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Outside London but Inside Birmingham: How These Black Women Are Serving Their Communities

“Well first, I don’t label my activism as ‘outside of London’, it's inside of Birmingham,” says Suriya Aisha, the founder of UNMUTED, a network serving LGBT+ people of colour in Birmingham and the wider West Midlands. “Decentralising the movement is a challenge, but we as activists in whatever format, must remember that erasure and non-mainstream platforming doesn’t equal lack of activity.” 

The assumption that there is little to no life outside of London is a symptom of a wider bias that sees London not only as the engine of the UK’s service-based economy, but also the hub of cultural and political life. When race is taken into account, the gap between ‘Londoners’ and ‘everyone else’ becomes wider still: nearly 60% of the UK’s black population live in London. This uneven distribution contributes to the oftentimes conflation of black experiences in London with ‘The Black Experience’, overlooking the regional variations of how blackness is experienced and how it is expressed.

This no less applies to the realm of activism.

“The black activism space feels like a very London-centric picture from our vantage point. You see it reflected in who is championed, who’s connected, the lists, the press and social media groups,” says Amahra Spence of the MAIA Group in Birmingham.