Activism and... Being black

IssueMarch 2008

I suppose one of the things is that I don't see myself as “black”. I don't give myself a label. I'm just trying to stay alive, and do the things that can make that happen.

I am surprised and a bit disappointed that there are not more black people in the activist circles I move in. I'm mostly into permaculture and other things that grab my interest, like planting trees or getting involved in cooperatives or car- bon reduction.

I'm surprised and I don't know why there aren't more black people involved. I ask people and no one seems to know the answer.

Sometimes I think maybe it's because there haven't been many generations where black people have been able to have stuff, to consume, and maybe they haven't had time to think about the effect of all the consumerism on the planet.

Maybe activism's a thing of luxury, coming out of a fairly middle-class family thinking: “What's going on?”

I'm a mental health service user, seeking to find that place where it's worth going on.

If I connect to the part of me that is black, I'm a bit lonely in these circles.

It's like, I'm a woman, and if there was a group that I wanted to be in that was mostly men, I'd be in it, but the bit of me that's a woman would be a bit lonely. It's like that.

I've never ever felt that me being black has been an issue at all in activist circles.

If I ever see anyone, we generally talk together and make these sort of comments.

It's something that's on my mind, and it's on other people's minds, but we just concentrate on what we're there for.

It's people who aren't black who are sometimes saying that this network is very middle-class and a lot of people have got a lot of qualifications and it's very white and how do we reach out to other people.

And I don't know how to do it. I don't have a clue.

I'm not middle-class at all. Or massively educated, or as intellectual as other people, but I don't feel disadvantaged.

In fact, I think people welcome the bit of me that's a bit off at a tangent, even if they don't understand it. Every so often I say things that other people think are a bit off at a tan- gent. Elsewhere people's eyes glaze over, but, in this network, people don't, they ask: “What do you mean by that?”

I actually really love this net- work. I feel like I've come home. People are dealing with all sorts of difficult issues in a very down to earth way, just living life differently and trying to find balances. So I feel I've come home really.

Activist, woman, Leeds


Topics: Activism, Race
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