End of Year Reflections

2020. Here in Plymouth, this was a year we’d been talking about for years, due to the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s voyage to north America. The city understandably saw the potential in creating a jamboree, while a minority of its citizens have been keen to voice reminders that there are some hefty questions to address: Invasion? Occupation? Racism? Slavery? Genocide?

Zebra has been amongst those attempting to ask these questions, to create conversations about them, and to promote the seldom-heard voices of those on the other side of history.

But now it’s to be Mayflower 2021, as the Covid pandemic cancelled most of the 2020 plans. So, the fight to challenge the single story enters another year.

And, related to that challenge, is the ongoing Black Lives Matter  campaign, another big theme of 2020 which will remain big in 2021. What impact will the change in the US presidency from January have on that major cultural issue? And how will Britain’s departure from Europe impact on race relations here?

With the government’s performance during Black History Month, and its recent scrapping – with little analysis – of unconscious bias training, we don’t expect much to celebrate from government. We predict another tumultuous year, and Zebra intends to be increasingly engaged in the discussions, debates and actions. We’ve been exploring our thinking and practice re: the thorny topic of how best to challenge discrimination, and anticipate some strong developments in 2021.

For Zebra, the pandemic has meant that all our work has moved online for now. An enforced change which we’ve now embraced: indeed, we now see some clear benefits, possibilities and opportunities in online working to which we were blind. There’s a lesson there: how we humans are habit-forming, and how – though we have to be – we then tend to generate post hoc justifications for those habits which can blind us to the benefits of breaking them and adopting new ways.

2020 has seen Zebra reflect further on our position and practice re: “mental health” and trauma-informed approaches. Already committed to taking a non-diagnostic, socio-political perspective on “mental health” (thus the speech marks), we’re increasingly clear re: the inherent connection between this and any trauma-informed perspective.

Weave a solution-focused mindset and practice into this mix, and you have something really interesting, redolent with possibilities. We’ll be working up these ideas further in 2021.

We’ll see you there.