About Us

who we are

Kids Against Racism

Kids Against Racism is a grassroots organisation, engaging with families, schools and community groups, founded by Massy Spencer and Helen Valentine in South East London in 2020.

Prompted by the death of George Floyd in May 2020, and the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement, a group of mums in Plumstead, Greenwich came together with the purpose of helping children take their first steps in committing to a life of anti-racism. It was not enough to just hope that society would change and that racism wouldn’t be part of our children’s lives, we had to do something ourselves. We organised a Kids Walk Against Racism on Plumstead common, in a quiet suburb of South East London. On a bright Sunday morning that June, 400 children and their adults marched together in solidarity.

plumstead common

Unity, respect and renewed purpose

In September 2020, after long periods of isolation during the pandemic, children were preparing to return to school for the first time. We organised a back to school event, to show that even though some things were returning to normal, some things could never be the same – anti-racism had to be more than a moment.

We brought the community together again on Plumstead Common to take the knee in a collective act of unity, respect and renewed purpose to be the change we want to see in our homes, schools and communities.

summer 2020

Take the Knee

After the Take the Knee event, Massy and Helen knew that they couldn’t now walk away from this and go back to their normal lives. With so much work still to do, the reality was that Kids Against Racism wasn’t just a rallying call for the Summer of 2020, it was going to be a life’s work.

In November 2020, Kids Against Racism became a constituted community organisation. Massy and Helen both have children of their own and continue to work in their day jobs, but their hope is that by founding Kids Against Racism, they can make a positive impact in the lives of the children around them, that will hopefully ripple out into the wider world.

Wake up Call

Despite having a demanding career in the NHS and two children of her own, Massy had always been an advocate for others. She hadn’t set out to add another job to all of this, but realised that Kids Against Racism was a place for her to channel the anger and frustration she was feeling about the racism embedded in our society, and turn it into positive action.

For Helen, the death of George Floyd was a wake up call to her own complacency towards racism, and inaction in a situation where, were it her own son, she would have done anything she could to have stopped this happening again. Co-founding Kids Against Racism gave her a renewed energy for the possibility of change.

Massy and Helen formed Kids Against Racism to create generational change. It is not about re-sponding in the moment – the issues are systemic and cannot be changed overnight. Their work is about early intervention – living in South East London they witness first hand the divisions and challenges young people are facing – they want to bring about change in children’s lives so that they can grow into adulthood without fear and prejudice.

The purpose of Kids Against Racism is to break through the social barriers between children of all heritages so they grow in empathy and respect for others through friendship and community. This is not about being a ‘voice for the voiceless’ – the hope is to empower children to use their own voices. Kids Against Racism wants to create platforms for children to learn about each other’s lives and to be heard and to speak out. Education is at the heart of this. What is the ‘right age’ to start talking to children about racism? Why are children being taught a white-washed version of the world? It is only through listening to the stories of the unheard and the histories of the unwritten, that we can build our communities.

What we Do

Our Mission

Kids Against Racism’s mission is to provide:

  • events that give children of all races a voice and allow them to feel seen and heard

  • spaces for children to learn about other histories and cultures, utilising and encouraging the ‘new normal ’of virtual learning and online allyship

  • connections that support an understanding of racial issues amongst children and help bring together families of all backgrounds to promote empathy and understanding

  • platforms for children to make anti-racism part of their everyday lives.

  • events that give children of all races a voice and allow them to feel seen and heard

  • spaces for children to learn about other histories and cultures, utilising and encouraging the ‘new normal ’of virtual learning and online allyship

  • connections that support an understanding of racial issues amongst children and help bring together families of all backgrounds to promote empathy and understanding

  • platforms for children to make anti-racism part of their everyday lives.

Hello! I’m Massy

My name is Masitula, but since we are friends you can call me Massy. I was born in East Africa, a sunny and colourful place, known for its distinct rich red fertile soil. When I was 6 years old, my family migrated to the UK, the land of tea drinkers and where people debate daily the chances of rain given that on average it rains for 170.5 days per year (data from 2010 Statista). I am now a true Brit, having mastered the art of making a good brew and investing in a rain coat as one of my fashion staples. At the time of writing this, my son is a little older and my daughter is just a year younger than I was when I first experienced racism. Of course at the time I wasnt aware of the meaning, in fact I wasnt aware at 6 that go back to your countrywas racist but I instinctively knew it was unkind because how It made me feel.  

As an African child, I would naturally go on to obtaining a BA in Law but somehow end up with a career in the NHS within paediatric audiology, thus my contribution to the NHSs 12.3% of the BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic groups) working force (NHS Digital). So my family are proud either way. I am a wife and a mother with a handful of friends whom I would consider family, so I guess Ive done ok so far, but the effects of those early incidents would hugely contribute to my narrative of the world, of the UK, and later now my identity as an adult of African heritage living in Britain. 

For as long as I can remember Ive been angry with the silence. The awkward silence in peoples faces on trains, buses and on the streets when they witness someone being racially abused. The silent yet crystal clear rejection experienced by people of African and Asian heritages at job interviews (getting to that stage might require you to change your name). The silent presumption about a group of Black boys innocently running to catch a train so that they are not late in getting home. The silent yet obvious shock of a patient walking into a clinic room to find you as their doctor for the day. The silence Gianna Floyd had to endure when she put her father to rest. 

 KAR was founded at the time when I was at boiling point. I guess you can say out of anger and love. I needed to channel my anger and frustration into tangible change. Its a place for us to create opportunities for children to choose their own narrative of the world. Learning earlier on that the world is big and people look and live differently across this enormous globe let alone on your street surely can only enrich a childs experience of life and their interaction with people who are different from them. 

Hello! I’m Helen

Before George Floyd died, I would have described myself as anti-racist. It took the murder of this man to open my eyes to my own ignorance. I was angry with the system that did this to him and a society that let this happen. I watched BLM gain momentum in other parts of the world and couldn’t understand why all around me there was silence. A friend sent me a photo of a march she was on – a huge banner in the background said Kids Against Racism. That’s when I realised, the problem wasn’t with other people, my silence made me complicit in his death and in a system that supports racism.  

By not using my voice to speak out against racism, I was no different from the racists. I began to question my own role in white supremacy. I’d always thought the goal was for us all to live in peace and harmony, that what ‘we’ wanted was for everyone to be the same. I wanted my child to grow up ‘colour-blind’. As I watched the footage of Gianna, George Floyd’s daughter, nervously brought on stage at the press conference with her grieving family, all my preconceptions were challenged – what was happening to her was because her Dad was Black. How could I have thought that children were unaffected by the racism all around them? 

I’m not someone who would ever have described themselves as an activist. My career started off in theatre design, then moved into arts management and ended up in fashion. Ten years ago my world turned upside down, when my son was born and I became an activist for him. I am the parent of an autistic child who might be bullied, excluded or ignored. When I see someone attacked for being perceived to be different or a problem, I picture that person being my son. Through him, I learned that we need to equip children with the tools they need to have control over their lives. It’s about listening to him, learning about what life is like for him, making changes in myself so that he has an equal chance at being himself. 

When I saw that banner saying Kids Against Racism, I began to see that real, lasting change could happen if children were leading the way. I kept looking at the photo; it was families, young children, homemade banners. It was organised by local mums who wanted to take a stand. What would I say to my son if he asked me what I was doing? I decided to organise a march for kids in my neighbourhood, and made the first step towards co-founding Kids Against Racism.  

 

Before George Floyd died, I would have described myself as anti-racist. It took the murder of this man to open my eyes to my own ignorance. I was angry with the system that did this to him and a society that let this happen. I watched BLM gain

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