Reflections on A Conversation For Change

The Young People’s Forum, a collective of individuals aged 16 -28, came together in July in response to the Black Lives Matter Movement to host A Conversation for Change, attended by over 50 representatives of Greater Manchester’s cultural organisations.

Here some of the forum members introduce the ongoing project and share some of their thoughts and concerns about Black History and Black representation in 2020.

Lehin Adenaken

 

George Floyd’s murder at the hands of US police sparked protests around the world. The manner in which that police officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds epitomised the anti-blackness that is pervasive and has long existed in society.

Lockdown paused the distractions we are used to in our daily lives and forced us to reckon with the anti blackness that is pervasive throughout society.

We witnessed the manner in which Africans were made homeless and blamed for Coronavirus in China 

We saw the ease with which Belly Mujinga’s case was not pursued in the UK after she died whilst working on the frontlines.

We saw the way Amy Cooper threatened to call police on Christian Cooper, a black man who dared to correct her for violating park rules with her dog off the leash.

Countless other cases that display anti-blackness forced us to think about what we could do to make even the slightest bit of change.

We started A Conversation for Change to mobilise senior leaders from organisations across Manchester. We sought to start a conversation, beyond tired diversity policies, that unapologetically confronts the lack of equality and equity in society.

Carmen Fyfe Paulo

A Conversation For Change has been empowering. Having so many leaders of institutions that I admire come to an event that we, as the Young People’s Forum, created showed us that there is a space for young voices in Manchester, and we are making it bigger, talking about issues that we care about and knowing that we can make a difference. We felt like leaders in our own right.

There is a space for young voices in Manchester, and we are making it bigger! Carmen Fyfe Paulo, youngest member of MIF Young People's Forum

Naomi Yeboah

I’m Naomi and I am an Actor, Writer, Director and Producer. In addition I am also a Community Learning Disability Nurse. Yeah you read that right when I’m not cultivating a creative masterpiece you will find me in the community as a nurse for adults with learning disabilities.

Black History Month in 2020 will mean to young people a reflection of the ever present racism that exists in the UK. This year’s #Blacklivesmatter movement has helped people to recognise the many forms of racism that exist and how those many forms can be dismantled. I hope that in the future Black History Month can be a celebration of the achievement and accomplishments of Black people in the UK as Black Joy can be overlooked when reflecting on History. 

Faz Barber

I am a radio presenter, a poet and an architectural assistant by profession. I work for a leading entertainment architects and enjoy merging the realms of Architecture with Performing arts to create immersive experiences for audiences.  I have showcased many local artists on my radio show and hope to continue highlighting our racially diverse pool of talent in Manchester. Working within entertainment, I have witnessed both a lack of gender and racial inequality in our industry and will continue to highlight this through my work. I am incredibly proud to be a small part of the change within Manchester.

We are the driving force for change... Faz Barber

As an activist for representation, I think Black History means Equality for young people. It is something we are no longer afraid to discuss or raise awareness to. In fact we urge one another to be open and honest about our views and no longer make it a taboo topic in our society. We are the driving force for change ensuring no one is left behind and we will continue to unapologetically hold people accountable for their past actions in order to make a positive change for the future.

Breb Lynch

 

Now more than ever, it is vital that society finds unity. Following the recent adjustments to our everyday lives, we are gifted with an opportunity to make a change. Black History and Black Futures are crucial to this. The murder of George Floyd has highlighted the vast inequality and injustices that still exist in the modern world. I think it is time for our generation to right these wrongs and rebuild better.

Lucy Porte

Hi I’m Lucy. I’m a computer science student looking to change things for Manchesters’ young people with a particular emphasis on mental health and wellbeing, through arts and other means. For me Black History Month is about creating more heroes for our young people so it doesn’t feel like this world has just been put together by white men!!

Adam Ali

I’m a British Libyan actor. Growing up in North Manchester, I found myself involved in The Television Workshop Salford where I discovered performance arts which led me onto Royal Exchange’s Young Company and Contact Young Company. I currently play a lead character on Apple TV’s new show Little America. Executively produced by Kumail Nanjiani, Little America is an anthology of funny, romantic, heartfelt, inspiring, and surprising stories about the lives of immigrants in the United States. Next year will see my solo show debut at Contact in Manchester, exploring the complex issues surrounding being Muslim and queer.

Ali Wilson

I’m really energized by being part of this collective of young people, responding critically to the world around us. A Conversation for Change was a necessary intervention, calling on the cultural leaders of Greater Manchester to build anti-racist practices into their organisations. This is the beginning of important work that must be done.

The Young People’s Forum have organised an anonymous survey, to gather more feedback on specific questions from local people working in the sector. The results will be collated along with the learning from the A Conversation for Change event, which will help inform the development of a creative manifesto designed by the Young People’s Forum.

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