‘Black Lives Matter.’ Those words have been screaming out from our screens with ever-increasing urgency since we first wanted to post a statement in support of the protests; in support of equity for Black people to not face the racism that is so hard-coded into society that white people refuse to even accept it’s there at all.
But statements can easily appear hollow. Reminiscent of a company slapping a rainbow on their profile picture during Pride season whilst not investing in LGBT communities in any meaningful way all year round. Everyone should have already been standing up to confront racism, bias and inequality in their own circles. This discussion isn’t new, and whereas we’re glad that this feels like a pivotal moment in a “minority” issue cutting through to wider recognition, it’s a worrying realisation that people, companies, and society, are still seeking to avoid the difficult conversations that are needed to impact real change, and instead rush to put a sticking plaster over the problem once again. Even if the sticking plaster is now in a brown skin tone rather than pink, it’s obviously nowhere near enough. But how do we go about healing to the point where the plaster is no longer needed? To truly bring about lasting change.
Among the protests and interviews and the toppling of statues, we firmly believe we need to listen to Black activists. Listen to what their priorities are and then help them achieve those goals. And for these priorities to be heard, their thoughts, discussions and experiences need to be recorded and shared.
Are the majority of BLM campaigners seeking the removal of Fawlty Towers from TV… or are they demanding urgent police reform? All too quickly the aims are re-focussed by white people who overwhelmingly have senior positions in the media and wider public life, either out of genuine good intentions, or more abhorrently to create a fabricated culture war and actively uphold white supremacy.
But more than posting supportive statements like this, it’s vital for each of us to ask ourselves: what action can I take? That’s what we are asking ourselves, and what we will also be asking of our contributors and collaborators.
These are “uncertain times” (how often have we heard that phrase now?) and our finances are tight, but right now we’re committing £1,000 towards printing costs, as well as design expertise, for work from Black authors and artists to create their own printed work. Through match funding we’re hopeful this will increase. If you have a project you want support in bringing to fruition, please reach out with your ideas. Priority will be given to projects featuring a wide representation of diverse voices within Black communities.
It’s important that we don’t let #BlackLivesMatter vanish from our timelines, so we encourage you to pause and also ask yourself “what action can I take?” and consider making your own post like this. We will continue to reevaluate our commitments and ways of supporting the aims of Black Lives Matter towards true social justice.