We will be meeting by the pier of the HMS President a short distance along Victoria Embankment from Blackfriars station from 11.30am.  However although the march is due to start at noon, last year the march did not fully leave the Embankment until 4 pm and  the TUC have suggested that people stagger their journey.  Neithertheless we would suggest everyone to arrive by 1.30pm.

People are encourage to dress flamboyantly, or, to give the group visibility by wearing pink and/or black.  However if this isn’t you – you will be equally welcome whatever you wear.

Later in the day 17-24-30 no to hate crime campaign are organising the 4th London Vigil against Hate Crime, part of the International Day of Hope and Remembrance for all victims and survivors of hate crime.  The London Vigil against Hate Crime is planned to take place on Saturday 20th October between 7pm to 9pm at Trafalgar square.

It is a long day so we would advise that people bring water and some food with them, along with a camera.


Westminster station, the only fully physically accessible tube station close to the march route, will be closed on the day. Blackfriars includes a National Rail and a tube station; the latter may be accessible to people with some impairments, but includes a 5+ inch gap on the platform, while the former has ramps available from the train, spare wheelchairs and 24 hour assistance, but recommends notifying of any need for ramps or assistance in advance.

Ciara from Queer Resistance will be hosting a pink and black bloc within the TUC disabled people’s bloc heading the march, leaving from Savoy Street. For anyone who would prefer to join the march for a shorter distance, there is an assembly point in St James St off Piccadilly. The TUC’s page about both of these meeting points is here:

If anyone requires assistance on the day for the main bloc, contact Richard from Queers Against the Cuts on 07951 755785, or Queer Resistance are hoping to have a contact up soon. Ciara will be available to help people on the mini-pink&black bloc, and can be reached on 07505 559127.  Although we are concerned that sheer volume of numbers will result in mobile system being slow.

Speak OUT Against Austerity

In Cuts, QUAC on 20/09/2012 at 9:24 am

27 September 2012

6:30 pm

UNITE House, 128 Theobald’s Rd London WC1

(station – Holborn)


Sky Yarlett –NUS LGBT Officer

Peter Purton –TUC LGBT Policy Officer

Jamie Dennis –Brighton Queers Against Cuts

open mic session – hear the voices of LGBTQ people hit by the austerity policies

organised by – OUT Against Austerity

which is supported by –

Queer Resistance; Queers Against the Cuts; Left Front Art; Queer Strike; No to Hate Campaign;

NUS LGBT Campaign and SERTUC LGBT Network

sponsored by UNITE LE/1148 Branch

there will be 20 complimentary tickets to see screening of ‘Dreams and Other Night Fears’ (2012) by Hermes Pittakos at the London Underground Film Festival in Bloomsbury that evening

Queers call for Cameron to rethink Housing Benefit Cut

In Cuts, Press Release, Tories on 02/07/2012 at 6:01 pm

The lesbian gay bisexual and transgender campaign group, QueersAgainst the Cuts, has called on David Cameron to rethink his plan to scrapHousing Benefits to under 25 year olds. “This cut would really hurt many young lesbian gay bisexual and transgender people,” Richard Farnos QUAC’s Co-Convenor said “Many havea difficult relationship with their parents quite often leading to them to be thrown out of their home.  Cameron’s plan would mean that they would have to prove that they can’t live with their parents – which is hardly conducive to reconciliation.  The consequence of this will be more exploited and homeless LGBT youth.”

Cameron’s plan, which may become part of the Conservative Party’s next General Election Manifesto, was part of a package of cuts in the benefits system announced on Monday in a speech the Prime Minister gave at Bluewater.  Cameron argued that the point of the cutting Housing Benefit for under 25 was that “the system we inherited encourages them to grab the independence, rather than earn it.”

“Indeed we find the whole package insulting, it is like reading a Daily Mail editorial,” said Richard Farnos, “it perpetuates myths like that single parents automatically get a council house or that people like to live on the dole.  Poverty is not caused by debt, family break-down educational failure or addiction as Cameron claims, rather these are a consequence of poverty. Poverty is caused by his failing economic system that even before the bank crisis led the poor to get poorer and the rich, richer.  As the libertarian socialist G. D. H. Coleonce said ‘we are not slaves because we are poor, we are poor because we are slaves’.”