Last year, Greater Manchester Tenants Union and Repeater Books co-hosted an online discussion on the themes of Joy White's book 'Terraformed: Young Black Lives in the Inner City', with a comparative look between Manchester and London. You can rewatch the entire discussion here, but below, with the support of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, we publish an edited transcript of the conversation.
Joy White: Thank you for inviting me. So, by way of introduction - there was a report last week by the Runnymede Trust, called Pushed to the Margins: Gentrification in London in the 2010s. One of the things the report said was that one of the most gentrified boroughs was the London Borough of Newham, the focus of my book. So the gentrified aspect of Newham and the consequences of that is one way of looking at where we are. I am just going to offer another way of looking, by starting with a reading from the book. Once I have done that, I am going to show two short clips of music videos that I refer to in the book and talk a bit about that, and to think about the impact of gentrification, austerity and neoliberalism on Young Black Lives in the Inner City.
So I will start by reading from the book.
On average, people in Newham die younger, earn less, and are more likely to be out of work. There was a social and economic cost to these challenges. For the council, one way forward in branding Newham as a desirable area, is to create an urban village, populated by better off residents that do not pose a question or add to the costs of an already stretched public purse. Gradually, the Forest Gate area has begun to change, and an ongoing period of adjustment is in motion, as the Crossrail development takes place. The resulting work on Forest Gate station, and a redevelopment of the High Street, signal the arrival of the urban village. Other modifications are also visible. The children from the secondary school in Forest Lane are no longer allowed out at lunchtime. So you no longer see adolescents in the street during the daytime. There is a weekly farmers market on the corner of Seabrook road, offering organic foodstuffs. The railway tavern, the old pub, has been rebranded and becomes Forest Tavern after refurbishment, with folk music providing a new sonic backdrop.
Slowly but surely I come to realise that it is the young black adults that are less visible in these settings - in many of the communal, social and retail places, they are missing. When I walk through Forest Gate now, I can hear music, laughter, chatter. A plethora of sounds that let me know that young black adults are an existence. Just not outside, in the public arena. Those who take up space in the street are older people and newcomers - maybe in their late 20s and early 30s; sometimes with small children. Their presence brings different sounds. Grime music and rap both play a key role in the production of place, as a setting, the physical built environment of the street corners, the estates, street corners and basketball courts. And as a setting for daily social interaction - hanging out on the block. The dynamic interrelationship between music and place is disrupted, as social interaction takes place mainly online or indoors. Social interactions fire the geographical imagination, and allows for a sonic imagining of place. Music becomes a force that defines place, and for black youth in Newham, it is enhanced by Black Atlantic flows that fuse together the local, the national and the global.
Joy then showed two films:
So I selected those two videos because they are very very local. Both of those videos are about Forest Gate. In the first one you see lots of young people in a group, in the blocks that are now defined as the badlands. Having fun, staking a sense of belonging in local landmarks. Being together in groups. When you look further on in the video you see the usual tropes, e.g. sitting on a wall, stuff that young people do in groups.
And then we run along to 2016, and the video is more polished. Most of it is shot by a drone, so you can see most of the landmarks I talk about in the book - the high street, the local shops, the train station and so on. But what is interesting in the second one is that right at the beginning is a news clip. The clip refers to a video that was one of the videos that Newham Council asked YouTube to remove in the run up to the Olympics. Newham Council had a purge of videos that they said represented gang violence. So a member of staff went through and they selected just over 70, and they were removed from Youtube.
So I placed those two, and the reading, to open up the discussion. What does it mean to grow up in the city at a time of austerity, in the midst of forty years of neoliberalism, in the midst of a hostile environment? What does it mean to try and grow up to be an adult at the time when there are challenges around housing, around work, and just around moving through the city. Essentially, that's what the book is about, and I am just kind of throwing it out there to say let's talk.
