Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Shake! one year on

We recently asked some participants in the August 2010 Shake! course for some reflections, one year later, and this is some of what they said. In light of the recent 'riots', we are more determined than before to make Shake! the most effective project it can be...

"One of the first things Shake helped me do, was to find confidence in my writing. This helped me personally record and write about my experiences of the student movement - pieces of writing which I am sure will remain with me for some time. Since the course last summer, I have maintained contact with facilitators and artists, who have offered insightful workshops around fundraising and social media. The artists have helped shape and improve my poems, which has been invaluable. I have also worked on producing the Shake newsletter and maintaining the blog."  Samia

"I initially joined the shake project with an interest in the video workshops that were being held for a week.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The Story from South to North


Is this glitter or is this glass? Is this the shattered hope of a nation now so preoccupied with its economy that we have now been reduced to the burning of public policy?

Burn, bright lights, burn. Illuminate the faces of those who are guilty and shed light upon those who died victims of the deeper political unrest.

Once we stood together, now we are forced apart. The money will always talk, but the heart will always scream. The conservation of liberty has become a joke for those above who feed on the lower man’s wallet. A yacht for heart surgery.

In the background, as this is typed, the news and far-off cries of anger are heard. Car-alarms blare. The greed of the forgotten has reached its climax. What began as a call for peace and remembrance fell into despair.

Only here could rioters be this young, this greedy. They attack the companies from which they can reap material benefits. A school has been hit. The attackers laugh it off, a sport for them to enjoy.

Only this in the city where anything can happen. A city where all are free? They call this a ‘battle’, but watch the videos on YouTube and the pictures which appear on Facebook. Tomorrow I will venture into the ruins of the city I must call my home to document the ravages of a war yet to begin.

This is an attack on the government, but what do they expect in return? Money, a job, an education? The government has to be intact for any of this to be available; so they destroy the city, cost the country millions in repairs. A country already in debt from borrowing and bailing. Whose fault is this really?

The nation watches as its capital slowly destroys itself.

Is this London?


If one could observe from a purely impassive point of view, then it is likely that one would consider a myriad of thoughts and opinions on the matter. One such opinion would be that, whilst it is understandable that there have been riots, the level of the violent acts committed is in no way justified by any excuse, ideal nor idle thought that any of the participants in Croydon burning can argue with.

The bright blaze flashes through my eyes brightened by the television screen I see through. It's too bright, too hot, too light, people are in danger and risking their lives, doing the jobs they're paid to do whilst the children run riot and fight. What will happen when morning light arrives, and there is nothing left but dying embers and wailing sirens?

I cannot, with good nor bad faith, say I condone nor condemn the initial actions of my fellow youths, but I can say this much. To react with such a level of violence, to burn down buildings and to riot on the streets, because one is angry and upset with the status quo does not make one better, nor does it make one worse. It makes one human in such an intrinsic and fundamental way that, if any were to deny it, they would be in denial of what it is that makes a human, human.

In essence, what I am trying to say is; humans are destructive by nature. But we are also creative. We can take a little of this and a little of that, and make the most wonderful of things, and the most damning too. It does not do us well to deny the darkest part of our personality, nor to glorify it.

These teens, these young people who I call my generation, are glorifying the act of violence as they equate it to their only way of reacting to what they perceive as injustice. Though, I suppose that, by now, they themselves do not even know why they’re really rioting anymore. If one could even call this rioting.

Surely a riot would have some fundamental purpose and endgame as opposed to chaos and disorder. I shan’t use the term Anarchy, as the media is so good at demonising it without my assistance, because Anarchy is wholly different from this madness I see on the television screen.

Whole buildings burnt to nothing more than ash, the flames so hot to melt the metal tracks for the trams on the streets. This is not a riot. This is a war-zone and the opposing forces seem to be in as much discord as the flames eating away at buildings seem to be.

Keep Calm and Carry On!

IGNITE - Poem by Rotimi Skyer

Written on the night ot Tottenham unrest.
More voices of our Positive Young please.

Black engulfs da air
Smoke blocks out sky
Hands raised up high
Black is da youth
Emotions feel da heat
ppl burnt too much to retreat

Bullet tears thru black
Pigs grunt in their sty
mama looks up to da sky oh my oh my at da sky she asks,



Copyright Rotimi Skyers

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Our first meeting for the 'Britain on Trial - Arts and Activism' event

Jane, Rotimi, Samia and Selina from the SHAKE! collective took a day trip to Leeds yesterday to meet up with Khadijah and Simon, facilitators from Leeds Young Authors and Stuart, a researcher from the University of Leeds MA in Activism & Social Change. The meeting was planned to lay down the groundwork for the "Britain on Trial" arts and activism event that will take place on October 29th as part of the ESRC's Festival of Social Science.

This event, which will take place in Leeds, will use the Stephen Lawrence re-trial as a starting point to ask,  "where are we now" through a day of workshops and an evening of performances to expose Britain's countless injustices. Exploring themes such as identity, justice and race through creative workshops, 10 minute speed-lectures and evening speakers, the day will aim to inspire the young people involved in the day to think honestly about themselves and the country they live in today. Britain on Trial, an initiative created by SHAKER Selina, aims to question unjust aspects of British society through creative mediums such as poetry, illustration, photography, short film and essays. The idea to use this as the umbrella theme for the event came organically with a view to unite the various disciplines of the group and the discussions that will take place in the day.

It was a great first meeting that allowed us to get to know each other better and we are looking forward to the planning that will follow. Big thank you to Simon for lending us his house, beautiful garden and making homemade bread - beats a stuffy boardroom any day! No thanks to the pompous man on the train who told us to be quiet in the middle of a full-on discussion about race, empire, language, identity and culture. He could have joined in, eh?

Watch this space for more updates on the Britain on Trial event! Also, check out the Britain on Trial website to find out more and get involved in Selina’s project: http://britainontrial.wordpress.com/