Gracie Bradley: Hello, and welcome to this special live stream where we'll be talking through some of the issues and topics from EachOther's Black Lives Matter takeover this last month. I'm Gracie Bradley and from October I will be interim director of the human rights group Liberty. And with me I have three of the four guest editors from EachOther's takeover that you're here today we've got Ife Thompson, Professor Kehinde Andrews, and Martha Awojobi and I wonder in no particular order, maybe Ife, could I hand over to you for 30 seconds or so for you to tell everybody a bit about yourself?
Ife Thompson: Hi, my name is Ife Thompson. I'm a barrister. I'm also the founder of two civic organisations. So I have Black Protest Legal Support which has been providing pro bono support to Black Lives Matter activists and provide them support throughout all of the protests, and also BLAM Charity, which stands for Black Learning Achievement and Mental Health. And we kind of go into schools diversifying the curriculum, working on like, racial wellness workshops with the black community. You know, various things, but particularly around community organising of black people in Britain. So that's me.
Gracie Bradley: Thanks ever so much. And Martha, do you want to say a bit more about yourself?
Martha Awojobi: Sure, thanks, It's good to be here. My mum has just let me know that she's watching. So hi, mum. I am Martha Awojobi, I am an organiser and treasurer of Charity So White. I'm also, Charity So White is the campaign that's aiming to root out racism within the charity sector, asking leaders to kind of take on that mantle of rooting out racism. I'm also a third sector consultant. So I've curated the first BAME fundraising conference a couple of months ago, and I'm working with various highprofile charities to embed anti racism into their organisational frameworks. That's me thanks, thank you for having me.
Gracie Bradley:Fab, It's great that you're here. And then last but not least, Kehinde, do you want to say a bit more about you?
Kehinde Andrews: Hi, Kehinde Andrews, professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University, also the chair of the Harambee Organisation of Black Unity. Where we're trying to put some of the theory into practice.
Gracie Bradley: Fab, well, I'm really delighted that you could all join today. And of course, this live stream is part of EachOther's kind of wider takeover, which was sort of them showing their commitment to solidarity with Black Lives Matter movement that took huge momentum this summer in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. And so you've each week in August, taken responsibility for commissioning different bits of content and writing on the EachOther website along a variety of themes. And those themes have been justice, education, charities, and Marcus Ryder who couldn't join us today did a really interesting series on journalism. And so I wonder if we could maybe begin at the beginning in a way and Kehinde, you could maybe talk to us a little bit about what you focused on in your week on education?
Kehinde Andrews: Yes, so education is obviously something which as a professor I'm involved in. But I guess, I guess this probably never came through with my series in there. But I always have a bit of a problem with education when we talk about our school system, because really what it is, is schooling rather than education. The whole point of the school system, and I include university, universities in this, the whole point of the school system, really is to reproduce the current social audit and that current social audit is a very racist, or is a racist one, right. So when we think about what we were trying to do with the week was to kind of say, well, actually this issue of education is about how can we get, how can we actually have a real education because what you get in schools isn't, it's not the purpose of, it's not the point of it. It is something very, very different. I also wanted to challenge some of the, to do some of that to challenge some of the ideas about human rights.
Because I think that these kind of concepts we take for granted in lots of ways. But the actual human rights framework is deeply tied into the problematic nature of our school system, right? We're kind of told this lie that the, we're going to call it, we call it the 'enlightenment' like this kind of the dead white men philosophers who we still revere actually still really do revere it in a quite a worrisome way when you actually read any of them is they're terrible, but aside I guess we can get into that. But the general point here is that the way our school system is set up is set up on this myth that we're kind of moving towards progress, we're kind of moving in the right direction and the human rights framework that we have really comes from that, right? So the idea that, you know, in the West, we're making progress to kind of this beacon of justice, etc, etc, and human rights issues or issues in the developing world, the backwoods parts of the world, what they used to call the savages. And so what I wanted to do in the week was kind of challenge all of that and be quite practical with that as well. So I kind of had in my piece was kind of a bigger, theoretical, what's the problem with human rights, it's deeply racist, and the way that it plays out. And then we added a series of pieces that looked at what does that look like on the ground? So I think the first piece you did was about the black supplementary schools, Aaron wrote a piece.
And you know, the supplementary school movement in Britain has a long history, at least 50, 50 odd years. And supplementary schools are those kind of voluntary education set up by black communities, because we talk about rights and one of the key rights in the human rights framework is the right to education. And you know from in the 60s when children started to come from Caribbean, Africa, Asia, found very quickly that actually that right to education wasn't being honored at all so. In the 1960s, up to 70% of Caribbean boys in Harringay, were deemed to be educationally subnormal, which we now call special needs. And it's basically because *Papia* wasn't accepted as proper English. So, what we did was we basically set up our own education establishments, because we just understood that the schools couldn't teach what we needed to teach. And so supplementary schools or Saturday schools as we call them, have existed ever since, we just kind of created our own spaces. I mean, that's quite important because often, when we think about education, we think about the schools. But when we think about education, we should really be thinking about the things which aren't in the schools and the things we've had to create for ourselves. We also then had a piece which looked at, again, the right to education, the debacle around GCSE results and A-level results all being downgraded and then being upgraded.
