Featured

Black Spatial Agency Matters: The Rise of Black Geographies By Malaika Laing-Grant

There is an unequivocal push to shed light on the deepening racial divides that continue to underpin the Black experience in the 21st Century. Black liberation movements around the world, from the bustling streets of London to the southeastern coasts of Jamaica, have brought the importance of blackness to the fore. Not only as a tool for understanding the Black identity, but also as a theoretical framework from which to view our emancipatory commitment to social justice, liberation and reconstruction.

From analyses of diaspora to the entangled processes of the transatlantic slavery, colonialism and modernity- Black thought has long been concerned with questions of race, place, and power. Yet, it’s plausible to suggest that these developments, which span centuries and continents, have been systematically excluded from more traditional notions of geography.

Within the past five years, however, Black Geographies as a discipline and epistemology has gained increasing institutional clout, with thanks to the tenacity and ingenuity of Black scholars to carve out institutional spaces for Black intellectual production. But, what exactly is meant by Black Geographies? 

“Black Geographies’ is diasporic in its foundation through centuries of race projects of displacement, concealment, and marginalization that seek to render the Black body as “ungeographic” (McKittrick, 2006)

As a critical nascent body of scholarship, Black Geographies pinpoints Black spatial agency and the intersections between race, the state, and the dynamic distributions of power present in society. From the transatlantic slave trade to the lack of racial integration of Black and white families with similar class affiliations, to the mass incarceration of Black people, Black Geographies examines Black spatial experiences, including how Black life is reproduced in the wake of gentrification and redevelopment. In doing so, Black Geographies exposes the rich processes of Black socio-cultural and spatial reproduction to resist the confines of slavery, underdevelopment, and traditional human geographies.

Importantly, Black Geographies is not just for geographers. Amongst other schools of thought Black Geographies can also provide a foundation of understanding for the various means of organising political movements to both undermine systems of oppression, and efforts to positively contribute to the communal well-being of Black communities; as opposed to the individuality and exclusivity of our current Western world. Indeed, the scholarship of Black Geographies transcends boundaries outside of formal geography.

As the Black Lives Matter movement sweeps the globe, renewed efforts to address the ongoing injustices of racism and inequality further challenges the formal canon of disciplinary geography that we seem to value so much. We have reached a critical moment, and it is now time to re-examine our complicity in racial processes, evaluate the processes and frameworks that address issues of racial inequality, and reengage the scholarship of Black Geographies as a body of scholarship. This new body of thought must add to our understanding of the ways that race and place are inextricably linked.

Written by Malaika Laing-GrantBLAM’s Volunteer Blog editor

Malaika is a professional with over five years’ practical experience in the international development space, providing comprehensive programmatic support to drive programme success in areas such as youth and politics, social and economic development, education and capacity building. She is a strong believer in the power of the Black community, Malaika is also committed to education as a form of Black empowerment to dismantle cycles of oppression and systems of social injustice

Source

McKittrick, K. (2006). Demonic grounds: Black women and the cartographies of struggle. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press

Featured

Why was the ‘Organisation of Women of Asian and African Descent’ (OWAAD) important?

The distinction between Black feminism and white feminism has long been established, due to the triple burden facing many Black women of race, class and gender. Black feminists have and continue to, highlight the differences in their experiences and issues they are confronted with. On the key issues of family, patriarchy and reproduction,

Black women have distinctly different realities to that of their white middle class counter parts, that often centre the feminist movement.[1] Black women are consistently confronted with racism, resistance and further oppression which white feminism has undermined and silenced. It was in acknowledgment of this that OWAAD was formed in 1978.[2]OWAAD functioned as an umbrella organisation, bringing together various groups of women with divergent interests and focuses.[3] OWAAD had a prominent impact on the women’s liberation movements in Britain, by placing the experiences of Black and Asian women on the liberation agenda. Attracting over 300 women to its first national conference, OWAAD successfully prompted the establishment of Black women’s groups across London.

The ‘Brixton’s Black Women’s Group’ opened in London as the first Black Women’s Centre and Asian and African – Caribbean women founded the ‘Southall Black Sisters’ in North West London.[4] As well as its undeniable influence, OWAAD contributed to several campaigns for the progression of the black experience in the United Kingdom. OWAAD joined the campaign to scrap the SUS laws, which gave the police the powers of stop and search without any cause and was disproportionately used against young Black men.[5] The impact of OWAAD and its initiatives are undeniably powerful and revolutionary. As Stella Dadzie (co-founder of OWAAD) emphasised, OWAAD worked to ‘show people sisterhood in operation’.[6] Not only did OWAAD take on the responsibility of upholding the Black-british community, they also established a legacy of justice and perseverance that remains a fundamental pillar of Black British History.


[1]British Library, ‘Sisterhood and After: The Women’s Liberation Oral History Project’, 3rd June 2011 <https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/stella-dadzie-owaad> last accessed 6/12/2019

[2] Ibid

[3] Bethany Warner, ‘The Organisation of Women of Asian and African Descent: constructing a collective identity’, 2016 <http://www.bristol.ac.uk/media-library/sites/history/documents/dissertations/Bethany_Warner2016.pdf > last accessed 6/12/2019

[4] Tess Gayhart, ‘Beyond the SS Empire Windrush: London’s Black History in the Archives’, 9thMay 2016

<https://blogs.kcl.ac.uk/kingshistory/category/teaching/> last accessed 6/12/2019

[5] Sophia Siddiqui,’ Still at the Heart of the race, Thirty years on’, 6th September 2018 < http://www.irr.org.uk/news/still-the-heart-of-the-race-thirty-years-on/> last accessed 6/12/2019

[6] Ibid(1)

By Isabelle Ehiorobo

Dance cultures of the Caribbean

By Rianna Wilson


We all love a good boogie. The Electric Slide at the end of a family party (that’s the Candy Dance for those who are not familiar with the official title), a Zanku in the middle of an Afrobeats set or maybe just a simple two step at a work party. Once the music hits, our bodies just naturally start to move on their own accord. If I said name a dance from the Caribbean would you be able to? It’s highly likely that you’d say ‘whining’ which is understandable, anyone who’s been to a rave would know that one at least. For those of you who have no idea what that is, let me help you out. But there’s more to dancing in the Caribbean than just that, and so today we’re going to look at some that may be new to you. 

Many dances throughout the Caribbean have roots in both African and European cultures. These Creole dance creations have become synonymous with island identity; the dances have come to light first as popular community dances and often thereafter as endeared folk or ballroom forms that have permeated the region and sometimes the world. So let’s get into it!

Kompa

Creole – konpa

The sweet sound of Haiti. Kompa the music genre was first created in the 1950s by Haitian legend Nemours Jean-Baptiste and his band Conjunto Internacional. The group put a new spin on traditional Haitian music. There are two main characteristics of kompa; a large brass section – saxophones, trumpets, the lot! And upbeat lyrics and melodies, it’s dance music so people need to be put in a good mood, you can’t do that if your lyrics are sad and slow. The beauty of kompa is its ability to make people want to dance instantly. 

If you’ve never listened to the genre before here are two recommendations for you – 

Old school classic by Nemours Jean-Baptiste – Ti Carole

New school favourite by Koneksyon – Si ou vle (Remix) (feat. DJ Rage)

As you’ve heard in both those songs, the sound is smooth and sensual, and so the dance must match. If you’re an avid TikTok user then it’s highly likely that you may have seen videos of people dancing kompa already. It is a two step dance called carré (which means square) and is always danced in pairs. The couples hold each other tightly and sway romantically with a lot of hip movement. Although it looks fairly simple, the dance is in actuality very intricate when done properly. 

Here’s a video of people dancing kompa, beautiful isn’t it?

Dancehall

Again both a music genre and dance type but this time we’re in the beautiful land of Jamaica. In the 2000s, dance steps became a huge part of dancehall culture, they became just as popular as the songs themselves. Artists such as Elephant Man and Ding Dong were known for having choreography to match their songs. A lot of the time the lyrics of the song will instruct you on the choreography, making it very simple to follow. 

It is impossible to talk about dancehall without mentioning Gerald Levy, also known as Mr Wacky. Dubbed as the greatest [Jamaican] dancer of all time, Mr Wacky was the mastermind behind many famous dancehall dances. Dances including the bogle, wacky dip, Sesame Street, willie bounce, and countless others. 

Tambú

Have you ever heard of Curaçao? It’s okay if you haven’t, that’s what our blog is here for. To educate the masses!

Curaçao is a small Dutch Caribbean island in the Lesser Antilles which is a small collection of islands found in the Caribbean. It makes up part of what is known as the ‘ABC Islands’ 

On the beautiful island of Curaçao there is a traditional dance named Tambú. It was first created by the enslaved Africans living on the island. Music is created using the tambú drum and other iron instruments, and dancers isolate their body parts with elaborate hip movements. 

Despite being danced in pairs, the most important feature of tambú is the fact that partners never actually physically touch. This adds to the sensuality of the dance. The dance is so sensual in fact, that the Catholic Church on the island banned it, it was illegal from the 1600s right up until 1956 – dramatic much? 

Tambú music is also known as the ‘Curaçao Blues’ as it was a way for the enslaved peoples to express their sorrows and sadness around their situation. 

Dance is a huge part of Caribbean culture, both on the islands and throughout the diaspora. They represent history, freedom, and expression. There’s many more that we could talk about because the Caribbean is just that diverse! Unfortunately though, finding dance classes that teach these styles in the UK is quite difficult (minus dancehall). This is a shame as preserving traditional dances within the diaspora is super important! Hopefully that’ll change soon. But also, if you are a person of Caribbean descent who teaches these styles – drop us a line and we’ll plug you on socials.

Now that we have looked at three different dances from around the Caribbean, are there any you think you’d like to try? Or any you KNOW you’d kill without even having to try? Let us know!

Blam UK condemns the recent anti-Black language racism from UK white-owned media outlets

Blam UK condemns the recent articles by a range of white-owned media companies that further entrench language discrimination and the erasure of Black British English speakers in British society. The British media has a long history in shaping racist, discriminatory and anti-Black racial discourse. The highlighted articles make repeated, unfounded statements about Black British English by referring to the language as, ‘talking like a ‘roadman’’ and claiming ‘grime music has helped cement the dialect’. These untrue statements misrepresent Black-British experiences and are not based on research to understand the history of Black British English and the people that speak it. Furthermore, this anti-Black and racist discourse is reminiscent of Historian David Starkey’s commentary on the London uprisings in 2011 against the killing of Mark Duggan by the Met Police, Starkey argued that the uprisings highlighted a ‘profound cultural change’ in that, the ‘whites had become black’ meaning that white people adopting Jamaican patois and BBE had made them partake in the uprisings. Here, the use of Jamaican patois and BBE as the cause of the London uprisings in 2011 and the changing English dialect today, are both examples of anti-Black rhetoric and illustrates the way Black culture and language continue to be criminalised in British society.

The articles follow the historical colonial practice of policing and inferiorising Black cultures and languages while centring White mainstreamed English as the norm. Black creole languages in and of themselves have been cultivated in response to imperialist dominance and racism. The articles ignore the fact that currently many Black people in the UK have been fluent in this language (BBE) and are currently being forced to code-switch due to standardised English being a requirement to thrive in many UK institutions. Furthermore, the articles also wrongly attributed Black linguistic creation to multi-culturalism as opposed to the continuing of linguistic heritages passed down from Black parents, which have now been further creolised to show a distinct identity of Black-Britishness. One of the articles mentions Black musicians and genres as the pioneers of this language being mainstreamed as opposed to recognising that this is a language spoken within our communities first and was used by Black musicians. 

The anti-Black Linguistic racism shown in those articles :

The use of the term ‘roadman’ through the lens of whiteness is always loaded, problematic and inherently anti-Black. At some point, we must ask ourselves why? Terms like ‘roadman’ and ‘urban’ are often used as code words for Black, which then changes the tone of the article. The term ‘roadman’ usually alludes to criminality in BBE. Our founder, Ife Thompson, notes that calling a language created by Black-British people ‘roadman talk’ is an attempt at further pushing anti-Black linguistic racism. A rich language created and used by a range of Black people including roadmen is only being referred to as a language that belongs to them. This type of criminalisation of BBE allows for institutions like schools or courtrooms (via racist prosecutions )  to be a space where we are further punished for our expression in this language, as the language is policed as something that is inherently criminal in nature.  When termings like these are used to confine BBE, it has an adverse effect on Black people, especially Black children. When the language they speak is demonised/ criminalised by mainstream media it leaves them susceptible to unfair policing and punishment. We have seen this take place at Ark All Saints Academy,  where policies put in place banning Black British English and articles such as these give these anti-Black policies their credence.    

How the term Multicultural London English erases Black British English :

The misidentification of Black British English as MLE minimises the cultural value and influence of Black heritage in modern-day Britain. BBE was formed exclusively and independently through the Black British experience. By stating words like “wagwarn” have multicultural roots, this discredits its Jamaican origins. The mere usage of words from other languages like Kettle- a Cockney word for watches, that has been further used and popularised by BBE Speakers does not justify the naming of BBE as multicultural London English or slang. Instead, this shows that BBE mirrors the established linguistic norms of borrowing terminology from other languages known as cognates, which be seen within White Mainstream English in words such as ‘café which is originally the French word. 

Why We Campaign towards Language Justice for Black English Speakers

At Blam UK we push for a language education that is decolonial and celebrates Black cultural production. As this in turn allows Black British children who speak BBE further avenues to heighten their racial identity through a positive lens. The current deficit approach to socio-linguistic and racio-linguistics within UK schools and society as a whole, means we see anti-Black linguistic racism upheld in all facets of the UK. We believe Black-British English speakers must be recognised for their unique approach to language creation and their bilingualism honoured and protected. Support our ongoing campaigns to create a Black future that are linguistically justice for BBE Speakers. 

African Contemporary Art

By Rianna Wilson

When you think of African art, you probably think of traditional art like this:

And you’re technically not wrong. However, there has been a shift in African art. Artists are moving away from the traditional pieces and materials and methods of art-making and have developed modern art pieces that mesh the old with the new.

So what is African contemporary art?

The contemporary art scene of Africa is characterised by a dynamic list of creators, who interpret and capture socio-economic realities, political challenges, rich traditions and diverse beauty.

It is art created by artists from both the African continent and the African diaspora in the post-independence era. As countries throughout the continent declared independence, their art changed. We will look into these changes in a little more detail later on.It is important to note that the biggest change that was consistent throughout Africa is the type of art being created. We have seen a move from ‘tribal’ art from collective ethnic groups (as seen above) to more individualistic styles. Although art mediums and styles within countries may be similar, you are still able to see artist’s individual stylistic approaches. 

