It has been four months since over 1500 Manx residents marched across Douglas promenade. The record-breaking turnout set the tone for the Isle of Man’s stance on racism. POC residents braved social media and wrote articles, sharing their experiences about growing up and living on the island as an ethnic minority, and the challenges they faced. People began to listen. Groups such as ours and the Hardy Commission vowed to try and dismantle the systemic racism that is prevalent on this island. We don’t have much control over the injustices to Black people in America, but we can try to make a change to our own little home.
POC IOM started as a social media platform, aiming to create a centralised voice for issues in the Black and POC community on the island, with the hope to encourage people from all walks of life to engage in a healthy conversation about race and racism. We wanted to encourage people to work together to make the island a more inclusive space for all. Much to our delight, people were very receptive to what we were saying, and our platform and audience has become bigger than we could have ever anticipated.
We outlined the main areas that we felt needed to be addressed here on the island; education, law and mental health. We quickly set up action plans and got to work. We have been working tirelessly contacting MHK’s, relevant companies such as Isle Listen, and headteachers of schools to try and network and get their help in getting our message out to the relevant people.
Within government and law, the most surprising thing for us was that there is no definition of a hate crime on the island. This is an issue that is both important and personal to us, as one of our members has experienced the repercussions of this first-hand. We have developed a great relationship with some MHKs, such as Jane Poole-Wilson, IOM Equality Champion, and hope our relationship continues long into the future. We have also been working with the police and the Inclusion Board to aid them in how they can make the island a more inclusive space for POC and discussing the work that can be done in community policing to improve race relations.
One of our main aims is education reform, we began our work by launching an Instagram campaign called #EducatingMann. This aimed to help raise the standard of racial literacy by encouraging people to read a book off a shortlist we set, sign two race-related petitions, and tag three friends to do the same. This campaign led to the launch of our book club! We wanted to encourage people to equip themselves with the right vocabulary to discuss race. From here we aim to encourage changes in the curriculum and teacher training. We are building a relationship with Dr Alex Allinson, Minister of Education, Sport and Culture to hopefully aid him in endeavours to make schools and education an inclusive space.
We believe that Black history and literature should be part of the core curriculum. This is one of our long-term goals and the Isle of Man is in a privileged position in that we don’t have to have the same Ofsted Restrictions that the UK has, therefore we have much more control over what is taught in our schools.
In the short-term, as schools have started up again for the year we have been going into schools and offering our service to ensure that the teachers and students are quick to discuss race. We have run a teacher training workshop ‘Diversity in the Classroom’, which was a huge success. Our tickets sold out in three days! We have also been running lots of assemblies across nearly all the high-schools on the island. Students have been very receptive of this content, which is exciting and hopeful for us. We have also had the pleasure of doing an assembly for a primary school on the island. We look forward to doing more of these in the future!
We have had many other opportunities we never expected – had a really fun week taking over Gef the Mongoose’s platform (another shameless shoutout to Gef), where we created and shared a lot of content, questions and more. Our highlight was the IGTV that two of our members did. That got a great response and we are hoping to do something similar again in the future. We have had amazing help from the team at Peggy’s who collaborated with us on our Soul Train event- another is coming soon so keep your eyes peeled! We spoke at the One World Centre AGM and hope to work closely with them.
All in all, the last four months have been absolute bedlam, but the work that we have done, the connections we have made, and the impact that we have had makes the hard work and late nights well worth it.
Another huge thank you to Gef for letting us use their platform once again. We love and appreciate you guys! And a big thank you to all the businesses, schools, and individuals who are working hard with us to create a lasting change on the IOM and helping us educate others – we truly value each and every one of you.