NON-FINANCIAL REPARATIONS, SOME CONTEXT:
Firstly, I want to clarify that as a white person, this movement is not about me. I want to avoid positioning myself as a white saviour here. In writing this section, I want to give some context to how I came to the decision that I did and I hope that it might make other people of a similar background to mine consider doing something in the same vein.
In May 2020, George Floyd was killed by police officers outside a shop in Minneapolis.
Like many others, I gave to the Minnesota Freedom Fund and took time to reflect on my privilege. I am a straight, white, cis-gendered, middle-class man, and while I went to a middling state school, I did so in the home counties. Half of my family were coal miners and dockworkers, but the other half were distinctively upper-middle class, and although none of that money reached my nuclear family, my upbringing was more modelled after the latter. Although my adolescence wasn’t lavish, it was for the most part comfortable. At university, it was easy to cultivate a chip-on-your-shoulder mentality about being state-educated when everyone around you, it seemed, was privately educated and unfathomably wealthy. But that's not really accurate.
The resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement to the forefront of public consciousness made me contextualise my level of privilege. It had been all too easy to cast myself as the underdog by always looking up the ladder, and although having to move into my parents’ spare room because work had dried up in the pandemic certainly didn’t feel like privilege, I know it was. I was very lucky.
While I didn’t have any money to give, I had my time and I had my skills. So, I decided to work for free for black-owned businesses and black creatives in the month of June. I worked with 15 clients in 30 days and while the scheduling limitations restricted the amount of time I was able to spend with each project, I was able to give away thousands of pounds worth of work for free.
I am under no illusion that this suddenly wipes the slate clean, but I know it was something of value that I could contribute. When I am in a financial position to do so, I will be doing this again in one form or another.
I strongly believe that this is something other designers who come from positions of privilege should be doing when they find themselves in a situation that makes it possible.
Here's some of the work from that month: