It’s a bright new year and our editor, Siana Bangura, has a few words of encouragement for you…
Hello and happy new year (if it’s not too much of a reach to still say that a week a week into January!). I hope you had a restful festive season and a great winter break (if you were lucky enough to have one). It’s safe to say 2016 was wild. Wiiiiiiiilllllld. It was jaw-dropping, mind-boggling, and damn right exhausting to say the least – on a global scale. But as much as we all said we were done with 2016 and looking forward to 2017 swooping in to save the day, let’s keep it real: Trump officially gets his evil claws on the White House on the twentieth of this month, we’re marching closer towards Brexit (supposedly), and yes – Prince, Bowie, and George are still dead.
That said, regardless of the dumpster fire that was most of last year (and to be honest the year before that and the one before that and so on), a new year is always a chance for a fresh start. I don’t mean in the inevitably failed New Year’s Resolutions sense. Here at No Fly on the WALL we always try to be solution-focused and find ways of surviving and thriving, existing regardless – just as we’ve done over the last three years and just as we plan to continue.
This year’s theme is ‘Re-imagining’. This means all No Fly on the WALL Academy events will be curated with this theme in mind. We will be reclaiming our power as people, using our collective voices, taking up space, (un)learning together, and finding new ways to confront old problems. From re-imagining how we relate to each other and our communities, to re-imagining tired stereotypes, activism, the Black family, the infinite possibilities of Black British womanhood, and ultimately Black Britain, we hope to create spaces this year in which the seeds of revolution are sown and people connect, network, and build in a more meaningful way than ever before.
And in case you’ve forgotten, now is a great time to remind you of some of our key beliefs and principles – the very pillars that form the backbone of our movement:
- ‘Taking Up Space’: We believe marginalised voices must take up their rightful space in this world and deserve to have their voices heard, lived experiences believed, and should be visible in a world of constant erasure.
- ‘(Un)learning’: We believe that it is possible to unlearn the messed up shit society has taught us but it takes willingness. You must want to change.
- ‘Creating Safe Spaces’: We unapologetically advocate creating safe spaces and sista circles, free from the very voices that often drown us out. We do not subscribe to the shambolic and shallow misrepresentation of what a safe space is. Everybody, especially Black and Brown bodies, needs spaces in which to heal.
- ‘Community empowerment’: Too often we have to explain our humanity to those who seek to undermine it. We spend a lot of time trying to be accepted in societies that endeavour to exclude us, neglecting the work that needs to be done in our homes and communities. This is why community, networking, and understanding your neighbour is a priority for us. This is why we ask people from the same community to take up space and (un)learn together before tackling the big wide world and holding the same conversations. It’s important to know others are going through the same things you are.
We do everything with these values in mind.
Kicking off our ‘Re-imagining’ series is our first event, ‘Re-imagining Black Love as Revolutionary’, taking place on Thursday 16th February, hot off the heels of Valentine’s Day. What better way to start this journey than with love? We will explore, deconstruct and ultimately reconstruct our ideas of Black Love – in all its forms – and how it can be revolutionary. Yes, romantic love will be an important part of the discussion, but for any kind of love to be revolutionary it must start with self-love. What is self-love and how do we express this? How do we perform this? How do we as activists and the people at large, now more than ever, practice self-care? What role does religion, sexuality, and even social media play in the Black love revolution? What of those who choose to love people outside of the Black community? And how about queering Black Love? What about platonic love across our intersections?
The word ‘revolution’ itself cannot be formed without the word ‘love’, so it is appropriate we start from there.
As well as working with old friends, we will be collaborating with new friends too. We will be taking our message outside of the M25 and holding events in Birmingham and other parts of the UK this year – your prayers have finally been answered.
As well as our great event in February (for which you can book tickets HERE), we will also be holding three wonderful events which will form our International Women’s Month programme – each event will be in collaboration with organisations and venues we’ve not previously worked with. We’re spreading our wings. We’re also excited about screening a brilliant film in April (we’ll tell you more soon) and hosting a Q&A with some bombass babes after it. In the summer, we plan to bring you all together and re-imagine what Black Britain could look like.
So, we here at No Fly on the WALL are looking to the future. This year we will turn four. I often think back to when this platform first started and how remarkably different the landscape for Black British women was back then. Three to four years later there are so many other platforms, organisations, and voices working towards uplifting and empowering Black British women and Black women living in the UK, sprinkling Black Girl Magic in every corner of British Babylon and beyond. When the chips are down, this is one of the thoughts that keep me hopeful. Last year Queen Bey told us to get in formation and Solange urged us to take a seat at the table (that we built I might add). We at No Fly on the WALL will keep doing just that.
The hashtag for this year’s theme is #NFotWReimagines . I look forward to welcoming you to our events, interacting with you through our social media channels, and engaging in conversation using the hashtag.
Expect more thoughtful content on our ever-developing website (did you notice the recent makeover?!) and more brilliant events from our Academy this year. Expect us to keep disrupting the status quo in our little way and expect us to keep championing Black British women and all those who find themselves on society’s periphery. Yes, the far-right have been given a new injection of life and in many cases, new validity. But we’d also like to remind you that there are more of us spreading light than those spreading darkness and hatred. We want you to remember this when it gets rough out here, and above all else, we invite you to re-imagine the infinite possibilities for what could be, with us.