Let’s take a trip around Africa!

Senegal

In June 1960, Senegal declared independence from France. Their first president was the pro-African poet, politician, and African socialism advocate Léopold Sédar Senghor. When he came into power he invested 25 per cent of the state budget into developing the arts and culture industry. Art and creativity is an integral part of Senegalese life, Dakar is even known as the art capital of West Africa. They even host the largest and most well-known fashion show on the African continent, so you can see that creativity and art is integral to Senegalese life.

Senegalese Artist in Focus

Name: Omar Victor Diop

Artform: Photography (fine art and fashion)

About: Much of Omar’s fine art work focuses on important figures and moments in Black history

BLAM’s favourites: We LOVE his diaspora series, in which he tells the stories of lesser known Africans throughout the African diaspora. All the photos in the series are self-portraits which have been styled and photographed by Omar himself.

 

Museum of Black Civilisations

In 2018, Senegal opened the doors of the Museum of Black Civilisations. Another brain child of the late, great President Senghor, the museum’s aim is to promote histories and contemporaries of Black civilisations from around the world and take back those Black artefacts we see in Western museums and art galleries. 

We can’t wait to take a trip there!

South Africa

I am sure we are all aware of South Africa’s past (and present). In 1948-1994 South Africans lived under the apartheid system, this was where Black and other non-white people living in the country faced institutionalised racial segregation. During this time the art scene in South Africa flourished, however, Black artists still struggled to reap the benefits of this success. 

Then, and still to this day, Black artists in South Africa based their art on the inequalities they face and the realities of their lives.

South African Artist in Focus

Name: Nicholas Hlobo

Artform: Sculptures and performance art

About: Nicholas makes his art out of materials which can be easily sourced, such as ribbon, leather, wood, and rubber. 

BLAM’s favourites: We love Nicholas’ bold use of different materials in his artwork. They definitely make a statement!

​​

Ethiopia

Ethiopia has a very very long and rich history, it is most famously known for having the oldest African church system. This rich religious history is a major influence on the country’s traditional art form known as coptic art. This art form is still used often in the present day by many artists

However, in more recent times, there has been a shift in Ethiopian art. Despite resources being difficult to come by and artists having to rely on resources from abroad, paint, sculpture, and photography are the main forms of art created in Ethiopia. Many artists use their work to make political and social statements.

Ethiopian Artist in Focus

Name: Dawit Abebe

Artform: Paint

About: Dawit is known for painting his subjects from behind. His work is said to explore themes such as privacy and alienation.

BLAM’s favourites: We’re only choosing one painting from Dawit, that’s how much we love it!. The colours, the power, the simplicity. We could definitely see this painting on the walls of our office

That’s all for our trip around contemporary art in Africa, but it’s not the end of this post. 

We have also collated a list of contemporary art galleries around Africa for you guys.

We know, the BLAM UK blog is the gift that keeps on giving, and you’re welcome! Whether you are enjoying another ‘Detty December’, visiting family and friends, or doing a heritage and homecoming trip – exploring these museums and learning about the popular art of the country will offer visitors a unique insight into the social and political contexts on-ground.

Ethiopia

  • Alle School of Fine Art & Design
  • Guramane Art Center

Senegal

  • Galerie Atiss
  • Galerie Cécile Fakhoury

Ghana

  • Gallery 1957
  • Artists Alliance Gallery

South Africa

  • Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Norval Foundation

Nigeria

  • Lagos Center for Contemporary Art
  • Arthouse Contemporary

Uganda

  • Afriart Gallery

Zimbabwe

  • First Floor Gallery

Kenya

  • Banana Hill Art Gallery
If you ever visit any of them, let us know!

The mental health impact of the policing of Black British English

By Christina Idowu

Black British English (BBE) is a distinct language that directly connects us to our ancestors, who created and used their own language as a form of cultural resistance. Using elements of African and Caribbean languages, such as Pidgin and Patois, and Black-British vernacular to those who speak it and those who feel its cultural impact—Black English matters. Our language shapes how we see the world and ourselves. The words we choose and our meanings to them influence our decisions, beliefs, and well-being. 

For Black British English to be continuously dismissed and devalued as being linguistically broken, can be incredibly harmful to the identity of Black people globally who use this language to communicate in their daily lives. Being told repeatedly that Black British English is not considered standard, mainstream, or prestigious language can negatively impact our mental health. Language differences can lead to feelings of stigmatisation, discrimination, and ostracisation as many people, without thinking, harbour damaging assumptions about the different ways other people speak.

For Black students, in addition to the pressures of modern life intensified by the online world and social media, the policing of Black British English means striping and shrinking of your identity and being forced to adapt to the white mainstreamed surrounding culture. Labelling Black British English as the ‘wrong’ way to speak can quickly get embedded in everyday teaching practices and sustains anti-black racist practices and ideology in our schools. This leads to the internalisation of negative perceptions about how they speak which may lead to feels of unintelligence and inadequacy when using BBE in white spaces. 

Studies have shown the pervasive effects of internalised racism on Black children at a very early age. Banning how they communicate using Black British English can cause them to question their sense of belonging and foster self-doubt that must be worked through to regain a strong voice — a process that can take years. Similar to the concept of microaggressions, being silenced and being forced to change the way you speak can trigger stress, depression, anxiety, and even racial trauma. During a crucial time in Black students’ lives when their racial identity is developing, being unable to speak Black British English in schools can lead to Black children feeling misunderstood, unsafe, and unprotected by their teachers.  

The stigma around mental health, the absence of specialised Culturally safe services, and the institutionalised racism within MHA services mean that Black children and families are less likely to seek out or receive the mental health services they need. As a result, young Black people are scared, worried, overwhelmed, and concerned about their place and space in the world. Without proper platforms, in the community and outside of the NHS to unpack the stress and traumas they have endured, we will ultimately see more young people experience a mental health crisis and stressors. Children who have experienced trauma may be triggered in a school setting and exhibit emotional responses that are seen as erratic, unpredictable, and, at times, explosive. 

Discounting the Black student experience through policing Black British English can perpetuate feelings of hopelessness and cause a breeding ground for a psychology of victimhood, learned helplessness, and anger as a coping mechanism for continuous mental distress. The only way to prevent this is to start protecting Black students by challenging the deficit thinking and negative stereotypes about Black British English that permeates our classrooms and communities. Schools, teachers, and communities must recognise that multiple languages can co-exist and work toward dismantling anti-Black linguistic racism and strengthening the mental health of Black children.

Within our schools, where Black children spend most of their time, the use of Black British English must be encouraged to develop a positive racial identity alongside encouraging their bilingualism. It is important that Black students unlearn the harmful dialogue associated with using Black British English (e.g., home language, informal English, improper speech, etc.) that disrespects the existence and essence of Black Languages. It is the responsibility of teachers, educators, and schools to acknowledge and celebrate Black students’ use of Black British English as a valid system of language, with its own consistent grammar, structureand form. It is imperative that we focus efforts on supporting Black children’s mental health and this takes unified, meaningful efforts from parents, educators, and community leaders in order to provide a safe, secure, and welcoming environment for Black students.


References: 

Breaking the Cycle of Silence Around Black Mental Health. (n.d.). Edutopia. Retrieved April 12, 2022, from https://www.edutopia.org/article/breaking-cycle-silence-around-black-mental-health

Demand 4. (n.d.). BLACK LINGUISTIC JUSTICE. Retrieved April 12, 2022, from http://www.blacklanguagesyllabus.com/demand-4.html

Feagin, J. R., & Sikes, M. P. (1995). How Black Students Cope with Racism on White Campuses. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, 8, 91. https://doi.org/10.2307/2963064

Heidelburg, K., Phelps, C., & Collins, T. A. (2022). Reconceptualizing school safety for Black students. School Psychology International, 014303432210747. https://doi.org/10.1177/01430343221074708

Language Matters in Mental Health | Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2022, from http://hogg.utexas.edu/news-resources/language-matters-in-mental-health

Luu, C. (2020, February 12). Black English Matters. JSTOR Daily. https://daily.jstor.org/black-english-matters/

Masko, A. (2014). Racism and Mental Health: Are Schools Hostile Learning Environments for Students of Color? Language Arts Journal of Michigan, 30(1). https://doi.org/10.9707/2168-149X.2045

Racism, Education, and Black Children’s Mental Health | Psychology Today United Kingdom. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/collective-healing/202203/racism-education-and-black-childrens-mental-health

Shainah M Andrews. (2017). British Black English. https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.20800.15361

The UK’s Very Own Refreshing and Upbeat Genre…GRIME

By Christivie Manga

Grime tracks tell a story of Black urban youth experiences growing up in London

Origins of Grime

Grime is a genre of uniquely Black and British electronic rap/hip-hop music that emerged in East London in the early 2000s. Grime is known to be rapid, syncopated breakbeats, generally around 140 beats per minute, and often features an upbeat or jagged electronic sound. Grime explores the Black-British experiences of estate living and growing up in the UK as a Black person. It allows Black artists to express themselves in a unique manner. Grime tracks tell a story of Black urban youth experiences growing up in London, with many artists rapping about relationships, hood life, and real personal issues. 

Grime has been described as the “most significant musical development within the UK for decades.” The most fundamental part of grime was that it defined UK rap as being separate from US rap. Grime was refreshing for many because it was uniquely British. 

So let’s dive into three key components of this catchy genre:

  • Grime music was influenced by an eclectic collection of music, fusing hip hop with a number of UK musical sub-genres that were popular in the 1990s, including UK garage music, techno, and jungle music—which is a kind of rave music influenced by a heavy backbeat.
  • Grime music typically plays around 140 bpm, giving it a very fast breakbeat and driving bass-line.
  • Grime originated in London and was made to express the lived experiences of grime musicians. Rappers on the grime scene typically have British accents, which distinguishes this kind of music from American hip-hop.

The grime music scene is made up of grime crews; collectives of musicians that produce music together and perform at nightlife venues. Grime crews came with a sense of unity, artists had a support group amongst themselves, it made them more creative and thriving.

The work crews such as Roll Deep, Nasty Crew, and Ruff Sqwad did in their early years was historical. If anyone who followed their careers at the time looks back, it’s clear that they created the foundations for what we have now. 

Channel U was a massive part of grime culture back in the day! Channel U  was launched on British satellite television in 2003, which was dedicated to playing grime and UK hip-hop. It was home to early music videos by future stars such as Tinchy Stryder, Wretch 32, and many more.

Police Criminalising Grime

Although grime was becoming popular, the UK music industry has a way of repressing  Black talent and conveying the expressions of Black grime musicians as negative. The police created the 696 Form which blocked grime and hip-hop events. In 2006, the police put forward the ‘Promotion Events Risk Assessment Form 696’ to target “violence at live events”. However, this negatively affected the scene by blocking many grime and hip-hop events.

Despite the 696 Form, grime has been an unstoppable genre which artists and fans have  kept going, producing, and supporting. As a result, the genre has received international recognition! 

Can you believe Skepta and Diddy collaborating on a grime track? Well it happened, the two collaborated on a grime remix of Skepta’s  single ‘Hello, Good Morning’.

Wretch 32 also went on to win a BET Award in 2012 for ‘Best International Act’, proving that grime was beginning to make its mark on the global stage.

Thankfully, due to campaigns by Sadiq Khan and many people in the music industry, the 696 Form has been scrapped.

Today, grime is everywhere. The music genre has surpassed its pirate radio days and has now found its way into charts across the world, attracting critical acclaim for its stark social commentary on living in inner-city London, opening listeners’ eyes to the stark realities of growing up on a London estate and the intimacies of relationships, friends, and family life. Today we have the likes of AJ Tracey, Dave, and Central Cee all contributing to the legendary music genre globally. 

From the origins of the scene to today, we need to give the grime originators their well deserved accolades!

Here is an interesting list of 7 Famous Grime Music Artists and facts about how they influenced the genre!

Diving Into the History of the Legendary Jamaican Sound System

by Christivie Manga

Fun fact: Did you know sound systems were invented in Jamaica? Sound systems are one of the most overlooked aspects of Black-British music despite being a commercial success story of immense proportions!

Sound System: Defined

A sound system is the combination of microphones, signal processors, amplifiers, and loudspeakers in enclosures all controlled by a mixing console that make live or pre-recorded sounds louder and may also distribute those sounds to a larger or more distant audience.

The Creation of a System

The invention of sound systems first came about in Kingston, Jamaica in the late 1940’s. Sound systems were created to bring financially deprived  Jamaican communities together. A hardware store worker who goes by the name of Tom Wong, was known to be the first owner of a sound system. Today we have the luxury of music streaming apps such as Spotify, Soundcloud and YouTube, and much like today not everyone in Kingston had the means to afford a radio (the streaming service of the day). Therefore, they could not always enjoy music through that medium. 

Whilst the more bourgeois Jamaican community enjoyed live orchestras, sound systems brought neighbourhoods of financially deprived Jamaican’s together. The term ‘ghetto’ was surprisingly used to refer to this community during that time. Sound systems would blast music in the streets of Kingston and allow Jamaicans to escape the reality of their poverty and celebrate and enjoy with their community. Research shows that sound systems played a role in giving the less privileged power! Imagine being systematically excluded from positions of power… Sound systems allowed those from economically deprived backgrounds  an opportunity  to experience leadership in their own way.  

In a book titled Wake the Town and Tell the People by Norman C. Stolzoff states that the usual positions of power in this era was the media, the government and religious establishments –– sound system culture served its role in “communication, social interaction, education, moral leadership, political action, and economic activity, especially for [B]lack people  from poor backgrounds.”

Sound clashing began on the streets of Kingston in the 1950s. Because very few people had the money to buy records, the main way that people were introduced to new music was either in dancehalls or at street parties. Therefore, whoever owned and operated the portable sound systems was in a position of influence when it came to setting musical trends.

Starting out as an informal rivalry, sound clashes developed as the result of a natural instinct to compete with another sound system set up in close proximity to your own. Sound systems were led by people such as Tom Wong, Duke Reid, and Sir Coxsone and began with stacks of speakers set up, playing US R&B records. The competition involved two or more sound systems battling to produce the best selections and performance to be crowned victorious by the watching crowd.

Across Di’ Atlantic: Sound Systems in England

Now you have knowledge on the origin and purpose of sound systems, how did it become a BIG thing in Britain? Originally, sound systems were not very popular. Shortly after the beginning of the Windrush Era, the UK became populated with nearly half a million people from the Caribbean who were removed and displaced  from their roots. Jamaican communities experienced racial violence which meant that Black music and Jamaican music were not respected or well-regarded outside of the community. 

Radio stations and radio play were a huge factor in music, but no radio stations would play Black records. At the time, there were no local Black-led radio stations and so music and radio only ever catered to white music. This meant that the only way you could hear reggae music, according to Dennis Bovell, was by attending a party that had a sound system.

Black people had to enjoy their music in secrecy. The only place sound systems were seen was in their homes, underground make-shift dancehalls, or secret parties. Sound system culture was somewhere Black people could unite and enjoy as one with the freedom of being themselves. It was the main form of social life for Black people in Britain. Sound system culture gave Black people in Britain their own unique Black and British identity.

Here is a short documentary about the importance of  sound system culture to a generation of newly migrated Caribbean British people. .

If police became aware of  these events, they would quickly shutdown and arrest attendees. DJs and MCs faced even more racism and discrimination and were falsely accused of crimes and wrongly arrested. UK sound system pioneer Duke Vin was constantly targeted and threatened by the police, police even went as far as destroying his sound system equipment! 

Sound Systems in Britain Today

When we think of Notting Hill Carnival, we are reminded of the beautiful mas trucks, delicious food, and poppin’ music. Notting Hill Carnival put sound system culture on the map across the UK! As the biggest street event in Europe and the 2nd largest carnival in the world, Notting Hill Carnival has provided static sound systems with a huge platform.

Sound systems have been an integral part of  the atmosphere at Carnival since the 70’s. Sound systems became hard to ignore, the loud amplifying music, and the intense sound clashes. The culture of sound clashes was adapted from the culture of sound system. 

Sound clashes were another aspect of Jamaican sound system culture impacted British music. Sound clashes continued to grow in popularity into the ‘90s with the arrival of a new format called ‘World Clash’. This system saw countries from around the world competing in a clash at one location. 

The first World Clash is believed to be the one held in London in 1993 between Bodyguard (Jamaica), Saxon (UK), Coxsone (UK), and Afrique (USA), ending with a controversial win by Bodyguard. We now have a range of huge sound clash battles including the popular Red Bull Culture Clash. 

The next time you hear the sounds of contemporary grime artists giving us some rap battle fire in the booth, remember that sound clashes influenced them!

Explore these sound systems which cater to numerous musical tastes and exist today! (That’s right, sound systems are not a historic relic of the past!)

Notes in time: Retracing the influence of Black British musicians in the 15th-19th centuries.

By Sophia Harberd

For centuries Black people have been shaping the popular music scene in Britain. By the 15th century, Black music traditions were being carried en masse with the African diaspora over the 400-year period when swathes of Africans were stolen and brought across the Atlantic into the ‘New World’. This population of the African diaspora found ways to express their culture in an effort to preserve and resist against the loss of their identities. These ‘African retentions’, from native drum patterns, dances, and approaches to composition and performances also mixed with musical influence in the ‘New World’, birthing alternative forms of expression within Black Atlantic musical culture.

Evidence of Black Renaissance musicians has been found. “Moor Taubronar” was an African drummer and skilled choreographer employed by James IV who came to the throne in 1488. Moor Taubronar travelled with King James IV and his court through Scotland, was paid wages, and likely lived in the palace with his wife and child! Records show that many Black Moors present within the court had been invited by James IV as guests or musicians, and their influence is thought to be found today in performances such as Morris dancing, which may come from “Moorish dancing” of Black performers in British courts. 

John Blanke (fl. 1501-1511) was a Black royal trumpeter and multi-talented musician in the courts of Henry VII and Henry VIII. He contributed to some of the greatest spectacles of the Tudor Period (1485-1603), and was also paid his own wage, even successfully petitioning for a higher one! He appears on numerous court records, and even on the 1511 Westminster Tournament Roll tapestry, which is an incredibly rare occurrence for a Black person during this period.

Following these examples, increased documentation of Black British musicians can be seen in the 18th century. Ignatius Sancho (1729-1780) was one of the first published Black British musicians, writing four books of songs and lively dance music. He had taught himself how to read, write, and compose music, and often used this skill to speak out against the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade. Like Sancho, Guinea-born British musician Joseph Emidy (1775-1835) was enslaved in his early years. His talents as a violinist led him to play with the Lisbon Opera Orchestra, and later as the leader of the Truro Philharmonic Orchestra, composing several works including concertos and a symphony. Prior to his career in Cornwall, he had spent several years as the fiddler of Admiral Sir Pellew’s ship, who had kidnapped him after being impressed upon hearing Emidy play. 

A second notable Black virtuoso violinist is George Bridgetower (1778-1860), who impressed Beethoven so much with his compositions that Beethoven dedicated his Violin Sonata No.9 in A minor (Op.47) to Bridgetower, and presented him with his tuning fork. The sonata, Kreutzer, is one of Beethoven’s most famous and passionate pieces that had been inspired by Bridgetower. Beethoven had been surprised by Bridgetower’s ability to imitate and then expand on a short piano cadenza in the first movement, jumping up, hugging him, and exclaiming, “My dear boy! Once more!”. Like much Black history of the Victorian era and before, Bridgetower has been largely unrepresented in historical text, and so this is of great significance for a prodigy musician whose Black father had been, not long before, enslaved.  

With the 19th century came another prominent Black-British musician, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912). Coleridge-Taylor was best known for his trilogy of cantatas on the epic poem Song of Hiawatha, which were widely performed by choral groups in England. Coleridge-Taylor sought to integrate inspiration from traditional African music, especially that of his Sierra Leonean ancestry, into the classical music tradition. His success took him on a  tour in America, where he was received by President Roosevelt at the White House (extremely uncommon for Black people of this time!) and gained great support from African-Americans. Coleridge-Taylor’s work has still been consistently performed, with immense audience support, at large and important venues such as the Royal Albert Hall following his young death. Highlighting the amazing legacies of these Black British musicians is important in demonstrating the long-standing influence that Black people have had on British music for many generations.  

The family lineage of some of these musicians persevered for many years, and even in cases, still exist in Britain today. Coleridge-Taylor’s daughter, Avril, who was a talented pianist, conductor, and composer had carried and expanded upon her father’s legacy until her death in 1998 at the age of 95. Becoming the first woman to ever conduct the HMS Royal Marines band, and regularly conducting top orchestras such as the London symphony orchestra, Avril also composed extensively, including important pieces such as the Ceremonial March, an orchestral work to celebrate Ghana’s independence. Emidy, additionally, had eight children, and his fourth-great granddaughter lives in Devon today. 

Black British Art

By Rianna Wilson

Can you name any Black artists? For an extra challenge, can you name any Black British artists? If not, don’t fret. We are here to help you out!

So first we should define what it means to be ‘Black British’. 

The Black British population is made up predominantly of descendants of immigrants from the West Indies and Africa who migrated to the UK from the 1950s onwards.

 https://minorityrights.org/minorities/afro-caribbeans/

According to the art historian Eddie Chambers, the purpose of Black British art ‘was to confront the white establishment for its racism, as much as to address the Black community in its struggle for human equality’. It allows Black people in Britain to share their feelings and views in a society that often tries to silence them. 