Ekua Bayunu: Thank you Joy. One of the things we have begun to explore is where those crossovers exist in Manchester as well. Some of the specifics about who belongs where, and what that belonging means; who is championing and supporting that belonging. Who is on the side of these communities, and how are they being framed so they are under attack? I don't know who I want to bring in first to maybe comment a little on what Joy just read out, in terms of how it resonates. Maybe I'll start with Thirza, with how it resonates with your experience of also being a mum bringing up children in Moss Side, in inner-city Manchester. And also your own experience of trying to develop organisational structures to support those young people.
Thirza Rae: Thank you. Can I say, what an amazing book Joy. It was a pleasure to read, and I could relate to it on many levels. Growing up in Manchester, and the gun and gang culture back then in the 80s and 90s in Moss Side in Manchester; I could relate to some of the stereotypes and seeing some of the groups of Black brothers on bikes, or just hanging around really. I have three young boys, the youngest being four and the eldest being eight. So they are not at that stage where I am actually panicking and worrying when they go out and things like that, but I do work with a lot of youth through the charity that I am co-founder of. Looking at that video, the short clip and the part that you read got me thinking, what is in the youths' mind? What do they think of the world they are in, and what is available to them? Besides the community, besides all the other structures that we know fundamentally don't support them. That is where my thoughts went. Where do they see themselves in five or ten years, is that a thought process that they have? Do they have those sorts of discussions amongst themselves? But also that the two videos show how much they are getting better and upskilling themselves in how they do production. That's what I could take away from that comparison. So there are skills built into us, it is just a question of harnessing them.
Nigel de Noronha: I just wanted to pick up on something about the term hostile environment. I think there has been a hostile environment in parts of our city for many years. When I was a young activist it felt like there was hostility. And I think within that national picture of hostility to people who are black and brown in Britain, there is a particular place that Forest Gate police station has in that history. I don't know Newham very well, but one time I did go there was to support a group called the Newham Eight, who were young Asians attacked by police when they were escorting their younger siblings back home from school. There was a march and a meeting where Kwame Touré spoke. The reason I am raising that, I suppose, is that the racialisation of different groups changes over time. Forest Gate was implicated in that particular racialisation of Asians as a threat; the police defending the fascists right to attack them. Later on as you can read in Joy's book, or you hear about it, a kind of cleansing the streets for gentrification in Newham. In between the police have been quite involved in activities around anti-terrorism, and raiding houses of people believed to be muslim extremists. I think this is a continuing pattern. I am not so familiar with the activities at Moss Side police station, but I can remember it as an imposition on the landscape - where police officers were sent to what they called internally 'the jungle', to learn how to conduct themselves in, and how to create a hostile environment in Moss Side. That was in the 70s and 80s. I'll stop there, but I wanted to bring that idea of the hostile environment as a continuation of what people have experienced in our communities for many years.
Ekua Bayunu: Joy, you refer to that, you detail how the hostile environment is a term that we are using now, but actually if you go into legislation and go into practice and its details, this has been around for a long time. One thing I find really important about the book is about getting people to understand the impact - the drip drip or smash, explosion impact - of existing and trying to exist, live and love, and all those other things and being creative in that backdrop. How do you move through that landscape with a sense that you have a future? When you see around you constantly futures being cut, whether that's through prison, violence related to police action, or violence that turns in on itself in response to the pressures.
I found your bringing of the sonic landscape into this so important as well. So you talk about people buying houses and no-one objecting to the sound of them going in there, knocking down walls, putting skips on the road, putting up with the noise of having your house refurbished. That isn't demonised, but the sound of young black adults is. Everything in terms of their laughter, the loudness, the music. That indicates criminality. The other indicates wealth and aspiration. Do you think you are more aware of that sound and think it has a strong influence on everyone around, in terms of the changing sound of Forest Gate?
