- In 2020, Cephas Williams welcomed his first child to the world, Zion. As many of us know, George Floyd was killed on the 25th of May, at the same time Zion's due date was the 26th of May. This happening put Cephas is a negative place as he anticipated the arrival of his first child in the face of a world that was evidently not conducive . Over that period, Cephas decided to write a letter to his son in a bid to inspire long lasting support from his network of leaders, executives and organisations.
- The BBN is part of Cephas Williams commitment as seen in his Letter to Zion. The BBN is initially launching as an organising body which will allow Black British professionals and the wider black community to have a united voice regarding business and economic advancement in the UK. In response to 2020 events that saw the killing of George Floyd and a global awakening focused on the black community, many companies put out statements, action plans and manifestos indicating where they need to change and address a race or 'diversity' issue. The BBN wants to champion a more reflective and collective response as opposed to a reactive and siloed one.
As part of our efforts across 2021 this is what we will be focused on achieving
- Round Table Conversations
- The Black Paper
- Black British Stories
- Portrait of Black Britain
- We will be working to achieve each of these aspects with the companies who join and support the BBN, to read more about each deliverable and watch an explanation video for each click here.
- Due to Covid-19, we are having to adapt our strategy, especially where it involved physical contact with people. Please sign up and follow The Black British Network and Cephas Williams social media to keep up to date with progress - Click here.
- As part of Cephas' commitment to his son and the next generation, he has created the Black British Network, with the aim of achieving the 4 deliverables as listed above. The money raised by companies goes toward supporting each of these point and the money raised by the public goes toward Black British Stories and Portraits of Black Britain.
- For Black British Stories, we have sourced a fully Black team to film and create these videos a chunk of the funds raised from individuals will be going toward the team creating this. Alongside extra support from Simon Pegg's production company, Stolen Picture and Sony Pictures. For Portrait of Black Britain, Cephas will be commissioned to take these portraits similar to how he did the 56 Black Men portrait series.
- For The Round Table Conversations and The Black Paper, The Black British Network will be employing the team needed to co ordinate these efforts, alongside the logistics / strategy involved with co ordinating all the videos and photos being taken. This will be sourced from the money companies contribute to joining and supporting our efforts.
For things to change we can not continue to have siloed conversations as a community and as organisations trying to fix the issues internally. At some point we need to bring both worlds and conversations together. We need to engage those who lead organisations and influence systems alongside the black community who have been victim to systemic racism over the years.
Imagine if all our major companies and their executives stood together, for the purpose of the black community in the UK to prioritise the economic advancement of the black community and the eradication of systemic racism. Imagine if we stopped paying lip service and put our money and our resources where our mouths and hearts seem to be. We need to keep the momentum in isolation of the media being at the tail end of amplifying the George Floyd conversation. So that it does not take for the death of another black man before we see the true state of the landscape toward black people again. We need to act now and come together to create seismic change. What if we had an alliance, a network of leaders and leading companies standing shoulder to shoulder with the Black British community, not to say that they are perfect but to stand together with the black community, to ensure that 20 years from now, the next generation of black people had a level playing field in the UK.
So far we have been successful in galvanising support from over 19 executives from companies across a variety of sectors. Click here to see the list of allies currently signed up.
- So far we have confirmed 5 companies to join and support out efforts. Alfa Systems, Clear Channel, Lucky Generals, O2 Telefonica and Erst & Young LLP. See the full list of allies and supporting companies
Cephas is the founder and photographer behind the groundbreaking 56 Black Men movement and Drummer Boy Studios.
He launched '56 Black Men' as a campaign in the UK focusing on changing the narrative of black men in the media as an introduction to a much wider conversation. Click to read more.
Our support system is broken down into supporting as a company and supporting as an individual.
As an individual
Your contributions will go towards us producing Black British Stories and Portrait of Black Britain. For every £1,000 we raise from people in the community, we can document 1 story as part of the Black British Stories production, and add 1 person to the Portrait of Black Britain series. Click here to find out more.
As a company
Your support will go towards us delivering the Round Table Conversations, The Black Paper, Portrait of Black and Black British Stories. Click here to find out more.
'Dear son, I know it might seem strange, me writing to you when you are just a baby, but when you are old enough to read this letter, you will know why I had to write it now'
Read the full letter
Black British Network
In light of recent killings of black people there has been a groundswell of awareness and momentum focused on the experience of the black community globally and how we bring about positive change.
A poignant moment that caused for the whole world to look inwardly and reflect on all of our feelings towards the black community, the reality of the black communities perceived position in society, the frustration informed by overt racist acts and the lack of economic advancement through the years due to systemic racism and prejudice that exists both within the workplace and the wider landscape.
There is hope that for one moment, people will no longer be afraid to listen to the black community, accept the realities of the inequalities experienced and work with us to usher in long lasting change. On top of this, there needs to be a united effort to focus time and resources on ensuring we strengthen, support and uplift the black community who have had to suffer in silence for so long; to make sure that 5 - 10 years from now, or even 30, we are not having this same conversation again.
We have positioned ourselves as a custodian of our trajectory, to work hand in hand with the black community and our non-black allies to ensure that change does not just happen as a short term knee-jerk response to sorrow or guilt, but that we are able to systemically root out racism and prejudice in our society and throughout the working world.
At the same time the aim is for our allies to strategically work with us in creating a fairer landscape for the black community.
With the understanding that there has been a lack of focus on the black community for many years, also understanding our position within the wider economic landscape and how this has had a negative effect on black people in working environments and the wider society from generation to generation, we do not believe that black people should be systematically held back based on the colour of their skin.
This is not a BAME conversation, neither does it want to be a 'people from disadvantaged backgrounds' conversation. This is a systemic issue, and a moment where the world is finally waking up to the stark reality of people of African decent. We are now in a position to be laser- focused about this issue and bring it to an end, making life better and fairer for the black community.
Not only when people feel guilty because they saw someone get horrifically killed, but throughout our lifetime to eradicate racism, both overt and systematic, in our organisations and throughout the country. Our ambition is to create a better and more just playing field for the black community and subsequently the wider world. We need to commit to having those direct and frank conversations at board level and with those the seats of power.