I have been watching, with horror, the events unfolding in the USA over the last week. To say I understand, would make me part of the problem; I don’t understand fully the pain of these communities, as I can never have the lived experience of a black person. I can listen, learn, empathise and I can help to educate other white people, whilst educating myself, as to why Black Lives Matter. #BlackLivesMatter
History, right up to the very present day, has recognised, and put central, white achievements, and the fact that as white people we do not realise it ourselves is a direct effect of our privilege. For me, just being able to walk to the shop or school, without fear, gives me that entitlement. If you are black, or a POC, this doesn’t happen – you cannot forget the effect racism has on our society because that effect is a constant in your life. I cannot imagine having to have a conversation with my young children, explaining what to do around authority to keep yourself safe and protected, because the majority of authority will be prejudiced against you, yet this is the reality of where we are today. There are no “good cops” and “bad cops.” There are no “racists” or “non-racists.” There is only a justice system so ingrained with racism that to try and separate the two is impossible. This is a blatant case of white people violently assaulting black people because of the systematic white-supremacy that runs deep within our society.
I have no words to convey my feelings over what is happening to black and brown people all over the world, but it HAS to stop. Now. This is unacceptable. To not speak up about this would make me part of the problem- now is not the time to be complacent, now is the time to show support, be vocal, be active. What started off as peaceful protests have been forced into violence by the very figures decrying protestors for their violence. I am not claiming ‘all lives matter’, because we live in a society where no one has to remind the people in power that I, as a white person, matter. I am shouting that #BlackLivesMatter.
June marks the start of #Pride month and we must also remember the role that the LGBTQA+ community have played in the BLM movement; starting with Black-trans activist Marsha P. Johnson proclaiming that “the streets belong to the people” as she, along with Puerto Rican-trans activist Sylvia Rivera, argued that Black and Latinx transgender youth living in New York City have a right to walk up and down streets without threat or harm from everyday folk or police officers (Green Jnr, 2019). Queer communities are inextricably linked with protests and riots, and with the struggles of others as well. To turn your back on people who are suffering from violence at the hands of the state but to celebrate your people’s fight for freedom and acceptance against the very same violence is an incredibly harmful case of ignorance and selfishness. I speak from what I know, and what my family experience, and I know that the power and empathy of the LGBTQA+ community must be extended to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The #BlackLivesMatter movement started with the murder of Trayvon Martin, 17, in 2012, but we need to remember everyone who has suffered, everyone who has died, both before Trayvon and after. As white people, we need to stand up to insidious racism and say ‘no more’. It is not the time to be quietly ‘not racist’- now is the time to be vocally ANTI-racist.
- Educate ourselves on the history of why Black Lives Matter- look it up, read about it for yourself. Don’t just go on what you have heard or been told; it might not be accurate.
- Don’t put the responsibility of your education and action onto black people – to have to explain the history of your people’s oppression and defend your actions is exhausting – educate yourself using pre made online resources, from folks who have the time and energy to share.
- Think critically about what you see and what you post. While the video of George Floyd’s murder is an important piece of evidence, and it will certainly have shocked many white viewers into action, be mindful of sharing this sort of video. For black people on the internet now, it is very difficult to avoid incredibly graphic footage of people being murdered for being black – the toll this takes on their mental health is huge. Prioritise constructive action and be mindful of how helpful to the movement what you post is. Would you be as comfortable sharing a video of a white man being murdered?
- Recognise our white privilege- this is not a case of denying our difficulties, everyone experiences difficulties in life, the difference is that we don’t risk being murdered for ours.
- Educate the people around you – share the experiences of black people, work to combat casual racism. But don’t make this all about you – Raise Up black voices, don’t speak over them.
https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet If you can afford to donate to show your support
https://minnesotafreedomfund.org help with bail bonds to enable
https://www.vogue.co.uk/arts-and-lifestyle/article/black-lives-matter-reading-list a really good list of books to read to gain more knowledge of what is happening and why.
https://www.newsfromnowhere.org.uk/books/DisplayBooklist.php?BookListID=372 A great list of Anti-racist books to share with your little ones.
Green Jnr, D. B. (2019, February 6). Hearing the Queer Roots of Black Lives Matter. Retrieved from Medium: https://medium.com/national-center-for-institutional-diversity/hearing-the-queer-roots-of-black-lives-matter-2e69834a65cd