Over the last year, we have seen an explosion of coverage and discourse around racism and discrimination in the UK and across the globe. While most people can at least acknowledge that there is racism with society, nobody really stops to think about how visibile it is to young people, and how it can impact them.
The pupils of Eastbury Community School in Barking, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, wanted to do something to raise awareness of the issue, and issue their own response to the conversations that they saw on social media and the news.
Supported by Eqality and Wellbeing lead teacher Claudia McIntosh, a group of pupils collaborated to produce ECS Empower – a magazine that captures the zeigist of the school, explores how black people and stories are represented, and formally captures the conversations they were having in the playground.
When explaining the magazine to me, Claudia said:
"You can see clearly from the content that racism, anti-racism and issues surrounding black lives is a conversation that secondary school students are desperately trying to have with each other, on both a personal and social level. If we can ignite and inspire some of this dialogue to be introduced through sharing the student's work, then I feel many other schools and educational organisations can be (and should be) doing the same."
We at Voice were inclined to agree (especially given current events), so we decided to profile the magazine and the inspiring young voices that made it possible. Below you will find interviews with some of the contributors, a blog post from Claudia that captures the work she is doing to bring diversity to the forefront in education, and a how-to guide from Kiswa should you want to make your own school magazine!
14-year-old Kiswa Akhtar speaks to the power of open dialogue around racism, the process of creating a magazine, and her aspirations for the future.
12-year-old Testimony Olumoroti talks about the artwork they created for ECS Empower, and the challenges they faced in the process.
12-year-old Areesh Azhar tells us about the process of creating a magazine, their hopes for the future, and says you should "never be afraid to share your opinion."
12-year-old Affiyah Fayyaz tells us about the magazine, the challenges they overcame, and spreads a positive and upliftimg messaage about beauty and uniqueness.
Equality and Wellbeing lead Claudia McIntosh writes "The elephant in the classroom: Equality in school", discussing the work she's doing to push diversity and inclusivity to the forefront.
Have you been inspired by the passion and creativity displayed by the pupils of Eastbury Community School? Well they're written a guide to help you make your own magazine!
ECS Empower is available to download via the link below. It's full of articles, activities to run with young people who want to learn more about colonialism, and fantastic artwork.
Speaking of fantastic art, Eastbury Community School's Art and Photography department has it's own Instagram account, bringing you vibrancy, creativity and most importantly, our love of ART!