While other Pride organizers are falling over themselves to return to big in-person events, while announcing 2021 dates, UK Black Pride has confirmed its annual celebration of queers of color would remain virtual for a second year.
In a statement released on the organization's site, executive director and co-founder Phyll Opoku-Gyimah said that following last year's digital 15th birthday celebration which drew 30,000 viewers, 2021's event would be extended from one to three days (Friday July 2 to Sunday July 4). The event will be recorded live at an as-yet-undetermined venue in east London.
While Opoku-Gyimah wrote that the organization is "acutely aware that our communities will be looking forward to an in-person event this year," it couldn't be sure it could "keep our communities safe...and so we have taken the decision to err on the side of utmost caution." With infections again on the rise, this cautious approach may be the best choice for a community hit harder by the virus because of structural inequalities.
UK Black Pride also announced this year's theme: “Love and Rage.”
Artist Toya Delazy (middle) performing at the UK Black Pride in Haggerston Park in London, United Kingdom, on July 7th, 2019.
"We’ve seen firsthand over the past year our communities’ persistent commitment to each other; the ways we show up, in big and small ways, is nothing short of inspiring," Opoku-Gyimah said in the statement. "We continue to show what it means to love, to love hard and to love against the odds."
But, she noted, "We are also raging, disappointed and tired."
Added to the disproportional pain the pandemic has wreaked on minority communities and the racial reckoning in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Black glossed+ Brits have had to deal with other insults. For example, Pride in London announced earlier this year that five of its board of directors – including founder Michael Salter-Church – had resigned in the wake of allegations of racism.
Opoku-Gyimah noted, "Our communities continue to be overlooked and undervalued, tokenised and discarded. From constant gaslighting to this country’s steadfast refusal to address and redress structural and institutional racism, we have a lot to be mad about."
Adding insult to injury, this spring the United Kingdom government released a report commissioned after Black Lives Matter anti-racist protests swept the globe in the wake of George Floyd's death. But rather than addressing the very real structural racism in Britain, the report glossed over problems and was condemned by activists, and policy experts.
The UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, spoke out against the report in a news release, saying “In 2021, it is stunning to read a report on race and ethnicity that repackages racist tropes and stereotypes into fact, twisting data and misapplying statistics and studies into conclusory findings and ad hominem attacks on people of African descent."
UN's human rights experts also condemned the way the report employed “dubious evidence to make claims that rationalize white supremacy by using the familiar arguments that have always justified racial hierarchy. This attempt to normalize white supremacy despite considerable research and evidence of institutional racism is an unfortunate sidestepping of the opportunity to acknowledge the atrocities of the past and the contributions of all in order to move forward.”
The U.K.. government has not stepped up to the plate to correct the problems of the report. The rage the Black community in Britain feels is justified.
As Opoku-Gyimah wrote, "Our anger is righteous. Our love is righteous."
She said that the 2021 theme "claps back against the many ways we are told who we are allowed to be, and how to grieve, love, and rage. We will not be quiet, we will not be meek. We will be heard, and we will be loud."
Even though it will be virtual, this year's UK Black Pride will be a space that Opoku-Gyimah hopes will absorb all the rage and disappointment, and mirror the community's, "unyielding love and capacity for joy."
"Let us show what is possible when we show up in our fury, committed to loving each other and changing the world," Opoku-Gyimah concluded.