Winning Entries in our Sutton Poster Competition!

As you may be aware, Stop Hate UK operates a 24 hour helpline for victims and witnesses of Hate Crime and Hate Incidents in Sutton.

We want to ensure that Sutton is a borough where everyone feels safe and welcome.

Last year we asked Sutton’s young people to submit their designs for a poster to promote our work and raise awareness of Hate Crime.

We are delighted to announce that our poster competition winners are Sofia Stone from Cheam Park Farm Primary School and Action Voices. a group of young disabled people who submitted a joint entry.

The winning entries are now being distributed to local schools in Sutton to display.

We would like to thank Community Action Sutton for partnering with us to run the competition and also the London Borough of Sutton and Metropolitan Police for their ongoing support.

You can see the winning entries below – congratulations to all entrants and our two winning entries.

Our fantastic winning entries!

Stop Hate UK Helpline launches in Camden

Stop Hate UK is pleased to announce the launch of its 24-hour Stop Hate Line helpline service in the London Borough of Camden.

Commenting on the launch of the service in Camden, Councillor Abdul Hai, Cabinet Member for Young People, Equalities and Cohesion said: “We want Camden to be a safe, strong and equal place for everyone who lives, works and studies here. This is no place for hate.

“It is important to remember however that if you do witness harmful or hateful behaviour in our borough, or experience it yourself, there is help and support available.

“By reporting hateful behaviour when it happens to you, or when you see it happen to someone else, you may be able to help us stop others being targeted in the same way.

“We really welcome the arrival of the Stop Hate UK Helpline for our residents and encourage anyone experiencing any form of abuse because of who they are to come forward and seek support.”

“Sadly in a world where hate crime is still a huge challenge having an organisation like Stop Hate UK will help us tackle these dreadful crimes.”

Our own Chief Executive, Rose Simkins, said: “All forms of Hate Crime are significantly under-reported and some individuals and people and people and communities are reluctant or unwilling to talk to the police or their council.

The Stop Hate Line, including all our range of reporting channels, gives all those directly affected by and witnesses of Hate Crime a safe and independent place to talk about their experiences and to explore their options for taking things further.

Rose continued:

We are able to support people who feel they have nowhere else to turn. Contact with our helpline, or other reporting channels, might be the first time an individual has talked to someone about the things they are experiencing. Other people may have tried to get help but find they are not satisfied with the response they received. No one should have to suffer Hate Crime in silence. Sadly the occurrence of Hate Crime has increased nationally but, working together with the council, statutory and community bodies, we can help to make a difference in Camden.”

People can contact the Stop Hate Line anonymously if they prefer. Where someone has chosen to give their personal details to Stop Hate UK, their trained staff and volunteers will ask who they want their details to be shared with. We can also share information with the police and council, with consent, to ensure that those affected by Hate Crime, in any way, can access the support they need.

The Stop Hate Line is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year on 0800 138 1625. The helpline is also available by text message on 07717 989 025 and by email to talk@stophateuk.org. Service users with Hearing Impairments can report via interactive BSL by clicking the link on our website www.stophateuk.org. Victims and witnesses can also chat on the web or fill in an online form by visiting www.stophateuk.org/talk.

An open and honest account from our Community Engagement Worker for International Day of People With Disabilities 2020

An open and honest account from our Community Engagement Worker for International Day of People with Disabilities 2020.

An open and honest account from our Community Engagement Worker for International Day of People With Disabilities 2020

I have always seen the world a little bit differently. When I was four years old, I could name the catalogue number of every Thomas the Tank Engine die cast model. I have Autism, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia.

For most part, I was a happy child and I did not really realise that I was significantly different from everyone else. This started to change as I got older and found myself having to overcome more and more barriers and I found that I was being bullied on a regular basis. Although I did not realise it, I was a victim of disability Hate Crime.

One of the most notable examples was when I started secondary school.  l travelled to school by bus, first with my mother and then later on my own. This was the first time I had ever used a bus on a regular basis. Unfortunately, I would face bulling on a daily basis. I was very tall for my age and they started to call me Lenny – after the character from the John Steinbeck book “Of Mice and Men”. In the book, Lenny is a giant man with learning disabilities. I had not read the book myself at this point and I only realised the context several years later, when I studied the book myself for my GCSE English Literature exam and it was extremely upsetting.

