Search
Close this search box.
Notes for solidarity and care: RACE.ED December 2023 Newsletter

– By Katucha Bento and Tana Forrest

As the year comes to a close, we would like to take a moment to recognise all that has happened over the last few months and acknowledge the challenges of continuing with “business as usual” amid collective grief, exhaustion and pain. The world is laden with hostility and continues to challenge us as we undertake the work of antiracism and decolonisation. As we grapple with these realities, let us not forget the importance of collective care and solidarity in moments such as this. Caring for one another and standing in solidarity with one another is part of the work of antiracism. As an ode to these elements of our work we would therefore like to amplify moments over the semester during which we engaged in moments of collective care, dreaming and solidarity.

Together with the university networks and local community, RACE.ED contributed to organising activities and inter-actions grounded in solidarity. We released a podcast series addressing relevant questions about reparations; How can we think about reparations? What actions can promote the repair of generational harm? Which future can we imagine towards liberation from colonial power? These questions were centred on ‘Stop the Maangamizi’, that addresses the violence and the importance of Afrikan liberation in their own terms.

Speaking in the first language about our His(HER)stories is also a topic that defies colonial power, a reflection discussed in depth in a session about “Poetry and Power” with Claudia Rankine and Dionne Brand at the International Book Festival with the support of RACE.ED. Listening to their ideas about our connection with nature and our memories offered refreshing inspiration for strategising new possibilities towards the future. The panel is available to watch for free or ‘pay as you feel’ in this link: https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/the-festival/whats-on/dionne-brand-claudia-rankine-poetry-and-power-18683. 

This semester motivated us to think deeply about how we deploy solidarity and ensure we are not forgetting that we are fighting a colonial power, not one another. As much as coloniality is made possible through people’s decisions, Sylvia Wynter invited us to reconnect with the idea of humanity from a different perspective in which biopower and colonialism are not centred in our definitions of who we are. In this sense, the question about ‘how can we repair the harm?’ persists, marking the Black History Month of 2023 with sensitive topics and important –uncomfortable– conversations.

Facilitated by Dominique Barron, we engaged in a workshop that encouraged us to envision and dream about the possibilities of abolitionism through a black, queer feminist lens. This workshop “Thinking Abolition through Black Queer Feminism” was put together by EREN, GENDER.ED, and the BAME Staff Network. We are alert with the dangerous notes of not being tokenised during Black History Month – of not having our [Black] voices commodified, appropriated, marketized, twisted, distorted or only celebrated in isolation during a four-week validation of how bad anti-Black racism is. On this topic, Rutendo Hoto wrote a blog post concerning the struggle during the overwhelmingly busy time that Black students proudly take part in organising events, and the emotional labour that is often invisibalised, unvalued and taken for granted at personal and institutional levels. On that note we also held space with the Edinburgh Futures Institute for Black women professionals, academics and activists from Brazil,

Nigeria, Sudan and the USA to defy the acclaimed idea of ‘leadership’ and centre the topic on decolonial paths towards liberation. The panel was called “Leaning into the Metaphysics of Liberation” and will soon be released as a podcast episode – stay tuned!

We also had the honour to co-host with the Centre for African Studies, Professor Mame-Fatou Niang, who introduced a sharp understanding of Black presence in the French context, indicating fruitful possiblities to discuss African and Black Afrikan diasporics realities with the Center for Black European Studies and the Atlantic (CBESA) recently founded by the professor. As a source of knowledge, networking and relevant political reference, we encourage you to check what’s on at the centre on their website: https://www.cmu.edu/dietrich/modlang/cbesa/index.html.

We wrapped up this semester with a fun workshop called “Queermas: an antiracist collective care workshop” with Rochelle Rowe in collaboration with the African and Caribbean Society. Organising a care-full space for people to be creative, use tools that allow colourful shapes to come to life, and manifest different directions to write futures was an important approach to find closure for this year. The final question is for you: what are you doing that brings you joy? Can you do less in relation to capitalist productivity expectations to accommodate joy and rest?

To paraphrase Paulette Nardal, one of the pioneers of the Négritude Movement -from the Caribbean to France- the urgent need for racial solidarity is not only material: may affect and care circulate as part of the social justice we believe in, and “this is how race consciousness (is)was awakened”. RACE.ED Network wishes you all a 2024 full of solidarity and spaces safe to exist while we do the dreamwork for futures Other-wise.

“Oh

friends, my friends—

bloom how you must, wild

until we are free.”

– Excerpt from the poem Cento Between the Ending and the End, by Cameron Awkward-Rich

Reference:

Nardal, Paulette (1931). “Eveil de la conscience de race” in La Revuedu Monde Noir. Nendeln: Kraus. 1971, 29.

Read the RACE.ED Newsletter – December 2023 

Loading...