Black Lives Matter

There is hope…

“but it’s not a passive hope, it has to be an active hope”.

Gary Younge, Black Live Matters and a Question of Violence

Across the world, anti-racist anger and energy has been unleashed by the killing of George Floyd on 25 May 2020 while in police custody in Minneapolis, USA. We grieve the death of George Floyd.  We grieve the death of yet another person of colour in police custody and we wholeheartedly condemn this as unacceptable.  We stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

We know racism is not a new problem, rather it is centuries-old; nor is it unique to the USA, rather it shows up globally; nor is it confined to the personal level of consciously, proudly racist individuals, rather it is a structural problem of which we’re all a part. Nor is it confined to racism: all forms of discrimination and oppression are abuses of human rights, and all should be perpetually named and challenged. However, we believe it is right in this moment to focus primarily on the specifics of racism and its companion, white privilege.

Racism coexists with poverty and inequality. Covid-19 has shone a torch on what we have long known, that BAME people are disproportionately affected in our society on many levels, in their life opportunities  and in death – and this cannot be separated from co-existing poverty and exclusion.

We also acknowledge and bear witness to the historical, collective and individual trauma arising from the impact of racism which further intertwines and compounds the effects of deprivation and discrimination – and all underpinned by a capitalist system which innately fosters inequality.

Zebra Collective is and always has been committed to upholding and actively promoting the values of equality and inclusion – indeed, this is our work and function.  It is also a journey and process, rather than an end in itself.  We recognise that the journey requires hope and openness in order to examine our own values and to challenge others.

As a solution-focused organisation, we believe that the power to change requires us, individually and collectively to build a rich picture of this hoped-for world.  Recognising the steps that we and others have already made, we will identify examples of the strengths we can draw upon, including the people who share these values and the resources and opportunities that will facilitate change. 

Now is a time to consider how we have all contributed to the current challenges, and how we are all affected by them. So, as we consider what we can do as part of the effort to construct something better, let’s heed the words of indigenous Australian artist and activist Lilla Watson,

“If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

We were at the inspiring demonstration in Plymouth on Sunday (7th June, 2020), one of the city’s biggest in living memory. There were thousands of placards and banners, many of them original and brilliant. One stated, “This is a movement, not a moment”. We hope so, and Zebra commits to doing all within its power to contribute to the efforts to ensure that this does indeed become a standing movement. How do we sustain the righteous anger and constructive energy, much of it amongst young people, displayed in recent days here in Plymouth, in many other towns and cities across UK and across the world?

Our commitment is to be the change that we want to see and for everything we do, to ask the questions: how is this promoting equality? how is this challenging the dominant racist hegemony? and how will it make a positive difference? 

Therefore, our struggle is aligned with all struggles, if they are struggles towards liberation.

The Zebra Collective, 10th June 2020