The Next Gen Movement is the most fantastic example of strong black women out there in the world making a difference. The movement was founded in 2020 by three friends who were deeply affected by the murder of George Floyd, the rise of the BLM movement and all the protests around the world.
Janelle, 26, born and bred in Nottingham and one of the founding members of Next Gen tells us all about how it all began.
It started with a post
We wanted to show our support, be seen, and heard but realised nothing was happening in Notts, so we were like, let's do it!! We'd never even been to a protest, let alone organised one, and we honestly thought maybe a hundred people would turn up.
So, we put it on Facebook on Sunday and said the protest would be the following Sunday, and within three days, we had over 3000 people saying they were going to be there to show their support!
We had to move venues because we honestly didn't expect so many people. The sense of community from the start was incredible; people reached out to us with a stage, speakers and the three of us worked with the council and the police to organise the protest.
The day of the protest was so nerve-racking and amazing! We couldn't believe the number of people that showed up to support. People from all walks of life, 80-year-old white men, teenagers, mums with babies, dogs, horses, all these people came together in the rain to show love and support for the movement, which made it feel so special.
So, what next?
After the protest, everyone was like, "what are you doing next?" At first, we were like, what do you mean we're just three young women? But we gave it a shot, and here we are.
The timing was great for me because I was a DJ, so in 2020 there was no work, which was rubbish, but it meant I could dedicate my time to getting Next Gen off the ground.
We have four principles that we work around: education, engagement empowerment, and employment.
Our primary focus is really around education. We offer black history workshops; there is so much to know about black history that isn't taught in. schools. It isn't just about racism and oppression; it's about historical figures, inventors, pioneers, music, and culture... every day, we feel like we're learning about ourselves a little as well.
We do racism and microaggression training, not just for the young people but also for the teachers. Many people don't know or understand what microaggressions are, but minorities can carry the trauma of being subjected to them for a lifetime.
We also do a prevention and reform programme with the Nottingham violence reduction unit. We work with young people to prevent them from getting into crime and help reform people in a particular lifestyle.
Beating the Biases
From the start, we felt significantly undermined, and the authorities doubted whether we could handle it all. If one more person referred to us as "girls", we were like no, we're grown women, and we are more than capable, thanks.
The three of us have had to deal with different biases because of the colour of our skin. I struggled because I don't appear to be black, I was struck with imposter syndrome, and I suddenly questioned if I had a right to be teaching other people about this stuff. I had to do some proper soul searching to get over that one.
I take my inspiration from
The women in my family inspire me; they are all go-getters who have worked in male-dominated sectors. And just the everyday women, no superpower, just women who get up and get shit done even when they don't feel like it.
International Women's Day
International Women's Day is a chance to reflect on how far we've come and the obstacles we've overcome and shed light on the work that still needs to do. We've just got to keep on moving and supporting other women.