I also remember a particularly unpleasant image being placed in my backpack by an older student which was only discovered by my mother that evening. I would also have things thrown at me and bags would be placed over spare seats, to make sure I could not sit down. In one particularly unpleasant incident a stone was thrown at the window of the bus where I was sitting. As I got older I found myself masking more and more as I was so anxious about being bullied.

I didn’t realise at the time that I was victim of Hate Crime. Even when I reported the issue to the school nothing really changed. I did not know who else I could speak to. In the end I stopped getting the bus to school and at one stage refused to travel on a bus for any reason.

Last month we marked the 25th Anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act. For the first time it was made unlawful in UK law to discriminate against people, in respect of their disabilities in relation to employment, the provision of goods and services, education and transport. While it is right that we recognise the progress which has been made since then, it is clear that there is still a long way to go.

The social model of disability says that people are disabled by barriers in society, not by their differences. For example, if a wheelchair user was unable to access a building due to stairs, it would be the stairs which are disabling them.

Hate Crime is one of the barriers disabled people face. The tragedy of Fiona Pilkington and Francecca Hardwick puts this into sharp focus. Francecca had a learning disability and the family had been targeted by a group of local teenagers for over a decade. Their home had been pelted with stones, eggs and flower and they faced constant abuse. On 23rd October 2007, Fiona drove Francecca to a secluded lay-by where she poured petrol over the backseat and set the car on fire. Fiona mentioned the gang in a suicide note to her mother. “The street kids, well I have just given up, I am just not cut out to take this much harassment.”.

We have also seen an increase in Disability Hate Crime due to the Covid pandemic. Many disabled people are exempt from wearing face masks and this means many disabled people receive abuse. Disabled people have also received abuse online and have faced suggestions that they should be locked up to stop spreading the virus.

Quite simply, Hate Crime is one of the barriers that creates disability.  I have just turned 30. I graduated from university in 2013 and I have since established a successful career in the equality sector. I am now working for Stop Hate UK, as their Community Engagement Worker, in the London Borough of Sutton. Disabled people have so much potential but it is only by removing these societal barriers that society will accept and appreciate the contribution of disabled people. To make this possible we need to be able to live without fear or abuse.

If you witness or experience Disability Hate Crime you can report it to Stop Hate UK 24/7 on 0800 1385 1625.

Please click here for the areas we cover.

Stop Hate UK – Stop Hate UK – Response to Baroness Lawrence Report

Stop Hate UK – Response to Baroness Lawrence Report

The recent report by our Patron, Baroness Lawrence, into how ‘structural racism’ has contributed to the disproportionate impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, upon on Black and Asian communities, has received much media attention this week.

In her report, Baroness Lawrence said these groups were “over-exposed”, faced “barriers” to healthcare and had also been scapegoated for Covid’s spread.

Prior to the report’s publication, a government adviser claimed that “structural racism” was not in itself a “reasonable explanation” for infection rates differing between ethnic groups and also suggested that focusing on other factors like people’s jobs and housing conditions would be more helpful; whilst another said that higher transmission rates among BAME group were more likely to be down to “a range of socio-economic and geographical factors”,

We support the claims by Baroness Lawrence, that these communities “have been over-exposed, under-protected, stigmatised and overlooked during this pandemic – and that this has been generations in the making.”

Systematic racism is, sadly, still entrenched within our society and it is undeniable that this is likely to have led to the effects outlined in her report.

As Baroness Lawrence goes on to say, “The impact of Covid is not random, but foreseeable and inevitable, the consequence of decades of structural injustice, inequality and discrimination that blights our society.”

The report also says that BAME workers ‘were more likely than white people to work in “frontline” jobs and come into contact with coronavirus’ and, when accessing healthcare, there was a “lack of cultural and language-appropriate communication”, with patients “not being taken seriously when presenting with symptoms.” BAME people were also “under-represented across the senior leadership of the NHS”.

Commissioned by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, in April, the report goes on to state that BAME communities had “also been subject to disgraceful racism as some have sought to blame different communities for the spread of the virus” and calls on ministers to outline a plan to tackle the rise in Hate Crime, with party leaders “issuing a joint statement condemning attempts to pit communities against one another”.

At Stop Hate UK, we see the damage caused by Hate, discrimination and prejudice and we understand the issues that these and many other underrepresented groups face every single day.

We are doubly concerned when we hear that these issues also affect the impact of the pandemic upon BAME communities and that there are ‘barriers’ to people accessing the healthcare and help that they need.

Baroness Lawrence’s report has received much attention, and also attracted some criticism, however, from our professional experience, the situation she describes is very much real and we applaud not only the commissioning of the report, but also Baroness Lawrence’s brave and thorough review in highlighting the real issues facing minority groups at these very difficult and challenging times.

To find out more about the work of Stop Hate UK and how you can help, visit www.stophateuk.org

You can read Baroness Lawrence’s Full Report Here: https://www.lawrencereview.co.uk/

Stop Hate UK – Comment on 2019-20 Hate Crime Figures

Stop Hate UK – Comment on 2019-20 Hate Crime Figures

National Hate Crime Awareness Week is always a timely reminder of one of the reasons why the week exists, when the annual Home Office Hate Crime statistics are released.

Sadly, but unsurprisingly, this year’s stats show another rise in the overall number of hate crimes recorded by police in England and Wales – to its highest overall number since records began in 2011/12 – with racially motivated offences rising by more than 4,000 in a year.

Official figures show 105,090 hate crimes were recorded in 2019/20, which is a rise of 8%, compared with 97,446 offences in 2018/19.

According to Home Office data, race Hate Crimes accounted for almost three out of four recorded offences (72%), equating to 76,070 offences, a rise of 6% since 2018/19.

It is of particular note that, this year, a separate report has also been published by the government department, looking specifically at the trends during the Coronavirus pandemic, which warned that rises in racially or religiously aggravated Hate Crime in June were a third higher than the previous year and remained high in July.

The provisional findings has suggested that this is “likely to be related to the Black Lives Matter protests and far-right groups’ counter-protests in England and Wales following the killing of George Floyd, in the United States of America, on 25th May 2020.

The main Hate Crime figures also show that offences motivated by sexual orientation, rose by 19% to 15,835 in 2019/20, from 13,314 a year earlier, whilst Transgender identity hate crime went up 16% in the same period, from 2,183 to 2,540, reaching its highest level since records began in 2011/12 (296).

Disability Hate Crime increased by 9% from 7,786 to 8,469, which is also a record high.

The report puts the rise in Hate Crime over the last five years down to “improvements in crime recording by the police” but also recognised that there had been spikes in reports following events like the EU Referendum in 2016 and the 2017 terror attacks.

In fact, the only decrease in Hate Crime incidents, of any kind, occurred in Religious motivations fell by 5%, from a peak of 7,203 the previous year to 6,822 – the first drop since 2012/13, which is actually a surprise to Stop Hate UK, considering the feedback and dialogue we have with many faith groups and is also somewhat at odds with information gathered for the all-party parliamentary group for British Sikhs, organised by the Sikh Federation (UK) and the Sikh Network.

It focused on the network’s new Sikh Manifesto, which reported that anti-Sikh Hate has not been adequately acknowledged by the government and found that the number of crimes reported has risen by 60 per cent in the last 12 months, despite no government support to increase reporting.

Commenting on the Hate Crime figures as a whole our Chief Executive, Rose Simkins, had the following to say; “The rising figures are likely to be a combination of a rise in crimes and a rise in people coming forward to report them.

What we know from talking to people is that many are still not reporting these crimes and these figures still do not represent a true depiction or the scale of the full picture.

Some people call us and say they don’t want to go to the police or think they will be too busy to deal with it, so there are still a lot of people still suffering in silence. We want all those directly and indirectly affected to feel comfortable in reporting Hate Crimes, even if they believe nothing can or will be done because, if anything, it helps us to understand the extent of the problem.”

Rose also added that BAME and LGBT communities, and people with disabilities, in particular, had a ‘right to know’ how big the problem was, saying;

“The increased debate around trans issues and the recent controversy surrounding some ‘high profile’ people’s views on transgender issues, are most certainly contributing factors to the sharp rise in Transphobia, which is very worrying.

