TM_UTL_Feb_2020_004 Image credit line copyright Tate Uniqlo Tate Lates photography Jordan Anderson

I’m not your n****: Young people launch hard hitting website on race 

Today is launched, revealing the attitudes of a group of young Londoners, from Bollo Brook, West Acton, to race and racism. The aim is to encourage challenging conversations and uncomfortable discussions around race, inviting the public to engage, think about their own identity and talk openly about how they experience inequality in their own lives. This is part of an ongoing project, supported by national charity The Equality Trust, that has seen the young people hold a meeting with Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, feature widely in the national press and have their art displayed at the Tate Modern. They were invited to be part of Steve McQueen’s Tate Late ‘Artists and the City’ in February 2020 where the work reached an audience of hundreds throughout the evening and visitors engaged in conversation with the young artists. 

The exhibition has been re-worked, due to COVID19,  with the artists and turned into a website to enable these crucial young voices to reach new audiences and be heard as part of the global civil rights movement we are currently living through. The activist artwork centres on a series of recordings, rich in nuance and diversity, deep in knowledge and experience, that explore and challenge attitudes towards, and experiences of race and racism. Also key to this are the narrative portraits which explore how people’s prejudice can build narrative. Where does a person’s identity end and the identity that others assign begin?

Sonny Inglis, one of the artists said:

“None of my friends worry about what can or can’t be said, and racial terms are thrown around as insults and compliments with little concern about causing offence. To some people this can seem shocking, but maybe it is far healthier than the quiet judgements and polite keeping a distance that prevails in a mainstream society so desperate not to be seen as racist, but also so scared of young people like me.”

“These tales of modern day racism will not find easy answers in good intentions or policy changes alone. It is only by asking ourselves difficult questions about our own conditioning and the role of race in ours and others’ experiences, like we have in the project, that we can really start to understand the role of race and racism in our society.”

“What remains clear is that race is very much relevant in the lives of young people today, and racism is far from dead. And whilst there are no easy answers, we have to start asking ourselves some more difficult questions.”

Colin Brent, Senior Youth Worker, Bollo Brook said:

“A pat on the back was not what they were looking for. This was not just something to put on their CVs. Rather, they wanted to encourage the audience to continue with these difficult debates, exploring the differing takes on the use of the N-word, questioning the relationship between class and race, picking at the very concept of race itself.”

“In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, this could be described as a timely release. However, the conversations could also be seen to be 400 years late. This only adds to their urgency. The website will hopefully allow the voices of the young people to reach new audiences. More than this, we hope it will encourage people to start their own conversations, however uncomfortable they may be.”


Notes for editors:

Attendees of the exhibition said:

“We know little about how Black and minority ethnic young people navigate a world where racism is part of their lived experiences. ‘Who we are, who we aren’t’ is a powerful testimony to the potential of art as a tool to give voice to their lived realities.” Professor Claudia Bernard Goldsmiths

“Bollo Brook Youth Centre’s ‘Who we are, who we aren’t’ is an engaging and thought-provoking exhibition that invites visitors to reflect on the complexity of young people’s identities and how they conceptualise terms such as ‘race’. ‘Who we are, who we aren’t’ is one of the most exciting exhibitions I have been to recently,” Dr Aisha Phoenix, SOAS

This exhibition is authentic to its subjects while never losing awareness of aesthetics and the power of the visual to communicate and frame content.” Renata Alberquerque, SOAS

For interviews or further comment please contact:

Bollo Brook: Colin Brent, Senior Youth Worker – Acton, 07903870065

The Equality Trust:

The Equality Trust is the national charity that campaigns to improve quality of life in the UK by reducing economic and social inequality. The UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world and evidence shows that in countries with higher levels of inequality, we see higher rates of mental and physical ill health, higher rates of imprisonment and violent crime, worse educational outcomes and lower levels of trust. Inequality is not inevitable.