We’re more than half way through the year and we (Ayeisha, Kennedy and Zahra) thought it was a good time to update on what KIN is up to since we’ve been relatively quiet on the external comms front since our 2019 international convening.
Up to this point
In 2018 we held our first convening in Brixton at the Black Cultural Archive. 30 activists, campaigners and organisers over three days from across the UK. The conversations and political thought that cascaded through the space were testament to the incredible participants. See the 2018 convening report here. Then in 2019, we held our international convening in Manchester. Almost 30 participants that represented four continents and nine countries filled the space. Solidarity, internationalist radical politics are values that resonated throughout the weekend we spent together. Read the 2019 convening report here. We also held a number of large social events where we brought folks together to break bread, make new connections and discuss the big questions of our time and what enacting change looks like.
In late 2019, we floated the idea of holding another convening in 2020, but we knew we needed time to take stock and revisit our strategy, to ensure our next steps made sense for KIN and what we could offer the radical change-making landscape.
2020: enter stage left. Early this year we held a number of strategy meetings and decided we needed to make KIN sustainable not only in strategy, but in structure too. Consequently, we were quieter on external communications and events, honouring the capacity we had and priorities we set. Since then we have been trying to secure funding to continue our work and to set KIN up as an independent organisation.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the disproportionate impact on people of colour and the hyper visibility of violence against black people in north America and the UK has only confirmed the need for a space where folks organising on the shoulders of black radical traditions to come together to learn, share, replenish and connect.
In the coming months KIN will be moving forward on plans to become incorporated giving us the ability to build a robust, sustainable organisation for Black activist, campaigner and organiser communities and individuals. Towards the end of the year we will be releasing our plans for 2021 and beyond so watch this space.
Kennedy, Zahra, Ayeisha x
Click here to download the report (report in collaboration with the Runnymede Trust)
Below is an exert from the report by KIN co-founder, Zahra Dalilah
The 2019 KIN convening was only made possible by the myriad of people who, months and years before we all found ourselves in that room in Manchester sat in a circle preparing to say our goodbyes, had opened
up a conversation about what magic could happen if you brought together activists and organisers from different movements, different countries and different walks of life to share. Share food, share stories, share ideas, share best practice. This idea became a team of people, this team of people grew, shrank, mutated, this team produced events, small, big, long short. After years of this one idea, months of planning this one event, weeks of last minute additions, changes of plans, and days spent together in this cold English city; how could we possibly honour the journeys - emotional, physical, spiritual - of those in that room as well as those who were not in that room but who were indispensable in making it what it was?
In facilitation we speak of ‘closing the space’ as an equally key part of the process as ‘opening the space’. These are terms used which speak to the intentionality with which we hope to enter and exit the meeting spaces. It is not just that we want to be together for a fleeting time and each present about the work - we come with the intention of connection, resonance, gratitude, growth and appreciation. As organisers and curators of the space we set this time aside to heed to these intentions, so that we are not only immersed in the content of the themed sessions but that we are also cognisant of the journey as we keep
making our along it. Time - it was true on this day - was not on our side during our last hour together as the
tyranny of the clock threatened the sanctity of the space we shared, the encroaching thought of trains and flight times pushing people’s minds out of the space, the rustling and crumpling disruption of those slipping out just in time.
Click here to read the full report.
Last week we launched our convening report with delicious food marinated in good vibes and a healthy side portion of politics. We’ve teamed up with leading race and equality think tank, the Runnymede Trust and produced a report based on the convening we held last year of over 40 black organisers, campaigners and activists.
The report, which is authored by the iconic Kimberly McIntosh covers a number of themes that emerged during the convening. For a taster, building unity across difference in black communities and the dissemination of organising tools are just a couple of them. Click here to download the full report.
In the summer of 2017, the word KIN began rolling off the tongues of a few Black British activists. In these conversations, ideas bounced around as we contemplated the many directions this new project, network, community could go in. A year and a half later, there has been boundless joy, hard conversations and fantastic events with brilliant people and even better food.
The vision was simple: a home for black activists. Not a physical home of course, as diaspora, our home will perhaps always be nomadic but a space to feel joyful, to feel understood, to feel connected, to feel powerful, to feel that as a family we have all that it takes to confront the issues of our time.
And whilst the work is never over, that bit, we did do. After what felt like a lifetime of strategy meetings and funding applications, KIN was born. We had a public face in the form of a website and social media platforms and not long after was in our first strategy meeting with 10+ incredibly awe-inspiring activists, campaigners and organisers. All of whom were there to envision what role we could play in providing a rejuvenating, informative and useful space for black people that are organising to radically change things for the better.
