The Revolution Begins at Home
In this episode, Chantelle talks to comedian and former stripper Siân Docksey about sex work and the integral role that sex workers have played in activist movements. Their conversation covers everything from the 2008 economic crisis to how we can (and should) be engaging with feminism critically.
We're doing our reading list a little differently this week. To find out more about activism around sex work and decriminalisation in the UK, Siân recommends engaging with the following organisations:
You might also want to check out:
Revolting Prostitutes by Juno Mac and Molly Smith
Pole the Other One, a brand new podcast all about Pole Dancing presented by... Siân Docksey!
If you enjoyed this podcast, you should listen to the Surviving Society Podcast which is also hosted by Chantelle and check out other shows supported by Content is Queen. You can follow Cerys on Twitter or sign up to their mailing list to find out what else they're up to.
You can find the transcript here.
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8. The Revolution Begins at Home (Bonus Reflections Podcast)08:54It's time again for a bonus podcast. A little extra audio for your ears. We thought that last week's episode was enraging and encouraging and devastating and hopeful and we had many thoughts and feelings and so we wrote them down and then said them out loud. This is the final episode in our first series and we'd love to know what you thought of it so why not leave us a review on iTunes or drop us a message on Instagram. We want to hear what you liked and what we could improve on as well as the kinds of activists that you want to hear from next time.You can read the transcript here.
7. Mums for Lungs31:40In our final episode of this season, Chantelle spoke to Jemima Hartshorn from Mums for Lungs about air pollution and how to organise on an issue that feels so big and so unsolvable. To find out more, check out our reading list...Jemima recommends:Following the Ella Roberta Family FoundationSuffragetteYou might also want to check out:The Book of Trespass by Nick HayesWhat Goes Around by Emily ChappelleBack in the Frame by Jools WalkerStreets AheadWheels for wellbeingThe Ranty Highwayman The following sound effects were used in this episode:Walking Across London Bridge JoeDinesSoundsBuses.wave dggrunzweig "Ambience, Children Playing, Distant, A.wav" by InspectorJ (www.jshaw.co.uk) of Freesound.orgIf you enjoyed this podcast, you should listen to the Surviving Society Podcast which is also hosted by Chantelle and check out other shows supported by Content is Queen. You can follow Cerys on Twitter or sign up to their mailing list to find out what else they're up to.You can find the transcript here.
6. Siân Docksey (Bonus Reflections Podcast)11:54Last week's episode left us with a lot of thoughts. Here's a little bonus episode about getting involved and doing your research and the things that we learned from Siân and Chantelle's conversation. We'd love to know what you think so why not drop us a line on Twitter or Instagram?The transcript can be found here.
4. The Craftivist Collective (Bonus Reflections Podcast)12:01We're back again with more thoughts (and feelings) about last week's episode. What did you think? Are you ready to get crafty? Let us know on Instagram @therevolutionbeginsathome. If you're not on the gram, drop us a review or tweet @hashtagcerys with the hashtag #TheRevolutionBeginsAtHome.You can find the transcript here.
3. The Craftivist Collective29:57In this episode, Chantelle spoke to Sarah Corbett from the Craftivist Collective about growing up an activist and the power of gentle protest. Their conversation explores activism burnout and how the Crativist Collective came to be as well as the origins of craftivism and the incredible campaigns that Sarah has run with it. To learn more you might want to check out our reading list...Sarah recommends:The Gift of Anger by Arun Gandhi and translated by Suzan Cenani AlioğluA Gift of Love by Martin Luther King Jr.and has also written several books on craftivism:A Little Book of Crativism by Sarah CorbettHow to Be a Craftivist by Sarah CorbettCraftivist Collective Handbook by Sarah CorbettYou might also want to check out:craftivism: the art of craft and activism by Betsy GreerKnitting for good! by Betsy GreerThe Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House by Audre LordeThe following sound effects were used in this podcast:knitting and dropping metal knitting needle by HanulSkyGirlSeamstress’ Large Scissors by JakobthiesenSeamstress’ sewing machine setup and run by JakobthiesenPaper Crumple Craft Sound by EminYILDIRIMIf you enjoyed this podcast, you should listen to the Surviving Society Podcast which is also hosted by Chantelle and check out other shows supported by Content is Queen. You can follow Cerys on Twitter or sign up to their mailing list to find out what else they're up to.You can find the transcript here.
2. The Halo Collective (Bonus Reflections Podcast)12:38We had some thoughts (and feelings) about last week's episode and didn't have anywhere to put them so now they're here (in your ears). What did you think about the episode? What did you think about the Halo Collective and hair discrimination and hair as a site of activism? Let us know on Instagram @therevolutionbeginsathome. If you're not on the gram, drop us a review or tweet @hashtagcerys with the hashtag #TheRevolutionBeginsAtHomeTranscriptIntroductionHello, and welcome to The Revolution Begins at Home (bonus reflections podcast). My name is Cerys, I’m the producer here at The Revolution Begins at Home and, after each episode, I’m going to be sharing a couple of things the episode made me think about whilst I was helping to make it.I realise that, as the producer, it’s generally not my job to say things but, the truth is, I have a lot of thoughts! And there’s not a whole lot of space in a half hour podcast so I thought I could have my own bit where I share them and I asked the producer if that would be ok and they said yes because they are me.This episodeIn the episode that this bonus episode is about, Chantelle, our wonderful host, talked to Kaisha-Wade Speed, a 17 year old activist working to end hair discrimination through the Halo Collective. They talked about hair discrimination, its impact, and the power of intergenerational communication and compassion and I learned a lot from getting to sit in on that conversation. Personally, I have never experienced hair discrimination, because, if you haven’t already guessed from that statement, I am white. I would actually say that my experience with my hair is the literal opposite of the kinds that Kaisha and Chantelle shared in their interview. I dye my hair a lot of different colours. I spent several years cutting it myself (as well as this year just gone, of course, because of lockdown) I’ve had some rough home-made haircuts in my time and none of this has ever really been an issue. I’ve certainly never been told that my hair is inappropriate at my school or workplace, even when my school had an explicit policy against dyed hair because, as we heard in the episode, these policies aren’t really about hair.My hair is still something I think about a lot though. Being queer and, I think, especially being non-binary, I try to use my hair to signify certain things about me. I keep it short, for example, I try very hard to get haircuts that are coded as masculine. This isn’t exactly effective – I feel like whatever haircut I ask for, or attempt myself, I almost always end up looking like a forty-year old divorcee who’s getting over her husband through a fun haircut and, to be honest, I’ve made my peace with that. If my soul’s inspiration board is a middle aged woman with an asymmetric fringe and an armful of stories about why her ex is a bastard then I am here for it.Anyway, my point is, I have a lot of thoughts about hair and hairstyles and so I was really grateful that Kaisha spoke to us about the Halo Collective and the work that they do because it gave me an opportunity to learn about hair and the value of hair from a different perspective to my own.Hair as a site of protestSo, what is the value of hair and what is its role in activism? Well, one of the things that this episode really made me think about was our bodies, and our hair especially, as sites of protest. For a lot of people, in one form or another, the body is a site of oppression. We, by which I mean society, project onto our bodies, by which I mean our bodies, yours and mine, an idealised image of what we (again society) expect everyone to look like and then we (all of us, you, me and society) enforce this through things like beauty standards or social conventions or uniform policies and, you know, actual laws. In the episode Kaisha and Chantelle explored how hair perpetuates and enforces racism, texturism and colourism.Kaisha: I mean, when we look at things like the media, there are often really positive connotations, looking at like lighter skinned people… And on the opposite side of that is like all of the negative things that come with being dark skinned and come with having like 4C or more kinkier hair, or having like bigger lips and a bigger nose, it's just not as appealing as like, like your lighter... you're just not as appealing as your lighter skin counterparts.Kaisha explained how we have a hierarchy of hairstyles which was developed under colonialism and still today perpetuates the false ideology that white people are superior, in the way that we look and behave and participate in society. Sort of over time we went from this idea that certain hairstyles were dirty and messy and bad because they were Black people’s hairstyles to Black people who have these hairstyles are dirty and messy and bad. Through this process, hair becomes an expression of prejudice. And we, again as a society, use hair to enforce a lot of different values, the ones that Kaisha talked about as well as things like patriotism or modesty or maternalism. Because afros look unprofessional and boys shouldn’t have long hair or painted nails whereas women should have hair that their husbands like, right? It needs to be feminine and demonstrate the effort she is making to look pretty for the world and take up so much of her time that she can’t do anything else like gain financial independence, for example. Also, we do get to make fun of her for being so obsessed with something as trivial as her hairstyle because that’s a silly, girly thing to do. In some places covering your hair and your face is against the law and in others the opposite is true because some people think it makes you untrustworthy and others immodest and, crucially, everyone else’s comfort is more important in that space than your own.We all have to follow a certain set of rules that dictate what our hair has to look like and those rules are different for different people because, again, it’s not really about the hair and some people have to follow more rules than others and are punished more severely when they break those rules because people do break the rules and when everyone is telling you that your hair needs to look like a certain way, you can use your hair to tell them you are not participating in their systems of oppression. For example… In 1922, in Egypt, the feminist leader and suffragette, Huda Sha’arawi removed her veil in public and trampled it beneath her feet . She revealed her hair to the world around the same time that, in the US, women were making the scandalous decision to cut their hair short and, in doing so, reject the cultural code that long hair equals femininity. Fast forward forty years and long hair became associated with hippies and the anti-war movement and was used to push-back against military haircuts and, this time, representations of masculinity . This was all happening at a time when Kathleen Cleaver famously explained how she wore her hair in an afro because it was natural and because it was beautiful . And, today, the hair and the head remain a powerful site of protest. In 2019, Monireh Arabshahi, Yasaman Aryani and Mojgan Keshavarz were arrested for removing their veils and handing out flowers on a train in a fight for the freedom to choose what to wear . Just earlier this year and a few miles from me in London, students at Pimlico Academy gathered to protest new uniform policies that punished students with afro-hairstyles  and limited the self-expression of students who wear hijabs. The school claimed that afros might block the view of pupils seated behind them, placing a hypothetical discomfort above the right of Black students to grow their hair naturally. The idea that some people’s hair is a kind of collective property, partially owned by a society that gets to weigh in on how it should be styled and what it should look like persists to this day.Perhaps this is why hair is a site of protest. But maybe it’s also because we all have hair? Or heads at least. As far as sites of protest go, our scalp is pretty close. It’s something that people even with limited power can exercise control over. That’s something that Britney Spears potentially most famously demonstrated way back in 2007? Cutting your hair or growing it from your armpits or whatever you want to do with it can be a bold and simple and empowering act because embedding a protest into your hairstyle is a reclamation of bodily autonomy that goes way beyond what you end up looking like.The work is hardListening to the history of the Halo Collective, the way that it’s evolved and developed as an organisation, the approach it has chosen and the response it has received has made me think a lot about how using your body to protest is hard work. If you think about it, it’s a place that you can’t really leave. If you go to a march or a demonstration and it wears you down, you can take a break, go lie in a dark room somewhere, sleep in your own bed and get up in the morning and decide whether or not you want to go back but if your protest is your hair it can be harder to leave that protest. You’re literally carrying it around with you on your head all the time. And, if your school tells you that the way your hair grows naturally is wrong then there’s not really much you can do about that. Sure, you can choose to change your hairstyle, by cutting it or paying someone to chemically relax it but you can’t change the way that it grows and so you can’t really escape from the fact that your school is telling you that the way you grow, naturally, is wrong. So I think having this protest in the space of your own body also brings about a different kind of toll. It must take a lot to come back up against that criticism again and again.This is why it was disheartening to hear Chantelle and Kaisha talk about the way that the work of the Halo Collective has been dismissed by some, as if focusing a movement on hair is trivial. Kaisha: people will say, like, Oh, so what you're discriminated on because of your hair. So what, like, no one's dying, like you're completely fine.I mean, it was disheartening in general to hear Kaisha’s experience of being a young organiser and being kind of dismissed outright purely because of her age but, on top of that, hearing that people don’t really buy this as a cause because it’s just hair was doubly saddening.Don’t get me wrong, I’m not surprised – I’m not surprised that people have looked at a group of young girls working to end hair discrimination and maybe thought “of course all that teenage girls care about is their hair” but I think that the Halo Collective has done a lot of work to show why this is not just about hair. Kaisha: the research has shown that those Black children, especially in schools, who are discriminated upon, because of their hair type have less chances of succeeding even in their like final exams, because they're being taken out of their classes. They're, they're being condemned for literally no reason. It obviously affects your self-esteem.And also to show that, actually, this is about hair and that’s ok because hair is important. Because, as we heard in the episode, hair is not just hair it is a tool of self-expression, it is a tool of oppression. It’s really important that people feel comfortable and empowered in their bodies and that’s why this kind of work is so vital. It’s not that it’s not just about hair but that it is about hair and hair is an important battleground where things like racism and texturism and colourism can be unpicked and disempowered and so it is important not to trivialise this work or devalue it because maybe the reason we are devaluing it and trivialising it is because we devalue and trivialise girls and the amount of work and thought and care that goes into hairstyling. Call to armsI think the Halo Collective have demonstrated that this is a fight worth having, and a difficult fight to have. It is something that we all have to participate in – by adopting the Halo Code, by talking to people, through education and compassion. What I have learned from helping to make this episode, and what I hope that you have learned also, is that dressing in the way that best expresses you, wearing your hair in the way you most feel comfortable, showing who you are through your body, this can be a form of activism. It’s one that you can do from home, in public, by yourself, as part of a collective, every day or just on the particular occasions when it is safe. If you want to get involved and help end hair discrimination there are lots of great resources at halocollective.co.uk https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huda_Sha%27arawi#Feminism https://www.vogue.com.au/hair-insider/how-protest-hair-became-a-form-of-political-expression/image-gallery/7749adee0c448549461b22289b0f0353 https://search.alexanderstreet.com/preview/work/bibliographic_entity%7Cvideo_work%7C2787219 https://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/iran-30-years-prison-protesting-against-forced-veiling-laws-LG?utm_source=google&utm_medium=paid&utm_campaign=MAIN717T_2104-1w-tru-Lead_gen_PPC_Iran-3&utm_content=monireh%20arabshahi https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/31/pimlico-academy-pupils-stage-protest-over-discriminatory-policies
1. The Halo Collective31:03In our first episode Chantelle talks to Kaisha from the Halo Collective, their work to end hair discrimination in the UK and the barriers that young, Black women face in activism. Their conversation takes us through the origins of the Halo Collective, how hair discrimination developed under colonialism and the power of education in activism. To learn more, you might want to check out our reading list:Kaisha recommends:Stokely Speaks by Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture)Don't Touch My Hair by Emma Dabirito my sisters, the podcastYou might also want to check out...Coiled Hot Comb by Ebony FlowersHair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America by Ayan D. Byrd and Lori L. Tharps From the Kitchen to the Parlor: Language and Becoming in African American Women's Hair Care by Lanita Jacobs-HueyBeauty Shop Politics: African American Women's Activism in the Beauty Industry by Tiffany M. GillPlucked: A History of Hair Removal by Rebecca M. HerzigThe following sound effects were used in this podcast:Hair Dryer – Different speeds by LeonelmailShaving hair by MancoMeio Brushing Hair.wav by TumiwiththesoundsIf you enjoyed this podcast, you should listen to the Surviving Society Podcast which is also hosted by Chantelle and check out other shows supported by Content is Queen. You can follow Cerys on Twitter or sign up to their mailing list to find out what else they're up to.Podcast transcript:Chantelle 0:03 Hello and welcome to the revolution begins at home, a podcast about activism, what it looks like and who gets to do it. Chantelle 0:12 My name is Chantel Lewis. I'm a Public Sociologist and the co-founder and co-host of the Surviving Society Podcast. Chantelle 0:21 Throughout this series, I'm going to be speaking to activists and advocates about their work. We'll be talking about what it means to be an activist, what it involves, and how structures of power determine what we consider to be activism or worthy of an activist movement. Chantelle 0:46 In today's episode, I spoke to Kaisha-Wade Speid.Kaisha 0:50 I just ordered, so many books. I've been doing, like, book swaps with other Black people and my mum when she saw the parcels coming, she was like "Kaisha, you're becoming a revolutionary" and I was like, "Yeah!" I love it...Chantelle 1:00 Kaisha is a student, and whilst on the fellowship at the Advocacy Academy, she co-founded the Halo Collective. I talked to her about their ethos, how they got started, and everything they've already achieved, but before we hear the full interview. Here are Kaisha's activist influences...Kaisha 1:19 Oh my god, I could literally just- I could sit here and list all day. First of all, like from the UK, Olive Morris. Olive Morris who was like really crucial in the Black Panther Party in the UK and like the Squatters Rights Movement. 'Cause my my gran lives in Brixton, and she's like, part of that whole Windrush Movement and so that was really prevalent for her during that time and even like intellectuals Franz Fanon, Stokely Carmichael, Angela Davis, anti-imperialist, like, anti-capitalists, Far Left like even Marxist revolutionaries, who, throughout the lockdown I've really been like reading into like, involving myself in all of the literature, all of the like Black Revolutionary Literature surrounding it, you can really see how the things that they talk about, it seems so extreme, like, "oh, let's burn down like the capitalist state". But you can see these manifestations of like capitalism in everyday society, and like capitalism, imperialism, racism, homophobia, all kind of ties within, it all ties together. You know? When we talk about like, intersectionality, and all the different types of oppression that people face. It's so much to take in, but it's very necessary. I love-I love them. Big up to them. [theme music]Chantelle 2:36 Hello, Kaisha Wade speed. Kaisha 2:39 Hello.Chantelle 2:41 Kashia, thank you so much for joining me this afternoon. I am literally so inspired by you having only just been talking to you for the past half an hour of everything you've just achieved, we get to the end of our conversation, and I find out you're in Sixth Form. Kaisha 2:56 Yeah. Chantelle 2:57 Oh my days, you are incredible! So Kaisha, listeners, is a Sixth Former, but is the co-founder of the Halo Collective. Kaisha tell the listeners about the Halo Collective.Kaisha 3:09 So the Halo Collective is basically an activism group that is composed of Black young people, and we're kind of based in London, who all in some way have some experience with hair discrimination or being told by different authoritative members, maybe in their school or workplace, that they can't have their hair a specific way. And we were like, "well, this is something that we need to change, because it's not right and it's far too much of a common occurrence for us to just let it slide or say it was a one time thing", because it's definitely not and it makes Black people... well, Black people all over the country that we've spoken to all have some sort of experience with being policed because of their hairstyle. And we noticed that it was really a racialized thing, because if we were to ask white people have you had this experience, it was completely foreign to them. So as a part of kind of breaking down institutional racism and racist microaggressions, we decided to form the Halo Collective, which just kind of aims to end hair discrimination in all professional environments and in general.Chantelle 4:13 Listening to you talk straight away, I'm thinking about, right, so this praxis that you guys are doing, this praxis of collectivity in terms of fighting, a type of racist microaggression and institutional racism - I'm thinking about scholarship and books that have contributed to this stuff, and then how it then later connects to what you are doing in practice. What I mean by that I'm thinking about like Black Media Platforms like Black Ballad, Emma Dabiri's book, I'm thinking about Shirley Anne Tate, Remi Joseph-Salisbury, Laura Connelly, people that have been writing about this stuff. So I'm familiar with the literature, and then reading and going on your website and hearing about all the things you've done. It's like a prime example of connecting theory to practice.Kaisha 5:01 Yeah, exactly. Chantelle 5:02 And it is so, so inspiring. And it would be really good for the listeners on that basis of connecting theory and practice to find out a bit about the journey in coming to set up the Halo Collective because anyone that's been involved in organizing, any kind of organizer knows how hard work it is. So how did this happen?Kaisha 5:19 Well, this is actually one of most interesting parts when I tell people like, oh, how did this come about? So basically, in February of 2020, Chantelle 5:27 Oh, pre-pre COVID. Kaisha 5:28 Yeah, pre COVID times, when COVID was kind of