Begin The World Over Again

Episode 6: Addressing the British Empire - A Conversation About Institutional Racism.

December 07, 2020 Walk The Plank & the Working Class Movement Library Season 1 Episode 6
Begin The World Over Again
Episode 6: Addressing the British Empire - A Conversation About Institutional Racism.
Chapters
Begin The World Over Again
Episode 6: Addressing the British Empire - A Conversation About Institutional Racism.
Dec 07, 2020 Season 1 Episode 6
Walk The Plank & the Working Class Movement Library

Created by artist Lae Carbon-Wilson and Jemma Bromley.

2020 has been an important year for the Black Lives Matter movement and the voices speaking out against racism are louder than ever.  

In this episode, artist Lae Carbon-Wilson and Jemma Bromley explore the relevance of black activists from Manchester’s history, such as Len Johnson, examining what the facts and actions of the past might tell us about institutional racism in modern-day Britain.

Introduced by Reece Williams.
Additional production by Siân Roberts.

Find out more about the Begin The World Over Again project

Show Notes Transcript

Created by artist Lae Carbon-Wilson and Jemma Bromley.

2020 has been an important year for the Black Lives Matter movement and the voices speaking out against racism are louder than ever.  

In this episode, artist Lae Carbon-Wilson and Jemma Bromley explore the relevance of black activists from Manchester’s history, such as Len Johnson, examining what the facts and actions of the past might tell us about institutional racism in modern-day Britain.

Introduced by Reece Williams.
Additional production by Siân Roberts.

Find out more about the Begin The World Over Again project

Episode 6: Addressing the British Empire – a conversation about institutional racism.

Reece Williams - Welcome to Begin the World Over Again, a podcast about radical thinking for radical times from Walk the Plank and the Working Class Movement Library. Each episode is created by a different duo comprising an artist commissioned by Walk the Plank and a member of the library’s writing group. 

They will present the stories, explorations, and voices that they have researched from its collection and consider what we might learn today from these change makers of history. 

Episode 6. 2020 has been an important year for the Black Lives Matter movement and thvoices speaking out against racism are louder than ever. In this episode artists Lae Carbon Wilson and Jemma Bromley explore the relevance of black activists from Manchester’s history, examining what the facts and actions of the past might tell us about institutional racism in modern day Britain.

Person A – It’s quite common that in the UK people say oh, it’s an American issue not a British issue, and that’s wrong. 

*music*

British news reporter – They came to demand change. 

American news reporter – A call to defund the police, widely discussed in the US, has also become a rallying cry for the British Black Lives Matter movement. 

British news reporter – Despite a deadly virus. 

British news reporter – Tens of thousands of people have joined anti-racism demonstrations across the UK. 

British news reporter – Protestors were peaceful but angry about…

Boris Johnson – About the death of George Floyd, took place thousands of miles away in another country. 

American news reporter - Another call from protestors in the US is being echoed across the Atlantic. 

Boris Johnson – I truly believe that we are a much much less racist society. 

British news reporter – In Manchester around 15,000 protestors gathered around Piccadilly Gardens. 

Group chanting – Black lives matter, black lives matter, black lives matter.

Boris Johnson – I say yes, you’re right, we’re all right to say black lives matter.

Priti Patel – I’d say to those who want to protest, please don’t. Erm the regulations are very clear. 

Boris Johnson – But I must also say that we are in a time of national trial.

Priti Patel – We must put public health first.

Boris Johnson – I will not support those who flout the rules. 

Australian news reporter – Not because you shouldn’t express your views, find another way to express your views. 

Boris Johnson – So no, no, no I will not support or indulge those who break the law, desecrate public monuments, we have a democracy in this country.

Person C – They’re racist and then you tell them that they’re racist and they tell you you’re not and that, that is gaslighting. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse, it’s the act of manipulating a person by forcing them to question their thoughts, memories and the events occurring around them, a victim of gaslighting can be pushed so far that they question their own sanity.

*singing, shouting*

Person E – Every black life in England, remembers when another person reminded you of when you were black. 

Person F – How dare the chief of police across the country issue a statement saying that, they’re in solidarity with George Floyd, they are disgraceful, they have never been accountable in this country. 

Person G – Our call is to divest from policing. 

Person H – We want to defund the police. 

Person I – As a brown black person living in England it’s like living with an abusive white male narcissistic husband.

Person G – It’s really important that we actually invest in services. 

Person J – I am so proud to be black. 

Person K  - Black lives have always mattered. 

Person G – Investing in community.

Person J – I’m proud of my big lips. 

Person K – We have always been important.

Person J – I’m proud of my nappy hair. 

Person G – Investing in mental health care. 

Person K – We have always mattered. 

Person G – Investing in opportunities in things that are actually proven to increase people’s safety. 

Person K – We have always succeeded regardless and now is the time, I ain’t waiting, I ain’t waiting. 

Person L – One day I’ll get tired and it’s true one day I will retire but right now I am still speaking. 

Person K – We just act peaceful and as organised as possible because you know what guys, they want us to mess up, they want us to be disorganised, but not today, not today, not today. 

Person M – What if Floyd was pink, black is God imagine though. I wake up out of dream and my dream irrational is my anger still in fashion, is my rapping skills still as fashionable. Why I have to kill the black, British, the only gang I’m in, the only flag I drill, is my skin what do I look like bragging when the blood on me is African? Black is, God. Thank you. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – What is black? Before black became only, entity, the lonely quality of one value, what is black? After black was detained, bound in a boundless strain of fear and anger, a strange mirror to the captor, chained to a myth of white supremacy. What is black? When black is half Irish half white, sitting waiting in a book of newspaper clippings, yellowed and worn, stitches coming off the edges, headlines, features, signatures on pictures, assembled by the family members of Len Johnson, born 1902 in Manchester Clayton. Champion boxer turned Communist campaigner, a showman, in every sense of the word, top hat, stick tapping as he dappers down the road, and the ring on the podium in the midst of pandemonium, fight. With a right hook and whipped he ignites a sudden seeing, a whiplash image of a black man winning out of a black man’s place in a city full of grinning, grey, and a country full of screaming, white. 

Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, 1939 – I am speaking to you from the cabinet room of 10 Downing Street, I have to tell you now this country is at war with Germany. 

*bombs fall* 

Lae Carbon Wilson – After the destruction of World War 2, declarations of democracy coloured the country, inspiring 90 delegates and over 200 audience members including Len Johnson to gather in Chorlton upon Medlock town hall for the fifth Pan African Congress. It took place on the 14th to the 22nd of October 1945. Proving to be the most successful meeting of black leaders worldwide, they were determined to see this democracy extended to the liberation of the black diaspora. Why then?

Jemma Bromley – Amongst the trauma and the chaos and the rubble of the second world war, Len and... 

Lae Carbon Wilson – Kwame Nkrumah, WEB Du Bois, George Padmore, Peter Abrahams, Amy Garvey, Jomo Kenyatta, Ras Makonnen, Peter Milliard…

Jemma Bromley – Found the strength and the wisdom to seize the moment, to actually enable the thought patterns to a more positive future. It happened then because everybody’s brains were in a state of shock, trying to work out how to learn some lessons from what had just happened, and strike while the iron’s hot. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – The kind of, immediate big change that it was able to enact, I think we can absolutely seize the day and the effect that George Floyd’s murder has had in people’s consciousness. Today it’s much more about education, the focus is on lifting people’s consciousness to the problem of institutional racism and to the whitewashing of history and to their unconscious bias. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – Who is Len Johnson to you?

Jemma Bromley – In the photos that I’ve seen in the library of Len, he strikes me as being quite a, regardless of his skin colour or anything else he’s just quite a stylish man. I take from the fact that he was a showman and he knew how to present himself according to what situation he was in because he’d had training on how to present himself. 