It is no huge surprise that racism accounts for almost 75% of offences as, in recent years, it has dominated police and our own reports. Sadly, many people use public debates – such as the discussion around gender identity and the Black Lives Matter movement – to be hostile and say hurtful things.”

It’s also a real worry to Stop Hate UK, that some families have reported that they were actually too scared to sit in their gardens, play with their children outside or put the bins out after experiencing intimidating behaviour from neighbours – and some people have felt unable to escape abuse in areas still subject to lockdown restrictions, which is potentially set to rise again now it looks like a second wave of the pandemic is upon us.

During the initial lockdown (which is the period covered by the separate report) incidents have included verbal slurs, being coughed at in the street and banging on walls or windows, with fears from some that such incidents may have been prompted by a backlash to the Black Lives Matter protests.

In summary, whilst we always welcome the publishing of these ‘official’ statistics and we agree that a certain amount of the increases can be attributed to ‘improvements in Hate Crime recording by the Police’. However, we also know that these numbers do not represent the full picture of the problem of Hate in the UK and that we still have much to do.

We also agree with the Home Office, when they say that “those who commit “hateful attacks should feel the full force of the law”.

To find out more about the work Stop Hate UK do and how you can make a difference, visit www.stophateuk.org or email info@stophateuk.org

Stop Hate UK Helpline launches in Croydon

Stop Hate UK is pleased to announce the launch of its 24-hour Stop Hate Line helpline service in Croydon, South London.

Commenting on the launch of service, Cllr Hamida Ali, Cabinet Member for Safer Croydon and Communities, said:

There is no place for Hate Crime in Croydon and tackling all forms of Hate Crime is a priority in our Community Safety Strategy. We know that too many people tolerate hate crime as a reality of life and don’t always report their experiences. We really welcome the availability of the Stop Hate UK Helpline for Croydon residents and encourage anyone experiencing any form of abuse, because of who they are, to come forward and seek support.”

Rose Simkins, Chief Executive of Stop Hate UK, said: “All forms of Hate Crime are significantly under-reported and some individuals and people and people and communities are reluctant or unwilling to talk to the police or their council.

The Stop Hate Line, including all our range of reporting channels, gives all those directly affected by and witnesses of Hate Crime a safe and independent place to talk about their experiences and to explore their options for taking things further.

Rose continued:

We are able to support people who feel they have nowhere else to turn. Contact with our helpline, or other reporting channels, might be the first time an individual has talked to someone about the things they are experiencing. Other people may have tried to get help but find they are not satisfied with the response they received. No one should have to suffer Hate Crime in silence. Sadly the occurrence of Hate Crime has increased nationally but, working together with the council, statutory and community bodies, we can help to make a difference in Croydon.”

People can contact the Stop Hate Line anonymously if they prefer. Where someone has chosen to give their personal details to Stop Hate UK, their trained staff and volunteers will ask who they want their details to be shared with. The charity can also share information with the police and council, with consent, to ensure that those affected by Hate Crime, in any way, can access the support they need.

The Stop Hate Line is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year on 0800 138 1625. The helpline is also available by text message on 07717 989 025 and by email to talk@stophateuk.org. Service users with Hearing Impairments can report via interactive BSL by clicking the link on our website www.stophateuk.org. Victims and witnesses can also chat on the web or fill in an online form by visiting www.stophateuk.org/talk.

Stop Hate UK is a national charity that provides independent and confidential support to people who are affected by all forms of Hate Crime. The Stop Hate Line is Stop Hate UK’s Hate Crime reporting and support helpline. Anyone in Croydon can contact the Stop Hate Line to talk about how they have been directly or indirectly affected by Hate Crime.

The charity, whose Patron is Baroness Doreen Lawrence of Clarendon OBE, of Clarendon in the Commonwealth Realm of Jamaica, and ambassadors are Canon Mark Oakley of St John’s College, Cambridge and Great Britain athlete Adrian Derbyshire set up the Stop Hate Line in 2006 in direct response to Recommendation 16 of the Macpherson Report (the enquiry into the handling of the death of Stephen Lawrence) states that victims and witnesses should be able to report Hate Incidents 24 hours a day and to someone other than the police.

