This question was in the caption of Liz Artistry‘s* instagram post about Sudan (16 June 2024).

@lizartistry | 16 June 2024

In the same caption they referenced a “must listen” conversation between Sara Al-Hassan ( @bsonblast on insta and on  X  ) and Ayman Makarem ( @politically_depressed )

Distraught About Sudan w/Sara Al-Hassan (29 March 2024)

I listened to the podcast for two reasons:

  1. When reposting/sharing content, if there is referenced material i.e. podcast ep., article etc., I want (as much as possible) to have read/listened/watched said material for myself.
  2. The 1st part of this question ‘How do we engage genuinely and what’s at stake when we don’t?’ is a question (exchange ‘effectively’ for ‘genuinely’) that I’ve asked myself at different points over the last few years.

Currently it is one that is often applied to how I respond to what’s happening in Sudan, Congo, Palestine and beyond. —As well as in relation to matters of injustice on UK shores.

I found the entire conversation interesting and it could easily require more than a 2nd listen. The excerpt I have shared touches specifically on the matter of engagement, which is why I chose it.

Are we just filling our “daily quota”?

A response to my repost on Instagram

I believe I understand where this person is coming from. I myself have at times questioned if I am doing enough or if I have the right motives.  

So much is happening in our world that needs a response and it can become overwhelming to take it all in—much less figure out how to respond.

However overwhelming it is, as citizens of earth we do each have a part to play. Something which I touched on in the 1st half of my reply to their response.

..I hear you on the conflict of feelings. We each (hopefully) know our own heart and motives—which whatever part a person feels they are able to play is of key importance. Each of us (just some thoughts) also have to figure out in what way we are most able/suited to contribute and do it in the best way we can.

@jjsmuse Instagram post, 30 June 2024

The ‘what way’ will vary from person to person and it’s important to know that we don’t have to do it all.

A social media post I saw and re-shared in June 2020, after the murder of George Floyd, speaks to this point.

It’s also important to remember that even when you’ve figured out your way/lane, it may change. 

Depending on what season of life you are in, or how much life might be lifeing, you may need to move from protesting to surviving the day.

Use What You Have

As I mentioned earlier, this question of how I am engaging effectively has been a recurring one. Outside of current times—mostly in relation to Palestine, Sudan and Congo—it was most prominent after the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

My two main ways of engaging and responding to his murder (and the wider structural racism that fuelled it) were:

  • Poetry & Spoken-word. ‘Humanity‘was written just three days after George Floyd was killed. Followed shortly after by ‘Run Out of Words‘ and a little after that, ‘Portrayal‘.
  • Raising awareness and amplifying Black voices, causes, initiatives, movements etc

I had been rediscovering my creative self and was regularly writing poetry, so it makes sense that this was a way in which I raised my voice in response. It was a natural outflow of me using what I had

Do What You Can

Excerpt: ‘Breaking My Own Rules‘ (12 Mar 2021)

At the same time I was experiencing (like many Black people across the world) an internal trauma that was difficult and painful to verbalise..

I remember my first attempt to articulate a response. It was very inarticulate. Calls with some of my Tribe were inarticulate. Neither of us really able to collate our thoughts or curate our words; yet we understood each other perfectly.

– ‘Breaking My Own Rules‘ (12 Mar 2021)

This undoubtedly influenced my chosen lanes of resistance (engagement). It was what I had the capacity for and it was something I could do.

Which brings me back to the opening question. Well, the 1st half of it.

How do we engage genuinely (effectively) and what’s at stake when we don’t?’

As already implied, there is no one size fits all answer or formula. I don’t profess to be particularly adept, but I can share the things I have done/do. Maybe something will connect.

In my own engagement with what’s happening in Palestine, Sudan and the Congo, I have once again chosen:

  • Raising awareness and amplifying Palestinian, Sudani and Congolese voices, causes, initiatives, movements etc.
  • Poetry, spoken-word and other creative mediums. Mainly via sharing the work of Creatives from within these countries or the diaspora.
    • I have also:
  • Signed petitions and sent emails—using (w/some adaptation) the templates provided.
  • Contributed to some fundraisers
  • Marched, listened to some talks etc. 

I’ll share links to the main individuals and organisations I’ve been following at the end of this post.

Effective Or Not?

I’m not sure this is a yes/no answer. Maybe if I put back the ‘genuinely’ that was in the original question it could be. As to the extent that I know my own heart, what I have done I have done from a sincere place.

This, in and of itself, doesn’t mean my efforts have been effective. However, as referenced in the 1st part of my answer to the Instagram response, knowing your motives is important.

As I’ve been questioning the effectiveness of my efforts, I’ve come to the conclusion that I probably need to streamline my engagement. Something I touched on in the 2nd part of my answer.

For some of us, this may mean actively engaging with 1-2 situations instead of say 5. Not because all 5 aren’t important, but because no individual can go all in on and carry every cause. If they do, they will eventually burn out.  

For others that may mean supporting all 5 at a raising awareness level. I feel they are both valid and that there is a time, place and use for each, as part of the collective efforts. As I said, just some of my thoughts.

@jjsmuse Instagram post, 30 June 2024

*Liz Artistry has created a number of infographics on Sudan, Palestine, Congo and elsewhere. Prompted by conversations/interviews they have listened to, things they have read etc. Visit her website or her instagram account to see and learn more.

Some of the accounts/individuals I follow: