I was captivated by the amount of people that attended the protest. I’ve lived in Sheffield for four years and the majority of that time in the city centre, I’ve never seen as many as ten black people at one time. This has often been on my mind, and if I wasn’t from the neighbouring town I would have be disillusioned at the absence of the black community in this city. I mentioned this to someone at the protest and he agreed, ‘There is nothing here for us, most places have closed down.’ This tells a larger story about the changing face of City Centres (as well as community centres that are being closed down) as gentrification, a predominantly white affect, takes hold. He mentioned the only place still going is Sheffield and Districts African and Caribbean Community Association, known as SADACCA, located on edge of the town centre. SADACCA provides events that include; dominos night for the elders, a Library and music studio as well as a day care centre for the elderly. The place is rich in history and community and for years they have battled for funding but nevertheless the centre still provides a place and for the community. I wonder how long it can continue?
This is John, he runs the Basil Griffith library, at SADACCA. I went to the library last summer and was amazed at the books all of which are written by Black authors. I noticed one book that I had as a child that brought back great memories. Representation in all aspects of life is so important from books, TV, film, and even seeing people that look like you walking down the street. These people rocking their natural hair with clothing expressing their proud heritage. For myself living in an all-white town I have always made to feel ‘other’ and such sights have always struck me with awe: helping me undertake a path self-discovery. The library not only lend books to the community, but holds readings, book clubs, and is looking into holding a Saturday school. John is a volunteer and does so much for the library as well as being a maths teacher. His community efforts do not go unnoticed, so many people appreciate him and all he does. It makes you wonder how we choose the statues that are erected.
This is my cousin Paige. Paige is perhaps one of my favourite people ever, along with her sister and mine we’ve all grown up together. She’s incredible at everything she does and a massive inspiration to my sister and me, whilst never ever failing to make me laugh. A lot of racism in this country is so undercover and subtle you question whether it is racially motivated, it makes you feel a certain way but you can’t quite describe it and why it is happening. So naturally, you blame yourself. My cousin is often my guide: being slightly older she understands the subtle mirocaggressions and importantly helps me realise it isn’t me, but society.
Paige holds a sign saying Justice for Belly Mujinga. Mujinga, a ticket officer in London, was assaulted by a man who spat on her claiming to have Covid-19. She died from the virus a couple of weeks later. The British Transport Police concluded last week that Mujinga’s death was not linked to the incident and the case was closed. Yet, the protests have seen nation-wide call of Justice for Belly. It asks the question why do Black lives only matter when political and corporate reputations are challenged’.
Pandemic behaviour. Masked Words
I noticed this sign from way off, a nod to Spike Lee’s film – even using the films’ font. The film depicts a hot day in 1980s Brooklyn with racial tensions causing similar heat. One of Spike Lee’s most significant films, its message and relevance transcend the 1980s and have a scarily poignant relevance to the present protests. As the man with the sign knows.
The Black Lives Matter movement is not a new movement.
Its inception began in 2013 with the acquittal of Treyvon Martin’s murder. In 2014 Eric Gardener’s last words after he was suffocated by police were, “I can’t breathe”: the exact words of Floyd six years later. This photo shows how this movement is bigger than a global trend, but cyclical, systemic, and institutional oppression. There is hope that the media attention will enable people to see and understand this oppression and make a difference. Nevertheless, there are also sentiments, as this poster displays, that once the media attention has decreased the support for the cause will also.