But the whole problem with that is that even the, there is a bigger issue with the way that GCSE's and A levels are marked generally. And then now you've got the marks on teacher expectations but one of the, *anyone working in education* will tell you that the worst people to ask for racial justice of school grades will be teachers, teachers are terrible. One of the reasons actually we kind of rely on standardised tests is because teachers judgements have been shown time and time and time and time again, to be deeply racist in their assumptions. So that kind of debacle has showed us. I guess, one of the problems that we have with the school system, but it's an ongoing, ongoing, ongoing problem. And then our final one for the week was Sophie *Akale* someone I've worked with at Why Is My Curriculum White? Really good to work with her at the university, because it's across all kinds of sectors. Oftentimes, we don't focus on the university enough. And I'll also tie the circle back to the kind of big picture of 'enlightenment thinking', human rights values, you know, the university produces a knowledge which is taught in schools, which we think is inadequate. And the problem really is at university level with the white curriculum, with overwhelmingly white staff, you know, I'm one of, I think it's now 140 black professors in the UK, out of like 20,000 professors. So it's still a huge problem. So all these problems around, the kind of education we get in the schools are deeply structural and need to be challenged really, at all levels. So that was kind of what we wanted to put out for the week.
Gracie Bradley: Thanks. And I found, I mean, I found it really interesting. I mean, I found them already interesting, but especially the bit about Saturday schools because I went to Saturday school, but I never really thought oh, right. It's part of a wider movement, I didn't know anything about the tradition it was part of so it was really interesting to kind of read that piece in particular. Martha, I wonder if you might talk to us about some of the things that you curated during your week on charities?
Martha Awojobi: Sure. So I kicked off the week talking about the black revolution that's happening in the charity sector. A couple of weeks before I had just curated and hosted, as I said, the first BAME fundraising conference. So there'd never ever been an event of this scale in the UK before and it was a pretty big deal. What was kind of more apparent to me was the fact that it was quintessentially black. It was hosted by two black women, both two black queer women, we played hip hop when we came on stage, there was no code-switching, everybody kind of was fully themselves, you know, in a sector where you have to really kind of fit in with the white norms in order to progress, pretty much. You have to always kind of be, as a black person, be very conscious of the way you speak, the way you enter into spaces so that you, you know, don't disrupt the status quo, I guess. Because that does have serious consequences for people of color in the sector. And it's one of the reasons why people of color, especially black people, come in for a short time and leave very, very quickly. So it was a real kind of like a new way of looking at how, what does professionalism look like? What does professionalism look like when it's not by white standards?
And it was a really, really successful event. We had over 6000 tickets sold, which was unbelievable considering this was the first event I've ever curated and it's the first of its kind. So I wrote about that and about the fact that over half of the speakers were black. And that you know, we have panels all across the sector where the curators and organisers say "we can't find any people of color to speak on these panels". So I just wanted to show them that it is possible. We had 44 speakers, 43 were people of color, we had one token white person to subvert it a little bit and yeah it was a really successful event, so I started the week talking about that. We had a really amazing article by Kadra who I organised with at Charity So White talking about the impact of racism on mental health. She works for Centre for Mental Health and you know there's been no kind of real studies or anything around the real impact that racism has on mental health. There's nothing in, I don't know what the psychology book is called, but there's nothing in the psychology book. I can't remember what it's called. That talks about like, actually what impact that has and talks about racism as a factor for stress. And for you know, PTSD, depression, anxiety. So she was kind of like talking about that and actually bringing into it the impact of the A level results and GCSE results on young black boys. I had another amazing article, which was looking at black leadership in the charity sector. It was a really difficult one actually to get information on. The charity sector is really, yeah, it's not representative of the UK. But when you look at leadership level, it becomes even more unrepresentative. I think it's something like 5.4% of charity leaders are people of color, I cannot find any data on who is black. We don't keep data like that in the sector. And so all too often, you know, when you're trying to push for change. What you hear from decision makers is "we don't have the data that can support that" because this data isn't being collected. So it was actually really hard for me to find out how many black CEOs there were. I've managed to find 10 by looking through Twitter, but that took me two hours, I wasn't able to just look at an article or look at a report and find out how many black leaders there were in the charity sector, which is pretty worrying.
And then there was a really, really amazing article by a colleague of mine, Ugo, which is all about black charities and how they're being funded to fail. So, you know, the charity sector is huge, and part of the sector are these intermediaries, right? Funding intermediaries that kind of bridge the gap between the people who have lots of money, the trust, the foundations, the individuals and the businesses, and they kind of decide where that money is spent right. So we were looking at impact investing, and the lack of, there's only two BAME intermediaries in the UK for impact investing, there are no black led ones. So black charities are essentially being funded by people who have no idea about the realities of being black. What are organisations, like how they're made, like what they do for communities, the importance of having that kind of, you know, grassroots nature to these organisations who are able to respond really quickly to community issues rather than as we saw with Grenfell. Things taking, you know, forever because of bureaucracy, and it actually ending up being so much of a worse situation than it could have been had these black led organisations been trusted in the first place to be able to do their jobs well, which they are doing, with a lack of funding anyway. So Ugo was talking about his plans to set up the first black-led intermediary for impact investing, which I think is completely incredible. And there's one more article coming out that we haven't, we didn't actually get time to do it in the week, because it's quite a big one. And I think it goes across kind of all sectors, not just the charity sector, and it's about the impact of people of color having to take on the mantle of fixing institutional racism in their organisations, and especially black people in response to Black Lives Matter. I cannot tell you how many colleagues, friends of mine are suddenly having to become *VDI* experts with absolutely no training, no mental health support, suddenly they're having to fix institutional racism in their organisations when like, lots of them wouldn't even be able to give you a definition of institutional racism. So, yeah, there's a massive, I'd say, yeah, mental health concern there for those people. And it really kind of goes to show that we as a sector, like have literally no idea how to, you know, undo some of the problems of the past, and are actually not even being very thoughtful about, you know, the, I guess, using people of colors emotional labor for free, as though they are disposable. So I'm really excited for that, for that article to come out. I think it's gonna be really, really impactful. But maybe next week, I'm not sure. Yeah, that was my week. It was awesome. Thank you.
