SHAKE! – Art and Activism at The Stephen Lawrence Centre

Last week has got to be the most inspiring week of the year for me. Not sure it can be topped.

I was lucky enough to be a part of a pilot project coordinated by the Platform with the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust where 13 young adults under the stress of exam results engaged with  big issues of racism, capitalism and war and unity through film-making, Poetry and DJing. They wrestled with institutionalised racism of the Stephen Lawrence /McPhearson report and the Court case of human rights abuses by Shell Oil, Chevron and  the corruption with in the Nigerian government and turned the outcomes of serious debate into art.

The artists fortunate to be facilitating were DJ Eric Soul from Afrogroov, and Simon Murray from African Writers Abroad, and Ana Tovey from Chocolate Films. The SHAKE!  brainchild belonged to Ben Amunwa and Jane Trowell,  from Rememeber Saro-Wiwa and  Platform. And volunteer, Ed Lewis, brought a calm and focused energy tot he sessions. Jane and Ben were very democratic coordinators giving us the artists a lot of room to lead and shape the the way the week went according to the needs of this dynamic group of young adults. And young ADULTS they are.

It was a truly lively week and enlightening week. Their minds were focused and  fully  engaged  with the art forms and the topics that made me want to go read more  and brush up on my writing skills. The demanded that I up my game asking challenging questions and reaching brilliant conclusions without me. (third wheel comes to mind). However what was wonderful was the feedback they gave which affirmed my role as mentor and facilitator. As the leading artists we primed the ground, and that’s all we’re supposed to do. Till the soil and encourage the shoots to grow.

The SHAKE! blog has some of their poems, written and audio, based on those big themes and the about the relevance of the death of Stephen Larwence who would have been 36 this year. His birthday is the 14th September.

The blog provides insight on how much of an impact projects like this can have on young lives and in a time where the future seems so gloom – no jobs, war and greed etc blah blah…THEY NEED US adults to inject  hope and lightness  in to our ways of being and WE NEED THEM to squash cynicism and rejuvenate positive faith in humanity. They want  and deserve so much more. It was an inspirational time.


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