An edited extract from the Introduction to Voices that Shake! An Anthology of Creative Movements, published 2021.
Mapping Movement: A Decade of Shaking Futures
by Farzana Khan, Sai Murray
For those new to Shake!’s work, Voices that Shake! is a youth and educational initiative launched in 2010 along the intersections of race, power, media and art. Shake! brings together youth, artists, campaigners, community organisers to vision and action creative responses to the issues of oppression and marginalisation that we face and resist. Shake! practices a two-pronged approach of supporting personal and structural transformation. The Anthology creatively showcases Shake!, whilst our Research Report and Toolkit document Shake!’s methodology, approaches, community, impact and legacy.
We share these resources and encourage you to interact with them fluidly and dynamically, moving and playing between each one. We hope that each interaction offers a more nuanced and differing dimension, in the way that Shake! continues to replenish us in multi-faceted ways.
DEEP ROOTS FOR STRONG SHOOTS
Pathways through the Anthology
We surfaced the arc and chaptering of this book through a freewrite process during our only physical meetup. On the prompt of ‘What Voices that Shake! is, and means to us?’, we unearthed the five iterations of emboldening our voices, as political and liberation practice: The Cry, Protest, Breath, The Call, Harmony.
As we reflected on these five phases of restoring and building voice – personal to systemic to collective to communal – we saw how this mirrored our five-day educational courses:
The Cry – the initial political spark;
The Protest – the refusal of oppression, harm, violence;
The Breath – the embodiment of reflection and the recalibration;
The Call – the connecting together of struggles and communities;
Harmony – the efforts put towards moving together with one another.
All of which align with the process of our courses: unlearning dominant paradigms and mainstream narratives; attempting to integrate what this means in relation to those who are made vulnerable across different intersections of oppression and struggle; and then asking ourselves what it means to repair, re-member, and reimagine. It is this very journey that Shake!rs embark on with us and that we hope to offer readers through this book’s structuring and curation.
THE ONGOING WORK
Reaching for suns while holding the earth of things
This work is not easy. It is both a point of transparency and responsibility, to present and future generations, to name that this work is enduring and comes with its own unique set of challenges that require us to be brave, committed, and vulnerable enough to hack away at it. The heart of this work is relational, it takes time, it is ongoing, and is iterative: different phases surface and emerge different things to work and navigate through.
There are few easy, identifiable solutions, especially against the backdrop of trying to build things entirely in opposition to the status quo. There is no blueprint, only practice. We often have to remind ourselves not to rush towards solutionism as characteristic of white supremacy culture because we live within a paradigm of everything that we’re trying to unlearn. This means so many times we’re reproducing behaviours, thoughts, and actions as a result of the conditions we exist in (see Research Report for further reflections and learnings).
There have been many times where we’ve been clumsy, where we’ve had to re-evaluate what felt clunky or wasn’t fitting. We’ve had to pause, deliberate, seek advice and guidance and that is the work that so often goes unnamed and unseen. We forefront this in our introduction because impressions of glossiness hide graft which is necessary to transformation and always worth it. Any other shortcuts only return us to everything we are undoing.
SEEDING THE COSMOS
As we seed the cosmos with our art, we hope our healing narratives ‘take root among the stars’ (Octavia E. Butler) and gather new constellations. We seed futures in a different sky, with each of us as a carrier of infinite potential. We hope that we can inspire ourselves and others to continue to ‘speak the truth, even if our voice shakes’.
On the other side of lockdowns, detentions, apartheids, divided and bordered lives we hope to all meet soon in some capacity, more capaciously – our heart cavities full, meeting together in joy and celebration to continue to learn and love and fight together.
The system is shook. We have healthy roots that run deep.
Let us fertilise. Harmonise. Shake!
To read the full 4,500 word version of this Introduction you can purchase a copy of the full colour 320 page Anthology from the Shake! website here.
You can also read and download the accompanying Shake! The System youth-led Research Report and Guidebook to Rituals, Tools & Practices for free here.