Annick and Haneen were both participants on the Shake! programme, and now bringing their experiences and skills to the #ShakeTheSystem – A Decade of Shaping Change research project. 

Annick is a youth worker and a racial justice and Black feminist activist from France. She is a member of French afrofeminist collective Mwasi, fighting for the rights of Black womxn and Black queer people. In the UK she has worked for Black activists network KIN, and for several youth and community organisations supporting young people in running their own community organising and social justice projects. As a member of Shake! family since arriving in the UK in the summer of 2017, she has developed her writing, performed poetry at events and run Shake’s reading group.

Haneen is pursuing the field of ending detention migration in the UK. She engages with self-led work that highlights racist state violence as well as championing oral history and lived experience. She has worked with projects archiving oral testimonies with the Everyday Muslim Project and with Inquest, a family centred, organisation working against state deaths in custody. She has also worked with Doctors of the World, in their Bethnal Green clinic where they make primary care accessible to all. Shake! was a healer for her in 2014, and she wants us migrant kids to know that we are the generation that break cycles of harm.

As an introduction, they both sat down and asked each other questions to get to know each other better. 

What would you take with you to a deserted island?

H: Am I stuck there? Or just going there for a bit. If I am stuck there I should take something to get me out of there, something to find water… Or I’ll just bring something fun.

A: I love how you’re being really practical about this!

H: I would bring a friend, someone who wouldn’t mind being on a deserted island. I think I would love it because I love obstacle courses (laughs) from school trips! I could do Survivor.

A: Um, I would take… I have chocolate on my mind right now, do I want to take chocolate? No, I would take music definitely, I couldn’t live without it.

What is your favourite poem?

A: In French, a poem by Arthur Rimbaud, ‘Le Bateau ivre’ it means the Drunken Boat. It’s a long poem about this boat that frees itself from chains and roams around the world freely and sees incredible things. It’s weird that it’s my favourite now that I think about it, because I really don’t like the ocean!! [laughs] My worst fear is literally open water, being lost at sea!

H: I took weeks to think and I don’t have one, is the answer, I’ve always liked reciting out loud, so I’ll just say that.

If you had to pick between going to the beach or going to the park? And not going to the other, ever, which would you pick?

H: The beach, because I like the sea.

A: I would have to say the park. I feel more connection to forest trees, it’s something very important to me,if I didn’t get to be in a forest that would make me unhappy.

What is your favourite song?

H: There’s that song ‘Do you believe in magic’ (by The Lovin’ Spoonful). Also at the moment I love the song ‘Pray’ by Duendita. It just sounds so… there are so many levels of sound and it’s really soothing.

A: I have 2 favourite songs , ‘All is full of love’ by Bjork and ‘Saa Magni’ by Oumou Sangare.

Cookies or chips?

H: I have to go with chips- I get cravings for fat chips from the chip shop. I respect cookies but I just don’t have the same relationship to them!

A: (in response to Haneen talking about fat chips) As a French person I don’t understand that, I want a crispy, thin, French fry, like Mcdonalds fries.[both laugh]

(in answer to the question) COOKIES. Quick and easy. [both laugh]

I need chocolate every day of my life.[laughs]

What is your favourite place?

H: My relationship to this place has changed a lot, but I am going to say my grandparents’ house in Sudan. It’s a connection to the house more than the people there, and I am questioning if I still have that emotional connection.

A: Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, so far in my life I went there on like my second day in this country, it was like being reunited with forests and trees where I grew up. I am obsessed with cemeteries, especially I like British cemeteries.

I would go there all the time, I’ve seen it in all seasons, I can find my way around it. In France it’s very different, way more rigid. Here I’ve seen people walking their dogs, with their children, having a picnic in the cemetery… Celebrating life, even without realising it, making it a part of life.

Would you rather have lips where you have hands, or hands where you have lips? 

A: So does that mean that every time I want to hold something I have to kiss it?! Like I have to kiss the subway pole?! 

My answer is lips where hands are or however you would say it (laughs).

If I have to grab something I don’t necessarily want to put my face near it, like imagine everytime you want to grab something!

H: Because of the way you explained it, the proximity to things, I have to say same thing as you!

What is your favourite smell?

H: Hot rain on dust, we call it ‘Sudan rain’- and jasmine.

A: Probably hot pavement in the rain in summer. Where I’m from it’s normal to get summers of 35 degrees and then you’ll get a thunderstorm and then the concrete/ the pavement, mmm, it smells amazing.

I grew up in a valley with a lot of lakes, and when it’s really hot, a lot of water evaporates and builds up in the clouds. I can kinda tell when it will rain or thunderstorm, like the same day or the day after, based on the shape of certain clouds.                                                                         

What brings you joy?

H: Shared laughter, knowing family is happy, sunshine, acting, watching cartoons (that’s a very specific type of joy), eating good food, learning about different rituals in different cultures.

A: Tarot is a big one for me. Having things in common that we thought were weird, those coming to light. Coming together with people through their writing, making friends through books and poetry. Sun, warmth is very important to me. Dancing. Being part of the ballroom community, working on my hands performance, connecting with people through that, is a source of pure joy and pride for me. I’m thinking hard, i’m trying to think of genuine joy, like not reassurance or the feeling of not being stressed because that’s not the same. Silly conversations, jokes and references with my sister-definitely. Listening to music.

You can find out more about their plans for the research project by emailing: shakeresearch@gmail.com

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@voicesthatshake - bringing together young people, artists & campaigners to develop creative responses to social injustice.

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