Joy White: It's a really interesting question. Part of the reason I wrote the book was because I was having these conversations in various places with different young people and there were always these questions about… well, why is it so difficult, why is it so hard? Why is it so hard to move on with your life, to get to the next stage of your life, which was to be an independent adult. Because of the way that neoliberalism as an idea is common sense now - if you work hard you'll get there, just put the work in and you'll get there. The point you were making about turning these feelings inward, that seemed to be happening a lot. It comes back to Thirza's point as well of what goes on in people's minds when they are trying to be them? Trying to be them when they are trying to live and flourish in a hostile environment that has been in existence for decades.
My research area has been about contemporary black British music, particularly Grime, and I have been writing about that for a long time. Newham was one of the birthplaces of Grime, so what was really interesting for me is - how does that sound just become mute now? What gets lost in the gentrification process? Somewhere in there there is the assumption that what is there already has no value, it is not important - in terms of not just the physical, the built environment, but sometimes what the people bring as well. So I was just trying to work out how all of those things work together in terms of the planning policies, the legislation. That is not always about the criminal justice system, there are some other ways of using legislation in terms of environmental, in terms of noise, where you can control young people's behaviour, control how they live, and give them quite an easy entry into the criminal justice system as well. To think about that sonic landscape, and what sounds are acceptable, and who is allowed to make them and when. And what constitutes an acceptable sound?
I have watched from my window once, and wrote about this in another book chapter - hearing young people outside and making a noise, and being stopped by the police because they were shouting. They were shouting because they were excited about a football match they were watching. And that was enough to be stopped on the street, to be searched, to have their car searched and so on. Youthful enthusiasm about a sporting match or football match is acceptable in other places - it just depends on who is doing it. And coming back to the early part of the discussion about who belongs, and who is allowed to belong, and who is able to occupy the space and how. Who is able to occupy the space and who has to be silent?
In terms of how young people develop their skills, competence and confidence through music and the allied professions, I have written about that in other places. It's quite evident that young people use their passion and interest in music to create all kinds of skills, and work for themselves and other people as well. Somehow we end up with a musical form that was very local, that then travels out around the world. Yet, even though that is celebrated on some levels, it is still subject to those disciplinary techniques and exclusionary practices that make it very difficult for some young people to take part in a musical form that they help to create - and I think that tells us something about the society and the environment that we have created for young people today.
Ekua Bayunu: Absolutely. The energy to keep on striving to own yourself authentically, and then to own the product of your creativity on your own - and as you say the wide range of skills that develop out of that. As you said Thirza, you are the mother of three. How does that impact you? You were saying you don't have the 'panic' yet, of them being out on the street. You don't have it yet, but you are living with it now, and you know - you must wonder how that impacts on how you are preparing your children.
Thirza Rae: Yeah. You're right. It just made me think about the work I do with the youth out in Manchester at the moment. They are as good as my sons, and that is what I see when I am working with young boys to try and break that whole school to prison pipeline that we know exists. We can talk a bit about education and institutions, but one thing Joy did say that made me think was about the fact that racism has existed for decades and decades. It made me think of the time we are in now. Like Covid, it came about and it had various variants. Similar to racism over the years, we have various variants of racism that have formed. What I have felt is that various institutions have chosen not to create a vaccine, to get rid and stamp out racism. It is something that we all, as people of race, have experienced.
So for me, as a community activist, as a mother, as someone who has had lived experience and subjected to racism myself directly, it is concerning. I am doing the groundwork in preparation for my boys turning into men, but it is not easy and it is not something I can achieve on my own. So working together, collaborating, networking with people who are like minded has helped me feel a bit reassured. Not only am I going to educate them as boys themselves. It starts at home, but they go out into communities, into institutions and into the greater world to learn. We don't have all the answers as parents, but what we want to do is make sure we set the foundation right. Then we must tackle systemic racism within a lot of institutions out there in the UK
Ekua Bayunu: I think one of the things you said there which struck me is that it is an ever-changing world. While bringing up our young people with the reality of their world, they are living it, we are trying to talk to them about it, and offer solutions. That is changing. One of the interesting things Nigel when you were talking about the interaction you had with Newham and the Newham Eight, is we are always talking about a changing political landscape. I think there has been a concerted political effort to disunify the communities who are at the receiving end of racism, how it is institutionalised and how it plays out in our lives. So you are talking about an incident that was happening around South Asian young people, and we are talking about African heritage young people. And what has happened is that disassociation of that crossover of what we have to deal with and tackle. There are a number of factors that have caused it, and I wonder how you feel about that? What do you see as that journey from them in Newham to now?
