Before you read the blog post, please consider making a donation to as many of the following deserving causes:
- BLAM Charity
- The Black Curriculum
- UK Black Pride
- Black Cultural Archives
- Black Lives Matter UK
- Black Minds Matter
- LGBT Foundation
- Show Racism the Red Card
- Stephen Lawrence Trust
- Stand Up to Racism
- Southall Black Sisters
- Stand Against Racism & Inequality
It’s been one hell of a year – and we’re not even halfway yet. I don’t think we’ve had even a moment to catch our breath, have we? Or did we, and I missed it? I don’t even know anymore.
To recap for posterity (because we all know what happened – unless you live under a rock which is possible given the disparity in wealth nowadays, in which case this could be informative):
We have been living in varying degrees of isolation and lockdown to control the rate of infection of the global SARS-COV-2 pandemic. Here in the UK, we had been locked down for approximately 70 days. People had begun losing the commitment to stay home, restrictions were beginning to be lifted despite general mistrust, and we were blessed with a week of sunshine. Then 2 major incidences were caught on phone cameras:
- Amy Cooper: Cover girl for Weaponised White Privilege Incarnate
- George Floyd: Yet another Innocent Black Man, suffocated to death by Police with impunity.
These two pieces of footage publicised within days of each other, during a prolonged period where we were all plugged into the internet to cope with lockdown restrictions. It was damning. To any person of colour, it was horrifically unsurprising. For all White people, it was simply horrific. Here was irrefutable evidence of White Supremacy.
The reaction that has been ignited is making history. In the last 24 hours of my typing, all 50 states of the US staged #BlackLivesMatter protests, along with cities in 18 other countries, making this the largest civil rights movement in history. For the first time, Black people are beginning to dare to think about thinking that the world as they experience it might, maybe, possibly change for the better.
But let’s not hold our breath. The status quo has been maintained for over five centuries after all…
The difference this time though is the call-out to all non-Blacks to step up as active allies. To self-educate, to look within ourselves for internalised racism, to realise that racism is not just outward hate with the intention to hurt, but it is also in those of us with good hearts and no evil intent: Those of us who enjoy diversity in workplaces, friendships and family; Those of us who have been carefully trying to avoid pointing out differences in other people believing this to encourage equality, but actually inadvertently erased our ability to see the prejudice and bias suffered by people living a very different existence.
It was time for me to face up to my privilege – an issue that has been brewing inside me for the last 2 years as it was becoming more evident to myself in my interactions and experience with my industry and beyond. My life experience as a British born Chinese female has included plenty of racism. But the racism I have experienced has been based on representing the Model Minority. Infact, Asian demographics have been historically exploited as a model minority to perpetuate the oppression of Black lives. And as a marginalised group ourselves, Asians maintain their own offensive racist outlooks in order to maintain the status quo because even though we have never been at the top of the power structure, we definitely don’t want to be at the very bottom of the power structure. The time has come for this long overdue change. We have work to do.
Where to even begin?
There are several suggestions from Black voices with varying levels of energy required so you can start at whatever is easiest for you. You don’t have to be perfect. You are not expected to get it right. But you are expected to do something, as it’s the SILENCE that is damaging:
- Listen: Listen to understand the lived experience of Black lives. Don’t ask them to tell you what you need to do. Don’t ask them for resources or race consultations. Just listen. And then you Google, you research; Do the work yourself
- Amplify Black Voices: When you cannot speak from personal experiences of racism (basically anybody of no colour) then amplify the voices and accounts of the Black voices you have been listening to
- Vote (US primaries just opened – the opportunity to vote in the diversity needed – less pertinent in the UK, as we are not currently scheduled for another general election until May 2024)
- Donate funds to charities and organisations supporting and funding the Black Lives Matter movement
- Campaign: Write to your local MP/representative, calling upon them to challenge the government on its systemic racism
- Protest: Maintaining social distancing and showing up to demonstrate solidarity with all Black Lives
- Educate: Read Race history books from the perspective of Black lives. Watch documentaries and stories from the perspective of Black lives.
- Have the difficult conversations: Yourself, and those in your sphere of influence, your family, your friends, your colleagues – maybe your check out assistant if you’re the chatty sort?! Have the difficult conversations. Question the outlooks that are based on the foundations of racism. Challenge your thinking process
- Buy from Black-owned businesses. With systemic racism, Black owned businesses will have had to work harder to match our successes. Make a difference by exercising conscious spending.
There’s plenty there for all of us to choose from. Take it a baby step at a time as burn out is very real (and I type this as I experience fatigue from working on resources for my socials) so remember to check in with yourself, keep your emotional and mental energy topped up because if you burn out, you can’t help anyone. Not even yourself.
And on that note, it is time for me to sign off this blog update and leave you with these ideas for action. I will be back imminently to begin sharing my own journey of self-education with you. I will be starting by amplifying melanated voices who have affected various areas of my life.
So until then, stay active, stay curious, and use your voice.
Silence = Violence.