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#BlackLivesMatter

Black square

It’s been a week since #blackouttuesday, a week of thinking and reflection. Last Tuesday was a busy day for FrancisKnight and it wasn’t until the end of the day that I checked in on our social media accounts.

Published date: 09 June 2020

I was completely taken aback at the black squares that came up. I had obviously completely missed something, not listened, not understood. I hadn’t missed the brutal death of George Floyd but what should I do? I didn’t know how to respond, I didn’t know what to say. Posting a black square with a hashtag wasn’t good enough. I started to educate myself, read more, listen harder, ask more questions particularly of myself and how we operate our business.

We are a female led business rooted in the arts but positioned within the construction industry. Let’s be clear, this isn’t an easy route, it’s a predominantly male sector with its own set of working practices and networks and we have worked hard to meet the challenges of building our business in this sector. But perhaps that’s the point, we’ve still had choice, encouragement, opportunities alongside hard work and determination. We are as a business a continual work in progress, finding our voice in a male dominated sector.

So, here’s where we start. We question our own practices, can we do more, can we do better? Undoubtedly. I started to digest information, it was overwhelming, I signed petitions, donated to funds, sought out trusted resources suggested by friends and colleagues. Action, that was what was needed, actions speak louder than words, don’t’ they? It started with conversations in my own family and within FrancisKnight. I’m thinking about it every day.

To start, some great resources shared by my good friend Kate Chapman, and if theatre is your thing she directs you to a collection of work by leading writers and performers. An emotional Vlog post ‘Leaders are Not Silent’ from Dr Wayne Wright, business coach and mentor from our home town, the impassioned and highly charged speech from Clara Amfo and revisiting Dave’s performance at the Brit Awards this year.

So where to start, well, it was a colleague we’re currently working with at bptw. Architect Peter Sofoluke, who gently suggested a couple of books. I’m an avid reader, so although Why I’m not Longer Talking to White People about Race Reni Eddo-Lodge, was temporarily out of stock it is downloadable from Audible, which has a 30-day free trial. If like me you love a podcast, the High Low by Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton offers up Anti-Racism Resources and an Author Special with Candice Brathwaite.

So that’s me at the moment, listening to Reni as she talks me through black history and systemic racism. This is what I had missed, not listened to, not understood. This is how I wake up, listen, try to understand and respond. Louise

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