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Hello!

My name is Emma and I am a Junior Graphic Designer specialising in motion and identity design. I have recently graduated from the Glasgow School of Art – in the midst of a pandemic of all things like c’mon? Gies a break? – and all the while looking for my first job, I have been encouraged to set up this research / writing blog.

After leaving high school, I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to study. I liked art? But I wanted something that would allow me commercial success and, you know, a job. My careers councillor suggested Graphic Design. Designing album artwork and posters for bands and stuff? Cool! I embarked into the semi – adult world of higher education starting with an NC course in Visual Communication at City of Glasgow College before progressing to an HND. These 3 years shaped me massively, not only as a person and being able to venture outside of my home town and meet new people, but as an aspiring designer. From refusing to want anything to do with computers and typography to embracing everything related to design history and theory, I began to wonder where my practice could potentially develop. I always wanted to look “deeper” into a project, I loved the research aspect of design (even though I have been countlessly told off for maybe spending a wee bit too much time on this stage) and the opportunities for conceptual aesthetic development I could draw from every piece of research I came across.

When it was time to go to University, I had always had my sights set on the Glasgow School of Art. I couldn’t tell you why, but I just knew I had to go there. I grew up in a pretty grey town just outside of Glasgow and so always considered the city my home. It made sense for me to study there as I had become inspired by the close knit creative scene and ‘anyone can dae it’ attitude that would otherwise have seemed so daunting in the likes of bigger cities such as London. After a few open days and talks from graduates speaking of studio spaces, collaboration, conceptual design thinking and impressive folios full of larger than life success stories, it was enough for any young starry eyed design student. Sorted. This was my school whether they liked it or not. Thankfully, they did like it.

The next 3 years was exciting, daunting, exhausting but all in all worth it. Aside from meeting great friends and a whole host of fantastically talented and driven classmates, I was taught a lot about my self worth, finding my specialisms, embracing my ideas with confidence (and always with a touch of humility) and the value of learning. Developing new ideas, admitting when you are wrong and putting in the work to better yourself and ultimately your practice became a goal that ran alongside my studio practice. Engaging in student events and societies, and even leading one for a while, helped strengthen my sense of identity as a practising design student. I am grateful for the basic technical skills I was able to develop in College which allowed me to free up more of my time to developing new skills and opportunity for idea exploration and self improvement.

Graduating was always going to be bittersweet – I just didn’t expect it to be quite this bitter. It truly felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me and after wallowing for a bit (pretty sure I was entitled to it) and struggling with picturing my future, I began to get back to work. Staying up doing work ’til 1am cause you slept in ’til 1pm, class zoom calls and a struggle to fight back the urge to hunt for some bugs for Blathers (Animal Crossing – duh!) soon turned into submitting to start ups and projects aimed at providing creative graduates the exposure and support that would have otherwise been lost through cancellation of degree shows. This sense of community reignited the drive and excitement for the creative industry that had been shattered by Miss ‘Rona.

Eventually, I finished. I submitted to my degree show, I created a portfolio and I came away elated with a 2:1 Bachelor’s in Communication Design. I attended a bizarre final send off quiz / impromptu serenade with my classmates and tutors over zoom and had my exit tutorial.

And now I’m here after being encouraged to engage in a writing practice that puts my thoughts out into the world (God help us all) in order to strengthen my interests in design writing and research. I hope you enjoyed this short biopic, I’m sure it was enthralling, and I hope you stick around and come back to check out what else I’ve rambled about.

Cheers, Emma.

The Manifestation of Mysticism on Social Media

On TikTok, the Witchtok hashtag appears to focus on the aesthetic principles of mystic / Wiccan practices and the draw to the unique and individual. It is not all pretty crystals and nice candles however, through this social media platform we can begin to break down a prominent discourse in the political ideologies of younger emerging generations. How these ideologies grow and evolve through the lens of social media will likely be influenced in the age of post truth. Misinformation, lower media literacy rates and the blurred lines of authority will affect how information is digested, reproduced and disseminated throughout communities.

If like many of us you have succumb to the boredom and despair of recurrent lockdowns over the past year, you have likely come across an unlikely friend in TikTok. With over 1.9 Billion downloads across the globe, 3.7 Million of which being from the UK, it has become the 4th most popular app in the world. The app’s simplicity in its use and elusive yet seemingly accurate algorithm has propelled it to popularity, especially amongst younger generations.

If you are familiar with TikTok then no doubt you have likely come across a particularly bewitching sub-genre within – Yes I’m talking about #WitchTok. Amassing 10 Billion views, the hashtag is bubbling with content creators showcasing their practice through videos of crystal collections, candle *magick, rituals, altar setups and tarot readings. Young and old alike, though most commonly younger #babywitches (1.2 Billion views), have found a new platform to exchange knowledge and share their practice with the mystically inclined around the world. 

This popularity for Pagan / Wiccan practices has not arisen with the dawn of TikTok however and can even be seen back in the 2010’s, most prominently in fashion and lifestyle brands utilising horoscopes, star signs and occult symbols in their products. Beneath the aesthetic sparkling cloak a shift in politics, identity and belonging in the modern world is occurring. It has been gathering momentum within younger generations disillusioned with current structures of power in government and religion that just can’t seem to cover up their cracks.

The internet has allowed for connectivity and creativity at an unprecedented level and the knowledge sharing that comes with it seeks to shape the future of what we believe in. As new social platforms emerge, these world views will continue to evolve and take hold across wider audiences, however in a post truth world these same platforms become breeding grounds of dangerous ideologies with harmful intent. Media literacy rates are falling, especially amongst children and teenagers who are most at risk and more frequently online which causes great concern for elder Witches who are worried that the true nature of their practice is being forgotten in favour of dramatic aestheticism.

Now I know you’re probably wondering how I’ve reached from WitchTok to politics and fake news. Originally this piece stemmed from a frustration I shared with others in constantly seeing seemingly novice tarot readers attempt mass readings (which require immense experience and energy levels) on the app. As I began to look further into how Wiccan / mystic communities felt about this, it was apparent this ‘trend’ was indicative of a much larger storyline. The popularity WitchTok has accumulated on one app in such a short space of time is intriguing and may offer a glimpse into the behaviours and underlying discourse of politics, knowledge sharing and authority online spaces cultivate within such communities.

The rise of modern Wicca

Waves of New Age belief and practice have ebbed and flowed for a few Centuries now in different forms and was particularly popular amongst occultists and metaphysical religions in the 70s and 80s. The Wiccan practice, a predominantly Western practice focusing on Pagan beliefs, a connection to nature and a focus on harming no other is first thought to make way in the 1950’s and has seen a steady rise since its arrival in Europe. The 2010’s saw a stark rise in the interest of Wiccan and Pagan religion with the practices making their way into the mainstream. It commonly manifested through fashion and lifestyle brands with starry horoscope themed clothing, books and paraphernalia on common topics within the religions – think tarot decks, spell and palmistry books, etc. This wasn’t solely an aesthetic interest however, the draw to these practices was very real in an increasingly destabilised world of politics, climate and religion. Millennial generations began to pinpoint the aspects of modern governance they no longer identified with and turned to Wiccan practices as a new guide for their spiritual journey

In the 70s, German philosopher Theodor Adorno gave a critique on the rise of horoscopes and mysticism, “he sees it as working in tandem with other phenomena of the culture industry, such as films (“dream factories”), and its purpose by and large is to propagate psychological dependence, or rather to help reproduce social dependency as psychological dependency”. Adorno thought that a belief in fate perpetuated by horoscopes and mysticism would lead people to believe our lives were predetermined and so turn them away from the importance of political engagement. It is not untrue that in times of great stress people would feel more inclined to ‘switch off’ from the news and politics etc. however this current wave of mysticism seems born of political frustration rather than apathy and has since empowered younger generations. Attempting to hex the American election last year seemed anything short of apathetic. The popularity can also be attributed to a new wave of feminism and social justice, reclaiming the divine feminine energy that courses through the heart of the practice that once caused the death and suffering of thousands of women across Europe accused of witchcraft as well as Witches of colour reclaiming their ancestral heritage and traditions once wiped out and demonised by colonialism.

These new religions rooted in mysticism come as a response not only to political upheaval, but to an uncertainty in identity. The practice offers a fully customisable and accepting way of life that is not often found in other common religions. This flexibility in identity opens up an eclectic array of witches and practitioners to learn from and likely contributes to the increasingly fast rise in popularity.

If you are seeing this, it was meant for you.

WitchTok familiars will likely have come across the range of available content whether by chance through their FYP (for you page) or exploring via sounds, hashtags and following creators. A common trend with this content often appears in videos focusing on manifestation guides, horoscope predictions and tarot reading. Claims of spirit guides and the universe bringing this video to your FYP and requests to like or comment to claim your rewards as predicted would appear an easy and harmless method of securing your good fortune from the comfort of your couch. TikTok’s algorithm however might have more of a say in that matter. 

What makes TikTok’s algorithm for suggesting content work for users is that it holds certain factors in higher regard than others. Location, listed interests and likes do play some part in the feed, however these are considered a lower influence than whether a user finished a video to the end for example. The app also aims to break the echo chamber of videos that you would normally get under listed interests, likes and following information. This ensures smaller creators and those from different backgrounds could have their videos seen by a wider audience that would normally never come across such content, this feature perhaps contributes again to the growth of the #WitchTok trend and tuned in more users. 

Some may claim although the algorithm helps, recommendations of videos may only appear to people that have a predisposed interest or ‘spark’ toward such information and so are more open to receiving these messages that further draw them into the community. This in itself could arguably be some greater force at play albeit from within. The feeling of being spoken to individually and feeling special reaches out to us all and plays yet again into the feeling of disempowerment younger generations may feel and offer a solution to that dread. 

An ye harm none

With more and more users rushing to try their hands at tarot reading, collecting crystals and researching with books, so more and more content creators are emerging. While the act of readings may appear harmless and provide comfort and security for many so long as you “take what resonates and leave the rest”, there is a real concern amongst long practicing Witches that the true intent of the religion is often lost or misconstrued. The excitement and rapid growth of the practice through social media where baby witches (I mean hexing the moon, c’mon!) and unskilled tarot readers / scryers sometimes provide misguided information has encouraged many Witches to use TikTok as an ideal platform to educate and inform younger Witches on the ways in which their practice can be safer, kinder and more well rounded. 

The issue emerges in the attention shrinking 15 to 60 second clips providing snapshots of information that fail to cover a deeper level of understanding. Although many educational institutions have joined TikTok to provide quick, easy and digestible clips full of fun facts, these should be intended as a gateway for a greater inquiry by the viewer. Again, many witches are worried as to how much information is being solely absorbed through TikTok without critical enquiry and research, allowing for the further spread of misinformation and a lack of fact checking. Media literacy rates are dropping, especially amongst children. “The Aspen Institute highlights the fact that “all learners and educators need a sufficient degree of digital age literacy, where media, digital and social-emotional literacies are present, to be able to use these learning resources to learn through multiple media confidently, effectively and safely.” However, the majority of students graduating from high school lack basic skills to help them navigate the digital landscape safely and responsibly”. These skills help us identify the fact from fiction and aid us in navigating misinformation on the internet and in media.

On social media everyone has a platform and alongside that, a level of authority. The lines between viewer/reader and educator become blurred through blogs and forums, Youtube and TikTok, even Facebook comments where we are able to voice our concern or praise and offer insight into whatever topics we see fit – 👀. The rise of the influencer encapsulates this in great detail and the WitchTok community is not immune to its phenomena. Trending topics have an instant pull, fostering an environment for creators looking for instant gratification in views and likes, often traversing through territories that encroach on potentially dangerous and problematic practices like love spells and working incorrectly with the Fae or appropriation of other cultural practices such as Hoodoo or Voodoo.  Social media does a great job in offering viewers a way of reshaping their life online. This makes it all the more difficult to decipher the intent behind the user and the credibility of the resources and information they share. Usually this responsibility of deciphering information or ‘calling out’ users lies in the community itself , often in comment sections, stitches and duets (particular to TikTok where users can respond to other TikToks in a video format).

The internet has opened an extensive library of accessible knowledge sharing and communication. As social media emerged, it became easier to find others working towards the same goals and assemble with great force. It has allowed for more remote or deprived areas to stay involved with happenings around the globe and crossed generational boundaries. “Surowiecki defined that social media is to make use of the “wisdom of the crowd”. Group of people are better at problem solving, fostering decision making than the individuals alone. New ways of inspiring and exploiting knowledge sharing are forcing organizations to expand their knowledge sharing technologies and practices”. Social media platforms attract and foster new ideas through the use of the many. It mobilises not only people but their ideas which is why it is often restricted by countries in the midst of political unrest and protest. The continued rise in the interest of mysticism takes new foothold on emerging platforms rife with creativity and diversity, able to take on new forms and evolve alongside an undercurrent of political ideology that is held in its pilot generation.

It could be argued the notion of the broomstick riding cackling witch in the night still permeates our subconscious and thus casts doubt on the credibility of such Wiccan / mystic practices emerging once again. This time around however it doesn’t appear to be dying down anytime soon and encapsulates a far greater shift occurring within Gen Z and Millennials.

do as ye will.

Mystic and Wiccan practice alongside any other belief or lifestyle continues to evolve alongside new and emerging social platforms that offer room for creativity and knowledge sharing, catering to emerging generations open to learning and exploring new ideas. 

While the earth around us continuously disintegrates with no real glimpse of hope from longstanding structures and systems of power, Millennials and Gen Z have looked to reclaim their futures and identities to find hope within a new system that more accurately aligns with their ideal world. Mysticism has seen a steady increase in popularity over the past few decades and has appeared to fill this spiritual gap. The internet and social media has propelled it toward a more mainstream audience. WitchTok is just one of the many online communities dedicated to sharing and exchanging knowledge of their own practices amongst a vast community of Witches from different magick backgrounds. The platform offers an environment for new ideas and ideologies to evolve over time, however in the age of post truth this is at no lower a risk of being muddied with misinformation, especially amongst generations with falling media literacy rates. Despite the hurdles it faces, education and the problem solving capabilities of the masses online continue to prove social media as a somewhat credible source of information and knowledge sharing, even if it may be solely a jumping off point.

Whatever your thoughts about Wicca, TikTok and WitchTok, I hope this piece was informative and that you may take what resonates and leave the rest.

*The use of k in ‘magick’ denotes a difference from ‘magic’ typically associated with illusionists, magicians or halloween witches on broomsticks.

Graduating in a Pandemic & 5 Unpopular / Uncommon Opinions on Productivity

My desk in the school studio at the end of 2019 vs my desk today in my own place

It’s almost a year since I was told my University would be closing due to increasing Coronavirus measures and it was clear there was a level of uncertainty surrounding our future security at the school, how classes would be handled and if we’d even get to see the inside of the studios again. Packing up my desk I assumed we’d be back in a few weeks. A month? Before the end of the school year surely? Maybe just for a scaled back degree show? Eventually I returned toward the end of the summer, long after graduating with my degree in the post, to collect the rest of my belongings that had been forgotten since March. No degree show, no after party, no final scramble for the printers to put together portfolios and no goodbyes. It’s almost surreal to think back and realise that my art school experience ended all of a sudden one day after two and a half years. Really we weren’t that far to the finish line, but at the time it felt light years away, especially in lockdown when the days blended into one another and never seemed to end.

As sad as it seems, a lot of my identity and sense of self rested in that student status. I felt safe since I was still in education. I was learning and allowed to not have a clear direction nor was I really expected to. When that platform that you’ve rested on for 6 odd years (even more if you count primary and secondary education) is suddenly pulled from under you when you least expect, existential crisis doesn’t begin to cover it. Now this doesn’t mean I was blissfully unaware that one day I’d have to leave education and venture into the real world, I was preparing for it honestly – just not preparing for it backdropped by a global pandemic. I don’t think anyone prepares for that, and nobody can truly prepare you for anything close.

I soon learned that I was very much reliant on structure, scheduling, timetabling – but I also soon learned that I was very much reliant on others creating that structure for me. Not a good look. I found it very hard to stay motivated and hold myself accountable, after all what would it matter if I completed this portfolio if the world was ending? Creating work was a chore and even the hobbies I loved became more of an obligation, as if they rooted me more to earth and the horrors that was happening in it rather than letting me float away into a blissful Tiktok escape. The only thing is, when you let go of all these things you start to let go of yourself a bit as well. I don’t blame myself or anyone else though from wanting to remove themselves from, well, themselves and seek some sort relief.

I don’t really remember what made the switch to bring me back to earth. Maybe it was something a friend said, maybe it was the weather improving with the Spring. Maybe it was just me being sick of my own moaning. I’m not sure, but I still vividly remember the day it happened. I got up early (“early” – it was 10am but come on these days that’s impressive, right?), I worked out for the first time in months and I sat down with my sketchbook ready to just try. No expectation, only a small goal, just to put pen to paper and see what happens. Now this wasn’t the magic turning point that put the rest of the year on the up, it was just a start. There was, and still is, ‘down’ days and ‘up’ days but I’ve learned to let them come and go, work with the flow and let my routine and motivation develop as I traverse this new way of life.

People always try to give advice and suggestions for improvement. Some work and some don’t, it’s all up to the individual. Maybe this post is just another example of that idk. I think though honestly, and I know no one really wants to hear this, but sometimes you just have to go through the tough times to find out what’s going to pull you through in the end. No amount of yoga, meditation, crystals, green tea and list making will give you a 180 mood shift in one day, although it might give you a hand in the process with some practice. Hindsight really is 20/20 (no pun intended) and it sucks that I can only see clearly now that trajectory that helped me gain my confidence back because I know me last year would’ve loved to know the secret recipe – or probably smacked me for suggesting “just give it time”. I am grateful now however that I know that little bit better.

Without getting too much into it, it was tough, very tough and I know everyone out there felt the same and maybe still does feel the same and so I thought I would list some of the thoughts / habits that helped me through a difficult and intimidating transition in the hope it would resonate with someone else out there.

Let yourself fail:

It’s okay if you wake up and today doesn’t turn out to be the day you start your new workout routine, apply for that job or wake up early. Your FBI agent isn’t watching through your laptop/phone camera waiting for you to fail – they have better things to be doing honestly. Some days just aren’t going to be your best and recently those bad days seem to come around more frequently. Accept how you feel, it is valid and who knows you might end up regaining some strength later in the day. If not, you’ll have a restful and restorative one ready to try again tomorrow.

Be honest:

There’s days where you just know your mental/physical health is rock bottom, I understand, but recently I discovered that I find myself falling into old habits, comforts and thought patterns just because they’re familiar and easier to deal with than the thought of trying something new and failing. Be honest with yourself, are you really unable or are you just afraid of whatever failure you’ve built up in your head? Self sabotage is an easy friend to make, but it’s a toxic friendship that you’re better off without.

Be flexible:

It’s all well and good to make a schedule, but then what happens when you can’t stick to it, you fail, you get upset and you’re put off from trying again? Don’t expect to be great at a schedule or method of working first try, not everything works for everyone and it’ll take a while to find your groove. Make notes and be present. Note your behaviours, patterns, likes, dislikes. Also, give yourself breathing room in your schedules and to do lists, don’t overcrowd. If you have time and feel up for doing more, great! If not, future you will be grateful you didn’t pack a full day of working, cleaning and socialisation into 24 hours. The view on productivity and worth is beginning to shift, the idea you must appear to be working 24/7 is unhealthy and unsustainable, don’t buy into it, especially not now. Of course not everyone has the luxury to be able to rest and not worry about their productivity level, but if you are in a position to do so the rest will be more beneficial to you in the long run than the impending burn out.

Don’t pigeon-hole:

It was difficult emerging into the working world during a pandemic. Job hunting and securing a Junior position seemed like the only thing in the world that was important, it consumed all of my thoughts. It removed me from things I enjoyed, put pressure on projects and portfolio pieces that could’ve been fun and engaging and decimated my sense of self worth. Your entire being is not solely rooted on your ability to work and be productive. Enjoy doing nothing in the fresh air for the love of God!

70%:

I came across this rule in @struthless’s video where he talks about perfectionism and how to overcome it. He speaks about only completing something 70%, removing the idea that it must be perfect and therefore removing any perfectionist habits and second guessing that may come with the project. It has helped me let go of projects, make decisions faster and keep me moving forward. We all know that nothing will ever be “done”, so make sure its at least 70% done. In fact, just watch his whole channel, I can’t believe it’s free I feel like I’ve been to a very enlightening therapy session with each video I watch.

If anything, I hope this helps make sense of some of the feelings people may be having and help others feel validated. I also hope it brings some peace to students who will be graduating and moving onto the next step in their life this year – or anyone really! Each day is a new step that we all must find the bravery to take on.

InPractice: A short case study

One of my final year projects at art school had me look into the disconnect between research and physical design practice. The two never seemed to marry up or consider each others existence. So when presented with a brief to conceptualise and design a publication, it felt like the perfect opportunity to finally force them together.

The Brief: Conceptualise and design both a printed and digitised publication centred on the theme of graphic design / typography. It must be dedicated to the late Wim Crouwel and you must generate / curate content to include in it.

I am a fan of many online publications such as Aiga and It’s Nice That as well as printed material such as Disegno and Art Review. However I always found myself constantly looking for something more within these publications. Something that can offer continuous learning and inspiration and be picked up at leisure, but not quite a book. Something that is aesthetically rich and exciting to hold, but not quite an image heavy coffee table book. I often found myself sifting through online journals and research papers throughout design projects, looking for theoretical principles and ideas that can back up my design decision making. And I noticed (not that it’s really that hard to do so) how bland and heavily academic these papers were. How could something that holds so much excitement and interesting ideas possibly look so difficult and uninviting? I was sick ae it.