Nigel de Noronha: I suppose if I had been asked the question over a year ago, I would have been much more pessimistic, and gone back over the history of the way we were divided by little pots of state money that made us choose an identity that wasn't about the experience of racism. I think what Black Lives Matter has done, and the way it has galvanised young people, and lots of us older people as well in the last year, has been to resurrect that idea that what we are fighting against is racism. It is not about our cultural identity, or preserving the boundaries between us and different people. That supports the hierarchy of racism, which has not really gone away. I know the biological hierarchy of race was disproved, but it has been replaced by a cultural hierarchy of race, which is pulled up at different times and I am sure forms part of a lot of the training, or undercurrent - the real meaning of the training that goes on about cultural awareness in our institutions. So I am quite hopeful that we are re-learning those messages that what we are fighting against is racism, rather than our individual ways of being treated because of aspects of our identity. So that is really positive.
I think I would like to draw on one other parallel. At the time of the Newham Eight, there was a new young breed of Labour councillor taking over from what they saw as the corrupt old guard. And they are still in power - but you look at their actions in that period, they came to be on the side of minority communities across Manchester, they supported immigration campaigns, they funded anti-racist activities of sorts around immigration, and made commitments about achieving equality in 2010 across major areas of the city. I suppose it would be nice Ekua, as a Councillor, if you were to remind those leaders that they seem to have forgotten that mission statement. That their process of developing the city, and working with institutions like the university, is actually impinging on the rights of people in Moss Side to expect their families to be able to move near them. But the space in Moss Side is under similar attack to Newham. Maybe a bit behind, maybe a bit forward; but I think the role of the University in that is very different to what Newham experiences.
I think at the heart of that is these leaders, so in terms of Newham, the Mayor and his creation of the vision for Newham, which was one that required ethnic cleansing. And similarly, I think the vision of the development of Manchester to grow the population, is naturally going to spill outwards from the developments in the centre into the residential areas around. So we can already see in Beswick, in the neglect that is being put on these estates that are still social housing estates, and the fact that developers are being encouraged to occupy space to create new spaces. Hulme has been completely transformed from a place for social housing for people to live, into a kind of combination of a landlords' paradise, because half of the houses are owned by landlords, and a set of secure gated communities for the affluent, who don't really want to travel very far for their entertainment and their work.
I went on a tangent there, but I wanted to bring in this question of leadership - which I think is, you know, our Labour Party that ruled in both Newham and Manchester, claimed to be radical in the 90s, claimed to represent the communities that were part of it. But at the same time, the plans they developed after that were very much about replacing those communities with people who can pay more taxes, who can consume more, and who can develop the economy. Because people who look like us were seen as unproductive.
Joy White: It's interesting isn't it, that vision that blurs out the communities that are there already - those communities being seen as having little value, little to offer, and somehow costing more. So in Newham, they are trying to rebuild it now, but with the austerity agenda they cut 80% of their youth services. So what do we think is going to happen, when young people have nowhere to go and nothing to do? At the same time their parents are kind of squeezed and pressed, because of the type of work that's available, the zero hours, the so-called gig economy. All of these things, people doing long hours. As communities we are supposed to take care of our young people - where is the vision for that?
The vision is this dystopian housing environment, where we get tall building after tall building, penthouse after penthouse. Very very expensive accommodation is being built, but the average salary or wage hasn't increased, and so it becomes more and more out of reach. So if you can't have anywhere to live, or a hope of anywhere to live - then what? And that has an impact on how active people can be in their communities, how much they can resist some of the things going on. But like all of you, I have hope. I see the hope despite everything, communities do come together in real life and online. I see young people doing some very active organising and trying to make a difference. And I see the hope that always always comes from creativity - making things, making music, making music that matters not just to them but to others as well. That is despite all the crackdowns and resistance from other places as well.
