‘So, though I am centering the white voice, I am also using my insider status to challenge racism. To not use my position this way is to uphold racism, and that is unacceptable; it is a “both/and” that I must live with.’ –Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility
It’s been nearly three weeks since George Floyd, a black American man, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota by a Police man. His hands were cuffed behind his back and he was lying on the floor on his front, he couldn’t move and still Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for minutes after George lost consciousness. I don’t need to tell you this, the whole world knows this.
George Floyd is just one of many black men who have been murdered by Police in America but let’s not pretend this is an American problem. Racism runs deep in British roots; The UK only stopped paying former slave owners compensation for the loss of slavery in 2015. Let that sink in. In 2018 the Windrush Scandal saw hundreds of Caribbean immigrants, who had lived and worked in the UK for years and years, wrongly targeted by immigration enforcement, resulting in many elderly people losing jobs, healthcare rights and access to government services. In case you didn’t know, and thanks to our education system many people don’t, shortly after WWII when Britain was trying to recover the ruins that war reaped, the HMS Empire Windrush brought large groups of West indian immigrations to the UK. Between 1948 and 1970 hundred of thousands of people from the Caribbean were invited to the UK under the British Nationality Act 1948 and were given the right to settlement.
The world has been protesting in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and social media is alight with footage, information, awareness and an overwhelming amount of accountability. For a while it felt like the White world was finally starting to wake up and take responsibility of the privilege’s we’ve enjoyed for hundreds of years…And then a group of white racists took to London today to defend the statue of Winston Churchill – do you reckon any of them actually know who he even is? I doubt. Do you think any of them can spell Churchill? Unlikely.
I’ve spent the last three weeks trying to coherently gather my thoughts to write something here and i’m still struggling. I’ve posted occasionally on Instagram but it feels a lot like virtue signalling, something that seems to be spreading through social media like wild fire. Like everyone else I’ve made an effort to read, have difficult conversations and donate to important causes but it’s not enough and let’s be honest, the black community doesn’t need the verbal support of blonde white girls who blogs as a hobby. I’ve seen a lot of influencers panic-posting a tonne of content on their profiles and whilst everyone’s heart is in the right place, at what point is it seen as patronising and insincere? On the other hand, any voice with a following should be advocating basic human rights, right? But why is it only happening now? I ask this hypothetically, I’ve never vocalised my support for the Black Lives Matter movement on social media before this, so who am I to judge how anyone chooses to show their support? Now is as better time than any to be loud, rather than silent.
It is embarrassing though, to know that only now, when we’re being so openly called out, are white people declaring their intention to educate themselves and others to be anti-racist. I include myself in that list of people; I started reading Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, written by Reni Eddo-Lodge a long time ago and I stopped reading it, not because I didn’t like, or agree with the book, it came down to pure laziness. A blatant example of white privilege. I’ve since devoured the book and made vehement promises to do better.
And yet, I haven’t been to the protests. I’ve never been to any protest and i’ve spent much of the last few weeks wondering whether my intentions are really true, if I haven’t chosen to physically stand with others in peaceful protest. but it’s in these questions where i’ve laid out my long term intentions, my private pledges to society.
We can’t individually change the world but there are things that literally every single person can do to improve the world. Call out your racist friends and family members, don’t just advocate but actively work to improve diversity and inclusivity in your work place, educate your children (especially white children), support causes that seek justice and don’t support companies that are known to benefit from systemic racism.
It’s not all we can do, but it’s a start.