BLACK HISTORY MONTH: We Rise Brixton X 81 Acts of Exuberant Defiance Films

As part of Black History Month we would love to share our recent short film ‘Resonances of 1981’ and accompanying films made by local young people about their views of the 1981 Brixton Uprisings and wider issues of Black British history, education and institutional racism. 

We Rise Brixton has worked closely with 7 local young people on a series of self made and group film projects as part of the 81 Acts of Exuberant Defiance programme that marks the 40th anniversary of the Brixton uprisings in April 2021. 

Throughout February, March and April 2021 the young people involved in the We Rise project learnt about what happened before, during and after the Brixton uprisings in 1981, creating a series of short films that are born out of their personal responses to what they discovered.  

The young people involved were from The Elmgreen School, Lambeth College, Saint Gabriel’s College, La Retraite and St Martins in the Fields High School.

They wanted the issues they raised in ‘Resonances of 1981’ to be shared with as many other young people as possible in order to educate and inspire them to talk about it.

‘I joined this project because I’m interested in film making, but also I didn’t know much about the ‘81 riots and I think that this is the best platform to educate people about it’.   

Sam, Age 18

This is what they told us:

They didn’t know about the 1981 Uprisings before this project – they’re not taught about them at school. 

On our project they learned about what happened and why by speaking to people who were there at the time like Tony Cealy and the photographer Kim Aldis, who shared his amazing photos with us.

They created, filmed and edited their own personal films explaining why they thought it was important to take part in the 81 Acts programme and to also inform other young people about what actually happened and why

A 4 minute film by Natalia Morgan explaining what the Uprisings were.

The history in the curriculum is white washed.

‘Black history makes Britain too.’

Olamide, Age 18

They researched the Scarman Report, the Government’s responses to the 1981 Uprisings and the various reports produced in response to the subsequent racially motivated incidents affecting the national discourse since, such as the Macpherson Report, the Lammy Review and the recent report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities in response to the BLM protests last summer.

We give young people a platform to have their voices heard and what they say it’s like to be a young Black person in Brixton today is incredibly important to listen to, especially if you aren’t one yourself.

‘I’m informing my teachers and people in my year about what happened.  They find it interesting about things we don’t learn about in our history curriculum and in our curriculum in general….to do with Black people’s history.’

Olivia – AGE 16

‘I think there should be some way you can suggest in schools about what you should be taught and how it can be taught and how we can educate more people because you have to go to school so without having to force more people to take part in things like this, they can automatically learn about these things.’

Kareena – aged 18

A 3 minute film by Savannah Moses and Kareena Bah 

Racism is now more covert rather than overt.

‘I think that many of the same issues persist today……..when filling in forms we pick ‘Black British’ but then they pick and choose when we are actually British.’

Natalia – aged 20

‘Representation…even within the media….there needs to be actual representation – to adequately represent all of the different experiences that Black people can actually have, because when you’re not exposed to things, you can’t imagine yourself as anything more than you see.’

Natalia – aged 20

There should be more listening and understanding

‘These issues are tools for us to learn from.  This is an opportunity to solve these issues and I think one of the most important things that anyone can do is to listen and understand, listen to Black people’s grievances and understand rather than just argue and see where they are coming from because I think understanding is key to solving these issues and is maybe key to ending racial injustice.’

Sam – aged 19

‘More people need to empathise with Black people more when they are explaining their grief, because some people act like they understand what’s going on and relate but they can’t.  More of us need to address what the issue is and more people who can’t actually relate because they are not black should get involved.’

Savannah – Age 18

‘……we need to be proud of who we are, because I feel like a lot of Black people have conflicting identities.  Me, for example, I’m of Nigerian origin, but I’m not British enough to be British and I’m Nigerian enough to be Nigerian.  I always felt conflicted with my two identities but I should have been proud as I’m British Nigerian. I’m in a diaspora.’

Olamide – Aged 17

‘I actually hate the term ethnic minority as it makes us seem like we’re just powerless, like we’re little, like we just have no impact but we do.

Olamide – Aged 17

Please share our film.

You can find the full set of short films here on our We Rise Brixton 81 Acts of Exuberant Defiance Youtube Playlist.

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