In light of the murder of George Floyd, over the last few days we’ve seen a huge outpouring of grief and anger from our community. We feel this pain and sadness too and although there is so much that has already been said, we will not stay silent. The issue of racism is not new. It did not appear overnight and it will not go away overnight.
Lewisham is home to one of the most diverse populations in the UK and it is our duty to stand with our Black friends, artists, families, neighbours and colleagues. Saying the right thing is hard, but saying nothing is worse and it is important that we make a stand against this injustice that has gone on too long in the United States and also in the UK.
Although times are tough for us all at the moment, as an arts venue and community organisation it is important that we all do what we can to fight racism and injustice in all its forms. Because we can only truly serve our community if we ask ourselves and each other what we’re feeling, thinking and doing in the name of change, so for now, while our doors are closed we’ve begun by inviting responses from our staff and wider team. The following are their collective, verbatim words and we invite our friends, partners and collaborators to do the same and also to share with us.
Because Black Lives Matter
Rest in Peace to George Floyd.
“I’m signing petitions and sharing on social media, I’m reading back over articles and books I have around issues of racial injustice trying to reeducate myself on history and key issues, I’m reading current responses for example by Gal Dem around how to respond helpfully and appropriately as a white person. I’m talking to friends about how they feel and we’re looking at ways to help our members to respond through creative expression.”
“I’m adding my voice to the protest on London streets and directed at the US embassy.”
“I am reading and marching and watching America in horror – it feels like the system is broken yet incapable of reinventing itself, and something needs to give. But I am deeply inspired by the solidarity across generations, races and classes; this feels like such a powerful moment where across the world we are refusing to accept this systemic violence, refusing to accept the disrespect shown by our leaders for not acknowledging the oppression so present in how our society is structured. I just hope that we are listened to, that we keep up this beautiful effort, and that we achieve the change we need.”
“My family want our Black colleagues, neighbours, friends and family to know that we hear them, we support them and we stand with them. Whilst we’ll never know what it’s like to live your experience, we’re trying to take this time to support you, listen to your pain, and educate ourselves on how we can be better allies in our collective fight.”
“As for me, I am… all over the place, feeling a mixture of emotions and so I am writing because in my opinion, the best art is socio-political.”
“I am angry with what I see and hear, I cry with frustration with what I see and hear but most of all I keep learning from what I see and hear. #blacklivesmatter”
“Time to challenge and dismantle structural racism in the UK as well as the US. This is work for all of us to do.”“At a distance I am following all the news and stories and I stand together with it.
From a personal point of view i’m listening and reading and just trying to absorb what’s going on. I am thinking about long term change for the better whether that’s me being better informed or thinking how I can educate my son from an early age.”
“Words and feelings that came up for me as a result of George Floyd’s murder:– Inhumane– Unjust– WHY?– This just shouldn’t be happening.– Anger– Sadness– WRONG.
At first I had insecurities around speaking up against what happened (I know this shouldn’t be the case at all) but I thought that because I wasn’t Black I didn’t know enough or understand enough to speak up – I worried that what I said would be insensitive.
I confided in my friend about this and she suggested that I educate myself more and sent me Instagram accounts to follow amongst other resources. My partner is black and when I told him about my thoughts and feelings he simply asked me how I felt about what happened to George Floyd and when I responded with the same answers as above, he said just posting about that is speaking up and showing support.”
“I’m reading books, listening, signing petitions and donating where I can as well as diversifying my social feeds.”
“I’ve spent the last few days confused and tearful. Witnessing the gut-wrenching pain of Black family, friends, colleagues and strangers has made me question what more I can, and should, do. I recognise I need to do much more to help dismantle racism. I will speak out, sign petitions, walk in protest and solidarity, educate myself, understand more deeply and ask what else I can do to help support and take care of my Black colleagues, family, friends and neighbours.”
“I will speak up every time I encounter racism or subtle or unintended racism or privilege, whether in a public or private context, and in particular when among my white sisters and brothers, or to save a brother or sister of colour having to raise this again and again, at the peril of being labeled angry, aggressive or with a chip on their shoulder. It is time for us white folks to start talking real amongst each other and not just to reassure ourselves how we are not (intending to be) racist but deal with our insecurities, shame and ignorance and visualise and start building the world we truly want to be part of. #thisisourlegacytoo”
Writer Mireille Cassandra Harper has created a guide to allyship: See her Twitter thread
75 Things White People Can do for Racial Justice: Read more
Artist Zoe Amira has created a video filled with the work of Black artists and creatives (don’t skip the videos, as all ad revenue is being donated): Watch the video
How to protest during a pandemic – from VICE
Brilliant Black-owned businesses to but from in the UK: via emames7 on instagram
Find out more about community mental health services in and around Lewisham via Mind
Sign the petition to get Good Immigrant (Nikesh Shukla) and Why I’m No longer Talking to White People About Race (Reni Eddo-Lodge), on the GCSE reading list: Sign here
Sign the Justice for George Floyd petition here
The Minnesota Freedom Fund is posting bail for people arrested during the protests. Failure to pay bail often results in jail time in the US: Minnesotafreedomfund.org
Official George Floyd Memorial Fund, helping to cover funeral costs, legal fees and counselling for his family: gofundme.com/georgefloyd
Consider supporting the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, who work with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds aged 13 to 30 to inspire and enable them to succeed in the career of their choice: Stephenlawrencetrust.org.uk
Become a Patron of Black Ticket Project, an initiative creating cultural access points for young Black people: Black Ticket Project – Patreon