Ekua Bayunu: There are two things that just happened - one, was that Nigel just laid down a challenge to me as a new Councillor to look at what is happening in Manchester. And I grab it with both my hands. As I think I have told you before, I am an artist, so I am an artist-politician. I think that is really crucial in terms of bringing that knowledge and that passion for supporting that creativity, as a solution tool within this.
As I said, I am still living in Moss Side. Like every area, it is divided into little areas. I used to live on the west side of the Princess Parkway, where terraced houses were flattened and new houses were put on top of them - it's called the Alex Park estate. I now live on the east side, which is still the old terraced housing. One of the things when I was living on the other side, I was told - the problem is Ekua, you live here, but you're not from here. So a really poignant reminder of what the stresses are is in that phrase.
I remember too, witnessing an episode that I challenged. I was in my house, looking across the street, two young boys probably around my son's age, climbing a tree. A tree, not in anybody's house, just on the side of the road. A police car pulled up, started to talk to the boys who were climbing the tree. I thought - what on earth are they doing, so I came out to have a listen. The kids were being challenged - what are you doing, why are you doing it? So, I went - wait up, why are you challenging two young children for climbing a tree? With everything else going on in the world in terms of drugs coming into the area, and so on and so on. It was a weird thing - I don't know if it was because of my presentation or what, it was like watching their brains switch. They had such a narrative that everything a young black man did was bad and had to be questioned and challenged, that they themselves when it was pulled up was like, oh yeah - what on earth are we doing? How do we work with them, how do we get through to the human beings who are the actors, who are acting out the racism in the institutions?
When we come to the role of leadership, and young people's voice in that, and also Councillors, I think it is really important to call on people like myself and encourage others to wrest power back. Our voices need to be heard, because we are excluded all the time. How do we fight together through the books we write, the organisations we set up, through the education process of politics and the creativity and the young people. How do we work together to address this? That is my challenge back to you guys.
Thirza Rae: I think there is a lot of activism and groundwork that I do here in Moss Side Manchester. Not only do I do the work with my youth charity, GREAT, but the work I do as a community activist with a group of other people. Some I went to school with, some I hung out with at the youth club. We have come together to form a Concerned Citizens group, and we regularly feedback to each other, capturing things in real time that happen on the streets of Moss Side.
There are times when we are on the ground when something happens to oversee what the police are doing. A few years ago there was an incident, the stabbing of a young Somalian boy not far from where I live. I recorded it, sent it onto the group, and before I could even bat my eyelids, I was getting support from fellow community activists. We have to be community guardians. If we were going to sit down and wait for the police to do it, or funding for the Council to put things in place, we are failing ourselves and our children. That is my view. We are utilising the time that I have, and physically getting out there, being out there, capturing, sharing and working alongside others that are like minded. We need people that see what we see and are like-minded to push the agenda forwards.
Joy White: I was just going to say that one of the things that has struck me - and it's one of the reasons I wrote the book as well - is for the past to be in conversation with the present. So when Nigel was talking about the Newham Eight. That was forty years ago wasn't it, and yet these kinds of challenges that young people face have been in existence since then. There is a continuity there, and I think that one of the things that we can do is try and bridge that disconnect between young people now, and where we were and what we did. To listen, and to listen quite closely to what they are saying, and pay less attention to how they are saying it. Because sometimes in the drive for respectability and for everything to be ok, we drown their voices out - they are not saying things in a way that we want to hear. So when we hear those lyrics and hear that creative expression, then I think as a community - or as communities - we ought to pay attention and take that up as well.
