I, like you, have found myself in the space of understanding what's going on, how we got here and where do we go next. Often such questioning happens in spaces that haven't allowed me to express emotions, authenticity and my whole-emotional-intellectual-cultural-creative-self. There's always been a knowing, from observing, living and learning of something not being right; which has taken me a while to articulate. This articulation of emotions with the support of others, has unleashed a breadth and depth of emotions and knowledge that nourishes my work. My work is a seed, that requires a ecosystem to grow and others to nourish. My seed has roots in history and the soil.
Education started in the home. Creativity and culture started in community. As a second generation migrant and British citizen, my family are apart of the Indian-Ugandan Diaspora that have experienced two displacements in the past three generations as a result of land manipulation and colonialism. Now residing in Leicester UK, with my base in London. I had always been a critic, never afraid to present a kind and raging challenge to things I had been taught. At Lancaster University, I studied an interdisciplinary degree called BSc Natural Sciences where I had the opportunity to develop my system thinking abilities. One day I was learning about Tropical Diseases and Cell Biology, the day after I was studying Structural Adjustment Programmes and Human Rights, the following week I would engage with Linear Algebra. This pathway into education was led by curiosity for the world.
I've always been curious to discover literature written by black and brown writers, especially in regards to our public amnesia and erasure of colonialism. It allowed me to learn about system oppression, make sense of the world and my own experiences. Here in Sustainability transition, we must take a systems thinking approach in combination with an understanding of oppression that takes presence in all of us, our teams, organisations and institutions; creating our system. There are complexities to understand around inclusion or participation and ownership. I had spent the past two years working as a Strategy and Innovation Consultant and in Environmental and Social Sustainability in Corporate Consultancy (whilst engaging in activism and community work after work). To work in Sustainability, disconnected from community and real life issues is unquestionable to me. Witnessing the inside of corporate, they have gone through a rough time in adapting to the changes necessary when there are many forces against them and even more to comply with, being purposed to champion growth. This is a huge educational change management programme in combination with business transformation, where environmental and social factors where never deemed relevant to corporate's mission and deeply practiced by people in senior positions. It's something that is going to be in continuous learning and improvement; going deeper into the root causes to confront some difficult truths if we really want to adapt to climate and ecological changes to protect life. We have to keep asking ourselves, the inescapable question of "How are we apart of the problem?" and "How big is the problem?", especially when billions of livelihoods are going to be compromised due to our intertwined environmental and social system.
When Environmental Sustainability is the second least diverse sector in the UK, NGO's have ongoing discrimination issues and diversity and inclusion agendas don't really work; it exposes a complex, long-term and compounded problem in the system; validated by the lived experiences of people. From reading literature, experiencing and discussing these issues with BAME people; we have a system wide racial oppression issue that will be absorbed into our sustainability transition; but will also be a barrier towards a just transition. We need system change with a deep understanding of system oppression for equitable liberation. There's a lot of things to look at and confront in the context of the UK; starting with our history and it's implications on today.
BAME = Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic. Personally, I hate this term as it enforces the same logics I am trying to resist. I use it for common language and ease of communication, but it homogenises the nuances of ethnicity and identity. The context of the word BAME is to provide a common terminology, for these communities who share an experience of oppression in the UK that relates to other international experiences, in the US the terms BIPOC are commonly used.
Through my work, I care about:
Building community spaces for UK PoC to find place in the climate and environmental movement / transition that centres their reality to create solutions
Helping people, community groups and organisations build a critical eye and collaborative practice of climate justice and system change
Assisting in building in participation practices into strategies, research, design and implementation that also welcome diverse values and understandings of Environmental Sustainability
Ensuring that people have voice, access to full information and can exchange understandings
Bettering access to funding, governance and decision making whilst improving agency for UK Communities of Colour
Connecting my work to frontline / frontline-supporting grassroots initiatives, art & creativity and international science based policy reports (IPCC and IPBES)