Lae Carbon Wilson - From his boxing?

Jemma Bromley – From his boxing.

Lae Carbon Wilson – I see. 

Jemma Bromley – Because I would imagine that a boxer has to put on a front to face a performance, an attitude, I’m gonna knock you out, and it’s a very constructed visual image, it’s not just a pair of shorts and boxing gloves, it’s the way he stands, the way he moves, the way he, the facial expressions. Being able to use that skill set, to then put a suit on and talk to a group of people.

Lae Carbon Wilson – As a politician.

Jemma Bromley – As a politician, and an activist. It’s like some things align to make Len Johnson the right person, in the right place, for that to be a power that he, was a platform and a strength that he had. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – That’s so true. 

Jemma Bromley – Yeah.

Lae Carbon Wilson – And I think something about him standing out from the get go, being probably one of the very few black people in his town and profession, he would have had to have been used to of being seen and would have either learnt to... 

Jemma Bromley – Work with it. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – Exactly, or… 

Jemma Bromley – Just put up with it. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – Be spiteful of it and maybe it was both, probably both.

Jemma Bromley – I think they would have had a talent for just putting a little twist on things that gave him a sense of identity. 

Lae Carbon Wilson - What challenges did Len face in early 20th century Manchester? 

Jemma Bromley – When Len was a boxer in the ‘40s and ‘30s he was a rarity and stood out, you’d probably be more surprised now if the middleweight or heavyweight champion of the world was a white guy, it would just seem natural as anything Mike Tyson or Frank Bruno, you wouldn’t give it a second thought about that guy’s black or that guy’s white. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – Absolutely.

Jemma Bromley – And when Len was fighting he was having to deal with the, you know, I’m gonna punch this guy’s lights out, and he’d be down in the third round. These people aren’t going to like the fact that I’ve done that because I’m this colour. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – That’s exactly what happened, people didn’t like it, people didn’t like it so much that they got a colour barring status. So that, Len himself specifically, Len Johnson couldn’t ever win a champion’s title. He was declared the title champion of middleweight boxing in Australia, they recognised him there but, despite him beating the British champion, I can’t remember his name now, he wasn’t allowed because…

Jemma Bromley – How did you describe it, you described it as…

Lae Carbon Wilson – To have a black man physically fight and win against a white man, is a metaphor too on the nose for their imperial anxieties. 

Jemma Bromley – Spot on. Who was the, one of the news clippings in that wonderful scrapbook in the library…

Lae Carbon Wilson – About that 

Jemma Bromley – About that very incident, who was the white guy?, the head of the boxing committee was trying to explain why they weren’t going to let it happen.

Lae Carbon Wilson – It was Lord Lonsdale.   

Jemma Bromley – Lord Lonsdale. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – That was the first, first thing that I read when starting this project. 

Jemma Bromley – Me too, me too, I think that I pointed it towards you.

Lae Carbon Wilson – Yeah you did. 

Jemma Bromley – And you instantly met with the whole situation in that one vintage newspaper clipping. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – Absolutely.

Jemma Bromley – I’m sorry sir, we can’t allow you to compete in this competition because it would open up too many painful wounds for us. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – And he didn’t even, the way that he phrased it was, to say that to say the sport itself, he felt that having this colour bar was saving the boxing world. No it wasn’t, it was saving their pride. And you know how he got that colour bar instated, he went to members of the church and Winston Churchill with backing from the King at the time…

Jemma Bromley – Sorry what?, Lord what’s his name 

Lae Carbon Wilson – Lord Lonsdale.    

Jemma Bromley – Lord Lonsdale, looked in his little black book of contacts.

Lae Carbon Wilson - Yeah, found the church… found Winston Churchill.

Jemma Bromley – Found all the powerful organisations he could, as an excuse to validate his racism. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – Exactly, exactly. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – How does racism manifest itself in Britain?

