As we will all be aware of by now, in the past few months there has been a great deal of media attention on the Black Lives Matter movement with the murder of George Floyd working as a catalyst. George Floyd’s murder hit the world differently because not only was it during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic – a pandemic that has disproportionately affected people of colour adding another block precariously to the Jenga tower of issues that effect the lives of black people daily – but it was also seen by the world.
Immediately following the murder of George Floyd, I began to hear polarising opinions regarding police brutality with a surprising number of people thinking it was strictly an American issue, something that I know to be factually incorrect. I began to see people opposing and trying to silence statements of ‘Black Lives Matter’ by countering ‘All Lives Matter’ at which point it became clear there was something missing in their fundamental understanding of why black people feel they need to say their lives matter.
I am a black woman of mixed heritage, born in the UK to West Indian immigrant parents of the Windrush generation. I have been through the British education system and was never taught anything that reflected my history or felt relevant to me. However, I was fortunate enough to have parents and grandparents that educated me on my history and emphasised the importance of educating oneself. I have worked with young people for over a decade both in the UK and in the US and I currently work in a secondary school in East London. While working in the US and spending a lot of time over there with friends and family, it became apparent certain education was lacking on their side also. For example, I’ve had people in the States refer to me as African American. I’m not. I realised they were using the term to refer to anyone black. I’ve had black people in America tell me they didn’t know they had black people in England and another admit they didn’t know that (some of the) black people in England were also descendants of slaves.
The more I thought about the issues surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and wider issues of race, and how people react to those issues, I kept coming back to education. Ignorance is a major issue. Not necessarily wilful ignorance, but ignorance in the fact that there are big chunks of knowledge missing from curriculum. If people think what they learn in school is the sum total of history then they’re likely to remain ignorant to facts that continue to effect the lives of black people to this day, thus not truly understanding why black people feel they have to remind people their lives matter too. Posting a black square on social media is great but what does it change? It’s a pointless act if there is no follow through. So I started writing a PowerPoint presentation to explain to my students why the BLM protests were happening, but as I tried to explain I found I couldn’t fully explain if there were gaps in their historic knowledge of black people. You can’t fully comprehend BLM as a movement if you don’t know what colonialism is, what slavery really entailed, what the civil rights movement was fighting for, what white supremacy is etc. These are things that need to be understood to truly understand the domino effect that has led to black people having to say their lives matter.
Anyone who knows me knows my stance on these matters is generally “it’s not my job to educate grown people on my history. It’s not my job to educate grown people on the history of black people. Let them crack a book and do the work.” Then I thought that’s part of the problem. I complain about people being ignorant of certain information but refuse to be willing to teach. I have no issue teaching kids but for some reason when it comes to adults I’m a bit like “Why should I?” So what started as a short PowerPoint presentation grew and after several people expressed interest in using the presentation within their school or organisation, I decided to split it into sections and share it as a free learning resource for all.
Is it an exhaustive account of these topics? No. Not even close. It’s intended as a jumping off point, providing a foundation which can be built on with further independent reading and research, or to encourage discussion and debate. It’s not intended as a standalone resource on ‘Black History’ because contrary to popular belief the history of the African diaspora isn’t just slavery, civil rights and struggles. I just wanted to do something practical regarding an issue that can sometimes make us feel helpless.
Find the free learning resource ‘Out of Many, One People’ here
Recently a list was put into circulation by @predatorsonblast pushing for individuals in the dance industry to be investigated, confronted and held to account for predatory behaviour. A member of Rain Crew was named on that list.
It is important for us to take allegations such as this seriously and address them. As leaders in the dance community we must be transparent in these matters and, where appropriate, hold ourselves accountable, especially if we are expecting others to do the same. We will not tolerate any form of harssment or misconduct. We will deal with each situation in co-operation with the survivor and/or police if necessary.
It will always be challenging to act without details or context, but it is important to listen and proactively support survivors because the impact of shutting-down or disregarding people’s grievances could be that legitimate claims are ignored.
If there are concerns about one of our members we will:
Initiate independent and internal investigation to find as much information as possible, while respecting privacy, to establish what harm has been done and what redress is necessary regardless of whether it falls below a legal standard.
Seek independent mediation as required and will make every effort to support the cost of therapy or any other steps for those who are harmed
Support prosecution of our members if they are found guilty of a criminal offense
We are also in the process of developing a code of conduct, policy and guidance for handling complaints involving harassment and sexual misconduct.
These situations can sometimes polarise but it’s important as a community we don’t change course because it’s hard. It was always going to be hard and we must be even more resolute in stamping this out and growing through this.
We welcome any information or evidence on this matter and any others. We will always listen
This month Rain Crew held brainstorming sessions with leaders in the dance industry to discuss racial injustice focussed on finding solutions to create a more inclusive dance scene and wider arts sector. Belowa summary of those conversations
Rain crew is now offering a series of weekly interactive online classes.
We will be offering the following classes:
– Hiphop with Kofi every tuesday 5pm – All Level Popping with Taiwo every wednesday at 8pm – All Level Breaking with Hakim every thursday 6.30pm – Intermediate Breaking with Cri6 every thursday 8pm – House with Hakim every friday 7pm – Intermediate Popping with Paris every saturday 6pm
HOW WILL IT WORK?? We offer a mixed package of a live online class via Zoom and excercises and tasks to work on throughout the week. Zoom is FREE of charge and can be used on any device. Our live classes will have both a teacher and a moderater who will give indivudual feedback and answer any questions you may have during the live class. Digital Rain will cost £5 per class. After sign up which can be done below, you will receive a full information pack and we will assist you all the way.
SIGN UP Please send an email with your name and which class you’d like to take to email@example.com