The BLK Art Group

In 1979, a group of British West Indians founded the BLK Art Group in Wolverhampton. The aim of the group was to showcase Black talent and explore what it meant to identify as ‘Black British’. The group was formed after being inspired by The American Black Arts Movement, which was part of the Black Power Movement. The BLK art group wanted to empower and encourage young Black voices as well as educate their white peers on the issues Black people faced in Britain. 

One of the group’s most notable achievements was the First National Black Art Convention.

The conference was held on 28th October 1982 at what was then Wolverhampton Polytechnic with the aim of raising the profile of Black artists and the Afro-Caribbean community through a series of sculptures, paintings and exhibitions. The convention featured seminars and talks, and helped to showcase work by Black artists. It highlighted the importance of originality and the avoidance of mimicking European culture.

Although the collective itself only operated for five years, the individual members, such as the previously mentioned Eddie Chambers, are still very active in the art scene today. The impact the BLK Art Group has had is still felt, they helped to give Black British art a voice.

So of course we must look at some Black British artists from throughout time right? 

Sonia Boyce

Sonia Boyce was born in Islington, North London in 1962 to West Indian immigrant parents. 

She had a heavy association with the Black Arts Movement in the 1980s, with her art focusing heavily on issues surrounding race, gender and equality. A lot of Sonia’s early works were portraits with bright backgrounds.

She Ain’t Holding Them Up, She’s Holding On (Some English Rose), 1986

BLAM’s Favourite

This is one of Sonia’s most famous drawings. In it, she portrays herself as a strong woman supporting and upholding her family. The portrait portrays the concept of the ‘strong Black woman’ which many can relate to. The black roses on her dress are also symbolic of her British identity and being a Black ‘English Rose’.

Sonia is an incredibly talented artist who still produces art today as well as being a Professor of Black Art and Design at University of the Arts London.

Neequaye ‘Dreph’ Dsane

Dreph is a British-Ghanaian street artist originally from Nottingham. He started painting in 1985 after being inspired by graffiti artists in New York City. He started out with street art but eventually moved on to oil painting and portraits. In more recent years, he started to combine the two

BLAM’s Favourite

Upon his return to London, Dreph created the You Are Enough project. The project featured various beautiful Black British women, women who are doing amazing things for their communities. 

For example, this painting is Mimi, from Islington, who works as a holistic health consultant and is studying to become a counsellor.

It is not very often we see Black women being portrayed in street art, nor do we often hear of Black street artists which is why we thought it was important to highlight Dreph and his amazing work.

Phillipp Raheem

Phillipp is a London based photographer of Nigerian descent. His journey was quite typical of many children of immigrants. Phillipp studied biomedical science at university but pivoted into the world of photography after igniting a passion for the art-form after a trip to Nigeria. After going to New York fashion week and receiving impromptu bookings, he decided to turn photography into a full time career. Now, he is most known for his work in music and fashion photography.

BLAM’s Favourite

In 2020, Phillipp worked with the talented Wizkid on his Made in Lagos project. We love this photo because of its beautiful simplicity. It perfectly encapsulates the essence of Wizkid’s album.


Black Art Exhibitions and Galleries you should visit!

TAFETA 

A gallery specialising in 20th century and Contemporary African Art

91 Great Russell Street

London WC1B 3PS                                                                                              

Signature African Art

An international art gallery located in Mayfair

20 Davies Street

Mayfair, London

W1K 3DT

Chilli Art Projects

A platform to discover the hottest talent in the Contemporary Art Market.

46 Great Titchfield St, 

Fitzrovia, London, 

W1W 7QA 

198 Contemporary Arts and Learning

A centre for visual arts, education and creative enterprise.

198 Railton Road, 

London

SE24 0JT

Flat70

A collective dedicated to artist development, artist care, cultural celebration and cultural exchange. They also put on monthly tours of Black art exhibitions

Elephant Makes, 

Sayer St, London 

SE17 1FY

Tiwani Contemporary

Exhibits and represents international contemporary artists

9 Cork St

London

W1S 3LL

As always, if you visit any of these exhibitions be sure to tell us how you found them!

Reflections on Child Q

“Until the revolution come and all the feds start runnin’”

Noname
Dear Black Girl, you are cared for and loved.

Last week, it became publicly known that a 15-year-old Black girl, known as ‘Child Q’, was the victim of state-sanctioned sexual assault and racist gendered policing, which were a violation of her human rights. We as a collective are enraged, traumatised, and deeply dispirited to learn that this had happened to Child Q. As an organisation that works with schools to abolish current systems and introduce transformative justice and BlackCrit practices and thinking, we have seen first-hand what happens when radical and transformative practices do not exist in a school. This is seen in the egregious failures that led to Child Q’s unlawful strip search.

In the 36 page report by the City & Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership (CHSCP), we read how she was adultified, subjected to misogynoir, racially profiled, and criminalised by her teachers, school, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), and the State. 

Racial Profiling & Policing in Schools

Racial profiling is a form of violence because it infringes on Black people’s ability to move freely and without fear in public spaces. Racial profiling is also a direct violation of the enjoyment of many human rights, namely Article 5 (the right to liberty and security), Article 8 (respect for your private life and family life), and Article 14 (protection from discrimination), freedom of movement, protection against arbitrary arrest and other interventions, effective remedy, and the protection of the best interests of the child.

Police presence in schools causes serious harm, which is regularly inflicted on our youth, who are subject to constant scrutiny, daily fears of racialised harassment, and continual interference in their day-to-day lives. Police presence in schools triggers and causes race-based anxiety as the effects of being regularly and systematically dehumanised begin to affect and wear down on young Black students. Additionally, the introduction of police as ‘officer friendly’ in schools (especially in primary school) serves as a broader effort known as ‘copaganda’. This powerful and dangerous PR tool endeavours to frame and show the police and policing as an institution that ‘serves and protects the public. Again, we in the Black community know and learn quickly as children and young people that this is the greatest lie ever told. The police never have and do not ‘serve nor protect’ our children or community.

The myth of Black criminality has enabled the police to have unfettered authority over Black communities and people for decades. This means that the police have been given access that is quasi-legal to illegal powers to conduct unlawful searches upon Black people. In London alone, 9,088 children were subjected to strip searches whilst in custody between 2016 to 2021. Of those children, a disproportionate amount of Black children were subject to strip searches. This is why we call for a complete end to strip searches; they leave deep scars of humiliation and degradation on Black children and adults subjected to them.

Through our work and caseload here at BLAM UK, we see the terror of the white supremacist carceral (police and prison) state on how Black children and especially Black girls are treated in the British education system. This has a real and lasting mental health impact on Black girls as it perpetuates ongoing racial trauma and affects their racial esteem during incredibly formative years in their lives. Even now, we know that Black girls are scared that they too could have the same harmful and traumatic experience as what happened to Child Q. In our casework, a young Black girl was accused of smelling like vape smoke and was made to show her bra to four different teachers, one being male, and kept in a room without food, water, or the ability to call a parent before she was excluded. We successfully challenged the exclusion, although she had to move schools.

As Black people, we view calling the police as a direct and targeted act of terror as it threatens our lives with the potential for death at the hands of the police and other injury or harm to both our physical and mental person. The police have never kept our communities safe, and they will never keep us safe. The teachers (violence enablers) who facilitated the atrocity against Child Q allowed MPS to enact violence and harm on Child Q.