Nigel de Noronha: I'm a bit thrown by this question really. I suppose in my journey from being an activist to now being an academic - I kind of played around in policy roles for a long time. I actually thought for a long period that policy made a difference. But I have come to the conclusion that that isn't true. To tell a very short story - so my research interests are in housing, and once I met with the GM policy unit New Economy before we had an elected mayor for Greater Manchester. They were looking at how to develop the private rented sector and their method was to ask people like them what they wanted for the private rented sector. So it is not difficult to see why the needs of Black communities for housing are not really being addressed; because the people selecting it and looking at it were living in a little bubble. That is the kind of shape of spatial planning that we experience. That is just a quick story to explain how I think the research I do is all about supporting those that are actively resisting the forces of neoliberalism. I am probably quite a distance away from young people in Moss Side, but I am hopeful that some of the work I do will contribute to some of their resistance through the Black Lives Matter movement and some of the other campaigns that will emerge in the future.
Thirza Rae: Can I just interject there quickly? You're quite right in what you have said, because we do need to attack this from all angles. I really don't think there is this one symmetric way we need to function to eliminate and eradicate this. So while we are on the streets, out there, working with the young people, doing the groundwork and being there; there is also the overarching research you are doing, the policies that have been put in place, being sat at the right table when you are negotiating and asking these questions. Certain voices - our voices, people like me, need to be in those strategic positions. It is one thing to fight on the ground and do all we do as community guardians, protecting and making sure that police are not doing stuff that they shouldn't. Making the community and the youth in the community feel like they are not on their own - it's not them against the world. But also having people in positions; very high up, and tackling it from that angle too. So there is a lot of work - but there is a lot of us!
Ekua Bayunu: It's really interesting, and I am going to bring you in as well Joy, because in many ways I have come to think during this conversation that we are a bit of a dream team. I am agreeing with Thirza that the work you are doing Nigel is really important, the reflective work and the research. Joy has been able to bring both together through her academic work and the ethnographic way she writes, where she places herself in that writing, actually provides a way of presenting that research which is totally accessible. And so if you put me in the mix of that, in terms of a local councillor connected to this, you have a circle of all of us being able to work together. What we really would need is a young person on this panel as well - but we know they are there and we would raise their power and raise their voices.
What I think is really exciting is that the Greater Manchester Tenants Union, a member-led organisation with a focus on empowering people to take control of their housing and their housing issues is understanding more and more about what is the backdrop by which you empower people to take control. So we have just affiliated to the No Police in Schools Campaign. There was quite a debate about it, with members asking what it has got to do with housing. But it is the exact pressures that our families are under. We have a very low black membership at the moment, so part of this work is about increasing it. What we understand is, we are talking about families who are under multiple pressures. One of those pressures is about keeping our kids alive, so there is a future to hand onto. So they are able to be that future, to take our work and take our generation.
So we understand that we have to support our communities at every point that they are facing attack and pressure, in order for them to have some space for them to be able to sort out the issues in their housing. Because there is always going to be that choice - I have made it a million times as a single parent. Do I spend time with my children after an exhausting day at work, or do I sort out my housing? Sometimes you live with bad repair - you just don't have the headspace to deal with it. What are the choices you make, when your child is brought back to you by the police? I remember my son and his cousin, brought back by this massive police officer because they had been out in Chorlton at 11 o'clock at the chip shop. I think my son was 16 or 17, and the other was 15, so they weren't tiny kids. It was more like they wanted an entry into my house, to see what kind of bad drug taking mum I was. Sadly for them, then they got me. But often they will get people under pressure who are angry and pissed off that they are coming to their door and a massive six foot seven guy has got their hands on their kids. They also then hoped for the alternative - the parent who would clip their kids for bringing themselves to the attention of the police. I did neither - I just said thank you for bringing them home, I am sure they were perfectly safe but I appreciate your concern, and shut the door. So there is I think that circle of how we really understand the pressure points, tackle them, and we do it collectively. So dream team - any final words?
