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Centre for Equity and Inclusion set to host first event

Imagining Otherwise will bring together speakers on anti-racism, abolition and more - and it's open to everyone in the city.

Sheffield city centre from above South Street amphitheatre

Sheffield city centre from above South Street amphitheatre

The new Centre for Equity and Inclusion’s first event, Imagining Otherwise, will bring together a range of speakers to discuss anti-racism, abolition and community healing, and create new connections across Sheffield.

Project Manager Alex Rajinder Mason told Now Then that the in-person event is "probably the first opportunity really for our postgraduates and our partners to come together and share their thinking around a theme related to racial justice."

He said the theme of the event is based on the work of Lola Olufemi, a Black feminist writer and thinker.

We wanted to think about what kind of future, what sort of vision we have for ourselves, for our work around racial justice, and using some of the tools around imagining otherwise that Olufemi provides seemed like a good step in that direction.

Olufemi’s Experiments in Imagining Otherwise was published by independent publishing house Hajar Press, who describe the work as beginning “with what is stolen from us and proposes only an invitation to imagine.”

The publisher goes on to describe Olufemi’s work as “playful written experiments” that explore "the space between what is and what could be. Weaving together fragmentary reflections in prose and poetry, this is an exploration of the possibility of living differently, grounded in black feminist scholarship and political organising.”

In the spirit of Olufemi’s work, Alex hopes the day will bring together “artists, academics, post-graduate researchers [and] activists,” as well as other members of the public, to “share their thoughts on imagining otherwise, and what it means to them.”

The idea is that those who attend the event will not only be able to listen to the sort of work that's already being done in this area, with the ideas and the strategies, but also then actively participate in group conversations about the presentation, about the ideas that come from the presentations, as a way of trying to build up a community of like-minded, like-valued people in Sheffield, so that we can collectively think about strategies for imagining an alternative future that’s focused on liberation.

The Centre for Equity and Inclusion is based at the University of Sheffield, but Alex is keen to emphasise that the event is open to everyone.

The speakers aren't all academics. They're not all researchers - they're activists, they're artists, they're thinking deeply about these issues, but they're not necessarily from an academic background. I really want the audience to reflect that diversity of speaker and I really invite people, local people in Sheffield who are interested in this topic, to come and take part in the conversations.

Since the Centre was established in September, Alex said that one of his “first reflections” has been a need to “address the material needs of [racial justice work] more.”

“I think going forward we need to be doing more about actually helping to enhance access to health care, for example, helping individual households, whatever, negotiate this cost of living crisis, thinking about the distribution of wealth – all of those things that we maybe can't lead on, but certainly can contribute to.”

He thinks that this requires “a better relationship that’s more ingrained with the city.”

We want to keep building that with as many people as possible. So, in that regard, trying to host an event at the ISRAAC Centre, which is a community hub, we want to invite local people that are invested in these issues.

Speakers will explore abolitionism, Black British futurism, community healing, mental health, queer and diasporic spaces, and structural oppression.

Join Imagining Otherwise on Thursday 2 February at the ISRAAC Community Association, 12.30-6pm.

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