Guest Blog: Usayd Younis and Cassie Quarless

Posted November 9th, 2016 by Matt Turner


Generation Revolution is a feature-length documentary about the new generation of activists of colour, striving to change the political and social landscape in this country. Ahead of the film’s UK screening run, the filmmakers behind the projector introduce us to the conditions that led to the film’s creation, why they made the film and what they hope it may achieve.

We’re so used to hearing negative stories about young black and brown people in this country; from ‘riotous’ teens to adopting a ‘gang culture’. Most of the depictions we see reinforce stereotypes that are extremely one-dimensional or simply untrue. When it comes to activism it is so often framed as violent or ineffective, but all we had to do was look to our peer groups to find a wealth of inspiring and powerful actions.

Research into the effects of government policy, and the attitudes still prevalent within society, tell stories of racialised violence. Figures from the last 3 years show that homelessness rose by 21% and 33% among black and Asian households respectively, compared with just 7% in the general population. Another study shows that Muslim men are up to 76% less likely to have a job of any kind compared to white, male British Christians of the same age and with the same qualifications. For black and brown women the situation is equally dire. As specialist domestic violence services have seen massive cuts since 2010, vulnerable black and brown women are being denied vital support and safety. In 2014 almost 80% of the 733 Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) women in London seeking refuge spaces were refused them!

The groups we followed don’t organise solely around race, but being black-led and ascribing to the concept of intersectionality gave them a critical view towards which issues should be prioritised and who should be leading on them. And there hasn’t been a shortage of issues. After the deaths of Eric Garner & Mike Brown we saw a surge of mobilisations in solidarity with the US-based #BlackLivesMatter movement. There were die-ins for the thousands of migrants dead at the shores of Europe. Young people also rallied together to help the growing number of homeless people resulting from our government’s harsh cuts to welfare provisions.

We didn’t want to make just another edgy film about what young, politically active black and brown people are doing. We are them. So many of the issues that the groups care about, we care about too. Our motivation for this project was to amplify the voices of our peers. It was so important for us to be making a film about black and brown people because our narratives are left at the mercy of white media agents (filmmakers, writers, broadcasters) who look for the exotic and sensational over reality and substance. As black and brown filmmakers, our personal experiences were crucial in shaping the film and the stories that it contains. We want to offer a nuanced view of the people who are helping to bring social change in our communities. We want Generation Revolution to be part of a long tradition of decolonial film making.

Find out more about Generation Revolution here, see and support the film, or read about some of the issues raised by the film on their resources page.

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