Gracie Bradley: Fab, thanks so much Martha, and I think that kind of point about undoing institutional damage is definitely something that we'll come on to in a wider discussion. But last, but absolutely not least Ife, do you want to talk about your week on justice?
Ife Thompson: Yes. So my week on justice was obviously very fitting within the theme of Black Lives Matter because there's a historic issue of continued injustice towards the black community, whether it's within the court system or whether it's within the policing, you know, there's an ongoing theme of injustice. So, what I thought would be fitting was to lead on what I reflected while creating that Black Protest Legal which is, you know, lawyers taking part actively on the ground in activism and, you know, championing and supporting the groups that are oppressed, isn't it? So for me, I thought it would be really nice to kind of look at the history of black people observing and looking at history of radical lawyering but in particular a new term which I've become familiar with during the Black Lives Matter movement, which is called 'movement lawyering'. It's definitely really popular in America. But it's definitely a much more newer concept in the UK and it was about the response I saw on LinkedIn and people saying, oh, they've never heard this concept before. This is really interesting. I think it's something that will definitely pick up currency in the UK as well. But what I had found when looking at researching, I did a lot of research particularly on the *Racial Collective* Michael Mansell QC, Ian McDonald QC and a few other black activists. And also in America, Evelyn A. Williams, the lawyer who was representing her niece, Assata Shakur, looking at the relationship between radical lawyering or what I would safely call movement lawyering, in ensuring justice and change in the system and also ensuring acquittals for their defendants. And what was shown really was the idea of more lawyers needed to be more informed of the social, economic and social political things underlying their client's cases, and bringing that to the forefront of their cases and actually advocating with that in mind. And that's a completely different approach to traditional lawyering which is kind of using the books and going about what the law says. And that's it, and you don't bring any extra stuff in. It's all about winning cases and stuff like that. Whereas this is more about actually bringing the issues at hand to the court, you know, talking with your client, allowing your client to have a voice and to bring their issues and concerns to the court as well. So the court can have a good understanding, and even the jury, understanding of what's going on in the background. And what we saw was that, is what really helped the cases in America, essentially allowing them to know about what was going on, you know, in the streets, and Angela Davis was saying that essentially it's politicising the jury, but in fact, it's letting them know, you know, what is going on so they can have a much more conscious decision to make understanding what is going on and actually understanding the ins and outs of why decisions or things are happening. So that was a concept that I was able to kind of explore. And the idea of allowing the jury to understand what was going on. So I found that first piece I'd done was really, really interesting. And I kind of said that, you know, seeing how much lawyers signed up to Black Protest Legal particularly, looking at the way in which we had literally 250 barristers and lawyers sign up and be on the ground first day of the movement was showing me that something like movement lawyering *and the idea of working on more streets... could cover a much normalised concept as well.* So I quite enjoyed that piece. And then the next person who had written something was Abimbola looking at the whole justice system and in particular, looking at lawyers and saying to them that, you know, we can't complain about like it's easy to say that the police are institutionally racism, when actually we can look at the justice system and say that there's a problem here as well. And just kind of saying that a lot of lawyers tend to be cogs in the system and they're not challenging the system and challenging racism, that has been apparent, you know, they still go for prosecution, they still go to, you know, there's so many other avenues in which injustices that have been done at a police stage can be corrected later on. But yet, we just allow it to just continue. It's just that actually, we need to have an active anti racist approach to lawyering and actually challenge things and be like, actually, this is not right, and actually bring up legal arguments, talking about these things that Abimbola explored that really nicely. And then I particularly wanted something on the Windrush generation because I know there's been a lot of noise about it. We've had the Wendy Williams wrote a report about it, you know, there's been a lot of media coverage. But when we look at the actual facts and what's going on after, the people that rightfully should have been given compensation to this day have not been given compensation. We have people like Paulette, who just died recently without actually having any compensation. And we know the scandals has been going on for a long time. And we can see actively that this current compensation system is not fit for purpose, it's actually failing the victims of the scandal. So I was particularly interested on shining the light on that again, particularly with the BAME Lawyers for Justice who have been working tirelessly on this case, you know, being the first point on call when there was a recent relaunching of the Jamaican deportations, you know, literally actively, as the government wanted to put being activist lawyers and you know, taking a stance and ensuring that, you know, the law was upheld accordingly and putting the right legal arguments and frameworks to ensure that people's rights were being protected. So I wanted to shine a light on that. And then lastly, we ended the week with a piece from the Forefront Project, which is a community group, talking about the importance of defunding the police and what that would look like for their community. I thought it would be really good for people to hear from community groups about the issue of defunding the police but I think particularly community groups in the UK because a lot of people think it's very much an American concept and you know what would we do here with it in the UK. So it was really nice to hear Forefront say how a reinvestment from police funds to their community and actually, supporting projects in their community would be much more safer in terms of ensuring the young people they work with are safe, so I, it was a real broad range of topics and justice was not just covered but think all very important.
Gracie Bradley: Fab, thank you ever so much Ife. I think there's just an enormous kind of the scope of what your contributions covered in a way, sort of sets out the scope of the challenge before us. And I suppose one thing I thought it might be helpful to discuss in a more concrete way, is just, you know, how you each think racism manifests in British society? I think, if you look at you know, the very recent row over the Proms, confected as it was, I think it's really easy for a conversation about Black Lives Matter which starts with, you know, the police killing somebody to become, you know, a kind of wider cultural talking point that's no more that, you know, it stops being about the state, stops being about premature death, which is what racism exposes people to. So I wonder if maybe you could each say a bit more about you know what you think racism is and looks like and how it manifests and the role of the state in that.
Kehinde Andrews: Yeah should I go? Yeah I mean I think like, when we talk about racism on mainstream television is the Proms. I mean, I know we've all been involved in this conversation, right. They call me up to go on TV and talk about stupid things all the time. Right. But the fact that that's what, how we talk about racism is one of the manifestations of racism, right? That we literally can't have a meaningful conversation about what's going on. Because racism is a matter of life and death, right, that is how racism plays out in every, the whole society is based fundamentally on racial inequality. That is, what has made the West from the beginning and what makes the West today, right like black life can't matter in this system. Like if we just go back all the way to, I'll try and do this briefly cos I've just finished a whole book on this so I'm gonna try and do this really briefly. The, you know, the West becomes the West, starts to become the West, when Christopher Columbus bumps into the Americas, when he thinks he goes the wrong way and finds America, finds the Americas, right, and the Caribbean. And then ever since then, the key principle has been that black life doesn't matter, right? That native life doesn't matter. That brown life doesn't matter. And it can be exploited. It can be killed, it can be enslaved, it can be looted. And if you look at today, that's exactly what's happening today right? Aike, we only have all this technology because the minerals to make it are literally leached out of the ground in Africa for almost nothing, right? Which makes this whole connected world is based on the fact that black life doesn't matter.
So racism plays out everywhere, you can't have anything, it all plays out everywhere. So when we see police shootings, or we see inequality, educational, we see the problems of the justice system, we shouldn't be surprised, because that's the logic of the way that the system worked. And one of the ways that racism continues to maintain itself is that we just can't have a proper conversation. So we can't acknowledge any of it. And so a moment where we should be talking about I mean Covid, the Covid deaths statistics should have been waking everybody up. I said, but look, this is it, right? This is the, if you place people in a really, in a negative position in the social hierarchy then when a disease like this strikes, we're going to die, right? It's literally a matter of life and death. That's what we should be talking about. But no, we're having conversations about Royal Britannia and that is one of the big problems right, so the question is how, how can we shift that? And how can we, and I say we because I actually have very little faith that mainstream will change, how can we make sure that we're having the conversations that really matter? And again, I'm kind of guilty of this because I go on TV and talk about these things all the time. But you know, on the actual real world, you know, the ground, that's important, because I think we need to be having different conversations.
Gracie Bradley: Absolutely.
Martha Awojobi : And it's interesting, like, I guess, working in the charity sector, racism has got this moral undertone to it. It can be really, really hard for people in the charity sector who think they're already doing good work, to be able to reconcile the fact that they might be doing good work, but they're also racist. I think when there is this kind of, you know, talking about racism becomes this conversation about morality, when it's not a conversation about morality it's a conversation about economics, it's a conversation about institutions, it's a conversation about facts and figures. All too often a conversation about racism in our society, in all sectors, becomes a conversation about whether or not you're a good person. And I think we just need to just get rid of that whether or not you're a good person. We are all racists. We've all been racialised. We've all come, we've all been, you know, we're all part of a racialised society that is upholded by racism in every single fabric, in every single corner, right? So why would this be a moral issue? If you literally can't even, like, how can we know, and I think you know, that there is, that's the problem that I find so much in my sector, is that kind of good intentions, or, like a conversation about racism gets really easily shut down because suddenly it becomes an interpersonal attack. You're saying like, you're racist, even though I'm saying I can't get promoted because of the systems and structures around me, but that becomes "you're racist". And then it just completely shuts the conversation down and you're right, you know, people are not willing to, not able to, and it's a concerted effort to trivialise some really, really big and important issues into a song or some statues. And while that stuff is really, really important there is... and when it's built into the fabric of absolutely everything, of course, a conversation about defunding the police can become a conversation about a song at the Proms because they're part of the same structure, right.
Ife Thompson: Yeah, I mean, I would echo what everyone else has said really. I think it's, you know, really important to have an understanding of white supremacy, what it is, how it manifests and how it affects everybody and I think white supremacy has always been created and enforced through the systems of the state. And we see like, you know, historically, white supremacy was used as justification to colonise Africa, was justification to, for slavery. And I think what we need to understand as well was concept of racialology. And actually, there was a time when we weren't racialised and people weren't living in a society based on their race and race wasn't the underlying factor for your existence and how you were treated in society. I think until we can understand that, I think we have a problem understanding what racism is, and how it manifests, because you have people bringing arguments like, there has always been slavery, but oh, there's always been oppression, but not solely on the basis of race, and on a continuing basis of race to the point where we have societies, sort of *big democracies* built up on the basis of proximity to whiteness.
And I think what we are seeing is that those that have proximity to whiteness have more benefits in society. And we have a society that is upholding structures and allows for systems in place that allow people, white people, that closeness to whiteness to be beneficiaries of that. I think it's all about breaking down the systems. I mean, you know, people are the ones in those institutions. And then what we also find is there's policies in place that are allowing for disproportionate outcomes of the people that are further away from whiteness, you know, in America, they, they've done a lot of studies. I mean, the UK I find I don't always have the data, but what I do tend to see that in America there are, you know case studies that will be used to actually explain what's going on in the UK as well, activity be used to have, to understand the systems that are in place in the UK too. So you know, in America if you are, the darker you are the more likely you are to be you know, hanged, the more likely you are to be in a lower-paid job. If you aren't closer to whiteness as a woman, you're more likely to be married, as light-skinned black woman, there's a lot of benefits that come with being close to whiteness, I think it's about understanding how society is structured, and how that affects you know, literally everyday life and now you're seeing stuff where black people with natural hair are being fired from their workplaces. So again, proximity to whiteness, is what benefits human society. So I think it's basically removing that normality and Eurocentric pretense that allows people who are white to be superior and to have a society that works around them. So I think that is what we are trying to actively do and to remove.
Gracie Bradley: And I mean, I suppose just coming back on that point about the UK, I mean, what, obviously the UK, you know, there are some lineage that's shared, there's a lot of history that's shared, I mean, what is distinct actually about, you know, racism in the UK and the character of our institutions? Where do you see the divergent from the US what might we need to do differently?
Martha Awojobi: Shall I start? I, yeah, I mean, I acknowledge that the US and the UK are different, but like, I often kind of have to bring it back to the fact that like, we are the US like we started... We, you know, it's global anti-blackness is global anti-blackness and yes, it takes on the kind of cultural norms of where you're living. The thing I find more interesting about the UK is the complete inability to have that conversation, like the complete inability, it's quite shocking from like the creators of racism to be so incapable of talking about it and yeah, I'd say that's something that I find is holding the UK back in a way that it's not just, it's not holding America back. Like American people, even like people you know who are racists are actually okay with like talking about that, and can say that even. And here, we are so preoccupied with like, I'm not racist, I'm not racist, we can't even have a conversation and maybe that is something about the politeness of the UK and politeness being weaponised in order to shut down really serious and important conversations that are going to change the status quo. Yeah, that's my answer.
Kehinde Andrews: Yeah, I'd say that I agree I don't think the US and UK are different. The problem is actually the same problem. It plays out, obviously, the context is slightly different. So it plays out somewhat differently in that sense, but the problem is the same. It's about anti-blackness, it's about structure. It's about, even if you look at like, one of the things, one of the things that is different in the states is there's a real lack of understanding of blackness here. I think sometimes we do this as well. So the British formation is to America.
The big difference is with the UK and America is that, slavery took place in America and took place on American soil. Therefore, there's more black people, that's why they're having more conversation because there's much more black people, and for longer as well, so after, you know, you're talking about millions of African Americans in the native state 450 years, right, free and for centuries not free. Whereas here because slavery took place in the Caribbean. It's kind of off shore like we don't even think about it, that's why we can't talk about it. We don't even think about slavery as being British. Listen to any politician, they always say, Britain is a country that abolished slavery. Like it wasn't the biggest salve trader in the entire world for like a good hundred years, they understand the essentially of slavery to the nation. It's almost as if black people only turned up in the Windrush generation, when, you know.... When my great-grandfather or grandmother was born, they were in Britain, Jamaica was not a country, it wasn't a separate country, it was part of the British Empire.
And this is the, probably the big difference in America is that you know, Britain is unable to take on, it's unable, or willing, unwilling to understand its centurality on racism because so much of it was off-shored into economies. And it thinks that actually the other country is somehow special and separate, it's about class and whiteness, etc. Whereas America can't do that because America has slavery, as the Native Americans in the country, it's a lot more difficult. So their conversations are a bit different. Some of the way it plays out in America is more extreme as well. Generally if you look at what the American state is, it's white supremacy unleashed, like... every European, or a lot of Europeans went over to the place... enslaved loads of people and set up like the premier base of white supremacy, which is why you can see the violence, the kind of the George Floyd kind of violence, it is difficult to imagine that here, like talking like it doesn't happen, it does happen, but it doesn't happen with the regularity and it's not captured on film as much. Mass incarceration for example, so that if you look in the UK, you're actually more or less, as a black person, we are more represented in the prison population in the UK than we are in America per our numbers in the population, but you know America and Britain *there's nowhere near the amount of people in America, number of people,* so in actual numbers it's a lot less right. So America you can see everything play out more extreme, but it really is exactly the same problem. Look at education, look at healthcare, look at police brutality. It's the same, it just looks a bit different.
Gracie Bradley: And I mean, in terms of strategising and this being a movement and not a moment. I mean, what kind of mobilisation or just what kinds of activities actually, do you think that all of you think, are helpful in undoing this? I mean, I think you're, as I've already said, the kind of thinking about supplementary schools was really interesting. But what other kind of practices and institutions exist and can be nurtured that would make life more livable for people?
Ife Thompson: Well, for me, the black community globally in particular the black diaspora have a long history of resistance and through community organising, ensuring that the community is safe and protected to an extent from the overbearance of white supremacy and finding ways to organise... within the community on a grassroots level. Continue that tradition for black liberation that we've always done in our communities and for us, because the systematic oppression is so nuanced and it's so intense, we have no choice but to want to create this sort of spaces to counterbalance it. And, you know, I often remind people, because it's not really spoken about very often, but we are currently in the United Nations Decade for People of African Descent and the three themee of the decade is justice, recognition and development. Yeah, not a lot of people go on the website and see stuff that's in there. But you know, a lot of the treaties and the articles for the decade were drafted by black people. And, you know, it has a lot of understanding globally about issues on the international pan-African sort of approach. And I think if we could, you know, get more states to implement the decade, but also get organisations to celebrate, and to try and implement the activities of the decade, you know, it's in a centralised place, you've got all the reading in one place for you. You know, I think that would do a great service for you know, helping us as a community, but I think also there's an importance of reading on the work that's gone before us, I think sometimes taking from, you know, text, you know, reading books and understanding concepts that those that have gone before us and have left as a blueprint. And I think continuing on that, I think also kind of being reactionary to the needs of the community so that you know, with BLAM, we very much work with grassroots community activism. So we, you know, during the lockdown was able to support 400 young people online, throughout the UK, in accessing black history.
