The events of the last couple of weeks following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police have been impossible to ignore. The Black Lives Matter protests taking place worldwide aren’t just about violent racism in the USA - in the UK, too, they are a response to systemic and sometimes violent racism and anti-blackness that many in our local community have personally experienced.
In our steering committee and with other SE15 Mutual Aid networks, we’ve been having tough but necessary discussions around racism, structures of oppression and the role of Nunhead Knocks in a community as diverse as Peckham. We understand, however, that our public silence so far has contributed to a discourse that sees “race relations” as too political to take a line on. For that, we offer a genuine apology and a commitment to do better - anything less than absolute solidarity with our black members and communities is a failure of the principles around which we’ve organised. Silence is not neutral.
Over the coming weeks, Nunhead Knocks will be critically interrogating the way our network operates, looking at the ways in which we can proactively centre the concerns of BAME people and listening in particular to our black members and neighbours at this traumatic juncture. Non-black members of the steering committee are committed to educating ourselves. Rather than expecting those with lived experiences of racism to educate us, we want to offer the strong community bonds that have flourished through Nunhead Knocks since March as a route to mutual education at a community level.
Nunhead Knocks developed from a crisis-driven response to community need, and we’re so proud of what it has become. But if we are to be a resource for all of our communities, we need to have frank conversations about how we can collectively do better. Whether it’s addressing the lack of black representation in our steering committee, reaching out to work with and learn from existing support networks in black and other BAME communities or just making the most of this platform to ensure people of colour, whether already members or not, feel empowered to take an active role and white members can learn about the role we can all play in combatting racism at a personal, local and structural level. We invite you all to join us in this discussion.
Until we can put long-term strategies in place based on inclusive discussion, which is our priority over the coming weeks, here are some initial thoughts on what we can do to support our black members:
We write this with a great deal of humility and an understanding that we may not have gotten it all right, and the certainty that there is more that we can do. If you have any ideas, critiques, questions or feedback, please get in touch - this is your network, for your community, and this conversation needs your voice.
Black Lives Matter.
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