Holding Up The Ladder


Dr Lemah Bonnick

Season 3, Ep. 5

This is the 3rd and final instalment on the series of discussions on race, class and education in the UK. It only felt right to interview the person who is the reason I am who I am, who has shaped the way I see the world - the person who literally brought me into the world, my mother, sociologist Dr Lemah Bonnick.


Lemah trained at the Institute of Education where she obtained her PhD in the Sociology of Education ‘Racial structuring of Educational Marginality’.

She was a senior lecturer in sociology at St Mary’s University: Twickenham. She also served as a school governor. She has presented her work in the United States - at Temple University, Ohio State University and Brown - In the Service of Neglected People: Anna Julia Cooper, Ontology, and Education

She is currently working on a book - The Will to Know: Redemptive Tradition in the

Struggle for Education among People of African Descent in America and the

English-Speaking Caribbean

We talk about her journey into Sociology working with Dr Basil Bernstein considered one of the architects of the Sociology of Education. We talk about class as a component of social, cultural and economic capital and its impact on education and what my mother describes as the ‘commodification of education’.

We talk about Caribbean intellectuals and their contribution to shaping discussions around Britain’s colonial legacy in the UK and the Caribbean - C.L.R. James, Stuart Hall, educational psychologist Bernard Coard, Jessica Huntley, New Beacon books founder, John La Rose, Kamau Braithwaite. We talk James Baldwin, Toni Morrisson, W.E.B Dubois, Anna Julia Cooper. We talk about Windrush, about the complex relationships between minority groups. We talk about the controversial UK report on race by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities and we talk about music.

Guest: Dr Lemah Bonnick

Title: We talk about the exception as if it’s the rule

Artists on playlist: Marvin Gaye, Schubert, Ella Fitzgerald and Lionel Richie


Bernard Coard - How the West Indian Child is Made Educationally Sub-normal in the British School System: The Scandal of the Black Child in Schools in Britain 

Jessica Huntley

John La Rose, New Beacon Books

Kamau Brathwaite

Windrush - https://www.bl.uk/windrush


Akala - Natives: Race & Class in the Ruins of Empire

Learn more about our Season 3 sponsors Airbnb and Project Lighthouse


More Episodes

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Alexander Liebermann

Season 3, Ep. 12
Have you ever asked yourself the question - what is music? Does nature around us - the birds, the trees - make music? What is music supposed to do? I had never thought of these questions (and I didn’t even plan on asking them) until I spoke with my guest today, composer Alexander Liebermann.Alexander is an award-winning composer, arranger and educator who trained at Musikhochschule Hanns Eisler in Berlin, at New York’s Juilliard and is currently doing his doctorate at the Manhattan School of Music. Alexander’s work is wide-ranging, he writes for ensembles, choral music, orchestras, solo instruments, film scores and how I discovered him, transcribing animal sounds.We talk about Alexander’s childhood raised in a household of musicians. His composition process, how his lockdown pastime of transcribing animal sounds has not only impacted his composition writing but other musicians. We talk about why a lot of his work centres around nature and climate change, but that he always desires to convey a hopeful message- that hope and positivity can be more effective tools to engage people rather than fear and cynicism.We talk about how the classical music emphasis on technique and virtuosity isn’t always as important as the story or the passion a musician is trying to convey. We talk about how multi-faceted art and the artist is - as Alexander says, a line I love, 'critique is very easy, but art is difficult’. My conversation with Alexander wasn’t about finding or establishing answers, for me it was - and why I love doing this podcast - about someone creating work that caused me to consider the world around me in a new way. And as this series is about creative ways to bring about social change, is it possible to do so in joyful and unburdened ways, in ways that inspire fascination and curiosity? I think Alexander has inadvertently done that. Isn’t that what art can do - bypass the mind and go straight to the heart?Guest: Alexander LiebermannTitle: What is music?Music on playlist: Erwin Schulhoff, Hot - SonateAlexander's links:BioWebsiteIGFeatured music by Alexander:De PoetaCello Sonata, II, Lento (feat. Raphaël Liebermann)Erwachen  follow the score hereWelcome to the AnthroproceneAnimal song:Humpback whaleUirapuru WrenSealTo Learn more about Airbnb's work with Afghan Refugeeshttps://www.airbnb.org/refugees
Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Yvadney Davis

