Thursday, 11 December 2014

Black British Feminisms: where and how does the work begin?

Just got back from this event at the Centre for Feminist Research (Goldsmiths). I felt so completely thrilled to be in that room, and of course failed to make any friends because of being too shy, but still, thrilled to be a part of that space in some small way for a moment. And wanted to share some brief immediate thoughts on what made that room so unusual and what this might reveal about how we 'usually' behave, what constraints we act within.

"White hegemonic knowledge stands between the people who really need to have the conversation." - Camel Gupta

I noticed that throughout the evening people were constantly acknowledging influences and inspirations: people in the room, and people not in the room. Creating connections, acknowledging histories and friendships, making visible those lines that are so frequently ignored or passed over within the artistic and academic contexts that I know. Most of these people were strangers to me, but how good it felt to be in a room where people were committed to making visible. An acknowledgement that we cannot work alone and that other people make things possible. And in acknowledging others, in being visible about that connectedness and the fact that only through connection can we be alive let alone make change, there was a banishment of the kind of territorial fear, the tight holding on to ideas and voice, that claims to be about empowerment and freedom, but really only renders us lonely. These voices were heard louder by not being alone.

And there was an impromptu song. And this reminded me of being at ROOTS. And I kind of wanted the whole room to start singing. And that didn't happen, but it did begin to happen, and this was thanks to a poet called Dorothea Smartt who didn't let the way things usually are stop the way things might be.

And I realise this sounds like I just went to some kind of festival - it was for the most part a panel discussion, and it was full of all kinds of smart ideas and people - but what I am saying is that the ideas didn't obliterate the people.

I found myself thinking this: "where and how does the work begin?"

And I found myself answering like this:

Where = in the roots, the systems that give rise to the ways in which we make and do and think and behave and treat each other.

How = by acknowledging each other, by finding ways to bring ourselves into the room, by not being afraid of care and honesty and embodiment, especially when that embodiment looks like something with which we don't yet know how to relate.

Black British Feminisms
Thursday 11 December 2014, 6-8pm
The Centre for Feminist Research (Goldsmiths) cohosts the Feminist Review annual panel discussion followed by reception & issue launch

Keynote: Prof. Ann Phoenix (Institute of Education, University of London)

Chair: Dr Suzanne Scafe (London South Bank University/Feminist Review editorial collective)

Panel: Ego Ahaiwe, Sita Balani, Lauren Craig, Camel Gupta, Nydia Swaby

Performance: Dorothea Smartt