Black Lives Matter reading/discussion group at Lancaster Cohousing UK
From: Fiona Frank (fionafrankgmail.com)
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 2020 03:10:26 -0700 (PDT)
Dear everyone

Lancaster Cohousing (UK) is signing up to the wonderful sounding
Community For All conference and wanted to tell you about what a few of us
are doing...

At Lancaster Cohousing we have started a ‘Black Lives Matter’ reading
group. We’re doing it in Zoom as some of us are shielding. We have met
weekly alternating on a Weds morning or lunchtime, for an hour and a
half. We have a short check-in, then split into breakout rooms of about 4
people in each ‘room’ to discuss the topic of the day (sometimes one of the
groups meet in person) then we come back to a large group to share what
we’ve been talking about, and to plan the next session. We take it in turns
to facilitate the meetings, and we plan the topics together as a group. One
person organises the 'tech'.
So far we’ve talked about a couple of chapters of Why I’m Not Talking to
White People about Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, we discussed a recent set of
lectures
<https://slack-redir.net/link?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dl9TLwt2Hpcw%26feature%3Dyoutu.be>
by
two local university lecturers whom many of us know, which had been
organised by Lancaster City Council, on the links between slavery and our
local town.  (There were many slave owners in Lancaster, and many of our
big houses and institutions were built with money made from the labour of
enslaved people or, in particular, from the enormous sums paid in
compensation to those who had owned slaves after abolition).  We’re working
our way through Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege,
Combat Racism and Change the World by Layla F Saad, we’re about to look at
a short film and also a government-commissioned report about the Windrush
scandal*, and we will have a session on the Booker prize-winning ’Girl
Woman Other’ by Bernadine Evaristo.  Apart from the fact that it is very
timely for all of us as individuals to be holding these conversations and
doing this work, and we are all benefitting from doing the readings,
learning & talking about the topic, sharing other resources with each other
and thinking deeply about our own role in the injustices, there is a
particular benefit to doing this work within a cohousing project. Up to now
most organised conversations within the cohousing project have been about
tricky issues about the cohousing project itself like food (vegan vs meat),
cars (whether individuals should be allowed to use any of our scarce
parking spaces in addition to our car club vehicles) or other use of
community resources. It’s very liberating to be putting our minds together
to be learning together about a deep injustice.
Some of us realised that we didn’t know each other that well, despite being
neighbours. We’ve been able to share personal stories about our lives and
our own unaware racism and white privilege and learn more about structural
and institutional racism in this country. It’s been lovely getting to know
our neighbours better in this way while looking outwards, instead of
inwards. For more info get in touch with Fionafrank [at] gmail.com*for a non UK
audience: The Windrush scandal: the children of Caribbean people who were
invited to work in Britain by the UK government were illegally stripped of
their rights in a ‘hostile environment for immigrants’ deliberately set up
by the Home Office over the past ten years, with many people unable to work
or even deported to a country they’d never lived in and had no connections
with - before the government was forced to apologise to them and look at
reparations.

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