Fast-forward a few months and KIN ran a hugely successful launch event in East London bringing together people of colour from all manners of activist spaces, holding dialogue between generations, with artists celebrating our queerness, our blackness, our womanhood, our vulnerable masculinity and holding with beauty and grace the intense richness and diversity of the black experience.
This paved the way perfectly into our three day convening a month later at the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton. We hosted forty black activists from across the UK allowing a space for us to sing, shout and marinate on all the ways we as Black peoples in Britain can and do resist and build around the oppressive institutions that we survive. And eat. Lord did we eat.
Mid-way through the convening we once again opened our space out to the broader PoC community hosting a social which showcased the immense talent of the poets and musicians that were in attendance at the convening. Since then we’ve continued in the vein of collaboration, building a partnership with the George Padmore Institute. Like the Black Cultural Archives, GPI hold some truly important archives which document the history of resistance of Black people in the UK.
Through this partnership we’ve hosted further conversations between legendary activist Stella Dadzie and contemporary black feminists working in a UK context and hosted Dee Woods and Rehena Prior to explore what educating black children, can and should look like in Britain today.
As founders, it has been a huge eighteen months for us, none of which would have been possible without the nourishing support from our voluntary organisers and paid staff and of course every individual that attended the convening and came through to support each event we’ve hosted since day one.
2019 looks set to be another big year for us as we as founders take a breather and aim to pull in more paid capacity to allow KIN to grow beyond us. Next summer we’ll be holding another convening, this time bringing activists from far beyond the UK for an international convening. We’ll be getting out of London much more, further building a national network that supports Black British activists and this coming January we’ll be launching a report in partnership with Runnymede Trust, the race equality think-tank.
Moving into 2019 with gratitude and hope that we are able to continue in the work that we’ve been blessed to be able to do so far, we can only celebrate and give thanks to all of our kinfolk that made it possible and invite you all to continue in the journey as we go on.
Zahra, Ayeisha and Kennedy
The KIN Launch | Black British Activism: Where Are We At?
Words by Tito Mogaji-Williams
On the 5th July, the Kinfolk Network had its first official launch, an event that incorporated discussions, music, food, and good humour. KIN, which is a bold new project aiming to unify Black British activists, organisers and campaigners across the United Kingdom was launched on the 5th July in the Archspace venue in East London. The event was only accessible to people of colour to provide a safe and comfortable environment to discuss race issues freely.
Our event was a place for learning and teaching, listening and speaking, and most importantly, vibesing and snacking. Alongside, a carefully selected cuisine of Afro-Caribbean delights, an array of impressive speakers including anti-police brutality icon Marcia Rigg, the prolific writer and researcher Adam Elliot-Cooper, genderqueer academic, Grime MC/ Rapper and Poet Melz, activist Amal Bider as well as, the smiling melaninated faces of our team; Kennedy Walker, Ayeisha Thomas-Smith and Zahra Dalilah.
Hearing the story of Marcia Rigg, whose brother died in police custody and her efforts to get justice where there is apparently none, led her to state, “there is no justice, there is just us,”. Her cynicism about policing in the United Kingdom was matched by Adam Elliot Cooper, who highlighted the housing crisis as an essentially “racist” phenomenon and noted how council estates remain overwhelmingly necessary for minority households but are disregarded and marginalised to the point where catastrophes like Grenfell become an inevitability.
Amal Bider, an activist and campaigner gave a local perspective. She spoke on her local Kensington community organising after the Grenfell Tower disaster, which became necessary due to the local councils’ failure to respond immediately. She noted how the anarchy caused by local and national government’s failed response was instrumental in coalescing different faith and community groups to organise and manage people’s welfare.
KIN seeks to cultivate spaces, which amplify a broad range of political expression.
At the event, the award-winning poet and author Dorothea Smartt gave a stunning performance – stating that for the Windrush generation, they were “a generation dreaming of a world to change.”
Beautiful poems by Brother Portrait were captivating and touched on the precious themes of origins, of travels and journeys and of race and resistance. A hilarious 90s themed drag performance from Zayn Phallic and the musical waviness of Mica Cola from ResisDanceLdn brought a party-like, jovial atmosphere to the whole night. The night was rounded off with the spiritually uplifting vibes of the Nawi Collective, a black woman’s vocal group, who invited a willing (sometimes unwilling) audience to dance and sing along to apartheid-era resistance songs. Our aim for the night was simply to take a step towards building a community but by the end, it felt like a family reunion.