We have been thinking about how best to respond to the events that have been happening in the US over the last few days, including the killing of George Floyd at the hands of American Law Enforcement officers, in a way that is meaningful, practical and supportive for our participants, our audiences and our community.
If any of you watched Our City Speaks live with United We Stream on Sunday 31 May, you will have already seen how our regular Contact artists have responded. They spoke out in support, and they shared their own feelings and lived experiences. It was beautiful, powerful and moving. We stand with you, because we ARE you.
There are some practical actions that we’re encouraging staff, board, advocates, friends of Contact and our audience to take:
- There are many graphic videos of violence against Black people being shared across social media. Seeing these can be painful and triggering so if you feel you need to share it, please think about putting a trigger warning on.
- Alternatively, could you instead share a message that offers practical help and support instead, to people and organisations?
- Are you in a position to donate to one of the Black Lives Matter funds? Can you sign a petition, or even simply share this message on your social media channels?
- If you are wanting to contribute to the movement for change, it is important that you take the opportunity to challenge notions of a post-racial society. Whilst it is our hope that together we can transition towards a society where race is irrelevant, this has not been the lived experience of the Black populous at large, both in the UK and the USA.
- We strongly believe that the time has come for us all to become anti-racist. This requires us to challenge the micro-aggressions carried out against Black people in our daily lives and to hold our leaders to account around societal inequalities (for example in education, employment and the criminal justice system).
- We know a lot of our staff, Contact supported artists, audiences, participants and our community feel anxious, angry and scared.
- This is a human problem that affects us all. At this time, it’s really important to check in with friends and colleagues, so please take 5 minutes to ask people how they are feeling and be prepared to listen to their answers.
- Though the current protests and media coverage may die down, it is vital that we continue to acknowledge and speak about racism and racial issues, and strive for a fair and equal future.
There are some great organisations working to support young people of colour around Greater Manchester, including Kids of Colour and RECLAIM Project. You might want to look for similar organisations in your own area to amplify and support.
We’re reading a lot about making our sector more inclusive, and have found loads of fantastic resources at In Arts
If you or someone you know are feeling distressed and impacted by the events happening in the US and elsewhere, the Mental Health Foundation has practical resources on looking after your own mental health, and a list of places to get help if you need it.
For a more in-depth list of actions, including reading resources and organisations working for change, we’d recommend this thread on Twitter from Mireille C Harper, which says it so very well.
For people who actively want to be support and be an ally right now, I have written a thread. pic.twitter.com/kTvDgXXO5L
— Mireille Cassandra Harper (@mireillecharper) May 29, 2020
Thank you for reading this, and for supporting us and each other in these scary, unsettling times.