Activism & ... Red

IssueJune 2015 - July 2015

What keeps coming into my mind is ‘Red Ken, Red Ken’, but I’m not having him in here. He’s not allowed.

That chair is red. That top is red. Ketchup is red! There’s a lot of red things in the world.

I don’t know if I can talk about this for three minutes....

Okay, well, the obvious thing is, I guess: ‘Communism!’

For me, red is anger. Which can be destructive, but can also be a positive force, a driving force.

I guess what it’s making me think about is: the trouble I have with activism occasionally is that a lot of people’s personal anger can be channelled into it and it can be destructive or not very productive. Certainly, it can end up causing quite a lot of problems within activist communities, in my experience.

But when that anger is more fuelled by social injustice, then it gives people the passion they need to really sort of stand up and say... to stand up and defend something, and speak their truth.

Well, I just think within demonstrations themselves, I’ve seen people reacting with anger but....

I was involved in one protest site, and there were people there who were very angry and I thought they were using the campaign to express their own personal gripes with the world.

Then after the site closed down, there were problems and unrest in the community there.

Problems that continued via social media with people sniping at each other. That really shocked me, actually. I thought: ‘Where’s the solidarity?’

It was, like, doing a better job of breaking up the activist community than the police or any kind of legal or government order could. Which was very sad.

However, the red of anger and passion can be, as I said before, a driving force and make people wake up, stand up.... (laughs, sings) ‘Get up! Stand up! Stand up for your rights!’

And you need that kind of energy but it needs to be channelled in the right way.

Red is passion as well.

Activism really, really needs passion to catch people’s attention, inspire people, stir people so they want to be part of it. To feel that it is possible to change something. To really believe that another way is possible and they can make that happen.

When someone is passionate, and clear about it, and they speak and the hairs stand up on the back of your neck....


It reminds me of that time when someone I knew threw that paint on the foreign office. And got arrested. It was representing blood.

I thought it was very creative, and I agreed with it, and it showed the government how that person felt, and it was important.


I’m thinking of clowns and noses. The old, what was it, the clowns back in the.... Clowns used to run circles round the police on demonstrations.

And bakewell tart. Because of the number of bakewell tarts we’ve taken to demonstrations.


I love doing ‘Activism &...’.
I think this is my second time or third.

What comes to mind for me is:
I think of the very powerful past of activism when red was a symbol of workers’ hopes for the future, and keeping the social security that they had.

Now, red’s meaning has kind of changed and that kind of role of a single colour has shifted to green. So it’s lost its potency.


Demonstrations? Maybe my English not helping but, as far as I understand, when you said ‘what you think of when I say the colour red’, I saw demonstrations.

And blood, like in Gaza, in Palestine, when they killed children, and this kind of stuff.

My English is not helping as well. You know the flag of the Communists, it’s red, yeah?

That’s what I saw, for now.


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