This is a guest post by poet and Shake! facilitator Zena Edwards. You can find more information about the next Shake! intensive course (16-20 February 2015) and how to apply here, and find Zena on Twitter: @ZenaEdwards
Shake Youth Arts and Activism project has a new intensive course brewing.
From Monday 16th February, we shall be unpacking one of the most contentious subjects our species confronts: Violence. We will be exploring what makes violence, physical and ideological, an integral part of modern day life.
As a poet I think about the word ‘violence’ as anything that is excessively detrimental and its with this thought that the Shake! team will create a safe space where participants can interrogate the States of Violence that seem to plague the planet. We will question if physical violence is our natural disposition or if it is a nurtured trait. Many are calling for alternatives to fatally destructive and violent deconstruction of current imperialist systems, minimising bloodshed. We will ask is that possible.
We will question the role of violence and the State. What ways are the state violent towards its citizens – the implementation of long working hours with minimal pay, scathing gentrification of culturally diverse and poorer areas with unaffordable housing breaking up communities, the privatisation of the British National Health Service, cuts to education and benefits with biased and convoluted conditions placed upon them, further disenfranchising the less well off.
In an manipulated economy induced climate of uncertainty and fear, mainstream media thrusts incendiary journalism upon poly-cultural societies, encouraging and perpetuate attitudes of xenophobia and sexism, discrimination and judgement. Which parts of the human psyche are provoked to actively violate and abuse the commodified, inferiorized and stigmatised body of the “othered”?
In the shadow of discourses about institutionalised racism and a sinister growth of the prison industrial complex, millions watched and condemned the deaths of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and Mike Brown, unarmed black males, who are among the ‘one killed every 28 hours ‘ by the hand of US police. There were many who deemed US police action as blatantly excessive, while by others, justifiable, because of a pervading fear within the police force of violence being done unto those in service ‘to preserve and protect’. “We just want to get home to our families.” And the law upholds these ‘justified’ deaths throwing in to deep question the integrity of a justice system seen to be the spine of a democracy forced through conflict in other mineral resourced countries across the planet. This is a recurring story across the face of Western civilisation and each power state has devices to ensure that it’s status quo is preserved with a plethora of means and directions of attack on ordinary people.
This is an idea of some of the subjects we will cover in Shake!’s ‘States of Violence’ intensive course in February. Participants will also unpack notions of change through non-violence when the systems we live under are founded on virulent colonial and capitalist violence in the name of progress. So does progress and change equate to forms of archaic and technologically enhanced violence? Is the process of deconstruction to reconstruct only a violent one? How do we break cycles of violence and how do we navigate through a seemingly terrifying world maintaining well being?
We will ask all these questions and more, and in their own language, through discussion, film and spoken word poetry, participants will respond to these question to excavate and reflect on the current human proclivity for violence seeking to cleave new paths to living more peacefully and compassionately. Beyond violence.