A New Angle: anonymous creative collective Pay It Back UK on its fund for Black charities

Led by a group of white creatives, the organisation is calling for people to follow up the energy of last year's activism with cold hard cash for Black-led and anti-racist organisations.

9 March 2021

A New Angle is an editorial series that aims to give a platform to creative industry changemakers who make it their mission to disrupt the status quo. Each week we’ll chat to a person or team doing important work in the sector, making it a fairer place, championing vital causes, supporting underrepresented groups and tackling pertinent issues facing creatives everywhere.

This week we hear from Pay It Back UK, an anonymous collective of creative volunteers which runs a split-share fund for Black-led and anti-racist organisations. Formed last year, the group calls for people to follow up their social media support for the Black Lives Matter movement by putting their money where their mouth is, by setting up a recurring donation to eleven chosen charities. The group launched its first fundraising campaign in January, aiming to reach “a generation of people who see racial injustice and aren’t doing enough” with a campaign, importantly, created by non-Black artists… a spokesperson for the group explains further.

It’s Nice That: What is your mission, and what about the creative industry are you hoping to change?

Pay It Back UK: The mission of Pay It Back UK is to normalise recurring donations to Black and marginalised communities, prioritising Black lives first. The artwork used on social media is donated by non-Black artists, with the idea being that they contribute their time and skills without gaining opportunities or clout. We find that writing briefs, which talk about anti-racist work with white artists, is a really good way to share research and keep us accountable together.

INT: Tell us a bit about the background to the organisation, and what led you to this point.

PIB: The organisation was created six months after the Black Lives Matter protests, that were sparked after the murder of George Floyd and countless other Black lives lost to worldwide racist systems. Black activists and educators made us aware of the ways in which white people maintain racist systems, even and especially when they believe themselves to be ‘nice’ white people. “Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” (Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., 16 April 1963)

As white people ourselves, we have had to wake up to the fact that we need to remain active even when it appears disruptive and hold each other accountable even when, and especially when, it would be easier not to. Throughout the process we tell ourselves “confronting racism is not about the needs and feelings of white people” – Ijeoma Olou.

INT: What are the major challenges you’re facing, and why?

PIB: The major challenge we have witnessed so far is white supremacy. This challenge is not new or unique to this initiative and that’s why Pay It Back UK exists. We need more people with white privilege to use their “access, entitlement and innocence” (Arya Baker) to be accomplices for change amongst their white peers, colleagues and family.

INT: How are you tackling them?

PIB: Pay It Back UK is a fund that allows people to set up recurring donations to multiple Black-led and anti-racist organisations in the UK. The money Pay It Back UK receives will be split and shared evenly between these 11 organisations (this list will grow as the fund grows): African Rainbow Family, Bail for Immigration Detainees, Black Minds Matter, BLAM Charity, Choose Love,  Community Action on Prison Expansion, Creative Humblebee, Free Black University, Freebooks Campaign, May Project Gardens, and Sistah Space.

INT: How can the creative industry help your mission?

PIB: Beyond standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, learning about privilege and power, and ensuring diversity and inclusion at work, the creative industry needs to support Black and marginalised communities by giving up power, opportunities and money, as well as investing in groups which are working to decolonise the system. The creatives within these industries should be doing this without expecting anything in return. We must always ask ourselves ‘what more can I/we be doing to create an intersectional anti-racist culture in the spaces I occupy?’.

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

After five years as It’s Nice That’s news editor, Jenny became online editor in June 2021, overseeing the website’s daily editorial output.

Jenny is currently on maternity leave.

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