Jemma Bromley – I was thinking about the thought, about when he did the Congress, they had trouble finding enough accommodation, they found accommodation for everyone, but that was still a time in society, where, guest houses or boarding houses would still have signs in the windows saying no blacks no Irish, that was what the world was like…

Lae Carbon Wilson – Which then was like fine. 

Jemma Bromley – Yeah, can you imagine there being a world where there’d be signs saying we have vacancies but we’re not willing to take a black person or an Irish person. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – And that’s only 75 years ago. It’s not that long ago. 

Jemma Bromley – It’s practically yesterday.

Lae Carbon Wilson – Yeah, completely, your movement would have been so much more restricted I guess in a lot of ways, in a lot of places, the signs might have gone physically.

Jemma Bromley – But the attitude remains. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – And it’s almost a danger…

Jemma Bromley – That’s an analogy for what society is like now actually. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – Yeah it is. 

Jemma Bromley – The signs may have disappeared.

Lae Carbon Wilson – People still think like that.

Jemma Bromley – People still think like that yeah. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – And now a lot of other people don’t, it’s now not acceptable to be as overt with it but they’re still thinking it and that’s exactly how…

Jemma Bromley – But as a positive…

Lae Carbon Wilson – Distinguish between American racism and British racism. Americans are a lot more upfront, they’ve been given the platform to be more upfront. 

Jemma Bromley – Yeah, Americans have always been completely, literally raised on racism without any qualms or we’re not even gonna make it slightly hidden, we’re just gonna say it. 

Person R – The racism in this country is brutal. It is all over, it’s very plain to see and if people cannot see it then they’ve buried their head in the sand. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – So in the week since Jemma and I recorded that conversation, there was a Sainsbury’s ad released. 

Person S – Christmas Sainsburys ad. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – Do you wanna describe what that’s about.

Person S – Basically, personally when I watched it I didn’t notice or register, but it was a family celebrating Christmas. Getting together for Christmas dinner, with dad making some silly jokes about the gravy, but apparently since then, people have been getting themselves in a right twist that it’s a black family. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – I don’t know if any of you listening now have seen but on Twitter there was loads of responses just really really, blatantly racist. From you know, I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.

Person S – Yeah they’re using it as an excuse to come out with some of the classic lines, you can’t do that, what about us. Hold on a minute, when did you last see a Christmas advert when all the people in it were black. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – I think the events me and, Jemma and I were just chatting about how quickly you learn while doing this anti–racist journey, and it’s become clear to us that from a lot of black people they don’t feel like racism in England is under the cover or wrapped up in manipulation and nuances. It is that but a lot of it is also really blatant and overt and in your face, as we can see from the reaction of the Sainsburys ad which I think a lot of black people have found frustrating that people’s responses to it are shock and I can’t believe this is happening, because to them it’s like well have you been listening to anything I’ve been saying, this shouldn’t be shocking. It was confronting even for myself when I first saw the responses because my initial response was, God I can’t, that is shocking, it was shocking, erm, but I think it is about, it is actually quite important to recognise that this is normal because that’s how we will see it as a problem, like this is something that is embedded in people’s belief systems, it’s not one of in cases that.

Jemma Bromley – This is kind of reaching out the truth that racism is still very much alive in society, but maybe we like to kid ourselves that it’s slightly hidden. You scratch the surface and it’s there, boom, in your face. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – How do you remain an individual whilst being part of a minority group?

Jemma Bromley – Ask the question again.

Lae Carbon Wilson – How do you remain an individual whilst being part of a minority group?

Jemma Bromley – Oh while being, being an individual in a minority group is quite, I guess you maybe rely on the support of the individual group even if it’s just knowing it’s out there, there are others like you. Maybe not so many, then I’d say celebrate your individuality in whatever minority group you happen to be a part of, whether that’s a group based on skin colour or sexuality or gender or social background.

