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Against discrimination, prejudice & intolerance

Junior Cunningham, performer and dance maker with us on Moving Together has started a campaign, which was launched on International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination 2021.

Part of the campaign is the short film he created (see below) – and an ongoing invitation to join in and take part. Show that you stand up against all forms of intolerance and prejudice, by sharing your videos using the hashtag #StandTogetherCampaign. Just stand up, lift your head, and look at the camera.

Here is more about the campaign in Junior’s own words:

>> Hi everyone 
My name is Junior, and I’m writing this to tell you about the film & campaign I’ve created & reasoning behind it. 

Last year was challenging for us all, and the death/ killing of George Floyd was a breaking point for me personally. I fell into a well of sadness & felt totally disillusioned with the notion of equality. 

This of course wasn’t the first injustice of this kind by a long shot, but the fact that I and a large majority of people across the globe were feeling isolated and/or able to just carry on as normal, or allow the everyday humdrum to distract me/us, intensified and focused mine, and the world’s eyes to the truth. 

This ‘truth’ is that racism is alive and well, not only that but it appears to be on the rise… hmm this might not be entirely accurate but with Brexit the reign of Donald Trump & other right-wing leaders coming to power, people with that way of thinking feel empowered to speak out and/or act out their ugliness.

So a bit more about me I’m 41, I’m black, I go by he/him, I’m from Birmingham and I’m a father of two, one girl one boy. I now live in Warwickshire which happens to be a very White area, all my colleagues are white, I have a diverse group of friends but in fact the majority of my friends are white. I talk about this not because I’m obsessed with race or have any hang ups on the way I or anyone else looks or identifies as. 

I talk about this because, I had lead myself to believe we were in a much safer, much more inclusive, progressive and unified world. 

I mention it because, I grew up in a multicultural melting pot where different cultures live side-by-side learning from one another, working with each other & yes sometimes clashing but somehow not like today. I’m a 80’s baby but luckily was too young to have been a black man in the 80’s. My youth was a time of progression and acceptance. The rights of women became a focus and started to slowly get better, being Gay was becoming more acceptable and race relations seemed to also be moving in the right direction. This progress seemed to be ramping up and led me to believe that we were becoming a globally united society. This… this is why the four or five times since Brexit I’ve encountered overt racist abuse being shouted at me from passing cars, or in one case two men on the street imitating monkeys while I was in the car with my family, plus the death of George Floyd, has affected me so badly and for a time gave me a bleak outlook of the world. We are NOT as far along the road of unity as I believed.

But what do I and we do? Do I stay in my pit of sadness? Do I just accept that the world is a bit shit? Do we all just carry on carrying on? For the sake of my two beautiful children and my wonderful partner I had to pick myself up, I had to heal myself. The future for my kids will be challenging, they are mix raced and therefore have to face different obstacles that I or their mom have had to face, but undoubtedly some of the same, so again what do I do? How do I change things? 

I’m a creative person so a creative response made sense to me, I found a way to connect the people in my life, I shared my pain and was overwhelmed with the support I received, my faith in people was restored, not everyone was on the same page but that’s always going to be the case, right?

I got the idea to create a film and instantly felt better, as I knew I was trying to do something. At around the same time I got involved in the Moving Together project with Justice in Motion. This was so cathartic and therapeutic, the whole project dealt with loneliness and isolation, both of which I was feeling for the first time in my life, and felt really guilty for feeling this way. What I found from the project was, this was a common theme. We were trying to make the participants feel a part of something, and in doing so I was feeling a part of something. 

Anyway the film was simple, once I had a clear idea. I asked friends & family to send a video of themselves gesturing to camera, it took me a while to get the edit right but I could feel the positivity coming in from far and wide, this has set me on a path of standing up to intolerance of any kind but by showing solidarity and unity. I’m not going to explain the film as I hope you will watch it, share it & join in. 

I guess the point of all my ramblings is… I’ve have been heartbroken by the state of the world, but I’ve have been able to re-assess & re-evaluate, I’ve been able to see, feel and appreciate the kindness and want for change, among people from all walks of life. And I’ve been able to find a voice and be proactive in pushing things forward. 

Thanks for reading 👍🏿

Like and check out the Stand Together Campaign on Facebook / @junior.cunning on Instagram

Anja Meinhardt

Artistic Director