A lot of young people were able to understand and conceptualised the Black Lives Matter movement and why it was important, and questions they had they could ask about it. So I think it's about creating spaces that the community needs and being reactive to the community at large. And I think then taking it to a state level, so we're working with schools, doing training with teachers, about you know, how they can incorporate black narrative into every day teaching. So I think it's about you know, moving with and for the people and keeping them in mind as sort of a movement approach and kind of embedding that into your everyday work-life-balance, I think yeah, I think that's what it is. I think it's incorporating and working in the community based on their needs. And also looking at statistics and seeing what is missing, what the problems are and calling those things out and seeing what you can actively do within the space that you're in to challenge that.
Martha Awojobi: Yeah, I would say well, something that we at Charity So White are doing in our sector, in the charity, I can only speak for the third sector really, is we're organising, we're organising the BAME networks. So the networks that are affinity groups for people of color, in organisations across the sector, we've got people, put people from those groups through a series of trainings, a five part training, organiser training, so that they they are able to organise within their own charities to push for change within their organisations. And it's never actually been done before. It's really cool. I was chatting with one of the people that runs the training yesterday. And it's one of the coolest things that we've done. And one of the coolest things that the sector has done, and essentially like it is creating an army of resistance and connecting those dots as well, because something that I really noticed from during this BAME conference was that there were all these incredible people doing this work. And they know nothing about each other. They don't know that there are people doing similar work, you know, in different parts of the third sector. So like really bringing people together and that networking of knowing who are the actors in our sector that are really pushing for change, like where are we repeating work, where can we collaborate? Where can we apply for funding together rather than in competition with each other? Because I think what has historically been happening especially in our, in the charity sector, is that BAME-led organisations are trying to play by the rules of white institutions and actually there is no place for them there. That is why they are systematically underfunded. That is why 87% of BAME-led organisations could go under this year if there isn't some urgent reinvestment into them. Yeah, definitely. It's really, really scary. It's part of the reason why all our work is so vital. But it's creating our own tables, and not just waiting to get a seat, you know, creating our own intermediaries creating our own networks, and our own ways of doing things. And yeah, I guess I would say guerrilla tactics. At this point, I think that's the way that Charity So White operates, I think that's what's made us so successful. Yeah, I'd say yeah, that kind of collaborating and really just like, not trying to play the game, in the same way, or at least trying to play multiple games at once.
Kehinde Andrews :Yeah, I mean, I noticed like just going back to the Saturday school example, that's exactly what we'd say, these don't work, so do it yourself. Right. Like at some point, you just have to say like, the schools aren't going to teach you what needs to be taught. So I'd say that 100% and even as somebody works in university, and this kind of sounds counterintuitive, but it's true, it's just not what universities do. So at some point, we have to take that into our own hands and building on what's happened before like the Black Power movement in Britain, one of its biggest successes was education, or the Saturday schools come out of that. The bookshop movement comes out of that, there's so much education that comes out of that, where, you know, we just, I think, probably why we've gone wrong over the last 30 or so years, is we have tried to change structures, which just aren't going to change too much. And even when we started Black Studies, again, partly what we tried to do with that is say, well, we just need our own space, and it's kind of within the institution it's limited because it's within the institution, but the idea is let's do something different. And I think that we need to really stop trying to change things which aren't going to change and understand what they are and then we can do things differently. And sometimes even if you are more of a, have more faith in how the mainstream can evolve, if you actually look at how that typically happens, some of my Saturday schools, the Saturday school start, the school don't like them, the local authority don't like them. And then they actually do them. They basically take over the function of Saturday school, they go, oh this is a really good idea, let's do extended school. Let's teach this other stuff because it's really important, or free breakfast programmes, we said, if you look at the US, the Black Panther party started that, the state hated the idea of free breakfast programmes, and now loads of states are doing free breakfast programmes. So even if you want that kind of more mainstream change, historically, the best way to get it, do it yourself and then it gets taken on board and it stops trying to convince people because this is the thing about these conversations about racism, which all of us should know because we've had them, it's like talking to yourself. But my recommendation is do it yourself.
Gracie Bradley: And I suppose on that point, I just obviously Marcus Ryder couldn't join us today, but I wanted, because we've talked a bit about you know, Britain's unwillingness to have a conversation about race. We talked about the Proms row, not row, whatever. I just wondered if we could have a bit of a conversation about media and journalism. I really, there's a quote in one of Marcus' kind of editorials by the anti apartheid activist Steve Biko, and he says, you know "the [most potent weapon in the] hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed". And he then goes on to talk about, for example, you know, the fact that people are 3% of the UK population and 0.2% of journalists and to ask the question, in a case when it comes to communities, like Grenfell, for example, who are trying to raise concerns before something terrible has happened, and they can't get the airtime. You know, obviously, that lack of media diversity is something that potentially contributes to people being denied their human rights and I mean, Kehinde, I was gonna come to you first because you, you do the toe to toe media game sometimes. And I just wonder what your reflections are on that?
