Movements – 2010 onwards
Initiating Shake! 2010–12
Shake! was initiated by Platform, the London-based arts-activist organisation in 2010. The pilot programme was conceived by Ben Amunwa, with Jane Trowell from Platform, poet-facilitators Zena Edwards (©VerseinDialog) and Sai Murray (Liquorice Fish), DJ Kirenga Kirengera Eric Soul (AFROGROOV), Ana Tovey (Chocolate Films) and educator Ed Lewis. For the pilot, we collaborated with partner-venue the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, London. Thank you also to Kadija Sesay of African Writers Abroad for advice and support. Platform has hosted Shake! since the pilot. This involves supporting the director/coordinator role; financial, fundraising, comms and advisory services; office space and resources as needed. www.platformlondon.org
Establishing and growing Shake! – 2012 onwards
In 2012, Farzana Khan was appointed to lead and guide Shake! to a new level of impact. Relaunching after the pilot, together with Shake!’s young people and the Shake! core team – lead artists Zena (til 2016) and Sai; new facilitators Paula Serafini and Dhelia Snoussi – Farzana stewarded Shake! into the deeply transformative, youth-centred practice for which it has become acclaimed. As Creative and Strategic Director, Farzana also developed Shake!’s community building processes and healing justice ethos which Shake!’s young people have recognised again and again as core to their experience. Over this time, Shake!’s youth-led cultural productions, showcases and events achieved sell-out status for the calibre of artwork and the power of young artists’ performance. Shake! has packed audiences into venues such as Brady Arts Centre, Free Word Centre, and via Numbi Arts, our regular venue of Rich Mix, London.
In 2017, Farzana founded and is Executive Director of Healing Justice London, which she acknowledges is inspired and informed deeply by the work of Voices that Shake! Healing Justice London is partner to the Shake! the System trilogy of publications.
From 2019, the Shake! the System trilogy of publications has been overseen by Farzana and Artistic Co-Director Sai, in close collaboration with the rest of the editorial team, Tiff Webster, Rose Ziaei, Jane Trowell. This Anthology, the Research Report, and Guidebook honour 10 years of Shake!’s pioneering work – supporting, editing and amplifying young writers and artists, many of whom are published for the first time.
The following organisations have helped establish and grow Shake! over the decade. This is a non-exhaustive list. Some have been with us throughout and some for short periods of time and some in a seasonal way: AFROGROOV, Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Brady Community Arts Centre, @VerseinDialog, Free Word Centre, Globe Poets, Granville Community Kitchen, Healing Justice London, Liquorice Fish, Nawi Collective, Numbi Arts, Nuwave Pictures, Rainbow Collective, Raven Row Gallery, Rep the Road, Rich Mix, Stop the Maangamizi, Stuart Hall Foundation, Skin Deep, Stephen Lawrence Centre, The Albany
Shake! is funded by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and Arts Council England.
The Politics of Language and Imagery:
A Guide to Shake!s Terms and Images
Language and Terms
Shake! reaches towards building a full recognition of the cultural heritages of Shake!rs and those in our communities, while trying to capture our specific richness. The struggle to be named and reflected on our own terms, rather than to be described and racialised by white supremacy culture, is ongoing.
In our trilogy of publications – Anthology, Research Report and Handbook – the core Shake! Team uses the phrase Black people and people of colour.
We honour and respect folk with lived experience of being racialised who use other phrases and/or terms as identifiers that are unique and appropriate to them and their experiences. Shake! does not participate in erasure of language or self-identifiers of our communities. Shake! does not invalidate the use of terms used outside of Black people and people of colour.
When Shake! began, we worked with Black and brown people, transitioned towards Black and people of colour and lastly discussed whether or not to settle with Black people and people of the global majority.
We initially moved away from Black and brown due to feelings of the phrase felt restrictive and not acknowledging the full diversity of humanity. We choose to capitalise Black to acknowledge and highlight both the specific harms of anti-Black racism – which is not only a phenomenon of whiteness.
We moved towards Black people and people of colour as a solution to feeling that brown did not embrace the breadth of international cultural heritages which are racialised by white supremacy. However people of colour originated in the US with a US social and cultural framing. While in the UK we share similar levels of racialisation and racism due to historic imperialism, colonisation and the system of white supremacy and systemic racism manufactured and exported out from this land, the US experience, is also very specific in terms of US settler-colonialism, and can’t encompass the multiplicity of non-white experiences of the rest of the world. Consequently, this phrase did not feel fully representative and created concerns of centring whiteness and perpetuating whiteness as default and also suggesting white people are devoid of ‘race’.
People of the global majority coined by Dr. Barbara J. Love is inclusive of non-white folk around the world. It renders non-white people’s identities independent of whiteness, and it also affirms non-white people’s inherent power as the majority of the world’s population. (Lim, D 2020)
Although Black people and people of the global majority is a term we want to move towards, we agreed that it’s currently not a term that many of our young people are using, and could create a sense of alienation and inaccess to our readers.
Consequently, we settled with Black people and people of colour for our publications.
Language is political, but in and of itself is not our liberation. Terms and language are ongoing, constantly moving as power and resistance to oppression evolves.
By the time our publications reach you, the terms we use may have become outdated or even redundant. We encourage you to engage with these texts in a dynamic way that follows less the form and more the substance.
Photographs and contributions
The people who are visible throughout Shake!’s publications and online consented to their visibility.
However for many Shake!rs, allies, mentors, artists (Black people and people of colour, of diverse sexualities and sexual identities, from precarious economic circumstances, with varying cognitive, physical and mental health capacities) being visible puts us at daily risk of harm and abuse in oppressive cultures.
We recognise not everyone we want to honour and acknowledge from the Shake! community can be visiblised or made known, so we make an effort to uphold and remind ourselves that we travel with and protect those seen, unseen, known and unknown. As you make your way through these pieces of work we encourage you to hold the entire constellations behind Voices that Shake!
Partners & Friends & Allies
The following list of organisations and partners have helped establish and grow Shake! consistently over the decade.*
Nuwave Pictures, AFROGROOV, Numbi Arts, The Rainbow Collective, Globe Poets, Healing Justice Ldn, Stop the Maangamizi, Raven Row Gallery, Rich Mix, Liquorice Fish, Conversations: Verse in Dialog, Granville Community Kitchen, Stephen Lawrence Centre, Rep The Road, Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Brady Community Arts Centre, Free Word Centre, The Albany.
*This is a non-exhaustive list. Some have been with us throughout and some for short periods of time and some in a rotary and seasonal way.