lingering, but we weren't, we didn't really care about her, then. Well, I signed up to an organization called the Advocacy Academy, which is literally like the mother of young youth social justice work in London, particularly. And I got in, and we basically, from the summer of 2020, because of COVID, obviously, we had to do an online fellowship. And usually it's a real life residential, where we go out and stay somewhere in the middle of nowhere, I don't know. And they basically train us up all things activism. So every day, we just tackle different things like gender and race and we did a lot of like introspective work, and basically all to be like good activists and like we completely dissected, like everything when it comes to social justice. And by the end of it, even though we had only met each other in real life twice, like me, and the rest of the people involved in Advocacy, we literally felt like brand new people. It was honestly the most transformative thing. It was like I was being born again, like intellectually, even though it was all through Zoom. So, um, from Advocacy, in one of the last weeks, Advocacy always is known for like their flagship kind of campaigns, so all of the young people, they go into groups, and they create campaigns, on literally whatever you want to do, as long as it's feasible, then you can do it. So we completely organically kind of grouped together, me and four other Black girls who were in Advocacy. And we said, right, so what is our common experience? Well, we're all Black and we're all women, and what have we experienced? We're all the same age... And hair discrimination is just something that came up like straight off the bat, and we grouped with some Advocacy Academy alumni. So people who had already done the Social Justice Fellowship and are like older people, so they have all the practice and campaigning knowledge. And then from then we just kind of, it was the Code, first of all, which was me and four other girls, and then it became the Collective when we banded with those other people. So we kind of had more arms and more capacity to do things because I didn't think it would not have nearly been as successful as it has been if we didn't have those, like, alumni who joined with us.Chantelle 7:44 And in terms of it becoming a Collective, when we talk about this in terms of organizing and activism, in practice, what does that mean on a week by week basis?Kaisha 7:56 Erm, in the everyday world, it basically means that in the beginning, we had a lot of different arms. So we had a lot of different people with different expertise to work in all the different areas that we needed. So we took schools, me and the other four girls took schools, because obviously we were all students at the time, we had connections to other students, it was just like, convenient. And then we had a team that was also about like marketing. And basically when we had our launch, they already had people who were in media. Obviously, this was me and the four girls's first time doing anything to do with campaigning. So we had no idea where we were told to write press release. We were like, what?Chantelle 8:33 So are you guys like 16 at this point? 16 or 17? At this point,Kaisha 8:36 I was 17, though we have one one girl Katie and she's in the year below us.Chantelle 8:40 Yeah.Kaisha 8:40 So she's just about to enter year 13, the academic year, but we're all like 17. So we had media and comms, we had like a legal team, who are working more with like parliamentary personnel, because we want to change the law, essentially, as part of our campaign. We did social media as well, just because we were the youngest, and we were like, we'll just do social media, this is what we good at. So the Collective essentially just gives us so much capacity, it just allows us to do so many different things at once instead of us five, who are fresh kind of out of campaigning and strategy training, without the real life experience. We had the people that had the real life experience. And we also have an amazing like family advocacy. So we had Liz Ward, who was Director of Programs at Advocacy, who literally just like led the way for us when we didn't really know what we were doing, which was really good. And also Amelia Viney, who's the founder of Advocacy Academy. She worked in like Congress and the Houses of Parliament. So she knows her stuff when it comes to campaigning. So they kind of led the way for us. And we just did all of like the other heavy lifting and we learned so much throughout the way I think that was really scary at first because we literally had no idea what we were doing when it came to... We gained so much traction, it was almost scary. Like I remember, we sat down in one of our meetings and we were like, right, so this blew up now what do we do? And we had to obviously do strategy like formulation. And this was all brand new to us. All I knew was like what I'm doing for my levels. And that's it. So it was all just been a huge learning experience. And we have such a huge family and support network, which has allowed us to be as successful as we have been.Chantelle 10:22 One of the things that I like about your retelling of this journey, Kaisha is that you're emphasizing the behind the scenes work. And often, people only see like the website or the like, the speeches or the podcasts and whatever. But there's so much that goes on behind the scenes that isn't necessarily seen as quote unquote glamorous. In terms of thinking about it as a collective, do you think you guys making that behind the scenes work acknowledged within how you present what you're, what you're doing?Kaisha 10:53 Yeah, I hopefully, hopefully, I think so. Chantelle 10:55 Yeah.Kaisha 10:55 I mean, in terms of when we did press releases, at the beginning, we were kind of like the face of Halo, just because we were the ones in Advocacy, who kind of ignited the idea. But by no means we were the one who's done, we were the ones who've done all the hard work. And I think in naming it a "collective", it kind of implies that it's multiple people and like even people who are not tied to Advocacy in any way, or have had a like, push in what what we've been doing people like Helen Hayes, the MP, she is literally been like, by our side the whole time. And she's a trustee for Advocacy. But I mean, she's a she's like a middle class white woman. She's never had anything to do with hair discrimination. She didn't even know really what it was about before meeting us. But it just kind of shows that no matter what background you're from, or what race you are, you can be involved in Halo, it's kind of symbolic in a way because like you can be involved in the change. And that's kind of the message that we want to put out to people because you're not going to really get rid of hair discrimination if you don't have help from a lot of different people.[electric hair clippers sound]Chantelle 12:02 So Kaisha, what would you say to people that would say to the Collective, "you're barking up the wrong tree!" "This isn't going to happen?", "Why would we end hair discrimination?" What types of things do you guys say to resist those kinds of critiques? Especially when they're critiques that are racialized and racist? Kaisha 12:22 Yeah, Chantelle 12:22 That say things that describe our hair in ways that is derogatory? Like how are you as a collective resistanting and combatting those kinds of critiques?Kaisha 12:32 Funnily enough, when we received our first like, hate email we were all celebrating! You know, if you don't have haters, then you're obviously not doing something right. So we were celebrating, and a big part of our campaign is about education. And oftentimes, the most ignorant comments are from people who have no experience with hair discrimination. And at the end, the day is understandable. Like, if the problem is not within your realm, you're not going to understand it. So Halo Code is all about, like, educating people first and foremost on what is Hair Discrimination. Because in these comments that people make it shows that it's a really, it's an overt problem for black people. But if you're not black, then it's like "hair discrimination? I never even knew that was a thing". So those people who are haters, we just kind of tried to educate them really and truly to try and show that it is a problem, and it has a huge history, even into like the Colonial Era, and that's the birthplace of hair discrimination, like segregation based on hair type. So education, like in any campaign is obviously really important, and trying to show people that it actually does have a real life impact because people you know, people will say, like, "Oh, so what? You're discriminated on because of your hair - so what? No one's dying, like you're completely fine." But we literally have done the studies, we've done the research to show that those Black children, especially in schools, who are discriminated upon, because of their hair type have less chances of succeeding even in their like final exams, because they're being taken out of they're classes, they're being condemned for literally no reason, it obviously affects your self esteem... I think there's a huge stigma in the Black Community around hair. And just because you're not in the Black Community doesn't mean that you can't empathize with our position - you can't accept people when they're telling their testimonies of how they've been discriminated upon. In all types of activism, compassion is really like a key element. And that comes through education.Chantelle 14:34 Love that Kaisha. I know so many Black kids that got, and myself I got sent home before for having weave! Like that have experienced exclusion because of hair, Kaisha 14:49 People having to like relocate because they feel uncomfortable because of a comment that a teacher made like it's a real... when people try to deny that it's a problem. It's like, well, I have a million and one case studies I can give you. So which one do you want to recast? Chantelle 15:02 YeahKaisha 15:02 And I have a man when people you can talk to who are literallyy within our reach. It's not even like, oh, I have to search on the internet for somewhere in America to come with their testimony. It's like, no, this is a problem that if you speak to even within, like my family community, when we spoke about the campaign, my mom had experiences of hair discrimination, my auntie, like, my great uncle, they could all testimony to the fact that this is a problem. We like to put our stories like in the limelight, to firstly show people that obviously, this is a real issue. And this is something that we have experience and also to really like give power to those people and instead of kind of treating them like victims, and feeling sorry for them, we're kind of giving them the power to speak up about something. And we like to kind of believe that if you kind of put your story out there, then it makes your problem more tangible. And it kind of puts it in the faces of people. And with that comes a sense of like urgency, because if you can see a problem, that means that you know that it needs to be fixed.Chantelle 16:03 So one of the things that I think comes through on the messaging within Halo, is that interconnection between texture, colourism and hair. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about that, and how that forms the way we're trying to create educate - well with the way you guys are trying to create, but collectively, lots of people are trying to create education around what these things mean, and the real time impact of these things.Kaisha 16:26 So I think a lot of the education needs to acknowledge that this is a historical... it's not a historical problem, but it has historical roots. I mean, like most things, colourism, texturism, featurism all stems from, like the Colonial Era, and like the Slave Trade. So obviously, during the Slave Trade, when there was like mixed race children from the slave master and the slave, they would be treated a bit better (I'm not say that they were treated well!) but they would get preferential treatment due to the fact that they were white and Black. And most time if you are biracial, you have like lighter skin or you have more Eurocentric features, like you have looser curls in your hair. And I think even though it's a problem that is from... it's, it's existed hundreds of hundreds of years ago, it has really strong resonance today. I mean, when we look at things like the media, there are often really positive connotations, looking at like lighter skinned people. And even like in music, it's so rife, where you hear like, oh, light skinned girls, this light skinned girls this. And on the opposite side of that is like all of the negative things that come with being dark skinned and come with having like 4C or more kinkier hair, bigger lips and a bigger nose. It's just not, you're just not as appealing as your lighter skinned counterparts. And I think it's a problem that has been trivialized almost in the Black Community. And we need to kind of recognize that is it's a really big issue because it all comes from like white supremacist ideals of beauty. And if we're trying to build an anti racist society, you need to recognize that perhaps you may be perpetuating it in a way that you know, everyone has like internal biases, you may have like colourism internally or texturism internally, but you need to learn to