Kehinde Andrews : Yeah, this is one of those things where having worked in different, I write for different places and going to TV and the like, the problem is, again, tit'se similar to the way the schools are, is that the structures just aren't set in place for us to do like really good stuff like, I mean, you can get some stuff done. And it is a platform where you can kind of push the agenda and have different kind of conversation. But honestly, the way if you look at the people who decide what's getting published, if you decide what's going on TV, incredibly white, incredibly elite, incredibly privileged. There's a, I mean, as somebody who talks about race regularly in the mainstream media circle, it's really difficult to get like a proper conversation going like it's almost impossible. And so one of the things which I'm now, I'd always wanting to prioritise but prioritising more now, is again, do it for self. So we have the Harambee Organisation of Black Unity, and we've got a website we've been running for a bit called Make It Plain where the intention is going to be write the stuff, so I pitch to The Guardian a lot and 90% of the stuff never gets picked up... So this is a site for the stuff The Guardian won't publish right, so we can get our own voice out there on our news. And that's, we've always had to do that as activists, you go back to Claudia Jones and the West Indian Gazette in the first black British newspaper, if you go even to all the big organisations, you think about the UNIA Garvey movement, the Negro World. This is really important for us to have our own media. And I think that's one thing again, we've kind of let slip over the last 30 years. And right now, I'll tell you right now you cannot rely on any of these mainstream platforms to have a real conversation and sustained conversation about race. And even though I work with some of them, sometimes, I will still say that we need our own stuff and we need our own things and we should be pushing for that, heavily.
Martha Awojobi: I agree and I think that's why organisations like Gal-dem and Black Ballad are so important. So, so important. One of my friends wrote an article for Black Ballad, and just the way it made her feel about her contribution to society, about the fact that she had a voice about the fact that she was able to talk in her own voice, not the voice of the Guardian wanted, was able to tell her own story in her own, in her own words without censoring herself once. It's powerful, like it's meaningful for people. And, you know, I think being able to know that people do want to tell our stories is, I feel like it's actually like vital to like, my own mental health is like going on Gal-dem and being like, oh, thank gosh, people actually care about me. They're interested in what in the barriers that I that I faced as a person. They're not belittling me or you know, gaslighting me essentially I know that's an overused word at the moment, but I feel incredibly gaslit by the media a lot of the time. It's, yeah, I think it's really really really important. Just in terms of like well-being like for me, I wouldn't say like I'm a massive like consumer of the media because again, I find it very overwhelming and I don't really know what to trust. So having, being able to know that I can trust like, [specific news for people of color] and for black people especially like that's yeah is vital to democracy more than anything.
Ife Thompson: Yeah, I mean, I would echo, you know, everything that everyone has said and the quote that I love that, you know, um, Toni Morrison says and she is answering back to a journalist who asks her, when are you going to start writing about white people? And then she said to them that, when are you gonna come to the mainstream and start writing about white people, and she said that, you can't even conceive and imagine that where I am as a mainstream, and I think it's kind of important to remember that our black identity isn't mainstream and I think we should be creating platforms where we can centre ourselves unapologetically. And I think yeah, it's an on going situation where you've got The Voice, you've got the West Indian Gazette, you've got as Kehinde said Negro World. We've got a tradition of making spaces for ourselves to centre our realities. And I think this is kind of continuing on that tradition.
You know, for me, the first news article that I ever kind of *covered BLAM, only thing that was true was* The Voice, and we didn't get any airtime from anyone else. And for me, it was so, you know, I was so overwhelmed that someone saw about what I was doing, and thought it was good enough to write about it. And it was like, you know, a black journalist and it was really nice. So I think it's important that we have those spaces and I think also in those spaces, I feel safe, you know, a lot of time I will reject somebody, you know, asking me to come speak at you know, a sort of right-wing leaning talk show or something like that because I feel as though they're gonna gaslight me, one, and make me feel uncomfortable and I have to defend my blackness, and I can't be in a position to keep all the racial trauma going on to have to sit down. I don't have the class, I don't have the strength to be doing that. I'm sorry. So I need to be in spaces where you know I'm understood and I'm valued and my mindset is valued and appreciated. And what I contribute is appreciated as well. And I don't feel like that when I see other black people having to defend our blackness, it makes me feel so uncomfortable. And it's like, why should we have to do that upon all that we already go through, you know, upon all the trauma we already go through. So for me, I think it's so important that we continue to build those kind of spaces and champion our own narratives. And I think yeah, as Martha was saying, when I go on Gal-dem, there was also writers that diversified which closed down now, whenever I'd write stories on there I was enlightened and I was just so happy, you know, because it was like, my lived experience was normal. And that's what we need. So yeah.
Gracie Bradley: Thank you, and by way of semi-conclusion, yeah, getting towards the end now but, I just want to bring it back to you know, that that kind of matter of life and death that we talked about, and it's Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Professor Ruth Wilson Gilmore, who talks about vulnerability to premature death, that's what racism produces. And specifically a piece that you commissioned, Ife, about kind of defunding the police, Forefront piece. And I suppose I just wonder, you know, when we think about what racism looks like in the UK in terms of, you know, massive stop and search in the middle of a pandemic, you know, massive disproportionality in black and people of color dying of Covid etc I suppose what are, I'm interested in the initiatives not just the ones that you're involved in, but what's the work that gives you hope and that you would call you know, everybody who's watching to take a look at and to get involved in? I mean, for me I'm really excited about the the No More Police in Schools campaign by Kids of Colour but I'm interested to know what work is energising you. What would you point people towards going forwards?
Ife Thompson: Yeah, I mean, there's, you know, so many activists doing so much amazing work. And I'd definitely echo with you the No More Police in Schools is something that I'm looking forward to, you know, the work that No More Exclusions is doing as well particularly around a memorandum to stop exclusions in the UK. There's loads of people on the ground championing and pushing new narratives. I know that there's Black Abolitionists, which is a UK group talking about the concept of abolition and actually building a framework in which we can kind of talk about abolition within the UK context cos I feel a lot of the literature is coming out from America, but it seems like we're bordering on the precedent in the UK where we can have our own space, and have concepts that fit firmly within how we describe things and things like that. So I'm quite excited for that. I mean, I'm excited to see how many, you know, more black books are being commissioned. So you know, Bolu recently had a book out called Love In Colours, looking at love, you know, all around the world. So like love stories from like, *Europe love stores to like Indian love*, literally people of colour in love stories, and actually seeing our ideas and being loved. I think just all our creative energy in our spaces, and whatever field you find ourselves in, I'm seeing, you know, more, you know, black and brown publishers being, yeah, being published and writers being published, you know, I'm seeing for me a lot more schools engaging or trying to find content that is, you know, more inclusive of black narratives. So for me I think there has definitely been a shift in the public consciousness. And I think, you know, the fact that we're seeing black writers becoming bestsellers I think that there's definitely a shift in how people are actively trying to make sure that they are including black people's narrative into their everyday lives. So I think that is giving me hope, but as I said the up-and-coming activists like, you know, the work that Forefront is doing is really exciting stuff No More Exclusions is doing and, you know, groups of that nature and Black Abolition are things that I see *in my field you know*, and I'm really, really, really looking forward to and I'm interested in what what's gonna become of that.
Martha Awojobi: Yeah, I'll go next, I think... a large amount of people who have had enough of their institutions, a large number of people who have decided to create their own tables, and maybe not even give white people a seat at it. But it's really inspiring. And a couple of things that have happened over the last year was a new fund that was set up by People of Colour called Resourcing Racial Justice. And it is a fund to Resource Racial Justice and it's you know, one of like the the first mainstream funds that's run completely by people of color who are all kind of, you know, within the activist space as well. So have a real understanding of, you know, the issues facing community groups. You know, social enterprises kind of like these smaller organisations who just don't have a hope in hell when it comes to getting money from those, those larger funders. So that has been super, super, super exciting to see. Another group of people of color I think it's mainly black people in this group who have left their, who have separated from their white organisations, they all work for different LGBT charities and they set up their own youth organisation called Colours Youth, so they had like one of them coming from each organisation and they kind of spread out across the country, doing incredible things working with LGBTQIA young people, and you know, queer and trans people of colour just have a terrible time I'm not gonna lie like, especially in Covid if you look at you know, housing and housing discrimination like it's not a good time, I think it's really incredible that they've decided to do something that they were already doing but not getting the right funding, not getting the right support, not getting the right recognition and just decided to do it on their own call.
Free Black University I'm a huge fan of. I literally will talk Melz up in every single opportunity that I can, Black Minds Matter as well I thought it was a really, really amazing movement where you know, two women set up a crowd fund basically to fund therapy for black people after George Floyd was murdered, as yet, and they managed to raise over half a million for black people's therapy. Really, really, really amazing. I think there's been a huge kind of shift in the way that we fundraise as well. Looking at a more kind of community centered raising and kind of tapping into that Americanised way of fundraising. I think there's going to be a massive kind of shift in yeah, more kind of grassroots fundraising crowd funds and that kind of thing, like taking that cool thing from America, it might terrify some people in the UK, who are used to having an enormous amount of power. And being the deciders of which charities live and die. We have lots lots of exciting things, lots going on, basically. So I'm feeling very, very optimistic about the future of the third sector kind of.
Kehinde Andrews:We just saw thousands of people come out to the streets. Not for the first time. I just, I mean, 2016 we had Black Lives Matter again it was lots of young people. And we just saw like a lot of young people that said, no, enoughs enough. And this is young people lead, organic, it ties into the long-standing history... I think what you're seeing now which gives me hope is that, you know, four years ago, you could probably kind of cling to the idea that maybe if you got voting, if people voted, if you got legislative changes, if you know, maybe you could fix the system, I think, I think now the younger generation get it, that's not gonna happen. I think they understand that we have some of the best racial legislation in the entire world, but it's just meaningless, right? And so these things just keep happening. So I think you've seen that urgency with young people, which is why you are seeing things like the Free Black University, black curriculum, people are saying that, we just need to stop relying on these institutions. And that's really, that's the key message. I think this generation definitely has gotten that, and there are other ways you can go around getting money and fundraising. The question will be how do we build those institutions? One of the, I guess, you know, older? I don't want to say older. Reflecting back, what I think about is you know, how do we make sure that we build sustainable organisations, because that's been the problem with the UK. We've had lots of passion, lots of movement, lots of mobilisation, we're going to need mobilisation but they haven't been organised sustainably. And so they collapsed. And it relied on the state, when they then collaspsed. And so the question now is, how are we going to take all the momentum and put it into organisations that can be independent, and they can go forward? I think, but definitely, you've got people thinking about it. And that seems to be the way we're headed.
Gracie Bradley : So that's a little small, but quite a big note of optimism, I think, to end on and so I would say to everybody who's listening, do have a look at the takeover on the EachOther website because it's a really fascinating series of articles that have been commissioned. And more generally, I'd say stay tuned to EachOther. Because they're gonna keep passing the mic, they've got a series on judicial review coming up from September, and the live stream series will continue. So there'll be a panel on school exclusions later this year. But otherwise just Martha, Kehinde, Ife, thank you so much for your contributions and see you all soon.