Joy White: I wanted to say that hearing the contrasts and parallels between Manchester and London has been eye-opening. We have to approach these things collectively on more than one level through more than one lens. For me, young people's voices and lives have to be at the real centre of that because for too long they really have been pushed to the margins. So we have gone from a place where we were speaking as young people as being the future, and now they have been literally rendered out of time and out of place, particularly young black people. So I think anything we can do collectively to address that - because you know, we can't wait. It's too important, it's too serious, there is too much going on. We can't wait. We have to continue to act and act collectively, because that was the thing that got us here - that dispersal and disruption of communities.
Thirza Rae: Can I get a word in before the last word? Because as you talk you remind me of events and civil unrest, and it shouldn't take civil unrest. But I talk about Mark Duggan's case, where civil unrest took place across the board. That civil unrest was not orchestrated. There was a collective group that showed their distaste for what the police had done; and it went right across regions. The youth were displaying their anger and annoyance about what had taken place in Tottenham. So for me there is so much power in the youth, there is so much skill, knowledge. There is so much to be harnessed in our Black young people, that we can't sleep on the job, we can't give up, and collectively we have to tighten those strings and collectives and to some extent flex where we have that strength to do so.
Ekua Bayunu: Absolutely. Nigel?
Nigel de Noronha: I am going to be boring and say - we need to learn from the past. The past doesn't dictate what we do, but I think there are lots of lessons in what has happened before. I know the state has also learnt from the past, so the systems of control are much more severe now; it is much harder to resist in lots of ways. We can look at the way that deportation has been weaponized, the detention centres that have come into place, the flights, the privatisation of that whole system of what we would call the hostile environment. It is frightening, but resistance is still possible. I think some of the lessons of mobilising and building that resistance are there to be learnt, and I think we now have more fruitful space in which to have those conversations. As I said, two years ago it felt like I was harking back and I was talking nostalgically for times when we could do things - now it feels like the conditions are there for that resistance to develop.
Ekua Bayunu: Yeah we are beginning to find ways to wrest that power back into our collective action. It is really interesting in terms of learning from the past - there have been two things I have been thinking about. One thing I have learnt here in Manchester is what happens when the young cannot learn from the experience of the older ones. Our young people have been ripped of any opportunities to learn from their elders. So a 14 year old boy is having to work it all out without the presence of a 35 year old dad or uncle. Do you know what I mean? That is one thing. The other thing that I look at in the past are the lessons from the freedom struggles, particularly on the African continent. How they control us, how they suppress us and how we unify and work. The last thing that I also want to say clearly is that if you look at history, any win that we make, all people win. The changes we make in society, when we battle for our rights, when we battle for our lives, create positive change, particularly in the lives of all working class people. So this Black Lives Matter should be Black Lives Matter to everyone because we make a difference. That is a lesson we can definitely learn from the past and one we can shout loudly so that our allies can come on board and understand they are not anti-racist because they are nice, kind people, they are doing it because it serves all our interest to do it.
Joy White: Thank you for inviting me - it's been really interesting for me to see how the book has been taken up and in what way, and hearing the practical application of what is in there has lifted me. You never know when you are writing something or researching something where it is going to end up. It is a strange book. It doesn't fit neatly into any academic discipline, it is a bit of a messy ethnography. Somebody said it was driven by love and rage, and I think that is true. But what I really wanted to come across was the hope - the hope of a better world, and that is what we are working towards; and I am enthused and inspired by the conversation we have had today because that better world is possible and there are ways we can work to make that happen.
Joy White is Lecturer in Applied Social Studies at University of Bedfordshire and author of Terraformed: Young Black Lives in the Inner City Urban Music and Entrepreneurship: Beats, Rhymes and Young People's Enterprise, one of the first books to foreground the socio-economic significance of grime music.
Ekua Bayunu is an artist and community organiser in Moss Side, and the Labour Councillor for Hulme. She is Chair of Greater Manchester Tenants Union anti-racism committee.
Thirza Rae is the Chair of the Greater Manchester Tenants Union and the founder of GREAT, a youth charity working in Moss Side.
Nigel de Noronha is a Research Associate at Manchester University, interested in housing, inequality, social justice, race and migration. He is a member of the Greater Manchester Tenants Union.