Happy Black History Month! To mark it, we are sharing our favourite diverse and anti-racist resources for teachers, parents, drama practitioners and youth workers. Teaching black history is not a compulsory part of the national curriculum in England, meaning that young people could go their whole school lives without gaining any knowledge of the crucial role that black people have played in British and World history. This means that it is frequently up to motivated individuals to educate our young people with limited resources, often whilst educating themselves in the process.
To help we have collated some wonderful anti-racist resources filled with creative activities and interesting discussion prompts to give you the confidence to teach young people about the history of people of the Global Majority and have honest conversations about race and racism:
1. Show Racism the Red Card Education Hub
Show Racism the Red Card is the UK’s leading anti-racism education charity, founded in 1996 with a generous donation from Newcastle goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, who wanted to use education and the elevated status of footballers to challenge racist attitudes. They have plenty of free and high-quality lesson plans on their education hub which can help to guide young people through safe and open discussions. The lesson ‘exploring racism through drama’ looks at specific experiences of racism in a school environment encouraging young people to act out different roles of students and teachers, looking at the different choices they can make to challenge racism and understanding the impact on victims. They also have brilliant resources exploring media bias and helping young people to examine media representations of different groups and how stereotypes are perpetuated. You can find the education hub here.
We have had the pleasure of attending practical and thought-provoking training from Show Racism the Red Card and would highly recommend their training to teachers and practitioners who want to deepen their knowledge of anti-racism education.
2. Performing International Plays
If you are looking to diversify a drama curriculum, Performing International Plays is the perfect place to find inspiration. They feature 20 plays, from 6 continents, originally written and performed in 15 languages. Each play has an English translation available, with accompanying education packs provided to guide your lessons with discussion prompts that explore the play's key themes. Many of the plays also have videos of translated scenes alongside the same scenes in their original language to help bring the text to life. Reading, seeing, and performing stories from a range of countries can be an exciting way to learn about different cultures and explore points of connection and difference. Check out the full catalogue here.
If you would prefer to watch a live performance there are some fantastic black and global majority theatre companies in the UK.
3. A New Direction
The creative education charity A New Direction has some fantastic resources for exploring race and heritage. The Culture, Community & Activism resource looks at identity, political activists and black British culture through poetry and self-publishing. For young people who enjoy active learning, this resource is perfect as it includes plenty of opportunities to creatively engage with the learning material through zine making and sound recording. Find the resource here.
4. The Black Curriculum
The Black Curriculum aims to equip young people with a sense of identity and knowledge of black British history with the goal of making this a compulsory part of the national curriculum. Their video series on prominent black figures throughout history is simple, fun, and accessible and can be a great jumping-off point to discuss different elements of Black British culture. Their introductory booklet of home learning activities is perfect for parents who are just starting with anti-racism work as it includes simple explanations of terms like prejudice and colonialism. It’s also jam-packed with creative art and writing activities that will help young people to contextualize the stories of black British icons like Dr Harold Moody and Mary Seacole. Check out the learning resources here.
We hope these resources will help you actively embrace and celebrate black history all year round. Using diverse creative resources and storytelling can help young people of the global majority to understand their place in the world and develop a strong sense of identity whilst building empathy and understanding for others.
As Mortal Fools has a white staff base, it’s vital that we embed this education into all areas of our work to improve the diversity of our practice and create spaces where everyone feels equally safe, welcome, and included. You can find out more about our activism and inclusion work here.
Charity So White have been fundamental in holding space for People of Colour, challenging the institutional racism that is prevalent in our sector. They provide fantastic resources and anti-racism training that have been beneficial for us in our anti-racism journey.
This is an ongoing area of work for us, and we are always interested in connecting with individuals and organisations to listen, learn and share knowledge to strengthen our anti-racist practices. If you would like to connect, email our accessibility and inclusion lead at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you have any resources, you’d like to share with our Mortal Fools community please let us know in the comments.
Have a fantastic Black History Month!
You may have seen us out and about this summer running zine-making workshops and we’ve had a lot of questions! What is a zine? How do you make one? How do you say it?
In this blog we will answer all these questions and share some of our favourite zines and why we love them!
Zines (pronounced ZEEN) are DIY self-published works with small print runs, often less than 100, that can include writing, drawing, photography, and all forms of creative expression. Zines became particularly popular in the 1970s, reflecting the rise of DIY punk culture and increased accessibility of printing equipment- favouring unique ideas and imperfectly messy spontaneous expression over traditional art and writing techniques.
They have often served as a way for marginalised groups to create publications that cater to their interests, uplift their voices and provide platforms to share everything from their day-to-day lives to radical political ideas within informal networks.
Additionally, zines have been formed around niche interests and have been a way for individuals to find like-minded people who share a fascination with a particular topic.
Seven zines you need to know about:
Aurora was a feminist Science fiction fan zine created during the 1970s when science fiction was a male-dominated field that often perpetuated sexist ideas. Aurora included reviews of new books, fun playful articles such as delightful instructions on how to speak alien language, quirky drawings and cartoons and some fab contributions from the magazine’s readers. You can find many of the issues in digital format HERE.
2. How to adult
How to adult goes into all the things you wish you learnt in school from practical things like straightforward budgeting and cooking tips to friendship advice and even how to vote. It’s like that friend who gives great advice but who doesn’t pretend they have it all figured out (nobody does). It’s aimed at ages 16-25 and is perfect for anyone moving out for the first time or just wanting to become a little more independent. You can find it HERE.
“I love zines so much as they can literally be about anything! They can be freeing, empowering, informing, colourful, silly, random, beautiful, messy and so much more. Anyone can make a zine, and they can make it in any style or way they like.”
- Mack Sproates, zine maker and youth theatre practitioner
3. Xem skaters
Xem skaters was created ‘to give space to all genders in a binary environment.’ The fun and rebellious interviews and impossible cool monochrome, collaged photography are aspirational but also make you feel like you’re being welcomed into the group. The zine explores the challenges of feeling like you don’t fit in because of your gender identity in a warm and celebratory way. You can read all three issues at the queer zine library HERE.
Soлomiya was made in response to the war in Ukraine by young artists from Kyiv and Berlin. It shows the details of everyday life for Ukrainian people and how their normal was cruelly ripped away by this terrible unjust war. They share aspects of their culture, ideas and values through vibrant and cryptic photographs and artworks whilst calling for solidarity from Europeans in other countries and donations to support the Ukrainian people. You can buy the zine HERE or at Newbridge Books in Newcastle.
5. Sweet thang zine
Sweet thang zine is a worldwide zine celebrating black artists and writers of marginalised genders, online and in print. This zine is focused on redistributing power and creating a genuine community. Its pages are a visual feast of colourful and intricate collaged photography and art featuring deeply personal and moving poetry and thought-provoking writing. You can find the zine HERE.
6. Modern blobs in chairs
During the coronavirus lockdowns, there was a resurgence of interest in zines as people were suddenly faced with long stretches of empty time and wanted to make the most out of their limited resources whilst documenting the period, often in deeply personal ways. One of the quirkier zines to emerge from that time is Blobs in Chairs, which as the title suggests features cute blob-like characters lazily lounging on chairs in a variety of unusual positions. You can check it out and buy your issue HERE.
7. Stay Home Stay Queer - Mack’s LGBTQ+ Support in Lockdown Zine
Our very own Mack Sproates was also inspired to create zines during lockdown. He was feeling quite isolated and distant from the LGBTQ+ community and wanted to make something bright and colourful to help others. This zine is fantastic for anyone who is searching for fun queer content and words of support and understanding, but it would be especially useful for those who don’t feel they can be fully open or are figuring out their identity. Inside you can find some relaxing craft activities and gorgeous colouring pages! Check it out HERE.
“I got started zine making when I attended a workshop when I was at University and it blew my mind! Self-publishing is such an empowering form of activism, and zines showed me that I could make work about my experiences, and passions and help spread awareness for marginalised people and voices - without having to be super talented at art, illustration or design. It came full circle as I now run my own zine workshops!”
- Mack Sproates, zine maker and youth theatre practitioner
Zines are a blank canvas to create anything you want, use them as a form of protest, a way to share your unique interest with the wider world or to explore something seemingly mundane in a fun and meaningful way. Put your inhibitions to one side and simply have a go!
Follow the instructions below to create a simple zine of your own and why not post them on social media and tag us @mortalfoolsuk
If you or a young person you know are interested in creating zines or trying out a wide range of drama, art and creative activities check out our Creative Mondays club, starting on the 9th October for young people aged 13-18 created in partnership with YMCA Northumberland! Find out more HERE.