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Adri Bester

Interview with Adri Bester

Dr. Esmorie Miller is a Lecturer of Criminology in LSBU’s School of Law and Social Sciences. Esmorie’s work focuses on racialised youth in the justice system and how criminal labelling undermines their access to normative opportunities.

To start with, can you let us know what you do and why you are involved in the event series?

I am a Lecturer in Criminology. My main area of research is youth justice and I engage with a mixed methods approach to investigate concerns about racialized youth in the contemporary youth justice system. This includes archival, ethnographic, and survey methods. This event attracted me because it corresponds with a theme that informs my research: youth’s needs go beyond crime and punishment. We should be thinking more clearly about access to resources and opportunities.

Your session is titled: “Sustainable Routes to Resource Acquisition for Racialized Youth: Between Love, Rights and Solidarity". What can we expect from this?

The themes of love, rights and solidarity correspond with my aim to look beyond crime and punishment, and to consider access to opportunities and resources for youth. Love, rights and solidarity each represents a primary institution through which modern individuals access resources – love concerns the family; rights include institutions like the law, but also education; and solidarity relates to the wider society. As we know, these are also frameworks wherein some like racialized youth struggle. I take the perspective that these struggles occur because of the punitive approach we take with youth, due to the crime and punishment focus. I am using the love, rights and solidarity framework to help map out a path for how we might move past crime and punishment, by reorienting the focus on access to resources and opportunities.

Thinking about the events of this year in the light of the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement and the world’s spotlight on systemic racism, what advice do you have for our students across the LSBU Group and young people generally?

I have come across some pessimism in conversations with students. The main current from students has been the lack of the structural change necessary to overcome racial inequality. One student asked me what difference I think Black Lives Matter (BLM) would make. She listed a number of previous movements, including the Black Panthers and wondered why BLM would find more success. I have a long response that I will not give here. But I suggested that we do have to keep going, evolving our approaches in the struggle for equality. Angela Davis said it well: Freedom is a Constant Struggle. I believe that an important tool of oppression is the pessimism and loss of hope of the oppressed. We need to remember this every time we feel like throwing in the towel.

As well as being a lecturer, you also write poetry! What inspires you in your work?

Our lives are informed by creativity. I am inspired by the people I have spoken to and places I have been. I find it fascinating to use poetry as one of the ways to document social experiences. I think it helps to contextualise the struggles individuals face within the social structures that individuals negotiate daily. This is part of my thinking that our actions are neither autonomous nor uncanny; they are informed by all that is around us.

What message would you have for our audience regarding the importance of equality when thinking about sustainability and the climate crisis?

We are all in this together. Let us all stop being selfish. We cannot all afford to buy underground bunkers or escape to Mars (such as that would be, given that the Martian air is not breathable). Past generations made some mistakes, thinking about technology and progress instead of sustainability. We know better now, and we are in a position to do better. Let us work together.

Esmorie’s session was on 15 January 2021 on the day devoted to ‘Equality’.

For more information on this event, visit the event page.