firstly recognize where that came from educate yourself on where that came from, why it's a problem, and then how to like break it down. Because, obviously everyone is beautiful in their own way. And you don't deserve to feel bad about yourself just because someone told you like, "Oh, well, you're dark skinned, that means that you're not beautiful." It has no actual logic behind it.Chantelle 18:37 100% Kaisha 18:38 There are people who claim to be anti racist, but then we perpetuate these kind of colonial ideas of like...Chantelle 18:46 Colourism. Kaisha 18:46 Yeah, it makes... it literally makes... it's really embarrassing, to be honest.Chantelle 18:51 Definitely. Definitely. And I think one of the reasons why I wanted to sort of draw on that as well, is because one of the things that I think has at times been slightly disappointing about the Hair Movement, and bear in mind, I'm saying this sat next to you as a Black mixed race woman interviewing you. So I'm very much aware of my positionality within this stuff. But sometimes within the Hair Movement, I think there has been quite a lot of space being taken up by women with lighter skin, women with looser curls. I think that has been that has been slight- it's been disappointing. But I think that there are organizations like yourselves, amazing women like yourselves, Black women like yourselves that are actually like saying, no, the starting point should not be about reifying lightness and looser curls. That shouldn't be the starting point. Kaisha 19:39 Yeah. Chantelle 19:40 And it is - it's almost like predictable that at times it has been mixed race women that have been at the forefront of this. And I think that again... that is disappointing, but organisations like Halo Collective I think are really really important for sort of taking up that space.Kaisha 19:55 In a lot of activism movements that are surrounding like racialized problem. You often see the people with the most privilege on that basis taking space at the front just because they appeal to like the white gaze in a way, like, if you're -Chantelle 20:10 Look at this! Look at my girl dropping Fanon. Kaisha 20:14 We love a bit of Fanon!Chantelle 20:15 Look at my Sixth Former dropping Fanon! Come on, let me carry on. Kaisha 20:20 Because you you appeal to like the Eurocentric gaze, you're not as like "untamed", and you're not as kind of "wild" and "exotic" as like darker skinned Black people. So you kind of... you leverage that. And whilst I think a lot of people go into it with good intention, Chantelle 20:37 Yes. Kaisha 20:37 But it's like you don't mean to take up this space but you have to really... this is when privilege comes in, you just have to be aware of your privilege. And I think a lot of people get defensive when privilege comes up, because it's like, well, it's not my fault. But that's exactly what privilege is! And you need to use your privilege to make space for people who's voices are kind of trodden on and people who their opinions are always like pushed to the side on the basis that they don't fit, like, the Eurocentric kind of ideals, like, of who should be heard.[sound of hairdryer]Chantelle 21:14 Back to Halo Collective in the practical sense, you were talking about in our pre chat you guys meet once a week, have you found at any point that you have been tired and found some of this work a bit exhausted and kind of wanted to retract from it? Or are you guys making enough space for yourself in terms of your well being and doing this kind of work?Kaisha 21:37 I think it's really difficult when running a campaign and doing other things, because people who contact us think that Halo Collective is our full time job and that we get paid for it. I have not received one penny from doing any of this work. This is all free work from the... it literally just runs on our passion. And yeah, definitely we have reached a point of fatigue, even like right now we're in the process of re-strategizing and completely just like reviving the campaign, because after Christmas, everyone was just tired. And obviously I've literally had my A Level exams, people have their jobs, people had their dissertations to write. Chantelle 22:17 We had BLM! The exhaustion of BLM!Kaisha 22:16 Yeah, yeah, we had like people going hospital for COVID. So like, yeah, it was really difficult. And I think we had to just kind of say to everyone like, right, we get everyone's tired now. So let's just take a bit of a break. And we took like a two week break, where we didn't do anything, we didn't check our emails. And then we came back in like, right, we'd sort this out now. And now we are in the process of just kind of like trying to put the fire back in the campaign because it definitely was there in the beginning. And there was a point where Halo took up like my entire... all my free time. And I literally was neglecting my schoolwork like I would leave school early so I could go to different Halo things or I could go to like an Advocacy meeting. But this has all just been a learning curve, like I said in the beginning, like learning how to balance your school and your like activism and your social life...Kaisha 22:22 So in terms of the practicalities of building a campaign and the next campaign, we spoke about press releases, we spoke about collaborating with members of parliament. Kaisha 23:15 Yeah.Chantelle 23:15 What other things will you be doing over the coming months and hopefully years?Kaisha 23:18 So there is actually a lot of like, internal kind of miss-missteps within the campaign that you obviously wouldn't realize from the outside. But there are so many things that we actually need to get sorted. And we recognize like we kind of were stressing at the beginning, because we were like, "oh my gosh, this is gonna fall apart because we haven't set out this email, we haven't spoken to this person!" But that's completely normal. Like within all movements, you're not going to have everything going like perfectly all the way, especially when you have people are our age group who are just kind of fresh to this scene. So when we talk about re-strategizing, we honestly need to just do things internal, we have some issues with like, well, who's going to actually answer the emails, because there is like 15 people in the collective and not everyone can do emails at once. So even just like, all of these things are really mundane, but they're all very necessary. So even we have like emails and we have things like, okay, well, we need to have a look at our roles within the campaign because some things aren't as necessary right now as they were before. So obviously, because we've already released we don't really need to do that many press releases anymore. So the