Lae Carbon Wilson – Absolutely. It’s something that I think inspired me both about Len Johnson and the congress, the congress in it’s you know, number one first principle being self determination and having the power and the freedom to choose, how one lives and how one presents themselves to the world, you know, the power to be an individual and Len Johnson in his defiance against, you know, I don’t know, in traditional senses being choosing between being a sportsman and being a politician, choosing to fight against the boundaries of what he was told he could be as a black man.

Jemma Bromley – What he was told he could be. He had to do what, he could only do what he was told he could be. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – And he fought against that to break that and say no actually…

Jemma Bromley – No I’m gonna be me. What’s the phrase you use when you describe everybody’s 

Lae Carbon Wilson – Intersectional.

Jemma Bromley – Intersectionality, here we go. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – Intersectionality, this phrase that was coined by Kimberly Crenshaw in the 1980s and she defines it very simply as the idea that we experience life, sometimes discrimination, sometimes benefits based on a number of identities, and I think one of the, one of the dangers today of the movement is the tendency to group all black people together as homogeneous, one entity, where the truth is yes they do share an identity factor which determines a lot about their standing in the world but they’re individual people and with their own thoughts and opinions and their own beliefs. They’re not all going to agree on how best this movement moves forward, they’re not all going to agree because we’re not just determined, our lives just aren’t determined by a singular factor about ourselves. A black person isn’t just black, they’re also gay or they’re transgender or they’re straight or they’re rich or they’re poor or they’re educated or they’re not or they’re into sports or they’re into politics or in the case of Len Johnson, they’re into both sports and politics and what we need to remember, whilst fighting for the liberation of all black people is that, not all black people are the same. The importance of diversifying the voices and the narratives that we listen to is not just based on ticking boxes of we’ve heard a black one we’ve heard a brown one, we’ve heard a gay one because there will be multiple specific and individual stories within those categories and that’s why we have to keep, keep going, keep expanding and keep learning, keep listening because there’s, there’s hundreds of thousands of millions of stories waiting…

Jemma Bromley – Sometimes it takes an individual within a minority group to have the right talent to be the one that stands up and actually starts showing the rest of the group, it’s ok to be us.

Lae Carbon Wilson – Absolutely and Len Johnson did that.

Jemma Bromley – He did do that, he used his, he learnt, he used everything all the skills all the talent all the pounding to his body as a boxer, he’s used that skill and that experience and turned it into the skill to be able to talk to crowds and inspire minds.

Lae Carbon Wilson – So much so that he became a spokesperson for the black community in Manchester but to his detriment in the end, when he was part of the New International Society. I remember one of the documents we found at the Working Class Movement Library was expressing how there’d been this pressure put on Len to speak on behalf of all of his community.

Jemma Bromley – Yes. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – Because he was probably one of the only black people of his political standing if not the only black person at the time in Manchester.

Jemma Bromley – Yes, it’s not just the fact that he’s also very good at speaking in public he’s also one of the few black men at the time in Manchester that was able to do that. It’s not easy to stand up and talk to a crowd of people when you know at least half of them, well probably more than half of them, are gonna think you’re less than they are.

 Jemma Bromley? - Why haven’t we heard about this history before?

Lae Carbon Wilson – It’s that same fear that would have, excuse the pun, coloured the presentation of black people in historical documents.

Jemma Bromley – They wouldn’t have even wanted to acknowledge that they even had a platform.

Lae Carbon Wilson – Exactly.

Jemma Bromley – So they must have had to be very careful and very…

Lae Carbon Wilson – Which is why people like Len and the Congress have been hidden for so long because it wouldn’t have been in their favour to have it out in the open for more people to see, for more people to be galvanised.

Jemma Bromley – Maybe this is an analogy there that there isn’t much black history because some people, it’s not in the best interests of some people for people to have all this stuff.

Lae Carbon Wilson – Exactly, exactly which makes me think why has it taken this long for education around the British empire and slavery, to come out in the open and the history before that and the history after that which is equally as important?

Jemma Bromley – The people that run the system have never really wanted people to know.

Lae Carbon Wilson – They don’t want people to be educated, no.

Jemma Bromley – They don’t want people to be educated, they don’t want to realise what’s really happening because to do so we would need to realise that the system doesn’t work. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – How do we uncover the truth?

Jemma Bromley – We’re at a point in history where so much has come out now, it can’t get put back in and now it’s up to us to just run with it and keep it fresh in the conversation all the time. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – Absolutely, and going and finding resources, like the Working Class Movement Library, that have all these fresh original documents, that it’s, it’s one thing to be able to delve deep and easily find anything on the internet and it’s another to physically hold a piece of history in your hand, and to feel it, and to see it. 

Jemma Bromley – 100%, when you physically walk into an old building, the building has its own history, the building is a very well equipped library and you suddenly find yourself in the old school traditional sense, sitting at a desk in a library reading documents and books and having physical one to one conversations. There’s a vast difference in that compared to what you were talking about, going online and almost getting lost in a sea…

Lae Carbon Wilson – A sea of facts some of which, the issue with the internet now is that, yeah over-designed, false information has always been around, that’s exactly what we’re talking about with the whitewashing of history, it’s a lot harder though to lie when you’ve got a newspaper an original newspaper clipping in front of you because it’s up to you to decipher what that means and to find all the links between the other newspapers and the other documents that you find and seek the truth. 

Jemma Bromley – You are the architect of your discovery.

Lae Carbon Wilson – You are the, yeah, you are the architect.

Jemma Bromley – And you are physically and emotionally experiencing, discovering something rather than being told something. First time I went to the Working Class Movement Library I was slightly overwhelmed because it was a real library, I was having a wonderful chat with Lynette the librarian after I’d spent maybe two or three hours reading documents regarding Len Johnson that I was feeling shivers running down my spine, this is the soul of Len Johnson was actually sat on a chair next to me in the library, I said this to Lynette the librarian and her face just lit up with emotion that the very reason the library exists and the very reason they hold all those documents is the magic little moments that when someone walks in and sits down and makes a connection with somebody like Len Johnson. 

Lae Carbon Wilson – How would you recommend white people become better allies? 

Jemma Bromley – I wouldn’t just recommend, I would almost insist that white people, if they’ve got any brain cells in their head take the brave step forward which is always the hardest step and actually start learning and teaching themselves and educating themselves, you know some of the things they might be worried about, maybe saying things the wrong way or being clumsy or putting their foot in their mouths about something which is understandable, quite intimidating to begin with, don’t worry about it, no one’s going to have a go at you, people are people, when they see you’re reaching out to try and help them fight their fight they’re going to welcome you, they’re going to feel like they’re making progress seeing your white face in amongst their black faces just roll with it. In reality you are going to have a few hurdles that you’re gonna have to jump over but they’re not big ones, you might say something a bit clumsy you might say ask, you might be in a position where you have to ask a question which sounds a bit obvious and dumb but people don’t mind, they’re glad you are asking the question and as soon as you’ve made these first few steps to what’s becoming a what they call a white ally you’ll instantly feel like oh why didn’t I do this ages ago?, probably because I was doing what every other white person does and just buries my head in the sand, not because I wanted to but that’s sort of how you end up acting, you’re sort of conditioned to do that but as soon as you start learning about Black Lives Matter activists and smaller groups such as all Black Lives Matter it’s like a whole section of the community opens up to you in front of you because it’s a really steep learning curve. On your journey you meet the most amazing characters and hear the most amazing stories, you know one of the best bits I’ve found has been listening to people who are actually experiences living a black life actually hearing person and person and having these quite deep emotional conversations and if you feel you’re going to stumble a bit to begin with just be brave, you’ll get through the first awkward bit and then you’ll start to feel proud that you are part of the movement. 

Person T – How do we continue the fight against institutional racism today?