Report Hate Crime in Lewisham

Stop Hate UK Helpline launches in Lewisham

Stop Hate UK is pleased to announce the launch of its 24-hour Stop Hate Line helpline service in the London Borough of Lewisham. The service has been entirely funded by donations to the charity itself and is actually a ‘lifetime gift’ to the borough, from the charity, in recognition of 4 key factors:

  • Stop Hate UK’s close connection with The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust
  • As a thank you to Baroness Lawrence and recognition of her continued support for Stop Hate UK as its Patron
  • On 1st October 2020 we will be opening our first Stop Hate UK London office based at The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust in Lewisham
  • 2020 marking Stop Hate UK’s 25th anniversary of our work to tackle Hate Crime

Commenting on the launch of service, Councillor Brenda Dacres, Cabinet Member for Safer Communities, said:

On the 25th Anniversary of Stop Hate UK, it is an honour for Lewisham to be the home of the helpline being launched today. In Lewisham, we are proud of our diversity and we stand shoulder to shoulder against all forms of Hate Crimes. Stop Hate UK has provided invaluable services; supporting and assisting victims of all forms of discrimination and Hate Crimes. The 24-hour/7 days a week helpline service will be instrumental on expanding that support, being available whatever the time and wherever we are. We are also delighted to be able to work even closer with the Stop Hate UK Team and Baroness Lawrence.”

Lewisham Metropolitan Police Service – Tara Duffy, SE BCU Hate crime coordinator and Faith liaison officer, said:

“We are delighted that the Stop Hate UK helpline has been launched in Lewisham, on this its 25th Anniversary. I am pleased that the residents of Lewisham will a have access to a service that will listen, provide advice and support, and help to explore what to do next. We recognise that not everyone wants, or is able, to report hate crimes directly to the police. Therefore, we really welcome the support Stop Hate UK can provide our communities here in Lewisham. We want to make sure that Lewisham continues to be a welcoming and safe borough for everyone. Much work has been undertaken in partnership with Lewisham Local Authority to reassure and address the concerns for our communities. However, there is still much work to do to tackle Hate Crime. Monitoring tensions and reducing hate crime is a work in progress, as we identify ongoing problems and deal with them head on.”

Rose Simkins, Chief Executive of Stop Hate UK, said: Stop Hate UK is immensely proud to be able to make this gesture to Lewisham, as we have so many strong links with the borough, and it forms a key part of marking our 25th anniversary in tackling Hate Crime. We know that all forms of Hate Crime are significantly under-reported and people and communities are often reluctant or unwilling to talk to the police or their council.

The Stop Hate Line, including all our range of reporting channels, gives those directly affected by or witness to a Hate Crime a safe and independent place to talk about their experiences and to explore their options for taking things further.”

Rose continued:

“We are able to support people who feel they have nowhere else to turn. Contact with our helpline, or other reporting channels, might be the first time an individual has talked to someone about the things they are experiencing. Other people may have tried to get help but find they are not satisfied with the response they received. No one should have to suffer Hate Crime in silence. Sadly the occurrence of Hate Crime has increased nationally but, working together with our partners, we can help to make a difference in Lewisham.”

People can contact the Stop Hate Line anonymously if they prefer. Where someone has chosen to give their personal details to Stop Hate UK, their trained staff and volunteers will ask who they want their details to be shared with. The charity can also share information with the police and council, with consent, to ensure that those affected by Hate Crime, in any way, can access the support they need.

The Stop Hate Line is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year on 0800 138 1625. The helpline is also available by text message on 07717 989 025 and by email to talk@stophateuk.org. Service users with Hearing Impairments can also report via interactive BSL by clicking the link on our website www.stophateuk.org. Victims and witnesses can also chat on the web or fill in an online form by visiting www.stophateuk.org/talk.

Stop Hate UK is a national charity that provides independent and confidential support to people who are affected by all forms of Hate Crime. The Stop Hate Line is Stop Hate UK’s Hate Crime reporting and support helpline. Anyone in Lewisham can contact the Stop Hate Line to talk about how they have been directly or indirectly affected by Hate Crime.

