A lot has been seen in the media over the past 9 days regarding the current situation in the United States of America. This situation isn’t something that happened overnight but has built up over time. The murder of George Floyd is more than a tragedy, it has become a symbol of systemic racism in the USA.
However, we recognise that systematic racism is not just a problem in the US. As an organisation that advocates for youth-led social action it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t use our platform to voice this. We understand that now more than ever community solidarity is important and are writing this blog along with our Youth Board to make our position clear.
At Element, we always work to tackle issues that young people tell us matter. We believe that this is the ‘right’ thing to do. We do not take on projects or design programmes that we feel do not embody the right values; encouraging unity and partnership within our societies.
We feel the right thing is to let young people know that we support the Black Lives Matter movement and peaceful protests.
We engage with 1000s of young people across Sheffield each year on our projects, championing education and social action. 65% of these young people are young people of colour.
We will always strive to cultivate an environment where young people from all backgrounds can come together to learn, progress, and share in experiences. As part of this, we also commit to learning as an organisation so we can challenge inequality wherever we see it.
We are aware that there is a peaceful protest organised by young people in Sheffield for this Saturday (6th June). We are big advocates of peaceful protests and believe that this is the most effective form of any protest. Peaceful protests have been going on for years with a much higher success rate than protests that contain violence.
To show you how successful peaceful protests can be, take a look at these few events through history that have achieved big change;
CASE STUDY 1 - Avaaz is a global web movement to bring people-powered politics to decision-making everywhere. https://secure.avaaz.org/page/en/highlights/
CASE STUDY 2 - ‘The Grunswick Women’ changed the law on workers rights https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/jan/20/asian-women-trade-union-grunwick
CASE STUDY 3 - ACORN has changed countless policies and was part of the campaign to repeal section 21 of the Housing Act. https://acorntheunion.org.uk/wins/
We didn’t even need to use a photo of Gandhi or the Suffragettes.
Youth voice is important for society to make positive changes. Before lockdown, our team supported young people outside Town Hall (right outside our place at Yorkshire House) protesting for the Government to do something about climate change and other political issues. But, we have a duty of care to young people of Sheffield, and that stretches further than just those that are with us face-to-face.
We are aware that there is a peaceful protest organised by young people in Sheffield for this Saturday (6th June). We are big advocates of people coming together to make positive change. However, in the light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, we encourage young people to consider their personal circumstances and decide whether a gathering would be the best course of action for them.
Even if you do not display symptoms yourself, you may pass it on to other vulnerable members of your household.
GOT SYMPTOMS? DON’T GO.
If you are planning to attend this event, you really need to ask yourself the following;
Have I or anyone else I live with got any symptoms of coronavirus? Not sure, take this quiz <https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/>
Am I vulnerable to becoming ill as a result of attending this event? Not sure, have a look at this website to find out if you’re vulnerable to coronavirus <https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/people-at-higher-risk/>
Are there any members of my household that are vulnerable that I could end up infecting when I return home? See how the virus can be transmitted <https://coronavirusexplained.ukri.org/en/article/und0002/>
If you think the answer is maybe or yes to any of those questions then DON’T GO!
There are still ways that you can support the movement from a distance.
If you would like to support the Black Lives Matter Movement but are unable to attend the protest, here is how you can do it. Gal-dem - a platform for women of colour - wrote a blog on ‘What to do if you can’t protest on the streets for Black Lives Matter’. You can read the article here <https://gal-dem.com/what-to-do-if-you-cant-protest-on-the-streets-for-black-lives-matter/>
With their blog in mind, here are some top tips:
Our final point, and also one that also features in the Gal-dem blog above, is that to fight against racism and structural inequalities, we must understand it first. Therefore, we encourage all of our followers to look into the following links that will help you form your own views and opinions before engaging in discussions or protests. We will keep adding to this list as we find more great resources!
Stay safe, and protest responsibly.
The Covid-19 crisis is affecting people in many different ways.
People have had exams cancelled, lost their jobs, experienced mental health difficulties due to the lockdown in the UK, and some people have even lost friends or family. However the pandemic is affecting you, we hope some of these stores will show that you're not suffering, struggling or even feeling anxious alone.
We'd love to hear your story too in the hope that it will help someone else, you can write a post for this blog here.
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