On 22nd February we, Grace and Lauren, members of the Activist Alliance, attended the show Loops at the Blackpool Grand Theatre. It was a play made in collaboration with Liverpool Everyman + Playhouse, 20 Stories High theatre company and, “a brilliant group of activists and artists who all shared important stories of what their experiences were, with courage, honesty and jokes”.
“Loops is a play that responds to the racism facing many young Black people and people of colour in the UK today…”- Keith Saha (Writer/ Director). The play specifically focuses on institutional police racism, through the fictional character Djibi’s story, who is a young black man living in a primarily white area in Liverpool.
One of our key takeaways after watching Loops was learning about the measures that people have to take to protect themselves from institutional racism in the UK, which we as white people would not even have to consider, like SEARCH– (Stay calm, Eye contact, Ask questions, Receipts and record, Confidence and Hold to account). This acronym is used to remember what to do when being stopped and searched by police (created by Y-STOP). It was striking to understand that being approached by police as a Black person is something you must expect and prepare for to keep yourself safe.
“The play beautifully stripped things down to the human experience. The story of Djibi made me think about how young black people are forced to acknowledge racism from a young age through no choice or fault of their own. It is harrowing that young Black people must be prepared for unfair treatment by the police.”
The play also made us reflect on how hard it is to have conversations about racism even with people who you are close to. There can be awkwardness and ignorance. For example, in the play Djibi’’s dad was adamant that Djibi were to blame for the treatment he receives, because of Djibi’s dad’s beliefs and the values of the British Empire. He finally recognised the institutional racism and in a touching moment acknowledged that Djibi did nothing wrong. Furthermore, Djibi put off having a conversation with his white best friend Matty before going away to Hong Kong, because he knew it could disrupt the friendship and, on some level, he understood that Matty would just not understand.
“What a fantastic play! Although there were only two performers on stage it was very powerful. The play really had me hooked, topics like that can be hard hitting but the way it was produced made it really enjoyable to watch, like the music, the jokes and the rapping. Brilliant!”
20 Stories High have produced an accompanying self-care toolkit and a resource pack for educators and facilitators wanting to do creative work with young people about racism and other lived experiences. Read more on the Loops webpage.