• Beth

Creative City's Anti-Racism Statement, with reading list.

Updated: Apr 23

Protests have sparked across the world following the murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man who died in custody after an officer from the Minneapolis Police Department knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

We stand with our Black colleagues, creatives, young people and community members in Manchester and Black people the world over. Standing in solidarity against all forms of racism, prejudice, discrimination and violence.

Caught on camera, this incident was a viscerally heartbreaking example of hate-fuelled violence. The perpetrator was a person in a position of authority and he felt empowered to inflict pain and take life. This was a public lynching. Sadly George Floyd is not alone in having been killed in a situation like this.

The problem is not limited to the USA. In the UK violent racism is alive and well. It's Grenfell. It's the Windrush Scandal. It's stop and search. It's deaths in police custody. It's deaths in UK migrant detention centres. It's no recourse to public funds for women escaping violence. Its the disproportionate impact of Covid_19 on people of colour.

But visibly violent racism is the tip of the iceberg. Violent acts of white supremacy are allowed and nurtured by society-wide systemic, structural acts of racism, of routine othering, of dehumanising, of ignoring and belittling. Beyond outrage at racist violence, and the campaigns to bring perpetrators to justice, progress depends on the commitment of white people to learning about structural racism, looking both inward and outward, understanding, and acting to make change happen.

Lets not ignore the overtly racist language and policies of the current UK government, and the fact that they were voted for with a significant majority. And while we start to acknowledge the domestic problems of racism we need to face up to, lets also not pretend that the problem of racism in the USA is not relevant to the UK. Let's not ignore the role that British colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade has had in creating the conditions that exist in the USA, and in creating a structurally unjust world, upheld by violence, fuelled by and excused through racism. Let's not ignore the current UK government's uncritical relationship with the USA administration.

“The world does not need white people to civilize others. The real White People's Burden is to civilize ourselves.” Robert Jensen

“When we think of racism we think of Governor Wallace of Alabama blocking the schoolhouse door; we think of water hoses, lynchings, racial epithets, and "whites only" signs. These images make it easy to forget that many wonderful, goodhearted white people who were generous to others, respectful of their neighbours, and even kind to their black maids, gardeners, or shoe shiners -and wished them well- nevertheless went to the polls and voted for racial segregation... Our understanding of racism is therefore shaped by the most extreme expressions of individual bigotry, not by the way in which it functions naturally, almost invisibly (and sometimes with genuinely benign intent), when it is embedded in the structure of a social system.” Michelle Alexander

“Solidarity is nothing but self-satisfying if it is solely performative.” Reni Eddo-Lodge

Anti-racist solidarity needs to be more than words. It needs to mean action and it needs to mean a shared struggle. Race, gender, class, sexuality, age and dis/ability are areas of oppression that intersect. No one is free until we are all free. We all need to look inside ourselves to see how we bear injustice, how we benefit from it, and how create injustice for others.

“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own,” Audre Lorde

Through our curriculum and popular culture portrayals, a lot has been missed and whitewashed from our collective knowledge of world and British history. And we can't know the experiences of others without putting in the empathetic work. So we need to invest time and energy in re/educating ourselves and understanding each other's experiences. We are all on this journey together. We need to cultivate spaces within which we can share joy and generate respect and commonality, celebrate each other and feel able to question preconceptions.

Connect through art and community, be around a diversity of voices, create spaces to share, listen and learn. Fund and consume Black art and celebrate Black joy. Seek out information and educational resources. Donate to the organisations you support that are led by Black People, and donate to racial justice organisations.

We are starting a reading list here and hope this list will grow through the coming weeks and months of research, reading, conversation and our own increased awareness.

Creative City is a small organisation but one with a role to play in the struggle against racism, through the spaces we generate, the platforms we create, the voices we include, the people we connect with, the allocation of our resources, where we spend money, the images and language we use, the collaborations we bring together, the staff teams that lead, the topics we cover, the information we share, the education we seek, the privileges we awaken to, the injustices we call out and the norms we challenge. We are all on a journey and we hope we can be better and do more.

Rest in power George Floyd.

Reading list:

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race - Reni Eddo-Lodge

[Edited Extract:]

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire - Akala

Oxford Union Address (Youtube Video) - Akala

The Good Immigrant - Edited By Nikesh Shukla

Buy the e-version for £5 on Unbound:

Your Silence Will Not Protect You - Audre Lorde

So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo

How to Be an Anti-Racist - Ibram X. Kendi

Me and White Supremacy - Layla Saad

Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India - Shashi Tharoor

How the George Floyd Killing Is Just as Relevant in the UK, and What You Can Do About It (Vice Article) - Ayeisha Thomas-Smith

Podcast suggestions from Reni Eddo-Lodge:

If you find the cost of books is a barrier, remember your local library lends books for free. If you live in Manchester, search for these books using the Manchester Library Service