Black Lives Matter
At Substrakt, we have been discussing how we can usefully and appropriately respond to and stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests taking place both here in the UK and in the USA.
There are no black people currently working at Substrakt and we have not publicly made anti-racism pronouncements before, so to do so now felt like it could be perceived as disingenuous.
There was also a frank admission from many of the team that they did not feel educated enough to be able to say anything informed.
However what did become clear was that to say nothing was no longer an option.
To say nothing is to implicitly support oppression. This should not be a partisan issue, this is a human rights issue. We have a responsibility to stand up against racism.
So we say clearly: We are anti-racist.
As a British-Asian man whose father came to this country from India when he was 6 years old I have some sense of the structural racism that pervades many aspects of the UK.
However I am not black, I have not faced anywhere near the levels of violence and discrimination the black community suffers in almost every walk of life.
And the sector we specialise in, that we spend most of our time talking with and to, the cultural sector, is far too white, and has many of its own issues when it comes to representation and meaningful engagement with communities who have suffered from discrimination.
As does the sector that we come from, the tech sector, another overwhelming white (and male) world.
Does that need to change? Absolutely.
Is it going to be easy to change that? No. Have we done enough to change that? Also no.
So when asking ourselves how we can be useful, how we can support, how we can do something meaningful the answer seemed to be twofold; to better educate ourselves so that we can properly engage with these issues, and to support and amplify the voices and initiatives of those who are trying to make meaningful change.
Below are some, we hope, useful links, that at least begin to start doing that:
- Educate yourself about, and support, Black Lives Matter.
- Resources about the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK.
- You can sign the petition calling for justice for George Floyd.
- Support The Bail Project, which aims to combat mass incarceration at the front end of the system. “We pay bail for people in need, reuniting families and restoring the presumption of innocence.”
- Explore this repository of content from the Black Lives Matter movement, including links to petitions, a timeline of events, details of missing people and details of funds you can donate to.
- Read these books:
- Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
- Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad
- White Fragility: Why it’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin Diangelo
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde
- They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, And A New Era In America’s Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery
- Inglorious Empire: What The British Did To India by Shashi Tharoor
- The Good Immigrant: 21 Writers Explore What It Means To Be Black, Asian, And Minority Ethnic In Britain Today edited by Nikesh Shukla
- Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging by Afua Hirsch
- Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala
- Watch these films and programmes:
- The 13th, Director Ava DuVernay’s powerful film explores how the Thirteenth Amendment led to mass incarceration of black and brown people in the United States. It also explores the relationship between slavery and mass incarceration and argues that the latter is a continuation of the former. (Netflix)
- Dear White People, A Netflix series following several Black college students at a largely white Ivy League school – based on the film of the same name (which can be rented on Amazon Prime).
- When They See Us, directed by Ava DuVernay, based on the true story of about a wrongful conviction in 1989, which saw five boys of colour imprisoned for a rape they didn’t commit. They became known as the Central Park Five. The series focuses on the aftermath of the wrongful convictions, spanning the 25 years it took the men to reach a deal with the city of New York. (Netflix)
- Detroit, Set during one of the largest race riots in US history, Detroit tells the true story of a racially charged incident of police brutality at the Algiers Motel in 1967, in which three black men were killed. (Amazon Prime)
- Support UFFC, The United Families & Friends Campaign (UFFC), is a coalition of those affected by deaths in police, prison and psychiatric custody, supports others in similar situations. Established in 1997 initially as a network of Black families, over recent years the group has expanded and now includes the families and friends of people from varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds. More info, donate now.
- Support Stop Watch, a well established UK organisation campaigning on on issues of police accountability and mistreatment of black men, and the only one with a specific national remit it to promote police accountability.
- Donate to Amos Bursary. Founded by Baroness Valerie Amos and her sister Colleen in 2009, this is a programme that gets black boys into top level education and changes lives in the process.
- If you went to school in the UK, take this survey, “the impact of omission” which investigates the extent to which British Imperial history is explored in the curriculum of compulsory education in the U.K.
- Support The Black Ticket Project, an Award-winning initiative creating cultural access points for Black young people. More info, donate now, support their Patreon.
- Support Museum Detox, a network for people of colour working in the museum, gallery and heritage sector.
- Explore the Black Plays Archive, it catalogues the first professional production of every African, Caribbean and Black British play produced in Britain from 1909 to 2015.
- Watch this conversation between Russell Brand and Kehinde Andrews (academic, author and professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University).
- For parents: Ava DuVernay has launched an educational platform around the themes of her films and series – the first is for When They See Us (suitable for teen – adult). The Conscious Kid are a great account to follow on Instagram, and specifically for parents they have a bookclub on Patreon and recommended book lists (split by age range) to help facilitate conversations about race and racism.
This list is not exhaustive, there are many more resources out there, they aren’t difficult to find.
There is much more we can, and will, be doing at Substrakt. As well as ensuring we educate ourselves we have donated to the causes outlined above.
We are also asking how we can proactively begin to positively affect change in the diversity of our team, and the sector we work in. We welcome suggestions and advice on both these fronts, we do not have all the answers but we want to learn and be better.
And finally I want to say, in the knowledge that I speak for all of the team at Substrakt, we stand in solidarity with the Black community. We have a responsibility to speak out against racism and inequality. We have a responsibility to educate ourselves about this issue, and to do what we can to challenge and change it.
We may not have used all the right words here today but felt a responsibility to say something, to do something.