people that are doing press releases, we need your help elsewhere. So it's just kind of re-delegating roles. We had a whole like strategy meeting where we basically just looked at like, okay, what is Halo? And what are we trying to do now? Because we needed that kind of clear vision to carry on or we're just running on nothing, basically, we need everyone to remember like, why are we here and what are we trying to do?Kaisha 23:52 So ending hair discrimination by law, is the route to doing that via each individual school? Or is it by going to minister in Parliament? Or is it both?Kaisha 25:07 It's a really difficult question. Because there's I say there's like two routes. So you have in the law currently, obviously, it's illegal to discriminate against people based on their racial, like, characteristics. But hair is something that is implied within that, but it's not explicitly said. And like I said before, a lot of people don't know that hair discrimination is a thing, or they don't know that the comments they're making about Black people's hair can actually be harmful, Chantelle 25:33 Or they do know and they don't care. Kaisha 25:35 Yeah, exactly. And there's only so much The Law can do. Like, we're not going to go to Boris Johnson and say, "you need to look up everyone who makes a comment about my hair", because that's obviously not feasible. And that's why I say is really important, obviously, educate people within schools. I mean, my part of the campaigns kind of dealing with schools, and it would be great to get every school in the country to sign up to the halo code, but how is it going to be enforced? And that's something that we're also dealing with, within our strategy sessions, because it's all well and good - we have like 80 schools now we have like, I think it's kind of up to 200 work placesChantelle 26:09 That have signed up. Kaisha 26:10 Yeah, Chantelle 26:10 To the Code. And the Code basically says, "we will not discriminate."Kaisha 26:14 It's more of like a celebratory thing it's like we celebrate everyone, all of our students, all of our employees, regardless of like, their racial characteristics, basically, yeah, like what you said, we will not engage in hair discrimination, but like, in a positive way.[hair brushing sound]Kaisha 26:37 You know, a lot of people have a problem with my generation, because it's like "oh you're snowflakes", like "it doesn't actually matter". But this is an intergenerational issue. And like we said, it comes from a time like far, far, far deep in history.Chantelle 26:51 I mean, not that long ago though, is it? Like if you think about, like, we're still living with the manifestations of colonialism?Kaisha 26:57 Yeah, yeah of course.Chantelle 26:58 It's actually very much present.Kaisha 27:00 Yeah, the slave trade happened. But we are still living with the ramifications of it, like in so many different ways, like economic and social aspects. And these are all things that obviously need to be dealt with, because they can't carry on forever, because it's literally... it is debilitating the well being of Black people. And I feel like, far too many people are scared to speak up on these things, especially people of my generation, they're scared that they're just gonna be labeled like snowflakes, and people are just gonna, like, undermine their kind of issues and say, they don't really matter.Chantelle 27:34 I would say as well, amongst progressive, sometimes these kind of racist microaggressions are not necessarily downplayed, but they asked at times presented either as a red herring, or something that should be on the back burner, because there's more pressing inequities that we need to deal with. I do have sympathy for that view. But I've also seen, whether it's through my own experience, or through others experiences or case studies, or books, or reading, or just the news, how much these like hair discrimination impacts, Black people's sense of self and our sense of self is integral to our life, so it is to our Kaisha 28:14 functioningChantelle 28:14 Yes!Kaisha 28:15 Even like I said, it carries on for generations, because if you harbor that type of self hate due to the comments that you've been victim of, then you have children, for example, and then you teach the children like, "oh, your hair isn't nice texture" like "if your hair looked like this, then it would be better." It just carries on!Chantelle 28:33 As in people that perpetuate some of these issues.Kaisha 28:36 Yeah, it's really like really preminent notio. Preminent?Chantelle 28:40 prominent Kaisha 28:41 Prominent notions within the black community regarding like, parents, all those things that really need to be kind of combated.Chantelle 28:48 Definitely.Kaisha 28:49 It's not even just like, white people kind of perpetuating these notions. It's been indoctrinated so deeply within the Black community that we now believe it ourselves that if you have a looser curl pattern, then you are your hair is better. You don't like "good hair", and there's so many little tight microaggression.Chantelle 29:06 Labels.Kaisha 29:07 Yeah, Chantelle 29:07 That we want to resist basically, that we should be resisting. Chantelle 29:11 That's amazing, Kaisha. Kaisha, the Sixth Former soon to be... oh actually, by the time this comes out, you'll probably would have started at Warwick?Kaisha 29:19 YeahChantelle 29:20 She's gonna be an undergraduate studying..?Kaisha 29:23 Politics and SociologyChantelle 29:25 Come on! Revolutionary. Join the Sociology Crew! Love this! Kaisha, you have inspired us so much, this afternoon. And I'm sure you've inspired a lot of listeners and probably make made people feel hopeful. I think your generation is my favorite generation. Kaisha 29:41 Wow, that means a lot.Chantelle 29:42 Gen Z - absolute legends! They do that (Sorry, I just shouted.) Amazing people - love Gen Z because Gen Z is full of amazing people. Kaisha 29:53 Thank you [laughs]Chantelle 30:00Thanks for listening to The Revolution Begins at Home. If you enjoyed it, you should check out other podcasts supported my Content is Queen. This podcast was presented by myself Chantelle Lewis and produced by Cerys Bradley. If you want to hear more of our work, there are links in the description.Many thanks to Kaisha for talking to us. You can find out more about the Halo Collective on their website.If you want to learn more about hair discrimination, then the Halo Collective website is a great place to start. You might also want to check out the reading list we have included in the description of this podcast.The music for this podcast is from Blue Dot Sessions with additional sounds from freesound.org.See you next time.
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