It’s important to remember that Black History shouldn’t just be celebrated for one month a year. In our eyes, it should be celebrated, promoted, taught and discussed through every possible avenue, and all the time. Collectively, we need to learn to continually amplify Black voices and support Black people and their art, music, creativity, businesses, charities and projects.
This week, we’re focusing on Reni Eddo-Lodge, a journalist, author, and activist, Alicia Garza, who’s a founding member of the Black Lives Matter movement; Rachel Cargle, who is empowering and liberating Black women everywhere; and Niki Franco creating a ‘feminist awakening’ in Miami. Plus, we have a song provided by Brighton’s very own Mrisi.
Reni Eddo-Lodge (@renieddolodge)
Reni is a British journalist, author and activist who primarily focuses on structural racism and feminism. As a freelance journalist, her writing has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Independent, Vice, i-D and a whole host of other platforms before she wrote her book, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race (2017). At the time it was released, Reni’s book rose to 155th in the UK non-fiction chart.
However, in the light of the death of George Floyd, she became the first Black British woman to be No.1 overall in the British book charts. Her BBC Radio 6 takeover shows offer some great inspirational music, with all tracks selected by Reni herself. It’s really cool and varied, so you should probably check that out here.
Alicia Garza (@chasinggarza)
Alicia is an American Civil Rights activist and co-founder of the International Black Lives Matter movement – along with Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors. Alicia is widely regarded as inspiring the slogan itself after the July 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman over the murder of unarmed 19-year old Black man Trayvon Martin. She posted on Facebook: “I continue to be surprised at how little Black lives matter… Our lives matter”. Thus, the inception of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Alicia was involved in the protests surrounding the murder of Michael Brown. This involved a group of activists attempting to stop a Bay Area Rapid Transit train for four and a half hours to reflect the amount of time that Michael Brown’s body was left in the street after he was killed. She’s been published by The Guardian, The Feminist Wire, Rolling Stone and a host of other publications. Her first book, The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart, will be published this month. It’s been described as “an essential guide”, in which she shares lessons for future activists.
Her work has inspired a host of music centred around the movement. You can find some tracks that speak about race and empowerment in Spotify’s Black Lives Matter playlist. It’s almost five and a half hours of music, with just shy of 800,000 followers.
Rachel Cargle (@rachel.cargle)
Rachel Cargle is an American author, academic, lecturer, and activist whose work and involvement in anti-racism led to her founding the Loveland Foundation. This is a platform dedicated to supporting and getting therapy for Black women and girls, as well as bringing opportunities and healing to communities of colour.
She encourages empowerment, critical thinking and liberation via her Instagram page, which has amassed over 1.8 million followers. She is often a guest lecturer at universities where she talks about what she calls “Unpacking White Feminism”. Her upcoming book is entitled I Don’t Want Your Love and Light, in which she examines feminism and its relationship to race. Her Revolution playlist can be found on her Spotify page. It comprises emotional and inspiring speeches, poetry and music that support Black lives.
Niki Franco (@venusroots)
Activist, community organiser and writer who has created educational resources and workshops that aim to “navigate the current urgency around global solidarity, environmental and ancestral preservation, and strategies on building emotional and intellectual capacities to dismantle systems of oppression that inform and deform our current lives.”
Her work as a community organiser led to the creation of Miami-based Civic Engagement organisation, Power U. She’s also the Political Education Director for (F)empower, which aims to create a ‘feminist awakening’ in Miami. Her podcast, Getting to the Root of it With Venus Roots, tackles many difficult subjects, including the disparity and mistreatment of BIPOC, female and non-binary people in the creative industries. She even speaks to rapper Kari Faux about race and her rise to stardom.
Brighton-based rapper Mrisi delivers a poetic exploration of culture and heritage in his track ‘West Baby’. It’s a lovely lo-fi-esque, meditative track showing off Mrisi’s poetic nature. The gentle spoken-word rap creates a moody yet inspiring track with the thought-provoking lyricism that pays homage to both sides of his heritage, using lexicon from his South African languages as well as references to Western culture.
“Corrupt systems always fall on us, the victims.
Trust, cos this is just the world that we live in,
There is no moral compass and our country has a bigger sin.”
image via James Yexley