To my surprise I had unintentionally hit upon a long drawn discussion about the disconnect between design academia and practice. The two seemed so disparate despite existing in their own wee paradox. Others were sick ae it too.

I set out collecting my favourite essays and journal pieces that fit into the theme of technological influence on design (a core interest of mine) and made sure to include a few shorter think pieces and interviews to break it all up so as not to be too word heavy. Aptly named it the ‘technocrat’ issue, and we were rolling.

In order to create the basic design layout for the publication, I studied the core elements of essay/journal layouts and identified some key components to their makeup. Title (genius!), abstract, body, references, images and captions and bibliography. Separating the design into these key elements helped break up the heaviness and monotony of the typical essay structure and offer the space needed to make subtle design choices and typographic care that would offer a more enjoyable and inviting reading experience.

The back of the publication is reserved for a collection of bibliographies from the essays found throughout and offer a sort of “space saving” that allows the reader to continue seamlessly from one reading experience to the next.

Utilising characteristics commonly found in essays/ journals inspired smaller design decisions for formatting interviews and additional information. The interviewee replies are indicated by small initials in the gutters of the page, reminiscent of footnote indicators and reference points. The borders of the page include footers and headers indicating what section of the publication you are on and additional links to portfolios, websites, etc.

The online counterpart aimed at fostering connection between researchers, writers, designers, lettering artists and anyone and everyone interested in the creative industry. The InPractice site acts as a sort of message board / social media hub for all specialisms to connect, find similar interests and share resources that would benefit their practice. The content collected from this shared space would have the chance to be featured in upcoming issues, breaking down entry barriers for aspiring designers and writers looking to get their work seen.

Ultimately InPractice acts as a design education resource that can be accessible to anyone, bringing exciting ideas and abstract themes to the forefront and encouraging new audiences to engage with the industry, regardless of experience.

Cheers, Emma.

Exorcising Haunted Monuments

This is a condensed version of a longer essay I wrote in my 3rd year of University surrounding the implications of Colonial narratives on our perception of the documented world. The essay has been reformatted to coincide with current day discussion on the presence of racist and colonial monuments.

Colonial monuments across the world cast insidious shadows of histories past across town squares and city streets that have since become melting pots of cultures and ideas. As of late these monuments, standing proud in the peripherals of public consciousness as they enjoy their lunch break in the town square, have become subject to vandalism, removal and a wider discussion. How do we address complacency, education, and the dismantling of a white washed historical narrative that has permeated our collective memory and caused systemic oppression to Black people around the globe?

The narrative on colonialism we are taught throughout school, in media and our wider environment is designed. It is designed as much as any other governmental institution (ie. prisons, universities, museums, archives, etc.) that exerts a state of control. This narrative can be seen to stem from around the time of the expansion of the British empire and colonial rule, the Enlightenment Era. Wealthy white businessmen and philanthropists collected various ‘exotic’ pillaged treasures from the ‘new world’ and displayed them in curiosity cabinets; curated, designed and fetishised to impress other wealthy white men and applaud the cultural progression of the Western world at the expense and exploitation of ‘othered’ civilisations and cultures. 

With this in mind, we can argue that the legacy of these monuments were built to maintain and perpetuate the idea of revolutionary legacy and cultural progression, an ideal many anti-protest groups have rallied under to protect the integrity of these monuments. But what they tend to forget is the insidious underbelly from where this progression originated. This kind of white anxiety arises from a fear of being forgotten or losing a sense of security and safety within a society that was built for and around us (white people). We saw similar and violent anxieties arising during the migrant crisis (2014) where a sharp increase in racial hate crime was reported throughout the UK and Europe – no thanks to some media coverage.

We cannot forget the ‘alternate’ history that this progress was carried on the back of Black labour and exploitation. To disregard this narrative and relegate it as a past ‘mistake’, we absolve all individual and state responsibility, and ultimately erase the credibility and collective experience of Black people. The irony of the matter is the fear of ‘forgetting’ history through monument removal is exactly what is happening on a wider, more harmful scale.

A colonial spectre haunts the UK unable to find a final resting place in the dusty archives of our society. The state and the archive live in paradox, the state attempts to repress and control these archived narratives while the archival evidence of colonial structures ultimately lead to the unraveling of state control when they are not ‘exorcised’. We can see then remnants of colonial heritage appearing time and time again, manifesting through our collective conscious until adequate education and discussion is undertaken from every voice. We must address the web of racist structures and reflect on our own complicit value structures that we have been taught and continue to perpetuate.

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