A protest led by Vidas Negras Importam in Rio de Janeiro on 7 June.

At MobLab, we believe in applying a systems lens to social change, and there is no doubt that we are living through an historic moment of potential systems change. Millions have taken to the streets during a pandemic to protest the murder of George Floyd and institutionalised racism around the world, from Seoul to Rio de Janeiro to Accra and hundreds of communities inbetween.

Racial justice advocates and movements are not only calling for justice in the form of firing of the police officers who murdered George Floyd, but have shifted the narrative to talk about systemic racism and demand systems change: police abolition, the creation of community-led public safety systems, and more – and they’re succeeding. Outside of the United States, community-led groups expressing solidarity are also denouncing the racist legacy of colonialism and slavery, and authoritarian police brutality in their own contexts.

Our sector is complicit in White supremacy.

Perhaps the most uncomfortable truth to sit with in looking at systemic racism, colonial legacies, and White supremacy is that it exists and is held up by our sector – from our funding and structures, to programming and leadership, to who we listen to and who gets paid to do social justice work. This moment is deeply needed for us to dramatically dismantle racism, colonialism and unequal power structures within our own organisations.

Here are some resources for us to understand that working in social justice does not exempt us from justice work within our own sector – in fact, it should be where we start. 

We loved this guide from the Healing Solidarity Collective Advisory Circle, which shares 14 concrete ways to be in action against anti-Black racism globally. They share recommendations for personal and professional action, recordings of previous Healing Solidarity conference talks that are especially relevant, and the opportunity to join a practice group for those who identify as White to practice anti-racism.

We acknowledge that privilege, power and personal conflicts are preventing change and racial justice in the social change sector. “We cannot confront power effectively without understanding that all of us are unconsciously motivated to NOT confront power… The strategies we have used to try to solve these and myriad other issues have not worked. Just like trying to reform the racist police system has not worked, or nicely asking for racist statues to come down has not worked. To effectively challenge power, we must examine the personal conflicts we each have and wrestle with what we are each willing to give up to realise a world we know is possible.”

Read and sign the Anti-Racist Critical Design Lab Statement on Design Commitments to Abolishing White Supremacy. Read through Critical Design Lab’s design commitments and reflect on your own understanding of design and privilege.

crowdsourced Anti-Racist Design Syllabus includes fantastic sources on design justice, anti-racist design, contemporary and historical resources and more. We loved the inclusion of Sara Ahmed’s “The Non-Performativity of Anti-racism” (2006).

This is a learning moment for social justice campaigners and organisers.

Historically, systems change requires an ecosystem – a diverse range of structures, tactics, and strategies. Oftentimes, these exist simultaneously, and all are needed. We acknowledge that nonviolence as a strategy stars a central role in advocacy and campaigning today, but also recognise that other strategies and tactics need to be discussed and understood, as well as historically situated. We’re interested in understanding the role that diverse direct action tactics have in achieving structural change. To this end, we’re sharing resources focused on the history of direct action tactics and the role they’ve played in forcing change globally.

Why violent protests work. This conversation with University of Pennsylvania professor Daniel Q. Gillion and author of ‘The Loud Minority: Why Protests Matter in American Democracy’ explains why violence in protests is a strategic tactic, and how it has worked in the past. “Nonviolent protest brings awareness to an issue; violent protest brings urgency to an issue. It forces individuals to pay attention to discussions of race relations, & also prompts the international community to say, “Hey, there’s something wrong there.”

Direct action isn’t just on the streets – it’s also over the internet. One of the most striking solidarity actions for the Black Lives Matter movement was when Korean pop stars and fans flooded a White supremacist hashtag to drown out their message, and also crashed a Dallas police surveillance app with fancam video – an inadvertent DDoS attack. Phil Wilmot, from Solidarity Uganda and Beautiful Trouble, wrote a roundup of digital direct action tactics for us, from virtual sit ins to DDoS attacks. Just like direct action, digital direct action tactics don’t wait for permission to confront power.

Why extreme actions shouldn’t delegitimise a protest. Mainstream language around protests praises them if they are “peaceful” and if civil disobedience is “civil”. But pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and Black Lives Matter supporters in the US are forcing us to re-discuss the role of violent tactics. Violence, whether in the form of institutionalised racism or the deployment of so-called “non-lethal” weapons like rubber bullets and tear gas, is normalised and accepted, whereas protesters are condemned as violent mobs as soon as a brick is hurled and a barricade burned.

Action, facilitation, and messaging - to abolish White supremacy.

White supremacy, racism, and colourism exists everywhere, and there is important anti-racism/racial justice solidarity work happening in every context. We encourage you to  research how you can support local racial justice groups in your communities – with donations, as organisers, and amplifying their work. As facilitators, campaigners, and organisers, we have compiled some resources around messaging, facilitation techniques, opportunities to end surveillance capitalism, and more.

Messaging This Moment: Mobilising Our Base and Persuading the Middle on Policing, Protest and Racial Injustice by the Race Class Narrative and Anat Shenker Osorio Communications is an excellent messaging guide on how to choose our words to strengthen our narrative and messaging on protest tactics, the systems change we want, and drive home the pervasiveness of racial injustice. Although this guide is written specifically in the US context, their recommendations on precise language, acknowledging emotion, and recommendation of certain linguistic techniques are strong messaging advice that we all need to be more effective in difficult conversations about racism and systemic injustice in different contexts.

These facilitation techniques from Aspiration Tech, MediaJustice and FabRider help facilitators recognise and navigate power dynamics and make clear their responsibility in facilitating more just, equitable spaces. “Within our online meeting spaces, other forms of privilege and associated power dynamics play out in ways that undermine our work and marginalise important voices and perspectives.” [Aspiration Tech]

NEON is holding their first ever Movement Builders trainings online – specifically for the Health Movement. Apply before 28 June.

PopWorks Africa, Aid Re-Imagined and more will be speaking at this discussion on How to be anti-racist in the aid sector on June 16th.

Apply for the Reset Surveillance Capitalism Fellowship before July 1. Resident Fellows are individuals who seek to advance Reset’s understanding of surveillance capitalism and change the way Reset works and thinks from the inside.


We’re continuing to collect and share strategic campaigning and organising stories, so if you have a story to pitch around creative, impactful, and impactful campaigns or organising, were directly involved or can get quotes/interviews – please pitch us a one-paragraph pitch to stories@mobilisationlab.org or respond directly to this newsletter! We are especially looking for successful grassroots-led campaigns, organising for racial justice, young feminist-led organising, tools, design justice strategies & tactics for centering marginalised groups, and more. Our contributor guidelines + pay range is here.


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