Rare Earth Mettle at the Royal Court
We’ve received quite a bit of heat over the last fortnight, attacks about our methodology, harmful assumptions about our intent and abuse towards our Founder and CEO, Sade. We have also received many messages of support from Jewish friends, collaborators, and supporters. Thank you for your allyship and patience while we took our time to respond.
Sour Lemons was set up to fight for a collective liberation, which means we will not rest until everyone is free. This does not leave space for any form of discrimination in our practice. Sour Lemons is not antisemitic. Nor does it discriminate against any other oppressed minority.
Our specialism is anti-Blackness, but the intersectionality of our team includes people who identify as: having African, Caribbean, Asian and Jewish heritage, being queer, non-binary, heterosexual and cis gendered, practicing Islam, Christianity, Spiritualism and Atheism, being neurodivergent, coming from working, traditional and middle classes, living with a disability and managing mental health conditions.
This intersectionality informs our training, but we understand our limitations within this. This is why our approach is iterative and our team evolves, enabling us to respond to specific areas of racism and discrimination as they surface.
We do not operate as EDI consultants. We were engaged by the Royal Court last year as an anti-racist partner. While our starting point is to specifically address the systemic harm caused to Black and Global Majority people, the anti-racist actions that we develop are rooted in the lived experience of all types of racism. Our objective is to develop an anti-oppression framework that enables everyone to thrive and to hold our partners accountable, supporting them to develop future practices that mitigate against harm.
We aren’t involved in artistic decisions. We were not aware of the decision to give a Jewish name to a character that represented greed and capitalism (which we agree is antisemitic). We didn’t have the opportunity to feed into the Royal Court’s response. But we are committed to always build on our core value, A Desire To Learn and Evolve, and we have listened. These are the Sour Lemons commitments:
- Listen to everyone involved in the creative process to understand how this happened, our learnings will support the internal review led by the Royal Court’s board.
- Generate actions through these conversations to address antisemitism, which will sit within our existing methodology and anti-oppression action plan.
- Alongside the listening spaces we hold for Black and Global Majority stakeholders at the Royal Court and for our other partners, we will hold separate spaces for everyone with a lived experience of racism that does not identify as Black or in the Global Majority, which will include Jewish people.
- We will invite anti-racist specialists to join us in our research and development period in January 2022, to review our Awareness and Understanding training curriculum. These experts will address perception gaps in our core team and will ensure that the experience of Jewish people is included.
- We will continue with our methodology which includes inviting anti-racist practitioners to work alongside us when specific areas of racism surface that are beyond our core expertise. In this instance, that means collaborating with someone who has an established antisemitism practice in our ongoing partnership with the Royal Court.
We invite you to follow this process over the next year to see the actions that come from this and hold us and The Royal Court accountable on those terms.
We understand that racism runs deep, and the only way to challenge it is to change the culture. We do that by supporting the development of an anti-racist practice and holding accountability when harm is caused. Sometimes the choices made by those we work with cause harm, intentionally or mistakenly, to their staff and their wider communities. When anyone experiences racism, we are also harmed in that process. But our job is to be a container for those experiences, to advocate on behalf of those who are harmed, mitigate against future harm and to work towards sustainable anti-racist practices within our theatre institutions.
Racism is insidious, we have all been conditioned within a society that upholds white supremacy. We are under no illusion that this will be ‘fixed’ overnight or that racism will no longer manifest in our partners because we have begun working with them. We travel with the belief that when you know better, you do better. We call this Radical Generosity.
This underpins our partnerships and informs how we hold accountability. We recognise that not everyone understands or agrees with this, but we stand firm in our commitment to radical generosity as a tenet of dismantling white supremacy.
As we continue with this work, we ask you to please respect the wellbeing of our team. We are always open to listening, changing, growing. We are never open to abuse and it will not be tolerated and if necessary will be reported. This is a marathon, not a race.
SIGNED: Sade Banks, CEO & Founder, Claire Tavernier, Chair of Trustees, Chloe Osborne, Director of Imagination and Titilola Dawudu, Company Director.