Season 3, Ep. 11
As we continue our conversations about the ways in which art and creativity can be used to bring about social change, I wanted to talk about how normalising the ordinary can actually be a form of activism. I’m joined by kids’ fashion stylist, blogger, lecturer, start-up entrepreneur, artist, wife and mother of two, Yvadney Davis. We talk about normalising the black family, a family that is happy and healthy with children who are free to be themselves outside of the racist and burdensome tropes of anti-blackness. How raising children who are free to play and be curious - free to be children - is in fact an act of radical resistance.We talk about Yvadney’s journey into styling, about the creative personality that isn’t linear, that loves exploring and learning new things. We talk about how to have frank conversations with children about racism in an age appropriate way. We talk about the world of mum bloggers, that according to Yvadney is, ‘absolutely nuts’ and why she wanted to set up her own blog Mum’s that Slay. We talk about some of the tokenistic and profiteering responses to George Floyd’s murder and how Yvadney felt compelled to speak out against the hypocrisy of it all. We talk about the creative personality. We about the tech start up she launched with her husband during the pandemic - Musingobingo - an online music bingo game, I’ve played it a few times it’s really really fun! Yvadney is a bit of a hero of mine - as a friend, I see how she raises her kids, how she juggles all her different roles it’s her realness that inspires me - there’s so much pretending and curating of our lives - Yvadney is honest when it’s hard, she rejoices at the small everyday wins and I watch her raise two quirky, free, unburdened black children with her husband and it inspires no end. The ordinary is for me extraordinary.Guest: Yvadney DavisTitle: My activism is showing us thrivingArtists on playlist: Alfa Mist; H.E.R.; Robert Glasper; DeBarge; Leikeli47Yvadney's links:Styling - IG: @Yvadney and Twitter: @YvadneyMum's that Slay Blog and IGYvadney's Art - YvadneyDavisArtMusingobingo - Website Instagram TwitterRadio Show - Vibes and StuffTo Learn more about Airbnb's work with Afghan Refugeeshttps://www.airbnb.org/refugees
Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Topher Campbell

Season 3, Ep. 10
ADVISORY: This episode contains adult themes unsuitable for younger audiencesIn this week’s episode of HUTL we’re talking about the idea of radical homelessness. Where do we find home? What does home mean? Is home a physical or geographical location, is it a state of being or is it both? And how does this idea of home manifest itself within the context of black queer masculinity?! To help me answer some of these complex questions, I’m joined by artist and filmmaker director, filmmaker, writer, broadcaster, and theatre practitioner Topher Campbell.Topher Campbell’s practice spans broadcasting, theatre, performance, writing, experimental film and site-specific work. His focus has been on sexuality, masculinity, race, human rights, memoir and climate change. In 2000 he co-founded rukus! Federation a Black Queer arts collective with photographer Ajamu X. We talk about pro-blackness, pro-blackness that doesn’t mean anti-white, it’s not anti anything, it’s ‘pro’. It is as he and Ajamu X sought to do with rukus! Federation moving away from the idea of black people as victims and more about redefining and repositioning themselves publicly. We interrogate the idea of home, of belonging. For Topher, belonging doesn’t mean approval but rather ‘how you bear witness to your existence’. We talk about why he chose to walk through the streets of New York naked for his 2014 film Fetish. A kind of artistic response piece to the police murder of 12 year old Tamir Rice in 2014. Topher loves to walk through cities, this idea that something so mundane can be for the black body a surveilled, unsafe, violent place. How, as Topher explains, the Black body is never neutral.Guest: Topher CampbellTitle: The Black Body is never neutralArtists on playlist: Dudu Pukwana, Fela Kuti, Earthgang, Spillage VillageSupport his film EncountersFull BioIMDB page Social Media Links:IGTwitterLinks to Topher's work:rukus! Federationrukus! Federation ArticleTopher Campbell and Billy Bragg article in The IndependentSussex University Graduation SpeechFilms:The HomecomingInvisibleLearn more about Airbnb's work with housinghttps://www.airbnb.org/