Lae Carbon Wilson – We stop silently. Shout hysterically. Cry ask them why, why is this? We stop. Look back and see a head hole in the sand where we used to stand before, we pause, and start listening, hearing something maybe for the first time, definitely not the last but we starve, and the standing that black lives live in a different rhythm of closed doors and malevolent algorithms and though they bang with fists of power, anger and grief, they are never welcome. On the other side some peek through the peep hole hoping for a show of the poor black people, others will send letters back and claim they couldn’t hear or, there isn’t space, well that’s not the case is it?, you just don’t care. And to those of you who do which I imagine is everyone here, number one, education is not a secret, we need to challenge ourselves, being here is a start, read a book find a lecture go on YouTube on Google on Netflix, the thirteenth documentary I highly recommend. But don’t immediately ask a black person to explain, they are definitely tired and it’s not their job it’s already their life, we need to update the curriculum because right now it’s not compulsory to learn about colonialism and slavery but in Germany everyone is taught about the Holocaust. We need more black teachers, more black people in positions of power more generally, and black history beyond slavery because it does exist and it’s a false narrative to only show black people as powerless, we need to empower them. By providing opportunities and making sure their experience goes beyond a box ticked, you’ve done the previous step but educating yourself enough to offer authentic, and if you’ve done that you’ll see that the door opened to one room is not freedom it’s separation, give them access to the whole fucking palace, because until black people get to positions of power they won’t be able to speak for themselves and the decisions where it really matters. We need to make space for young black children to engage in art and sport and politics and to think for themselves. To question, to confront, to disrupt the historic stereotypical black story that they squeezed into, give them the tools to change the system that cages them whilst acknowledging that they will simultaneously have to navigate it. We need to support leaders of the black community local and global by following their social media, signing petitions, attending protests, listening to their experiences, hearing and sharing the facts they present, actively researching for ourselves, so we feel assured and empowered whatever our skin tone to actually engage in organised conversation and to practise for difficult spontaneous ones. We need to share the resources we have, specifically economic ones because at the end of the day Capitalism is an economic system and the people who made it will continue to profit off of it till we get someone in the room to say enough is enough. So remember all these things when deciding who to vote for in the next election, put pressure on MPs to meet the standards that we demand, that we have cultivated through our education, which will have shown us that many of these things happen.  We need to defund the police, we need to stop seeing crime as nuisance to the public wellbeing and see it as a sign of unhealthy, unhappy people, policing does not reduce crime it assumes more crime will happen and prepares for the outcome instead of preventing the action, prevention can only be done by providing better environments and genuine alternatives and throughout all of this we need to believe that change is possible, the Congress in 1945 was only successful because of the impossible fact that it happened, that despite suppression from the media, despite segregation laws and boarding houses despite economic disparity and all the other facts of systemic racism over 300 people from around the world gathered to problem solve and in that gathering, they saw power and the possibility for change. As Jemma said to me once they had to see it to believe it. I hope you will see the importance therefore and this final statement from Deej Malik-Johnson.

Johnson - We’ve seen a lot of talk recently about statues and the collective memory, obviously it’s been talked about the statue of Edward Colston being removed by the Black Lives Matter protesters. After a sustained campaign for years, Oriel College Oxford have, have agreed to get rid of the Cecil Rhodes statue and that’s why I launched the campaign to get Len a statue built because we have no monument, public monuments to black people in our city, and you know who would be a great start, I think Len Johnson would be a great one to be there. I think that’s what I’ve got to say. I would say on the yard we’ve an article on the Tribune mag, all about Len and on there there’s a link to a change.org petition and I’d really urge everyone to sign it, it only takes a couple of minutes, let’s make some history eh? 

Begin The World Over Again is commissioned by the Working Class Movement Library. It was created with Walk the Plank and supported by Arts Council England, the Duchy of Lancaster and the University of Salford. Further information on this episode can be found in the show notes. 

If you enjoyed today’s episode, please subscribe to hear the full series.