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London Arts Festival to Explore Drug Policy and Racial Justice

A London arts festival is set to highlight the impact of drug policy upon the UK’s Black community, weeks after a report showed significant racial disproportionality in drugs policing.

The two-day festival – RE:GENERATE – focuses on the intersections of drug policy, racial justice, and liberation, and will include workshops, panel discussions, an art exhibition, and performances. The festival’s organisers, Imani Robinson and Camille Barton, were inspired to set up the event due to the disproportionate harms that UK drug policy has upon Black communities.

“The war on drugs is the main mechanism used to criminalise, incarcerate and kill people of colour in the UK. Drug policy is a racial justice issue”, they said. “The festival takes a holistic approach to this topic by addressing important intersections such as sex work, transgender rights, mental health, and healing. It is a space to talk, connect, rest, make art, learn, and reflect on the impact that drug policy has had – and continues to have – in the UK.”

The event’s organisers have unveiled an exciting line-up of events over the weekend of November 2nd – 4th.

The festival will showcase art by: Jacob V Joyce, a non-binary interdisciplinary artist who "disrupts commercial and community spaces with queer and anti-colonial, creative interventions"; painter and set designer, Sandra Falase; illustrator and mixed medium artist, Ben Nugent; and Khaleb Brooks, a multi-media artist exploring the conflation of memory and history.

Following an exclusive opening night on November 2nd, with DJ sets and live performances, the weekend will host numerous workshops and panel discussions on a range of engaging topics, including the relationship between drug policy, mental health, and the prison industrial complex; addiction and the collective trauma of trans women; colonialism and the healing potential of plant medicine; and many more interesting events.

All the weekend’s exhibitions and events are free and open to the public, and take place in an atmospheric warehouse space – Ugly Duck – in Bermondsey, London.

RE:GENERATE occurs just weeks after the publication of a damning new report exposing racial discrimination in UK drugs policing and sentencing. The report – The Colour of Injustice – published on 14 October by Release, StopWatch, and LSE, found that Black people were stopped and searched for drugs at almost nine times the rate of white people, despite being less likely to use drugs.

A large part of this discrimination is fuelled by cannabis prohibition; Black people were convicted of cannabis possession at 11.8 times the rate whites. Staggeringly, in 2017, more black people were prosecuted and convicted of cannabis possession than for the supply of Class A and B drugs combined – while the reverse is true for white people.

Drug law enforcement is incontrovertibly driving racial disparities in the criminal justice system, which in turn is worsening trauma among the Black community – highlighting the importance of RE:GENERATE. The festival is set to provide guests with a space to learn, heal, and consider ways to move forward.

See the event listing for more detail, and join the Facebook event page.

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