The charity, whose Patron is Baroness Doreen Lawrence of Clarendon OBE, of Clarendon in the Commonwealth Realm of Jamaica, and ambassadors are Canon Mark Oakley of St John’s College, Cambridge and Great Britain athlete Adrian Derbyshire set up the Stop Hate Line in 2006 in direct response to Recommendation 16 of the Macpherson Report (the enquiry into the handling of the death of Stephen Lawrence) states that victims and witnesses should be able to report Hate Incidents 24 hours a day and to someone other than the police.

For media enquiries, please email andy@stophateuk.org

Stop Hate UK’s 25th Anniversary
Stop Hate UK Response to latest Hate Crime Figures

Stop Hate UK Response to Latest Hate Crime Figures

“Stop Hate UK acknowledge the latest Hate Crime data published by Home Office which reflects an overall increase in Hate Crimes reported to police.

This increase is recognised in the work we do and our helpline services have seen a similar uplift on the number of contacts.

Generally we would welcome any increase in reporting to police as evidence that the historic barriers to reporting are slowly being removed. It is difficult, however, to confidently ascribe the increase in such a positive way as the EU debate is still a constant theme in our contacts and as such could mask any improvements in the service provided to Hate Crime victims.

Hate Crime is insidious and destructive; having a significantly disproportionate impact on those who are targeted in this way.  We do recognise that increases in Disability and Gender Identity Hate Crime reports are a welcome, albeit small, step forward as our experience tells us these communities are significantly under represented in official data.

We continue to support those that contact our helpline services and improve outcomes for them. However we continue to hear about very worrying incidents and it is clear we all need to do more to Stop Hate.”

Stop Hate UK Annual Statistical Report 2018/2019

We are pleased to release our 2018-19 Annual Statistical Report, showing trends in the Hate Crime landscape, including the number and type of contacts and the motivation behind Hate Incidents and Crimes, as well as demographic analysis and case notes.

You’ll also find key information on our training, new publicity materials and projects and our media exposure. To find out more about the work we do visit www.stophateuk.org or see our social media platforms.

Stop Hate UK – Interview with Toccarra Cash

As you may remember from our recent blog, Stop Hate UK is very proud to be associated with the up and coming RoL’n Productions’ critically acclaimed play ‘Half Me, Half You’, soon to run at the Tristan Bates Theatre, in London’s Covent Garden.

The play is the remarkable writing debut of Liane Grant and explores the complex relationship of – Jess and Meredith – in incredibly evocative times in the USA, at the start of the turbulent Trump era.

The production, which received rave reviews in its recent 2018 London and New York runs, is also aiming to also raise money for Stop Hate UK.

Recently, we managed to catch up with one of the production’s leading stars, Toccarra Cash, to speak to her about her thoughts on Hate Crime in the UK, the United States and across the rest of the world, and what she feels are motivations, what role politicians play in its incitement and how we can all play a part in tackling it.

Here are the questions we put to Toccarra:

How do you think the current Hate Crime landscape compares and contrasts between the USA and the UK?

“I certainly see similarities; in the era of both Brexit in the UK and Trump in the USA, it’s a fact that we’ve seen a sharp rise in far-right, white supremacist, anti-immigrant sentiment that is spreading like a global disease – look at what happened in New Zealand just last week.

I believe these sentiments directly contribute to the horrifying rise in Hate Crimes we’re seeing perpetrated against the Muslim Community in both our countries, and against the Mexican Community in the US. But the comparison ends there for me.

This is because the sharp contrast is in the fact that, in the USA, black Americans are still the largest group to be victimised by hate crimes.

The FBI’s most recent tally of bias crimes, issued last fall, reported that black Americans have been the most frequent victims of hate crime, in every tally of bias incidents gathered since the FBI began collecting such data in the early 1990’s.

This has nothing to do with being immigrants and everything to do with an enduring legacy of racial terror, from slavery that our government refuses to rectify or even fully acknowledge.”

Much like the UK after ‘Brexit’, the United States has also gone through a period of significant political turmoil under the Trump administration. How much do you think politicians influence or have a direct effect on Hate Crime through their behaviour and rhetoric? 

“There’s no question that they have a blatant effect.

Studies have shown far and wide that, in the months of Trump’s presidential campaign, the more he used divisive, racially insensitive rhetoric, the more hate crimes were reported – and, from the moment he was elected until now, that number continues to rise.

