Shake! was initiated in 2010 by Platform, the London-based arts, environmental and social justice charity, partly as a project to take a stand against overwhelmingly white environmental, cultural campaigns and NGO sectors, as representative of widespread racist inequality and inequity in British society. It also emerged from the desire to encourage young people to connect themselves to international stories of struggles, such as the murder of writer Ken Saro-Wiwa in Nigeria and the murder of student Stephen Lawrence in London.
The pilot programme was conceived by Ben Amunwa and Jane Trowell from Platform together with poet-facilitators Zena Edwards (VerseinDialog) and Sai Murray (Liquorice Fish), DJ Kirenga Kirengera Eric Soul (AFROGROOV), and Ana Tovey (Chocolate Films). The pilot venue-partner was Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, London.
Since its pilot in 2010, Shake! has developed into holistic social justice, trauma-informed, localised and globally connected community repair and cultural practice, connecting climate and social justice.
SHAKE! participants engage in dynamic workshops and skill-shares (creative writing & performance, film making, music production, zines, art and activism) & follow-up mentoring to pursue creative campaigning & events production.
Platform has hosted Shake! since the pilot. Hosting involves financial, fundraising and HR services, coordinator/director role, office space, resources and support, as needed. www.platformlondon.org
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.