How Art Can Help Us Be Better Allies

Change is hard and comes in stages. The initial mobilization of George Floyd’s murder has the potential to change the future for the better. It is important to remember that these protests, whilst invaluable, are the first step of a process that will be long and arduous. A process which requires people from all walks of life, from politicians to blue collared workers, to advocate for change. As I mentioned in my previous post, activism comes in different forms; perhaps the most potent form of activism is that of challenging personal bias. When this wave of solidarity fades, and it inevitably will, we will need the consistent application of advocacy from the masses to sustainably challenge the injustices faced by black communities around the world. This will require us all to choose courage over convenience, and Art is a force which motivates us to choose the harder path- the one which leads to a more just, pluralistic world.

Art is a proxy for emotion, and emotion stems from experience. When we consume and reflect upon Art created by black individuals, be it visual, literature, film,music or dance, we expose ourselves to their reality. It offers us a glimpse into their perspective of the world, we feel their love and anguish, happiness and sorrow. Art humanizes the black experience, as it shows it in all its complexity and diversity, moving us away from the essentialism encoded in the categorization of ‘black’. We can learn about the sheer inhumanity of the history of communities and how this translates into individual experience. Art can move our souls, make ‘them’ seem like ‘us’, paving the way for courage to stand up to injustice.

You can stop reading the post from here and access some resources I’ve collected from online below:

A Google Doc by Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan with ALOT of stuff which can be used on an ongoing basis: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/11EbkgiGtisJFsp-gjNLPfNcw9Yqr111KKdYO5UsZhnc/htmlview

A Book List I’ve compiled from Instagram Posts I would like to share with you:

Films by Black Directors : https://boxd.it/5FD58 (Credit: Hannah Lucas @hann.ahrl)

James Baldwin playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvbZAprCHO2Wf7Hl90O3-4kigGv3Bt6F3

Please comment any artists/ artworks/ resources I haven’t included that you’ve found out about.


I also want to take this opportunity to remind you, especially if having looked at all theses resources and you are feeling overwhelmed, that you will make mistakes despite your best intentions. I certainly have done things which I thought were useful but turned out to not be. Don’t let this put you of from educating yourself as the only way is upward. Reflect on your upbringing and environment. I grew up in an ethnically homogeneous town in Scotland which has resulted in bias I’ve unconsciously manifested. Moving to a diverse school in Central London and gaining exposure to texts ( Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead were the big game changers for me) has allowed me to begin challenging this. Be willing to make mistakes, self educate and engage in discourse 🙂

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