I recently wrote a post on my photography blog about Black Lives Matter in photography.
It was something I’d wanted to do for a long time, but never had the guts to actually do it.
I was too scared that I’d say the wrong thing, offend and rock a delicate boat.
Then, with the media storm, I didn’t want to be someone else just jumping on a bandwagon.
There are always reasons not to speak up, it would be easy to spend your life in silence.
But I know now, through the bravery of so many others, that’s not okay any more.
It’s a disservice to our beautiful world to stay silent about issues you believe in.
Like us all, I have many hats.
Firstly, I’m a white, middle-class female.
I’m a photographer and I recently set up a small coworking space on the edge of Brixton.
I’m also a sister, daughter and friend to a mixture of people with a mixture of perspectives themselves, a cold water swimmer, lover of outdoors, nature, anything wild and active.
Yet somehow I find myself in London, seeking out pockets of wildness and humanity in an urban world. But I digress, that’s a story for another time.
As a white person, I recognize that we are the ones who need to change our perspectives, educate ourselves and put in the work to change what we can.
We must face our own prejudices, guilt, shame, complicity and fears, which is not easy to do.
I’ve had many, sometimes heated, sometimes enlightening, sometimes heart wrenching conversations about #BLM over the past few months.
Some of the most interesting have also been the most challenging — those that have challenged my own beliefs or called me out on things I’ve said. I’ve had conversations about my workspace and how to make it more inclusive to people of colour.
I’ve been called out on suggestions for sponsorship or free desk spaces.
I’ve found my voice rising and my stomach clenching when friends can’t hear my explanation about why this needs to be ‘Black Lives Matter’ not ‘All Lives Matter’.
Why we need to readdress who we worship in this country — who is recognized in stone and who isn’t.
And yet again, I’m white and I haven’t felt the full force of inequality.
I can’t imagine how torn and twisted your stomach feels like as someone who has and has to have those conversations with white people. I’m sorry for my part to play in that. – I’m sorry for playing a part in that.
As a photographer, I see inequalities everywhere.
Photography has always been, without doubt, dominated by white, mainly male photographers, which is then, of course, the lens through which we all view the world through our media, advertising and history books.
But that’s a whole other conversation and I’m guessing you’re not here to learn about #BLM in photography (if you are interested, however— here’s my blog post on it!)
#BLM in Coworking
Now with my coworking hat on. Where are we now?
Well, you could paint a picture of your typical coworker, and sadly that’s
not a diverse one.
Why is that?
Like attracts like, and in doing so excludes others.
It’s self-perpetuating. Unless that is, we step in to break the cycle and
create new threads, new chains of communication that require us to take a
few steps outside of our usual networks.
At The Corner Studios we’re slowly getting to know our neighbours, by
talking and more importantly, listening. Our doors are always open and
people seem to enjoy popping their head in to say hello. But there’s a lot
more to be done. Once the summer holidays are over, we are planning to put
in more effort to ‘reach out’ further, explain who we are, to listen and
hear different people’s needs and consider how we might adapt our offer and
It’s something I’m determined to do as we start to come back to life
Educating Ourselves and Others.
The #BLM movement has been on my radar for a while. But this recently
raised platform has given important gravitas to those conversations and
enabled others to engage and open their minds.
At The Corner Studios, we have dedicated some of our Friday afternoon discussions to it.
We encouraged people to watch films, read articles and do some thinking themselves, and then we came together to share thoughts, feelings and ideas.
A safe, open space to discuss such complex, sensitive subjects is so important – we need to be able to ask questions, face up to our own feelings and create space for things to shift.
It opened all of our minds to changing our environment and having different conversations about how the studio might grow.
This is all big stuff and isn’t something that will change overnight.
If we’re to continue moving forward towards a more equal society, then we’ve got to continue this conversation forward, not just during the media storm, but beyond.
We’ve got to keep asking questions, keep acting on them, keep learning.
And we’ve got to make sure that it’s not an empty conversation – take our time to make the right decisions within our industries, our workplaces, our society and within ourselves.
I personally promise to continue to do this.
Stay peaceful and open to change.
P.S. If anyone is seriously interested in taking these conversations to a deeper level, both personally and within their industries, I would highly recommend this course which I took last summer (and do mention my name if you do): Facing up to race, power and privilege.