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Diversity matters: Girl Grind UK

Girl Grind UK was founded out of the desire to support ethnically diverse women women, girls and non-binary people at crucial stages in their personal and professional development.

Why did you start Girl Grind UK?

“I started Girl Grind UK (GGUK) because of my lived experiences as a black pop-soul singer-songwriter navigating the music industry, numerous testimonials of women and non-binary people’s experiences in doing the same and the notable gap in the West Midlands’ arts and culture sector. I couldn’t identify accessible year-round professional and personal development support for Black and Asian Minority Ethnic women, girls and non-binary people. I’d spent five years on my own personal grind – getting my career off the ground as an artist and songwriter – and came up against numerous barrier. whether it was regionality, gender or race.

“GGUK was constituted in August 2020 and launched that October. I’ve applied for over 22 grants and raised a substantial amount of funding in eight months to deliver our work. It shows to me that people want to support the work we’re doing but there is still a gap in access to funding with a one-in-five ratio of success, in our case. I’m still conscious of tokenism and the reasons why people want to fund, collaborate and work with GGUK. In the future, I would like to have more open conversations and talk about racism, access to funding and representation.”

What would you like to see more of from organisations to genuinely address racism?

“I want to see more compassion, open apologies and self-acceptance in the light of healing personal and professional trauma relating to race and gender inequality. For me, it’s about the intention behind why someone wants to learn something new, and being open about it and accepting where you are.

You don’t have to know what you want. You have to know what you don’t want. If you don’t want to be a racist, or you don’t want to be an institution that’s oppressive, that’s a great starting point and an open door to become the person, company or team you wish to be

“We champion women, girls and non-binary people, for example, because we can see there are big issues around gender equality. We own the fact that we focus most of our work on minority ethnic communities and have our reasons. If someone were to question why and I don’t have an answer, then I’m not doing it right. If I have a well-researched, authentic and ethical answer, people begin to understand our why. It becomes an educational process. You don’t have to know what you want. You have to know what you don’t want. If you don’t want to be a racist, or you don’t want to be an institution that’s oppressive, that’s a great starting point and an open door to become the person, company or team you wish to be.”

How did the death of George Floyd affect what you do and how are you reflecting on progress one year on?

“I celebrate where GGUK has grown from. I can see the positivity that is still yet to come. If we continue to grow at the pace we have, we’ll realise the targets I’ve got for the business and we’ll establish ourselves in the West Midlands as a force to be reckoned with.

“To be honest with you, I’ve got mixed feelings about speaking about George Floyd. As a Black British woman, I am part of the living legacy of Black people, and feel I have an artistic duty to reflect the times and hold up my people. It’s not just George Floyd, it’s Mark Duggan, Breonna Taylor, Nanny of the Maroons, Marcus Garvey, Nelson Mandela… It’s my ancestral line, my direct lineage. My grandparents came to the UK to lay paths for me, to give me options and choices. I have a strong sense of where I come from and what my family has sacrificed. When you talk about the landscape of black trauma, it’s tender. A year on, I’m still reflecting and asking questions. Do people get equal opportunities here? Is there diverse representation across the board? That’s the mission really, isn’t it?”

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