You’ve survived January – the longest and most awful month of the year. You are now knee deep in February. It’s been a while since we’ve spoken (online) and you might be wondering where we have been. Well, since October 2015 team No Fly on the WALL have been beavering away in the background (offline), whipping our beloved child into shape (not literally) and planning how we’d take our work to the next level in 2016. As well as holding our first Black History Month brunch time talk last October, we also celebrated the talents of Black British female poets and singers at our SHEroes of No Fly on the WALL event at SOAS in November and in December, we held Christmas drinks to wind down and enjoy the great company of our regular No Fly on the WALLers. We then took a much needed winter break and returned in January – offline – starting as we mean to go on in terms of productivity. We held a focus group at the start of the year to gather the thoughts of people who have kept a close eye on our journey, have read our articles and blog posts, and those who have attended one, some, or all of our events and workshops in 2015. It was a fantastic session of learning and discovery. Later in the month, we held our first workshop of the year (tickets were snapped up in a matter of hours), in which we explored the concept of ‘taking up space’ and (in)visibility. Again, that was a really positive experience and a great time to gather and ask ourselves very personal questions and outline our aims and goals for this year, starting to map out how we’ll reach our destinations. Our workshop attendees left feeling affirmed, refreshed, and ready. And at the start of this month, we held our first Fly Girlz Brunch. Our guest speaker was the wonderful Guilaine Kinouani, and a group of 15 black women gathered together to discuss black women’s pain and vulnerability. Tickets for the event were snapped up in an hour. There were tears, there was lots of laughter, heaps of discussion, and certainly some healing.
And that’s how the No Fly on the WALL HQ is feeling: affirmed, refreshed, and ready – ready to laugh, learn, unlearn, and heal with our siblings and community. Working in activist spaces can get tiring and there are many lows as well as highs, which is why it’s important to take time to regroup, refocus, and replenish. Having done all that, we’re pleased to let you know what you can expect from us this year: a new podcast series (No Fly on the WALL in conversation with…); great articles and more letters from the editor; a monthly mailing list; Twitter chat sessions; and of course events, events, events. We know that more than anything, the No Fly on the WALLers like to gather together in real life, take up space, and have important discussions face-to-face offline. With that in mind we’ll be bringing you more brunchtime talks, more workshops, and more networking events. We have a series of workshops on the way, facilitated by special guests – the first will take place on February 27th and will be led by Tobi Oredein of Black Ballad. In March our Women’s month programme kicks off. In April, our brunchtime talk will explore the black family in 2016; in April, No Fly on the WALL returns to Bremen, Germany and then, in the summer, we’ll be celebrating our third birthday on July 8th. Basically, it’s all happening.
As things change, the nature of our work and our method must respond in kind. We’re still around on the blog, on Facebook, and Twitter whenever you need us, but we believe that we’re entering a critical moment in the Black Feminist movement and the Black British Civil Rights Struggle. This means community building and carrying out meaningful grassroots work are vital. To do this we must gather together and take up physical space. So 2016 is the year of the No Fly on the WALL Academy. It’s the year of making words count by turning them in to action.
And speaking of action, two members of Team No Fly on the WALL are making their words count. Since June 2015, Siana Bangura and Troy James Aidoo have been working on a film investigating police brutality in the UK. The time has come for them to call upon their community for help. Over the next month they will be crowdfunding with the hope to raise enough money to buy new filming equipment and get the completed project screened and distributed this summer. In light of the recent death of Sarah Reed, a Black British woman brutalised the police, the need for action has never been more urgent. The death of Sarah Reed is certainly a Black Feminist issue.
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We’re keeping ourselves busy this year and we’re excited for all that is to come.
We look forward to welcoming new and old faces at Academy events and we look forward to seeing you all enjoy our new content.
Keep fighting the good fight and never ever ever be just a fly on the wall.
Team No Fly on the WALL.