When the murder of George Floyd happened, it created a shift within people. Sarah felt like she was awoken to her white privilege and felt like she needed to do something to hold not only herself but the people around her accountable – grouping with her friends she decided to start the anti-racist book club.
Why did you start the book club?
“We began the Book Club for a few reasons, primarily to open ourselves up to material which we may not have read before and discuss it in a safe environment. Also, because as a group we were reeling from the impact of the murder of George Floyd, we desperately wanted to reflect as to our own racial prejudices and what action we could perhaps take within our church community to make a positive difference in the way we both thought about and treated those who were black. It was needful for us to listen, read and learn in an open space and allow what we read and discussed to make a change in our thinking, attitudes, and actions.”
“Collectively, I don’t think our faith group (our church congregation) quite knew how to make an appropriate response to the murder of George Floyd. I joined the book to club to help inform myself and make recommendations for action.”
“The book club was started following the shocking murder of George Floyd. Its aim was to inform and challenge us individually and as a group and to provide a safe space to discuss our responses to what we had read. Within our church we hoped to be a positive catalyst for change.”
How did you hear about Blueprint for All?
“Some of our friends within the book club told us about you. Their own journey of awakening to racial discrimination was really catalysed with the murder of Stephen Lawrence and they have encouraged us to learn more about the historic event and out of that, to support the ongoing work of the charity.”
“I heard about Blueprint for all through a member of the book club who is a trustee of the church.”
What impact has the club now had on your members?
“For me personally, it has been the most important thing I have done in the last few years. It has not only given me a new understanding of racism, prejudice, and the legacy of colonialism, but deeply addressed my own dispositions and attitudes. It has changed me, made me more empathic, more heightened to racism and more determined to be anti-racist. One of the most significant outcomes from the Club was to put together a presentation entitled ‘In their shoes’ which involved a multi-media experience staged around the time of the anniversary of George Floyd’s death. This presentation to the church community was a way to invite them to hear stories from black members of the church as well as reflect on quotations from Martin Luther King. A further outcome of the Book Club is that the trustees agreed to prioritize giving to an organisation that tackled racism and its detrimental effects and which acted positively to create change – hence the decision to support your organisation.”
“I want to contribute towards creating a more inclusive society which is why I am supportive of the organisation. I joined Book club to learn first-hand from others about their life perspective and experiences and to explore together how to work towards a more inclusive society. Book club has challenged my thinking, enabled deeper self-reflection, and given me a greater awareness of others. It has also equipped me to contribute to change in my workplace such as establishing policies, procedures and recruitment processes that are more inclusive. I am also working on anti-racism training for managers and practitioners in Early years education.”
What have you learnt since starting the book club?
- I have learnt that I did not have a clue about so much
- I have discovered that Individuals affected by racism each have their own stories which led me to realise the problem of racism is more nuanced than I imagined. Therefore, there wasn’t going to be a fix for/in our faith group.
- Finding out about racism has led me to understand there are all kinds of prejudices and inequalities.
- There is so much work required to dismantle systems and confronting institutions that perpetuate racism. These seem out of reach for me but there are smaller things that I can do too.”
“Being a member of the book club has informed, shocked and saddened me, yet motivated me to want a fairer society where all members have equal value and opportunities.”
Why do you support the work of Blueprint for All?
“Because you are the ‘boots on the ground’ in ways that we can’t be, particularly in the bigger picture of systemic change. All the members of the book club are thinking about ways we can make changes in our workplaces, challenge rhetoric in our friendships and families around race and use our white privilege but that also includes giving our money in ways to support the ongoing work of dismantling racial discrimination.”
“As an educator myself, working with young people in the primary sphere, and in a school which is made up of over 90 percent BAME pupils, I am likewise committed to nurture ‘an inclusive society in which everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity or background is provided with tangible opportunities to thrive”
“Book club has been life changing and equipping. I am supportive of Blueprint for All because it tackles tough issues without apology and works hard to change society and individual lives.”
“That is one of the small things I can do; supporting people who are bringing a chance to turn round the opportunities of individuals; to help break cycles of inequality.”
“My work as a teacher in a primary school where 17 different languages were spoken and over 80% of the children were from BAME backgrounds opened my eyes to the richness of their cultures and some of the challenges they faced in our society. Your organisation aims to create a more inclusive society, giving every person the opportunity to reach their potential.”