The Cephas Williams Undertaking accommodates letters from black boys to their future selves
Cephas Williams and the mental health charity Mind of Hammersmith, Fulham, Ealing and Hounslow in London have teamed up a year after the murder of George Floyd to spread a message of hope for black boys in the community.
The World I Want to See is a collection of letters that emerged from a series of workshops jointly conducted by Williams and professionals from HFEH Mind. In the workshops, black boys wrote letters to their older selves about the world they would like to see and what they need to do to create it.
By writing, it was hoped the boys could explore and process their thoughts and feelings, especially considering the impact of the pandemic and the shocking murder of George Floyd last year. In addition to reflecting on the past, the boys were asked to write about the type of world they would like to see, what needs to change in the world to make it a better place, and who they need to be to be to achieve this vision a reality.
Williams was central to the project and workshops, sharing his own journey – of both struggles and successes – as a young black man growing up in London. As part of the program, HEFH Mind links key points in Williams' history with issues relating to mental health and wellbeing.
For the poster series, Williams also photographed eight of the boys, with the pictures attached to the letters on the posters shown on Clear Channel websites across the UK.
The project follows Williams' Letter to Zion, a public letter to his son who was born to George Floyd during the protests and expresses his hopes and dreams for his son's future. His letter and the picture of him holding his son were featured on billboards across the country last year. Last year Williams also launched Let's Not Forget, a campaign in response to Floyd's death and the protests he sparked.
"It's great to see an organization like HFEH Mind taking the conversation about people in the black community seriously," says Williams. “After all of the commitments companies made over the last year and the visibility of the Black Community, it is obvious that we are far from where we need to be and that we now need to focus more than ever on emotional wellbeing mental resilience of people in the black community and the unresolved trauma that many of us have faced for years.
“From this program it has become even clearer that many of the boys do not see this light often at the end of the tunnel and even within their generational experience, or observe discrimination and racism in the education system and in society at large. It is important that this work does not stop there, but rather changes the education system significantly to promote the well-being of the black boys affected. "
HFEH Mind creates a toolkit in consultation with the Black Boys participating in the workshop and the co-production group of the charity's service users. The toolkit will take inspiration from the world I want to see and better equip schools to fight racism and support those affected.
To learn more about the toolkit, visit hfehmind.org.uk