‘What Can We Do About Systemic Racism?
“Unity is a superpower they don’t want us to unlock” (John Boyega)
On July 2nd, 35 JtoJ supporters met by Zoom to share their responses to the murder of George Floyd. Our aim was to gather examples of challenging racism & learn from each other.
We heard from activists doing anti-racist work via the arts, history and social change and discussed how we can come together to tackle racism.
This was a fantastic opportunity to reflect on stories that demonstrate change is possible and hear directly from those involved:
Iman Ahmad talked about ‘Fill In The Blanks’, a brilliant Advocacy Academy project: http://www.theadvocacyacademy.com/#fill-in-the-blanks
Jess Lima and Tania Aubeelack reflected on their involvement in ‘Fighting SUS’, a great On The Record project: https://fightingsus.on-the-record.org.uk/
JtoJ volunteer Tania also spoke about the Peace Assemblies that Journey to Justice planned and delivered in schools last September: https://journeytojustice.org.uk/islington-peace-assemblies-september-2019/
Thank you to everyone who participated and made the conversations so engaging, positive and hopeful and all who have provided their personal responses:
Comments on the night were varied and powerful. Here’s a summary of what was written in the Chat:
Why did you sign up to this event?
Gain more knowledge; Making change through education; The need for solidarity and hope; Listen to each other and come together in unity for change; Share experiences; Wanted to hear excellent speakers; Curious about the types of anti-racism work that goes on; Make a difference; I’m interested in how we deal with systems of racism, not just individual behaviour; I want to know more about what is possible, to listen, response to my institution’s poor inadequate response to BLM; The murder of Elijah McClain. I identify with his case… he was a young disabled man who was brutally killed by police in Colorado; To educate myself and others – take a stand against injustice
What is your response to the murder of George Floyd & BLM? How do you feel?
Really horrified and aware of how much I need to learn; What we’ve been doing all this time isn’t enough…;Making sure what we do and say isn’t just lip service; Horror but also a massive motivation for change; Importance of institutions like JtoJ to sustain and build on this BLM moment; I was very angry, tearful but am feeling optimistic now. We are seeing people coming together; Hard to put into words really – but for the UK it’s a huge wakeup call – NO room for complacency; Great that we’re talking about systemic racism… but HOW do we tackle it? …. plus I’m excited by all the people feeling strengthened to challenge racism in their workplaces; We spoke about our disgust at what happened and the real drive for action and change; Optimism at a desire to learn; It has brought up difficult and uncomfortable discussions at my work – a university – but talk about policies and not actions; My feelings were how is this still happening today! My response was to get more informed, reading and research and wanting to move into more concrete steps; Change in the air – young people are our hope for the future; How do we change structures? we change the stories behind them; It feels like we’ve been here so many times before, and I wonder if the answer this time is empowerment and agency in small organisations, in the workplace. Activism from the bottom up. challenging systemic racism from the inside – person to person.
What will I do next? what should we do next?
For long term change, teaching about race, migration, empire and belonging needs to happen in schools … not ducking from open discussion of difficulty; Really push to get the history curriculum to be more honest about the world; Have more conversations. Call people out for racism/prejudice. Don’t be afraid to question things; We should collectively be better at skills sharing. I will make sure that what is currently happening globally, the conversations that are taking place, are integrated into everyday work we do at the museum; Race awareness course, omitting diversity and BAME so the focus is on people of African heritage who have been disadvantaged based on race; I am doing one thing each day. A donation. Sign a petition. Share stuff etc. We should organise a major rally/event with speakers, entertainment, etc; Challenge racism of any forms starting with friends and family. Doing so in a more understanding way not targeted; I’m using music/drama to bring little known aspects of Black/ British history to local communities and schools; Continue to listen and learn and have open conversations with young people e.g. my younger cousins – pushing for broader, more diverse narratives in education that not everyone has been taught; Making sure that we build a coalition of people and explain so that what we are advocating isn’t extreme; Education sectors from primary up – curriculum change. So much populist nonsense to challenge; I’m reading more, having lots of discussions with people, trying to identify decision makers I can talk to; Learn about how power structures work – in any institution/family/work place & how control/racism is maintained & how to challenge it; Educate myself, listen to people and promote black voices; Very important to understand “white privilege” in order to start the conversation and challenge systems; I’ll keep talking about systemic racism through my work in the arts… continuing educating, exposing and giving easy access of the history of the “less advantaged” groups; Collectively calling on those with influence and power to push for change…instigate a moral purpose; I learnt so much thank you for bringing us all together; Thank you – very interesting and inspiring (especially as it’s not easy to do virtually!!!); Great! Thanks so much for making it participatory. Such great speakers. Well done Journey to Justice and all its partners; That was too short!! You could do a full day conference on this; I learnt a lot and feel very hopeful that this amazing group of people are in the network!
We will continue to listen and respond to your ideas as much as possible. For a list of recommendations our supporters have found insightful and enriching see: https://journeytojustice.org.uk/anti-racist-resources/
Our next event will be on September 2nd, 20.00 – 21.30