Black Lives: Honest and open voices reflected in new podcast

University of Sunderland’s Professor Donna Chambers

The University of Sunderland has officially launched the Black Lives podcast, which aims to open doors to conversations which reflect the lived experiences of Black people in the UK.

‘Black Lives’ interweaves several interviews with black people, across a range of topics.

Episode one offers listeners the opportunity to hear passionate reflections on the Black Lives Matter movement, which has resulted in a seismic shift in our understanding and appreciation of the historic and contemporary experiences and contributions of black people in the UK and across the world.

Professor Donna Chambers, Convenor of the Race, Class and Ethnicity (RaCE) network at the University of Sunderland, said: “This podcast reflects honest and open conversations from black people in the North East of England.

“We believe that it’s crucial to bring these voices to the fore so that listeners can have a richer appreciation of the unique and complex experiences of black people in the UK.

“While many of the voices speak of encounters of racism and discrimination, many also offer recommendations for change and visions of a more optimistic future.

“It’s our expectation that the episodes in this podcast will become an invaluable resource for our educational institutions and for many other organisations in our social, cultural, economic, and political life here in the UK.  However, we do not see this podcast as an end point, as it is our wish that this will also provide opportunities for more wide-ranging conversations about black lives.”

The podcast is interspersed with various voices of people who live and work across the country and is underpinned by music from black artists.

Across the series, listeners will hear musician and activist Dr Hannabiell Sanders in conversation with fellow Ladies of Midnight Blue band member, Yilis Del Camen Suriel, and music producer and spoken-word poet, Dominic JP Nelson-Ashley.

Among the other voices will be Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah who reflects on the timing of the emergence of BLM, amidst the outbreak of coronavirus.  From the University of Sunderland, Senior Lecturer and filmmaker Nicholas Glean and his son, Neville, also a filmmaker, compare the movement to the Brixton riots in the early 1980s.

The role of young people is a major theme of this podcast, and the University’s Students’ Union CEO Colina Wright makes a key contribution. Other voices featured include those of Gary Bennett, renowned former Sunderland AFC player, Carlton West of the Wearside Liberal Democrats, and Sunderland based social worker Ola Tony-Obot, who reflects on her feelings as a parent of black children in the UK.

Angela Smith, Professor of Language and Culture at the University, added: “There is a lot of talk about ‘decolonising the curriculum’, but there is far more we can do than that.

“We hope that the episodes in this podcast will give people an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of Black lives, and in particular, the relevance of the BLM movement to the North East.”

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