Author: Becky Little
History is being written every day. Despite attempts to bring in legislation such as the PCSC Bill which is being designed to introduce new police powers to subdue activism in the 21st century there are more movements to amplify the voices of marginalised communities than ever before. We have undoubtedly come a long way but there is still a long way to go. Organisations and movements continually crop up across society and are often international efforts. To write about every movement will undoubtedly take years, so in an effort to condense some choice cuts of UK specific efforts, it seemed best to separate them into economic, environmental and social focuses. Here are four activist organisations we encourage you to discover more about this #BlackHistoryMonth.
BLACK POUND DAY
According to the ‘Colour of Money’ 2020 report by Runnymede Trust, the leading think tank in the UK for racial equality, for every £1 of White British wealth, Black Caribbean households have 20p, and Black African households have 10p. This striking wealth disparity which exists in the UK almost seems archaic considering the supposed mechanisms in place to ensure fair employment. However, according to Black business owner Zuleika Philips, wealth inequalities prevail and subsequently result in the Black community lacking ‘financial maturity’ and are reluctant to pursue business ventures.
In comes Black Pound Day, an economic incentive for people to ‘give back’ to Black business owners. Black Pound Day was established in the late 2000s, but particularly gained traction following the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020. Swiss, a former member of the garage collective So Solid Crew is the brains behind the initiative. Although there isn’t an exact figure, the inaugural Black Pound Day of June 2020 managed to raise £63,000 in receipts – all of which went to businesses owned by Black people. Several businesses also shared that the June Black Pound Day was their best day for sales in the whole year, and subsequent Black Pound Days are incredibly helpful to their business in terms of funding and growth. This is an incredibly powerful message to send to anyone who doubts the power of social media and its usefulness in promoting businesses.
On the first Saturday of every month, consumers are encouraged to ‘put their money where their mouth is’ and support local or national Black-owned businesses, and the Black Pound Day website features an extensive catalogue of businesses up and down the country where consumers can replace a purchase from a large corporation with an independent business. The website also features links to restaurants, travel agents and property specialists. Angelina Cummings, another Black business owner, strongly believes that the only way Black businesses will continue to crop up in the UK is if people buy from businesses that exist already. She goes on to add “when you make money you invest it back into your own community”, indicating that Black communities prosper in the long term as a result of Black Pound Day.
LAND IN OUR NAMES
Land In Our Names is a grassroots Black-led collective committed to reparations within the UK, connecting land and climate justice with racial justice. According to Natural England, Black and Brown communities are 60% less likely to be able to access green space and natural environments than white people in the UK.
Land in the UK has historically deep ties with class and elitism, which are also intrinsically linked with race. Considering the vast majority of the landed gentry of the UK were white aristocrats and many sites of natural beauty and heritage are often built on colonial wealth, this leaves little room for Black and Brown communities to have a connection with the land they live on.
Land In Our Names aims to work with racialised communities to create opportunities to heal on the land and change the narrative around land in the UK. The group highlights the importance of supporting landworkers, growers and other such land-based people of colour and their mission for reparative justice is something many other environmental organisations in the UK can learn from. They have a working definition of what reparations mean to them:
“Reparative justice is holistic. In addition to financial reparations to secure economic resilience, reparations must address ecological, mental and physical repair as essential parts of a wider whole. Reparations is about redistributing resources to Black and People of Colour, but it is also about creating the space for BPOC to heal and repair.”
Organisations like Land In Our Names are incredibly important to have in the UK. A lot of environmental justice work is currently dominated by discourse from the United States; an entirely different ecosystem to the UK, and arguably one which is more environmentally hostile to marginalised communities through state interventions such as regional planning. The UK has a different environmental and political landscape, and while still incredibly ostracising to Black and Brown people, there is potential for a lot more opportunities for non-white people to access land and heal from generational trauma.
UK BLACK PRIDE
Recognising the intersection of race and sexuality, UK Black Pride raise awareness around the experiences of UK’s Black LGBTQI+ community and advocate and make contributions to the general community from Black LGBTQI+ perspectives. From humble beginnings it is now Europe’s largest celebration for LGBTQI+ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Latin American and Middle Eastern-descent. Stonewall partnered with UK Black Pride following their recognition that UK Pride was evidencing a lack of diversity. UK Black Pride centres around its incredible annual celebration but has grown beyond this to advocate and produce events that connect this often overlooked community. Event co-founder Phyllis Akua Opoku-Gyimah, also known as Lady Phyll set up UK Black Pride as she recognised that issues do not exist in isolation. Black and Brown LGBTQI+ people deal with homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and intersexphobia, as well as the structural systemic racism that exists in society.
In a 2019 interview with British Vogue Lady Phyll said;
I hope for the future that we see real, meaningful change for black and brown people in this country and abroad. That the rights that are afforded to some are afforded to all. That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing. Pride is not just a celebration, it’s about change that needs to happen so that we are not constantly living in a state of being marginalised.
BLM IN THE STIX
Countless social movements have arisen to support Black and Brown communities since the tragic death of George Floyd reinforced the Black Lives Matter movement back in 2020. Every one of them are doing incredible work, and to highlight just one seems unfair! However, we wanted to showcase the work of a similar organisation to us which has similar aims in stamping out racism in rural areas.
BLM In The Stix is a movement rooted in communities who want to stamp out racism in rural areas of the UK. The group offers people the opportunity to stand against racism in their towns and villages, with members spanning from the Scottish Highlands down to the rural communities of Essex and Devon.
BLM In The Stix are particularly worthy of mention because not only do we have close ties with them here at Anti Racist Cumbria, but they also created a toolkit for other such rural organisations to organise, educate and challenge racism in their own areas. Co-founder Gurpreet Sidhu told The Guardian “this toolkit is about getting people who are not racist to become anti-racist, especially for people who live in rural areas who might be thinking we don’t have that much racism around here.”
On their Linktree, BLM In The Stix have multiple handy links for budding rural activists to follow in order to spread their own anti-racist message. These include how to write a press release, printable anti-racist guides for white people and informative videos.
Resources from all of the above groups can be found by following these links: