Yaya Azariah Clarke on 'the state of the creative industry from a Black perspective'

For It’s Nice That, Yaya Azariah Clarke examined the creative industry’s responses to the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, 3 years on. She spoke to a variety of Black creatives, including brothers Akil and Seth Scafe-Smith and Melissa Haniff, who run an interdisciplinary collective called Resolve:

“We haven’t really had the time to stop and think about 2020,” Seth tells us. A difficult time for the trio, with the overwhelming climate full of statements of solidarity, Seth adds that he “found it so very overwhelming, we turned down a lot of opportunities”. Three years later, in what is their biggest institutional feat to date, in April the collective opened an exhibition at the Barbican Centre in London titled them’s the breaks – which proved to be a bold continuation of their communal approach, having featured a library, a stage built with recycled materials and a series of workshops. A month before its scheduled close, people across Instagram, the architecture world, and Black and PoC communities were left to sit with yet another example of the institutional failings for Black creatives, after the collective announced that they’d be pulling the show due to “hostility towards close family and friends; heavy-handed and overly-suspicious treatment when entering our exhibition with a group of other Black and Brown artists […] and anti-Palestinian censorship,” (in a statement published in Fumbalist Magazine).

Shameless plug: I wrote an article from a digital marketing perspective on how Black marketers felt post-2020 and a lot of the people I interviewed felt similar things: lots of overwhelming pledges followed by a disappearance of action and energy—and back to normal with microaggressions and racism.

The creative industry is even broader and therefore Black creatives are exposed to harsher working conditions, both from a physical and emotional perspective. We didn’t ask for any of this and yet we have to bear the brunt of faux-action, reaction, and deathly silence. But I am grateful for everyone who carries on and wish love and guidance to those who need a damn break!

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