SINCE the socially-distanced Black Lives Matter demonstrations took place outside the Subscription Rooms in the centre of Stroud, rising to hundreds of people by the third day, the Stroud Against Racism group has thrived, growing into an active local community organisation seeking to understand and tackle racism in all its multi-faceted forms.
Understandably, however, this is no small task.
Especially in a rural area with a white majority which has, by and large, never considered its own role and culpability in racist systems and structures or considered the experiences of people of colour locally.
Indeed, a resident of Box has unwittingly demonstrated this mentality perfectly in a letter written to the SNJ in the past few days. A mentality so many of us can recognise as being part of the problem, due our realisation of our own past, and often present ignorance.
This is why it is so important to fundamentally review and update how we see and understand the world, and why the work of SAR is so necessary.
As a movement, it enables us to ask ourselves, loudly or quietly, ‘how do I understand the world?’, and ‘where am I culpable and where can I make changes?’. Here we can learn as a collective what concepts like abolition, decolonisation, and reparations mean and how they can be used.
As part of this work, SAR have been undertaking a range of actions to locally initiate anti-racism. This ranges from the public statements of Stroud Against Racism murals and the incoming Ecotricity banner, to the educational initiatives and book groups reading and discussing Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad, and ongoing engagements with Stroud District Council and Stroud Town Council.
There will also be much needed support sessions for those who have experienced racial prejudice, and monthly social walks.
SAR is also supporting those who have already been putting in the work locally. Stuart Butler’s Decolonising the Landscape, which provides walking tours of the local area where we can examine the physical linkages of the Stroud area to empire and colonialism, being one of many initiatives.
SAR is a growing community, providing a space for those who are willing to listen, learn, and openly discuss such important issues. There is a space for everyone with a connection to the area.