Not your usual conversational-style podcast, Black Lives is an interwoven collection of various voices of people who live and work in the UK, and is also underpinned by music from Black artists.
Episode one offers listeners the opportunity to hear passionate reflections on the Black Lives Matter movement, which has resulted in a seismic shift in our understanding and appreciation of the historic and contemporary experiences and contributions of Black people in the UK and across the world.
Professor Donna Chambers, Convenor of the Race, Class and Ethnicity (RaCE) network at the University of Sunderland, spoke passionately about the relevance of the BLM movement to the UK and to the North East, at the Black Lives Matter vigil held in June 2020 in Sunderland’s Keel Square.
Entwined with her words are those of Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who was Mayor of Baltimore at the time of the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a tragedy that sparked what has become the Black Lives Matter movement. Dr Yvonne Battle-Felton, who now lectures in Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam, shares her feelings on living in the city at the time.
Black Lives is presented by Chantal Herbert, founder of Sister Shack CIC, a Newcastle-based feminist black-led collective that works with and promotes women entrepreneurs and creatives. Across this and other episodes of the podcast, you’ll hear musician and activist Dr Hannabiell Sanders in conversation with fellow Ladies of Midnight Blue band member, Yilis Del Camen Suriel, and music producer and spoken-word poet, Dominic JP Nelson-Ashley.
Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah reflects on the timing of the emergence of BLM, amidst the outbreak of coronavirus and in a tumultuous geo-political landscape across both sides of the Atlantic. From the University of Sunderland, Senior lecturer and filmmaker Nicholas Glean and his son, Neville, also a filmmaker, compare the movement to the Brixton riots in the early 1980s.
The role of young people is a major theme of this podcast, and the University of Sunderland Students’ Union CEO Colina Wright makes a key contribution. Other voices featured on this episode are those of Gary Bennett, renowned former Sunderland FC player, Carlton West of the Wearside Liberal Democrats, and Sunderland based social worker Ola Tony-Obot, who reflects on her feelings as a parent of Black children in the UK.
Prof. Chambers said: “This podcast reflects honest and open conversations from Black people in the North East of England and across the UK and we believe that it is crucial to bring these voices to the fore so that listeners can have a richer appreciation of the unique and complex experiences of Black people in the UK. While many of the voices speak of encounters of racism and discrimination, many also offer recommendations for change and visions of a more optimistic future. It is our expectation that the episodes in this podcast will become an invaluable resource for our educational institutions and for many other organisations in our social, cultural, economic, and political life here in the UK. However, we do not see this podcast as an end point, as it is our wish that this will also provide opportunities for more wide-ranging conversations about Black lives.”
Prof. Angela Smith, from the University of Sunderland Gender Network (SunGen), added: “This podcast will explore various aspects of Black lives. There is a lot of talk about ‘decolonising the curriculum’, but there is far more we can do than that. We hope that the episodes in this podcast will give people an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of Black lives, and in particular, the relevance of the BLM movement to the North East. This first episode is important as it explores the Black Lives Matter movement, but later episodes will show how Black experiences and voices are relevant to the creative industries.”
This pilot episode of Black Lives features the voices of;
Dr. Yvonne Battle-Felton, author, and Lecturer of Creative Writing and Creative Industries, Sheffield Hallam University.
Professor Donna Chambers, Convenor of the Race, Class and Ethnicity (RaCE) network at the University of Sunderland.
Neville Glean, Senior Lecturer, University of Sunderland, and Film Director.
Nicholas Glean, filmmaker, and Senior Lecturer in Video and New Media at the University of Sunderland.
Dominic JP Nelson-Ashley, music producer, author, and spoken word poet.
MP Chi Onwurah, Member of Parliament for Newcastle upon Tyne.
Yilis Del Carmen Suriel, visual artist, performer and musician.
Ola Tony-Obot, social worker and former renowned sports journalist.
Carlton West, Liberal Democrat PCC for Washington and Sunderland West.
Colina Wright, CEO of Sunderland Students' Union.
Black Lives is an open door to further conversations - if you want to get in touch, do. Any thoughts you want to share, any stories or experiences you want to add to the podcast, please do get in touch. On Twitter, we are @BlackLivesPod.
With music from Ladies of Midnight Blue, and Tunde.