In response to the murder of George Floyd RIP and solidarity with my black and people of colour cohorts, friends, loved ones, and humanity as a whole

I grew up mainly in Bristol where black history is rich, afro Caribbean community is strong, but the history is heavy also as it’s was a big centre for slavery. When I was growing up I lived mainly in the areas of Bristol where the black communities lived – as a kid and later as a young adult. In my early years I think there was still some societal difference felt and separation also. But gradually as time passed & in our particular circle(s) we were more integrated – it seemed like a new wave, we were a new generation, we all hung out, interracially – or that’s what it seemed to me then –with my white view point this may not be what my black cohorts experienced or felt.

When we (Maximum Joy) were making music as a band in Bristol then our main references were black music (I've included a few links to some of the music we listened to at the bottom) – always – we had and have always had on an deeply engrained level huge reverence for what we’d like to feel able to consider as our black brothers and sisters, within that our colleagues and friends, family. Living in Bristol in the areas where predominantly afro-Caribbean communities lived we simply held all black people, and their music that we so loved and respected, in great esteem. As far as I know all of our circles did so – it was sort of a unspoken given – the black guys and women that we hung out with and beyond were in our view just superior to the white guys and women, in their groove, hipness, giftedness, talent, genius, culture and the rest. There was no resent of this or jealousy, it was just fact and it was felt, again, in an unspoken way, with acceptance and the greatest respect, we could but strive, with acceptance and humour to be our own versions of blackness, or where the love we had for the black music we heard took us, in terms of sound, creating, music making. It was just a natural part of things. And we were all in it together – or so we thought.

It pains hugely to see this happening in the USA, to see George Floyd killed by a policeman – and other parts of the world including the UK still now after all this time. This deep endemic systemic racism, hate and terrible brutality. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to have to watch as an supposed upholder of the law kills your son/brother/family member/ friend, or indeed simply someone who has black skin the same as you do – and to be targeted because of the colour of your skin, and treated in the way that society as a whole still treats black people and people of colour full stop.

It certainly leaves me feeling heartbroken, powerless, and confused and wanting to be able to do more to help effect change – for the sake of justice and fairness for all, which is a central part of what I and we (MXMJoY/Maximum Joy) always cared about - and help those people we love, and have loved and cherish and respect not to go through this anymore. It feels so out dated, wrong and hard to believe that this is still occurring. We were marching in Anti Racism marches back in the 1980’s in Bristol and across the UK against police brutality towards black people then. It feels like things have not changed, have they?

iRock Against Racism Bristol 1981 ©J.Rainforth

Stop Police Harrasment. Rock against Racism march Bristol 1982 ©J. Rainforth

Watching some of the drama based on a book by Malorie Blackman, Noughts and Crosses, where the racial roles are reversed was amazing, it has helped me for sure in trying to understand more how it might be being in a black person shoes in this world, and hopefully in making me grow a bit more as a non-racist/anti-racist. I without doubt carry guilt about the level of privilege I have as a white woman. This has rightly made me question everything again, I will be reflecting and learning more where I can, and doing all I can to examine, dig up, courage up, front up when I encounter racism, and make positive change, externally and internally and support where and what and who I can.

With love 💜

RIP George Floyd

Here are some links I found , resources I'll be looking at: how to be anit-racist resources and how to help

Independent charities Anti -Racism

open letter supporting George Floyd against racism and police brutalityscription

image description

A few of the tracks from the Bristol days here:

Link to Spotify playlist of tunes that we/ Maximum Joy listened to