There are so many happening, we don’t even hear about them all because the news isn’t reporting them and we often find out about them via social media from people who, thankfully, refuse to be silent about them.”

The latest FBI figures suggest that Hate Crime is on the rise in the United States, as far as right ideologies and terrorism. Why do you think this is the case?

“Well, to put it plainly, the perpetrators feel emboldened in the era of an administration that practically encourages their behaviour. They don’t feel like they have to hide anymore and there’s no shame; And, why would there be when you have a President who refers to the participants of a white supremacist, alt-right, neo-Nazi rally (in Charlottesville) as “fine people”?

What do you think would help reduce racism, discrimination and racial intolerance, and how can people make a difference?

“To be honest, that is a question that black people are exhausted of answering! We didn’t construct this monster called racism or white supremacy, so how can we really know how to reduce it?

But, in an effort to offer something, I always say white allies have to talk to the ones closest to them who they know are racist; your uncle who says problematic things at Thanksgiving; your best friend who dismisses Black Lives Matter with “All Lives Matter” rhetoric; your mother who wears a MAGA (Make America Great Again) hat.

It’s not enough to protest and march and do social media activism, you have to get personal, summon some courage and challenge those you’re most afraid to challenge. We must stop these mindsets from being handed down from one generation to another.

All the ‘ally-ship’ in the world doesn’t matter if you’re not putting it into practice with your actual family and friends.”

As an Actor, Public Speaker, Writer and Teaching Artist, what do you see as being the relationship between your work and what’s going on in the world, in particular, the events of the last few years that have contributed to the rise in Hate Crimes?

“Well, in every one of those facets, I have to keep empathy at the forefront.

Whether I’m stepping into another person’s shoes as an Actor, connecting with an audience while speaking, reflecting the humanity we all share in my writing or inspiring my students to have compassion for one another.

I would hope I’m constantly practicing the empathy I preach, and that somehow, in some way, it’s my small contribution to turning the tide.”

Do you feel the arts in general, have a responsibility to help make positive change within society, and if so, do you feel they are doing enough collectively to have an impact? What more could they do?

“Absolutely! The arts have always been a force for challenging society to face itself, and it’s no different now.

It’s hard to say if the arts are doing enough collectively to have an impact, when I know of so many artists and arts organisations that are working day and night and sacrificing so much to try and make even a dent of an impact.

But, the most vital thing that needs to happen, is that theatres, museums, film houses and all arts organisations need to stop using “diversity” as only a buzz word, and start putting it into real practice, in terms of who they’re hiring for their administration and staff, with the seasons they’re selecting, with the collections they’re curating and the films they’re choosing to show.

They have to stop patting themselves on the back for the one or two they “let in the door” and build a whole new type of door that allows everyone access, and consistently.”

Is there a particular working experience you’ve had that you feel has highlighted or combatted these issues effectively?

“Yes, I’m proud to say I’ve had the distinct honor of working with black-led theatres and festivals, like The National Black Theatre in Harlem, and The New Black Fest, who are always working to highlight the need for access and inclusion.

If we could just now get the major regional theatres, Off-Broadway and Broadway houses, to practice some of this access and inclusion in a substantive way, we’d be getting somewhere.”

You’re about to take on one of the lead roles in HALF ME, HALF YOU at the Tristan Bates Theatre in London. Was the fact that it explores some of these issues (racism, homophobia), any part of the reason you wanted to be involved? Is this often a factor in your choice of projects?

Oh, it was most definitely one of the driving factors of why I jumped at the chance to take on this role!

It’s the kind of work that us actor/activists dream of – work that seeks to make the audience question whatever preconceived notions about race, gender, sexuality, class they entered the theatre with.

It’s literally my favorite kind of work to do and it will always be a factor in a lot of the projects I choose. Unless, sometimes, I just need to do a comedy and relish in some joy a little bit, like my last show. (Toccarra laughs at this point)

Visit Toccarra’s website by clicking here

But, seriously, I hope I get to do intense, heart and mind-shaping work like this for the rest of my career.”

We’d like to thank Toccarra for her time and for this insightful, honest interview and we can’t wait for ‘Half Me, Half You’ to start its run! The production previews from 26th March and runs until 6th April. More details can be found by visiting Tristan Bates Theatre or by going to Liane’s own website.