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A Shared History, A Shared Future: Who Am I?
Community based groups have been exploring the ways in which slavery in all its forms throughout history has operated, and how it relates to our lives in Birmingham.
A project with young people from Lozells
Who am I? was a showcase performance about our identities, being young, black and living in Birmingham.
A group of 25 young people from Lozells took part in a week-long programme, which was geared towards fostering a sense of personal identity as well as a recognition of the importance of black history and the community in which we live, through a series of dance, drama and music workshops. Although there are several initiatives throughout the year and in Black History Month, a limited number are truly youth-led. Akilah, the project manager and participant, believes the existing projects can fail to sustain the interest and participation of the young people involved.
Akilah organised workshops, funding and the performance with the group of 11-17 year old participants, supported by local artists.
The final performance was full to capacity at Birmingham Central Library Theatre, using African dance, hip hop (choreographed with professional choreographer and young people) drama, (a series of sketches/scenarios written by the young people), African drumming, singing, poetry and monologues, and African Caribbean food after.
We were able to challenge some of the negative stereotypes, which may be present within the African-Caribbean community, including:
- Crime (particularly gun-related)
- The perceived failure of African-Caribbean students (particularly boys) within the academic field
We had the opportunity to:
- Work alongside internationally recognised professionals who are experts in their field, including Sister Tree, singers from K Base and dub poet Kokumo.
- Receive recognised accreditation for young people work in the project - participants could undertake the ASDAN award, which is worth half a GCSE
Other opportunities included:
- Meeting new people
- Training in dance, drama and music
- Acquiring new skills
- Developing existing skills
- Experience of an educational and thought-provoking programme
- Participating in live performance
- Development of personal and social awareness
We promoted the positive aspects of the African-Caribbean community to attempt to begin to replace some of the stereotypes and perceptions with an awareness of the following:
- The cultural, economic and historical significance of African-Caribbean people
- An insight into African history
- How the history of African-Caribbean people has shaped who we are today
Find out more about the other projects under the A Shared History, A Shared Future banner.