It’s easy to change a profile picture and write a hashtag…but it will take more than that to change anything.
I spent a great portion of my younger life growing up in a large multicultural area – an upbringing that gave me a good understanding of race…but also a good understanding of racism.
I can look back and think of friends that came out with things like “if she wasn’t black she’d be quite fit but I just don’t like black girls” and say that I deeply regret never challenging those people back then. For not challenging, it means I was complicit. It’s a guilt I have, a guilt I must own and a guilt I have to learn from…and, I think, I’ve done a lot to do that.
I will never know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of racism but I can make myself aware enough to see it and be willing to challenge it where I can.
Looking at what is happening in America is absolutely heartbreaking. And it’s ultimately very scary when you think it could easily happen here. There are still so many institutions that are blatantly rife with racism, there are still so many opportunities that are clearly blocked for black people – if you don’t believe me, look at football and black managers. Look at major business and count the number of black CEOs.
We live in an age where you can be lazy and still learn about racism and the history of racism in the States and the world. Sit on your sofa and watch 12 Years A Slave. Stick some headphones on and listen to Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’. It’s not hard to find a way to educate yourself that little bit more.
The looting and riots in the States are terrible. But these are the results of years of oppression, years of hate, years of anger and years of social and racial injustice. A footballer takes a knee and nothing changes. They march and nothing changes. So now they riot. They make noise. They get noticed. But the message begins to get lost and the division grows, driven on even more by their lunatic President. Trump will continue to push the narrative of the “thugs” on the streets, ignore the acts of police brutality we are seeing…and keep causing division. He stands with a Bible and preaches about the second amendment to get the support of a specific type of group…and they will be as far away from BAME as possible. It’s terrifying.
We are in a political landscape where, in this country, we seem happy to knowingly let our government lie to us and just carry on. Their response to the reaction to what is happening in the States is to postpone revealing information about Coronavirus and the higher death rates in the BAME community…and, even though they deny that information, Matt Hancock says “Black lives matter” and the rest of the country carries on. Equality, eh? How many outside of the BAME demographic actually care? Division exists.
It’s easy to change a profile picture. It’s easy to write a hashtag.
But, rather than do that, take an action. Do something that can bring change. Educate yourself. Educate your children. Listen to black voices. Talk to each other. Watch documentaries, read books, listen to music. Realise that black lives do matter…and move forward, together.
There surely would be no better way to pay tribute to the likes of George Floyd, Stephen Lawrence and countless others than by doing that. Together, as one.