Another grey day had passed by in lockdown, living with my parents and in a 9-5 work from home job that paid the bills. This wasn’t the life I had planned post-graduation and I felt growing desperation for a sign that something bigger was coming. One evening I bumped into an old friend from University and asked her what she’d been up to. Like magic, Agent Academy, was placed into my palms. A programme designed to help young people gain the knowledge, skills and experience to break into the digital and creative sector. The future suddenly seemed a lot brighter, twelve weeks of learning, networking, campaigning; the exact opportunity I had been waiting for.
It’s impossible to summarise the extent of my learning over the last four weeks, through marketing sessions, in-depth discussions with expert industry leaders and working in collaboration with a real-life client. Agent Academy has given me the real-life experience needed to make it in the industry, delivering more value than a pile of coursework and essays would ever give me.
The programme has gone above and beyond in steering my professional life (my LinkedIn notifications have never been so active!), however, unexpectedly, the programme has had a major impact on my personal life and self-development. Upon learning that the client we would be working with was the Anthony Walker Foundation, a Liverpool based anti-racist charity, I felt great excitement. Our role in their campaign is to educate young people about racial and religious hate crime and in turn, encourage victims and witnesses to report hate crimes using the Anthony Walker Foundation’s new online tool.
In order to carry out the challenge work it was first necessary for us all to have a thorough understanding of hate crime perceptions and experiences in the UK. As part of our research, we held a zoom focus group with a variety of young people from different backgrounds, predominantly those from BAME communities. Hesitant at first, I decided to throw myself in the deep end and offered to be a facilitator for our group discussions. As the participants entered the call, I suddenly felt a knot in my stomach. How could I expect these people to open up to me? The colour of my skin has never and will never make my life more difficult. Throughout my life, I have sat in a privileged position due to the very fact that racism exists.
I’m extremely lucky to say all the participants were incredibly engaging and comfortable opening up about their experiences, providing us with an invaluable insight to the matter. Hearing their stories first-hand has ignited a drive in me to truly stand up as an ally and do whatever I can to speak out against racism. I have discovered that merely claiming to not hold racist views is meaningless, unless you actually dedicate yourself to fighting the structural racism that exists in all walks of life.
Joining Agent Academy has not only allowed me to identify my white privilege but has pushed me to utilise it in order to help others. I recently read a quote by Angela Davis that said, ‘In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti- racist.’ Going forward, I intend to live by this each and every day.