Within the realm of racial profiling is the policing tactic of using the ‘smell of weed’ to control and criminalise the Black existence in public space. Such tropes and racist biases are profoundly and inherently anti-Black. They are used as justification for the criminalisation, scrutiny, surveillance, frequent interruption, racialised police intervention, and violations of Black people’s human rights. These are systemic issues that we can only bring to a swift end with the complete abolishing of the police. Until that day comes, we are demanding that there be no police in schools.  

Misogynoir, Adultification, Spirit Murdering, and Hair Discrimination

School is a hyper-violent space for Black students and, in particular, for Black girls. Black girls continue to be adultified, criminalised, and spirit-murdered by educators who enact racially discriminatory school disciplinary policies. Child Q was grossly violated and subjected to state violence, misogynoir, adultification, and hair discrimination. Child Q represents the real human impact of anti-Black education policies, practices and standards, which destroy the experience of Black children in educational institutions.

Scholars such as Hines and Wilmot, and Love highlight how the white Euro-Western education system commits acts of spirit-murdering of young Black children every day. Instead of creating affirming, nurturing, motivating, engaging, and equitable learning environments for Black students, schools, participate in actively destroying the racial esteem and spirit of Black children. Some ways in which spirit murdering occurs in the school environment include:

  1. Acts of physical violence aimed towards Black children at the hands of school police officers;
  2. Laws and policies that lead to disproportionate school discipline and excessive punitive actions, in which working-class, Black, Brown, and racialised children are more likely to be temporarily and permanently excluded from school.

Actions like strip-searching a young Black girl for ‘smelling like weed’ are spirit-murdering, as we know that Child Q went from an outgoing and bubbly teenager to a withdrawn and timid young girl. Her world and life have forever been shifted and changed by the callous carelessness of her ‘teachers’ in a single moment. That is how deeply and quickly spirit-murdering can occur in a space where children are meant to learn and grow with safety and care. 

Due to the intersecting systems of oppression, we must look into and call out the misogynoir and specific racist gendered violence Black girls face. Researcher Connie Wun has found that the focus on discipline policies, while necessary, excludes a critical analysis, one that centres the social order that positions Black girls as receptacles for racist and misogynistic projections. The dominant discourses on school discipline disparities obscure a structural condition that characteristically places Black girls within a social order where their lives are illegible and inconsequential, rendering them perpetually susceptible to discipline and punishment. Black girls are much more vulnerable as they are often excluded from conversations of racism or sexism, which creates intersectional invisibility that marginalises them. Instead of being protected by her teachers and school, teachers and police met child Q with excessive punitive disciplinary action because she is a Black girl. While punitive discipline policies are imagined to punish students for violent behaviours or normalisation purposes, they instead are weaponised to further villanise Black girls who experience adultification both in education and their communities. 

In 2017, Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality conducted a study that applied statistical analysis to a national survey of adults’ attitudes toward Black girls. It found that adults believe Black girls ages 5-19 need less nurturing, protection, support, and comfort than white girls of the same age and that Black girls are more independent, know more about adult topics, and know more about sex than white girls. In a follow-up report released in 2019, some of the findings of the focus groups of Black women and girls ages 12 to 60 included:

  • Black girls routinely experience adultification bias.
  • Adultification is linked to harsher treatment and higher standards for Black girls in school.
  • Negative stereotypes of Black women as angry, aggressive, and hypersexualised are projected onto Black girls.
  • Adults attempt to change Black girls’ behaviour to be more passive.
  • Adultification bias can lead educators and other authorities to treat Black girls in developmentally inappropriate ways.
  • Factors contributing to adultification bias include anti-Black racism, sexism (specifically misogynoir), and poverty.
  • Adults have less empathy for Black girls than their white peers.

‘[T]o society, we’re not innocent. And white girls are always innocent,’ said a participant in one of the focus groups (ages 17-23).

The indignities against Child Q represent an education system entrenched in anti-Blackness and punitive behaviour policies and measures. It is why abolition in education is so important. We must move away from legitimising and upholding the carceral state and its lust for punitive ‘justice’ to a system entrenched in transformative justice practices that deal with harm through accountability and community healing. We must allow children to be children and have the joy and carefree happiness of being children. Society, education, and teachers must stop replicating systems of violence and harm through racist ideologies, practices, beliefs, and policies. Serious unlearning of harmful biases and conflict resolution needs to happen at all structural levels. We can only resolve institutional failings through institutional rebuilding. Our current models of education and ‘status quo’ school policies that fail to see the far-reaching effects of the harm they cause to Black students, especially Black girls, need to be dismantled entirely and abolished and replaced with a new and innovative system that make education what it is meant to be, a place to learn and grow knowing you are supported through both your mistakes and your successes. We demand to end this system. There should be no police in schools, and strip searches must end.

We are calling for:

  1. Black freedom, justice, and abolition in the education system. 
  2. Education spaces that cultivate Black Girl Magic and Black Girl Joy. 
  3. Educators ask themselves, ‘Do I need to respond in a way that relies on the state or social services?
  4. Radical transformative justice to be practised in all UK schools.
  5. Afro hair discrimination and bias to be stamped out.
  6. Mandatory training of teachers on adultification bias and misogynoir Black girls face.
  7. Schools to be sites that cultivate, place at the centre, and recognise our cultural artefacts as Black girls and use it to build us up and empower us against the harsh white backdrop of white supremacy and misogynoir.

We echo the words of Black Crit Thinkers and believe that UK schools must become sites that act ‘as forging refuge from the gaze of white supremacy—where Black children dream weightless, unracialised, and human. Where language flows freely and existence is nurtured and resistance is breath. Where the Black educational imagination dances wildly into the night—quenching the thirst of yearning and giving birth to becoming.’

We want to end this by addressing our Little Sister Q, who we hold in our arms and heart at this time. Healing will come. Your community of Black sisters stand with you and are thinking about you. There is resistance in healing recovery, and there is resistance in you taking the time to give yourself that deep love and care as you navigate your feelings and emotions since that day. When you weep, we weep; when you laugh, we laugh. This journey is your journey. Only you can dictate and shape it. But rest assured that you are truly cherished and loved forever and always. You are all our Little Sisters; our sweet Black girls deserve childhoods filled with joy, laughter, and magic.

RESOURCES

Black Girl Realities & Experiences

Black Girl Freedom: Strategies of Resistance http://www.blackfeministpedagogies.com/ii-black-girl-freedom-strategies-of-resistance.html

Black Girls and School Discipline: The Complexities of Being Overrepresented and Understudied
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0042085916646610

Demands for “Sisterly” Love: Exploring the Hyperpenalization of Black Girls in the School District of Philadelphia https://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1305&context=curej 

Power and Vulnerability: Black Girl’s Magic in Black Women’s Science Fiction https://publish.lib.umd.edu/?journal=scifi&page=article&op=view&path%5B%5D=382

Unaccounted Foundations: Black Girls, Anti-Black Racism, and Punishment in Schools http://www.usprisonculture.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Black-Girls-Anti-Black-Racism-and-Punishment-in-Schools.Wun_.pdf

Adultifcation & Misogynoir

Adultification Bias
https://genderjusticeandopportunity.georgetown.edu/adultification-bias/ 

Moya Bailey, “Misogynoir Transformed: Black Women’s Digital Resistance” https://www.brown.edu/academics/race-ethnicity/events/moya-bailey-%E2%80%9Cmisogynoir-transformed-black-women%E2%80%99s-digital-resistance%E2%80%9D 

Research Confirms that Black Girls Feel the Sting of Adultification Bias Identified in Earlier Georgetown Law Study https://www.law.georgetown.edu/news/research-confirms-that-black-girls-feel-the-sting-of-adultification-bias-identified-in-earlier-georgetown-law-study/ 

Spirit Murdering

Anti-Black State Violence, Classroom Edition: The Spirit Murdering of Black Children https://bettinalove.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Anti-Black-state-violence-classroom-edition-The-spirit-murdering-of-Black-children.pdf

From Spirit-Murdering to Spirit-Healing: Addressing Anti-Black Aggressions and the Inhumane Discipline of Black Children 

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15210960.2018.1447064

Spirit Murdering vs. Life-Giving Education Among Black Youth https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/culture-community-and-conscience/202110/spirit-murdering-vs-life-giving-education-among-black 

Policing and Strip Searches

#EndStripSearch

https://www.endstripsearch.co.uk/

Copaganda: A Powerful and Dangerous Police PR Tool [24 July 2020] https://www.4frontproject.org/post/copaganda-a-powerful-and-dangerous-police-pr-tool 

Met Police’s Use of Traumatic and Degrading Strip-Searches Is On the Rise [17 February 2022] https://www.thecanary.co/uk/analysis/2022/02/17/met-polices-use-of-traumatic-and-degrading-strip-searches-is-on-the-rise/ 

Strip Search Freedom of Information Request Summary Tweets by Tom Kemp (@tomgk90) https://twitter.com/tomgk90/status/1493566075216273413?s=21 https://twitter.com/tomgk90/status/1504057278781132800?s=21 

Racial Profiling and Human Rights

General Recommendation No. 34 Adopted By the Committee: Racial Discrimination Against People of African Descent [03 October 2011]

https://www.refworld.org/docid/4ef19d592.html
Preventing and Countering Racial Profiling of People of African Descent https://www.un.org/sites/un2.un.org/files/preventracialprofiling-en.pdf

Child Q: Statement from BLAM UK

Last week, it became publicly known that a 15-year-old Black girl, known as ‘Child Q’, was the victim of state-sanctioned sexual assault and racist gendered policing, which were a violation of her human rights. We as a collective are enraged, traumatised, and deeply dispirited to learn that this had happened to Child Q. As an organisation that works with schools to abolish current systems and introduce transformative justice and BlackCrit practices and thinking, we have seen first-hand what happens when radical and transformative practices do not exist in a school. This is seen in the egregious failures that led to Child Q’s unlawful strip search.

In the 36 page report by the City & Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership (CHSCP), we read how she was adultified, subjected to misogynoir, racially profiled, and criminalised by her teachers, school, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), and the State. 

Racial Profiling & Policing in Schools

Racial profiling is a form of violence because it infringes on Black people’s ability to move freely and without fear in public spaces. Racial profiling is also a direct violation of the enjoyment of many human rights. Within the realm of racial profiling is the tactic of using the ‘smell of weed’ to control and criminalise the Black existence in public space. Such acts are profoundly and inherently anti-Black. They are used as justification for the criminalisation, scrutiny, surveillance, frequent interruption, racialised police intervention, and violations of Black people’s human rights. These are systemic issues that we can bring to a swift end with the complete abolishing of the police. Until that day comes, we are demanding that there be no police in schools.  

Police presence in schools triggers and causes race-based anxiety for young Black students. Additionally, the introduction of police as ‘officer friendly’ in schools (especially in primary school) serves as a broader effort known as ‘copaganda’. This powerful and dangerous PR tool endeavours to frame and show the police and policing as an institution that ‘serves and protects’ the public. 

The myth of Black criminality has enabled the police to have unfettered authority over Black communities and people for decades. This means that the police have been given access that is quasi-legal to illegal powers to conduct unlawful searches upon Black people. In London alone, 9,088 children were subjected to strip searches whilst in custody between 2016 to 2021. Of those children, a disproportionate amount of Black children were subject to strip searches. This is why we call for a complete end to strip searches; they leave deep scars of humiliation and degradation on Black children and adults who have been subjected to them. 

We see how Black children, especially Black girls, are treated in the British education system through our work and caseload here at BLAM UK. This has a real and lasting mental health impact on Black girls as it perpetuates ongoing racial trauma and affects their racial esteem during incredibly formative years in their lives. In our casework, a young 

Black girl was accused of smelling like vape smoke and was made to show her bra to four different teachers, one being male, and kept in a room without food, water, or the ability to call a parent before she was excluded. We successfully challenged the exclusion, although she had to move schools.

Misogynoir, Adultification, Spirit Murdering, and Hair Discrimination

School is a hyper-violent space for Black students and, in particular, for Black girls. Black girls continue to be adultified, criminalised, and spirit-murdered by educators who enact racially discriminatory school disciplinary policies. Child Q represents the real human impact of anti-Black education policies, practices and standards, which destroy the experience of Black children in educational institutions.

Scholars such as Hines and Wilmot, and Love highlight how the white Euro-Western education system commits acts of spirit-murdering of young Black children every day. Instead of creating affirming, nurturing, motivating, engaging, and equitable learning environments for Black students, schools, participate in actively destroying the racial esteem and spirit of Black children. 

Actions like strip-searching a young Black girl for ‘smelling like weed’ are spirit-murdering, as we know that Child Q went from an outgoing and bubbly teenager to a withdrawn and timid young girl. That is how deeply and quickly spirit-murdering can occur in a space where children are meant to learn and grow with safety and care. 

Due to the intersecting systems of oppression, we must look into and call out the misogynoir and specific racist gendered violence Black girls face. Black girls are much more vulnerable as they are often excluded from conversations of racism or sexism, which creates intersectional invisibility that marginalises them. Instead of being protected by her teachers and school, teachers and the police met child Q with excessive punitive disciplinary action because she is a Black girl

The indignities against Child Q represent an education system entrenched in anti-Blackness and punitive behaviour policies and measures. It is why abolition in education is so important. We must move away from legitimising and upholding the carceral state and its lust for punitive ‘justice’ to a system entrenched in transformative justice practices that deal with harm through accountability and community healing. We must allow children to be children and have the joy and carefree happiness of being children. Society, education, and teachers must stop replicating systems of violence and harm through racist ideologies, practices, beliefs, and policies. Serious unlearning of harmful biases and conflict resolution needs to happen at all structural levels. We can only resolve institutional failings through institutional rebuilding. Our current models of education and ‘status quo’ school policies that fail to see the far-reaching effects of the harm they cause to Black students, especially Black girls, need to be dismantled entirely and abolished and replaced with a new and innovative system that make education what it is meant to be, a place to learn and grow knowing you are supported through both your mistakes and your successes. We demand to end this system. There should be no police in schools, and strip searches must end.

We want to end this by addressing our Little Sister Q, who we hold in our arms and heart at this time. Healing will come. Your community of Black sisters stand with you and are thinking about you. There is resistance in healing recovery, and there is resistance in you taking the time to give yourself that deep love and care as you navigate your feelings and emotions since that day. When you weep, we weep; when you laugh, we laugh. This journey is your journey. Only you can dictate and shape it. But rest assured that you are truly cherished and loved forever and always. You are all our Little Sisters; our sweet Black girls deserve childhoods filled with joy, laughter, and magic.

A longer version of our statement is available here and includes resources.