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Black lives matter

On 25 May 2020, George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. Floyd had been arrested after he was accused of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit bill. Floyd was handcuffed and pinned to the ground by arresting officers.

One of them, Derek Chauvin, knelt on Floyd’s neck to hold him down, rendering him unable to breathe. He was ordered to ‘relax’ as he said ‘Please, I can’t breathe’ as onlookers urged the police to stop. He was later pronounced dead. Since then, a wave of demonstrations has broken out across the United States and the world, calling for an end to police brutality and injustice.

(For more information, read this piece written by a former FHS student’s cousin – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-52877803 )

By Stanley M, Year 12

Whilst this outpouring of emotion and subsequent protests may have been provoked by mass solidarity to an American issue, it is important to remember that racism is not a distinctly American problem and indeed by categorising it as such, creates a distance that allows us to attempt to ignore or downplay it. Racism is an issue that cannot and must not be ignored, no matter where you are in the world.

The past few months have proved to be a global challenge like no other and the fear, uncertainty and challenges they have presented us have only served to compound the pain surrounding the most recent of many reminders that racial inequality continues to exist and damage society. But the heightened activism and opening up of challenging conversations about race provides hope at this dark and difficult time.

Whilst we cannot physically come together right now to have open and honest discussions around this, there are some things we can do remotely to show solidarity and to work at being a united and actively anti-racist community. As Angela Y. Davis said, “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” Just because we cannot see each other right now, does not mean that we cannot work to actively facilitate our core values of Partnership and Community.

As a school community (students, parents and staff) we would like you to consider doing one or more of these actions:

1. Take a picture of yourselves kneeling in solidarity with the cause and send it to h.thomas@foresthillschool.co.uk

2. Complete the short ideas form we have created here. It has two prompts:

         a) I wish people knew I feel…

  b) I want to know more about…

We will keep your responses to these prompts anonymous, but will publish some of these on the school social media accounts and website.

We will aim to use these pieces of writing and photos to produce a piece of art in school to stand as a daily visual reminder of the importance of fighting day in day out for racial equality.

3. Educate yourself through reading, through films, through podcasts – see ideas below.

We all have a part to play in fighting racism and striving for an equal society where people are not judged or persecuted for their skin colour, let alone harmed by those in authority who should be there to keep them safe. It can feel difficult knowing what to do to help enact change at this time, and some ideas are included below.

You could…buy books and read them. Watch films and documentaries. Listen to podcasts. Donate money to causes that support equal rights. Volunteer. Offer help. Organise your friends to do something. Email your MP/Councillor. Research being anti-racist. Make sure you continue your conversations around racism when the current media storm dies down. Talk about how you feel with your friends. Block media outlets and accounts that use racist language and promote hate instead of justice. Remind your friends of all races and ethnicities that you are here for them and that you value them.

Remember that we are all stronger together. If you need help and support then please reach out for it. If you’re interested in finding out more or would like someone at school to talk to about these issues please contact h.thomas@foresthillschool.co.uk

Some ideas around books to read and things to watch can also be found below. If you have any further ideas with which to update these lists, please do pass them on so we can share our ongoing learning as a group.

Recommended books, articles, documentaries, films, petitions, organisations that you might want to read, watch, sign or follow.

(It is by no means an exhaustive list and there is a huge amount of information available.)

Books, Guides, and Articles to Read

For Red is the Colour – a poem written by Mr Oviri, Head of Year 11

Natives by Akala  – Akala interviewed about Natives and related issues

The childcare platform, Yoopies, have written a Guide for Parents to Black Lives Matter. It is written with a British perspective, with contributions from both white and BAME writers.

Adult non-fiction:

  • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo (Journal Article)
  • Lots more Whiteness resources and links (including TED talks etc)
  • Black, Listed by Jeffrey Boakye 
  • Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch
  • The life and times of a very British Man by Kamal Ahmed
  • How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • Superior by Angela Saini
  • Black skin, white masks by Franz Fanon
  • Natives by Akala
  • Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (Read an extract in the Guardian here)
  • Me and white supremacy by Layla F Saad
  • Freedom is a constant struggle by Angela Davis
  • Between the world and me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Back to Black by Andrew Kehinde

Accessible non-fiction:

Fiction which shines a light:

  • Nought and Crosses series by Malorie Blackman, including Callum and Crossfire
  • The Hate You Give and On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
  • Dear Martin by Nic Stone
  • The Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Reid
  • The Boxer by Nikesh Shukla
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Clean Getaway by Nic Stone

Films / documentaries to watch

  • INJUSTICE – Directed by Ken Faro and Tariq Mehmood (2002) 
  • The autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (Youtube)
  • Stephen Lawrence: The murder that changed a nation (BBC documentary)
  • James Corden: It’s time for change in the US (Youtube) 
  • Get Out (Film)
  • 13th (Netflix)
  • The Two Killings of Sam Cooke (Netflix)
  • When They See Us (Netflix)
  • Flint Town (Netflix)
  • Time: Khalif Browder story (Netflix)
  • Hidden Figures (Film)
  • Whose Streets? (Hulu)
  • I Am Not Your Negro (Amazon Prime)
  • The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (Amazon Prime)
  • LA 92 (Netflix)
  • What Happened, Miss Simone? (Netflix)
  • Strong Island (Netflix)
  • The Loving Story (Tubi)
  • Teach Us All (Netflix)
  • The Hate U Give (Amazon Prime)
  • Mudbound (Netflix)
  • The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017)
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (Hulu)
  • Becoming (Netflix)
  • Homecoming (Netflix)
  • Just Mercy (Amazon Prime)
  • Moonlight (Netflix)
  • Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise (Amazon Prime)
  • The Black Godfather (Netflix)
  • Back in Time for Brixton (Two part summary of race relations in UK since WW2 on Facebook)
  • Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes (Anti-racism Exercise on The Oprah Winfrey Show)

Petitions you could sign

https://act.colorofchange.org/sign/justiceforfloyd_george_floyd_minneapolis

https://www.change.org/p/mayor-jacob-frey-justice-for-george-floyd?utm_source=brand_us&utm_medium=media&use_react=false

https://naacp.org/campaigns/we-are-done-dying/

https://www.standwithbre.com/

Organisations you could follow, volunteer for or donate to

The Black Curriculum – a social enterprise founded in 2019 to address the lack of black British history in the UK school curriculum

The 4Front Project – established in 2012 to provide a platform for young people who’ve been impacted by violence to create change.

Poetic Unity – a Brixton based charity whose vision is to give young people a voice and empower them to reach their highest potential by using poetry as a tool to support young people in creating positive change in their lives and society

Black Cultural Archives – the only national heritage centre dedicated to collecting, preserving and celebrating the histories of African and Caribbean people in Britain.

Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust – an organisation who work with young people from disadvantaged areas aged 13-30 to inspire and enable them to succeed in the career of their choice. They also influence others to create a fairer society in which everyone, regardless of their background, can flourish

The Goodwin Lawson Foundation – a registered charity commemorating the life of Godwin Lawson, set up to advance the education of young people so that they can develop their capabilities as members of a tolerant society

The Amos Bursary – a bursary that exists to ensure talented men of Afro-Caribbean descent have the opportunity to excel in education and beyond

56 Black Men – an organisation that aims to dramatically reduce the negative portrayal of black men throughout various forms of mainstream media. They look to challenge the lazy and dangerous stereotype of ‘the black man’ and the negative connotations and stigma attached to the cliché image of a black man wearing a hoodie.