Black Lives Matter
We want to show our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests across the globe in reaction to the murder of George Floyd. This tragic death has shone a light on the fact that racism is an international emergency. Though this murder may seem like a long way away from our largely monocultural island off the north of Scotland, we cannot isolate ourselves from the problem. Racism is everywhere, it is entrenched, systemic, it is built into the foundations of our country. Orcadians are not apart from racism, we are part of it.
An important ethos of ours at The Longship is that each product in our store has its own unique story: from the people who make it to the place it comes from. We believe there is power in making conscious, sustainable decisions in the products we choose to buy. However our privilege as white business people becomes apparent if the products and therefore stories we provide do not come from a diverse range of designers and companies. We recognise that we need to do better in supporting black owned businesses, black artists, designers and craftspeople.
We believe education is a crucial place to start for enacting real change. At the bottom of the page there is a link to a petition to make Britain’s colonial past a part of the Scottish curriculum. The future education system of our country should not only shine a light on our country’s past evils, it should also seek to celebrate the enormous contributions of black leaders, writers, activists and artists. Whilst schools are closed there are still ways in which we can educate children on racism. We are offering a series of children’s books which celebrate influential black figures throughout history: Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, Wilma Rudolph, Ella Fitzgerald, Harriet Tubman, Josephine Baker.
These books not only applaud outstanding black people, they also explore the injustices that they faced because of the colour of their skin. We hope that these books will encourage both parent and child to start a conversation about racism. We have to educate a new generation to be anti-racist, so that in the future we can live in a fairer, more equal world.
100% of profits from the sales of these books will be donated to two UK based charities:
Show Racism The Red Card - An anti-racist educational charity which uses the high-profile status of football and footballers to educate and inform, in an aim to tackle racism in the UK. Their campaign provides workshops to young people and adults in schools and the workplace.
Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust - Set up after the tragic death of teenager Stephen Lawrence who was murdered in a racist attack in 1993. The charity is dedicated to creating a fairer society and recognises that young people, still today, struggle to succeed because of factors beyond their control. They work with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and aim to provide them with knowledge and skills which will help them prosper in their career of choice. They also work with communities and businesses to encourage them to engage in the creation of a more equal, fairer society, where everyone has a chance to thrive and be treated with the respect that they deserve.
An excerpt from Rosa Parks: Big Dreams Little People
The small selection of books we will be selling are children's history books, that cover themes of racism, which of course is necessary and important. However it is also important for kids’ (and adults’) bookshelves to be diverse and for the wide range of stories being told to reflect a diverse range of people, whether they are or aren't specifically about racism and trauma. A report released in 2017 from the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) revealed that just 1 percent of more than 9,000 children’s books published in the UK in 2017 had a BAME main character. This report was one of the reasons that Round Table Books opened up their store. You can buy their range of kids' books with black, Asian or minority ethnic characters on their online website. Encouraging children to engage in reading a diverse range of stories and narratives can have the power to cultivate empathy and understanding of other people and cultures.
Some more fantastic UK based independent black-owned bookshops which you can buy from online:
New Beacon Books - Britain’s first black publisher and bookshop, founded in 1966.
No Ordinary Book Shop - Focusing on children’s books featuring BAME protagonists. Last year it expanded to provide black-centric adult books too.
Books of Africa - African orientated literature, featuring essays, novels, history books and children’s books.
Casey Elisha Books - A small bookshop which aims to be diverse and inclusive. Founder Casey states clearly, ‘Children should be unapologetically proud of who they are, and their literature should be diverse enough to reflect and support this.’
@diverse_kids_books is a great resource on Instagram with recommendations of kids books with diverse characters and stories.
Petitions to Sign:
Reparations in Education: Addressing Race in Scottish Schools - sign here
Improve maternal mortality rates and health care for black women in the U.K. - sign here
Suspend UK export of tear gas, rubber bullets and riot shields to USA - sign here
Replace the Colston Statue with Paul Stephenson - sign here
Justice for George Floyd - sign here
Justice for Breonna Taylor - sign here
We are aware our voice and platform is small. But if we all show small acts of solidarity we can make a difference. Black Lives Matter.
A rural protest by @kilahgram