I am Because We Are

Dear UCAP family:

2020 has been nothing short of eventful. We have seen the potential for war, natural disasters and a global pandemic. However, the most important happenings unfolded these past few weeks. The death of George Floyd was symbolic. It has become a tipping point for our society … our global society. Meditating on it, for the past week has been very difficult, and led to an extreme feeling of heaviness, anger and disgust. Many look at this situation and think people are angry because of this one death or this one recent happening and then there are some who attribute that anger to the senseless murders of the past few years. However, that anger runs deep, it runs through many generations. That anger has been festering and this (what is happening right now) is the culmination of everything that has been happening, that has happened and that most importantly has not been happening. 

The prevalence of archaic mind-sets such as racism, prejudice, colourism and discrimination is truly upsetting. Why is it, that in this day and age after so many generations have passed and slavery has been abolished, do we feel the need to preserve those mind-sets? People are angry … we are angry. However, it is important to note that we are also at a turning point, where we can readily access resources and knowledge. There is no excuse. To our black brothers and sisters, truth is, it should not have been your responsibility to force people to listen but it is our duty to ensure that those who have been silenced for so long are heard. To our non-black allies, as I’m sure you’ve heard or seen, this is not a fight of black people against the world. It is a fight of people united against limiting mindsets. 

As an organization, we honestly believe it is not enough to reduce the emotions and injustices experienced by the many to a simple black square or singular post on a day that it is trending. We believe action is required. Everyone has a part to play. 

This year has been frustrating and, for many of us, has forced upon us an incubation period that has possibly delayed or altered certain goals we had walking into 2020. What is happening right now is not just something that will pass and the beauty about this situation is that, with all that has been shut down, we have no choice but to stop, listen and pay attention. Many black and brown artists have found new avenues for their craft during this pandemic and continue to bring joy to communities across the world.

As an organization we pledge to continue to be more aggressive in our pursuit of providing opportunities for those who do not have those means for themselves in the creative community in Jamaica and the ultimately across the globe. 

Writing this letter to you, the wider society, we completely understand that we are being placed in a position of being held accountable and that is exactly the point. We do not take the philosophy of Ubuntu lightly, “we are because you are.”

Right now, some of us may feel that we want to do more but don’t have the means to. However, that this the furthest thing from true. If you have an online platform, use that to promote the cause, to educate and provide exposure for those who do not have the voice on their own. If you’re a black owned business continue to strive for excellence and success and be proof that we can. If you have the position to be a mentor and to pay it forward through simply providing knowledge and guidance to those who have been oppressed or who have had knowledge withheld from them, do just that. 

We all are a part of one body and there is no such thing as small or large impact. There is, however, collective, community impact; impact created by each individual coming together to create change that will be felt for generations to come. 

Stay blessed. 


Kathryn Lawrence 

Founder and Managing Director 

The Ubuntu Creative Arts Project.