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Monthly Archives: May 2009

This thread is to create an online archive of resources, tool-kits and strategies for anti-racist organising, and to better understand what terms such as “ally”, “anti-racist”, “white privilege”, “safe spaces” and “accountability” really mean. None of these pieces provide magickal answers, and all are open to further critique and reworking.

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Race, Privilege & Identity was a three day gathering that took place
in Bristol, UK, April 24-26th 2009

The decision to hold the gathering arose from discussions within various
connected queer communities in the UK in November-December 2008. These
suggested that there was a pressing need to explore issues around
anti-racism, disability in order to build stronger coalitions, address
power imbalances, and create safer spaces.

Originally the gathering was due to take place in Manchester. When it
became apparent that it was not going to happen there, a small group
of people decided to organise the event in Bristol. Everyone involved
was a volunteer. There was no formal funding for the event and a
breakdown of the costs is available on the blog:

https://raceprivilegeidentity.wordpress.com/2009/05/01/logistical-
feedback-from-the-gathering/

Over the course of the weekend patterns of conscious and unconscious
racist behaviour came to dominate the space, problems that were raised
throughout the weekend and were highlighted in the final plenary by a
group predominantly comprised of people of colour.

Examples of this behaviour are:

• White people dominating discussions, both verbally and emotionally,
and not being aware of how they take up space;

• Diverting conversations away from race;

• White people asking people of colour to educate them about their
oppression.

As white organisers of the gathering we take responsibility for how
the power dynamics were played out in the space. These issues were also
raised during the planning of the gathering and we recognize that we could
have implemented strategies that would have highlighted these behaviours
from the beginning of the event, so we would have been in a position to
better address them as they arose during the weekend.

We think that as a network it is important to recognise collective
accountability and ownership of these issues when they arise in the spaces
we create together.

We are keen to hear feedback from people who attended the gathering,
so that we can take what we are learning forward, as communities who
want to challenge racist structures and build relationships to overcome them.

Please send your feedback to this email address or post comments on the
blog so that they can be used as a resource for people who organising
future events.

The following statement was written by the white organisers of the Race,
Privilege & Identity gathering. Not all of the organisers were white.

In organising this gathering, I (Ryan) feel we should have been more up front
and transparent about a few things. First of all, I’ll give a full
breakdown of our costs and where our money came from through the
weekend, then I’ll say a bit about food.

Our highest individual cost was St Werburgh’s Community Centre. It was
wheelchair accessible and situated near enough to the centre of
Bristol both for people coming across the city and from out of town.
It was also the best location in terms of where our crash space was.
Also, compared to all the other suitable venues it was the least
expensive.

Of the rest of the money, the bulk of it was spent on food. Around
half was bought in bulk from the Essential Trading warehouse, a local
whole foods workers’ coop. The majority of the rest was bought from
the local Easton supermarket Sweet Mart, and the bread came from the
local vegetarian bakery Breadolution.

Various groups and individuals fundraised beforehand, and the rest of
the money we raised throughout the weekend. We also had a fundraiser
in Bristol before the gathering which lost money, resulting in one
member of the collective being down £85 of their personal funds. We
repaid this temporarily as a loan to the individual, but the
individual is committed to raising this to pay back to the gathering
at a future fundraiser in June.

We now have a surplus of £119 minus the cost of replacing a broken
cafetiere which was loaned to the gathering.

This money will be kept in Bristol until we can decide as a network on
a suitable project for it, but as a collective we are committed to it
going towards furthering anti-racist work.

Here is more of a breakdown:

Money in:

Manifesta (leeds) 107.5
Ladyfest London 150
Feminist Activist Forum 100 (50 donation, 50 loan)
FAG club fundraiser 40
Drunk Granny tour 38
Donations at event 697
donation towards food & drinks at kebele 18

Total 1150

Money Out:

St Werburghs 466
Photocopying 12
Resources (zines, pens, paper, etc) 70
kids’ space 10
veg 9
donation to kebele for space/kitchen hire 18
repaying travel expenses for asylum seeker participant 20
Food 291
Repaying FAF loan 50
Loan towards personal fundraiser loss: 85

Total 1031


VEGAN FOOD:

I also think it is worth talking about why all the food we provided
was vegan, as I find it problematic that we didn’t explain this
beforehand. I was coordinating food, I’m vegan for a number of
reasons, including personal health, animal rights, and land
use/sustainability. But this isn’t the time or place to talk about my
individual reasons, if you’d like to know more, email me
(aveganhaggis@gmail.com).

We tried to make this event as participatory and DIY as possible, but
when planning the food, other than providing tasty, nutritious food, I
also felt it important that we did as much prior preparation as
possible so that we could minimise the time people had to take out of
workshops to prepare food. Two of us (with occasional additional
volunteers) worked all day Friday to prepare the bulk of Saturday’s
meals plus the cake, and I chose jacket potatoes for Sunday as an
easy-to-prepare (well it would have been if the oven was working)
meal.

First off, we used Kebele for preparation, as it was cheap, local, and
had the necessary equipment, which St Werburghs didn’t (the kitchen
had very few utensils). Kebele is a vegan kitchen, so regardless of
our individual tastes, we had to respect that. Food hygiene is easier
to maintain with vegan food, as there is no risk of
cross-contamination with meats, eggs & dairy, and there are also fewer
worries in terms of storage temperatures.

It’s important to emphasise that vegan food is accessible to people of
many different cultures. Some cultures don’t eat particular types of
meat, some object to killing of animals outright, some won’t mix meat
and dairy. Vegan food is a safe bet, and covers all but those with a
particular intolerance, and where necessary we provided alternatives
for those with a wheat intolerance.

However the culture of veganism, or at least vegan catering, comes
from quite a specific background. I would guess that a large number of
the weekend’s participants came expecting vegan food, while for others
it would not have occurred to them, and this situation can be quite
alienating for individuals who are not “in the know”. So, what I’m
saying is that unless we want to appear to be an exclusive club that
you can only join if we are catering future events and serving vegan food,
we need to be up front about it and explain our reasons.

For more info on veganism:
http://vegansofcolor.wordpress.com/
http://www.vegansociety.com