This week has been an intense and emotional one. I, like many of you, witnessed American woman Amy Cooper weaponize her white privilege and then almost simultaneously watched George Floyd, another innocent black man die due to police brutality , moving thousands of people across the US and the world to protest in response to continual systemic racism- all against a backdrop of a global health crisis.
On Tuesday, myself and a huge proportion of people on social media came together to show solidarity for black lives, using the #BlackoutTuesday hashtag – a campaign that originated from black music industry executives Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas, who created the campaign to focus on the music industry, in which black artists play a large role) – a campaign that had held good intentions, but has now since sparked much debate . But how many of us are now going to extend that support and solidarity, beyond a single social media post? How many brands and businesses have made their statements, to demonstrate that they are on the side of social justice and today have let it become business as usual? How many of us are going to take action and create long term plans to eradicate racial injustice?
Of course, the increased consciousness on racism is a welcomed start, but it is only helpful if it is met with action, when policies change, less racism occurs, and more justice is found.
“In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.”
― Angela Y. Davis
To echo Angela Davis – it is not enough to be quiet in our non-racism; this is not the time to offer allyship that doesn’t go beyond the surface – we need to work towards anti-racism. Have you ever felt uneasy or fed up when hearing about yet another racist incident or seeing more people speak out against it, but how tired do you think people feel, when they experience it every single day?
I am grateful to work for an organisation that stands for people and planet. Who supports inclusivity of all forms, an organisation that aims to create change – but one who is honest in its own long term strategy to do better and understand how to use its platform to create space for black and brown creativity, innovation and passes the mic to amplify these voices.
To do better, we need to listen, to educate ourselves, to critically evaluate the cultures that exist in our houses and workplaces. We need to do the work, challenge our own opinions and assumptions, and understand our privileges. It is not enough anymore to be silent in our non-prejudice, to be passively empathetic. The fight against anti-racism is complex, but we can begin to understand it, the answers are found when you look for them and listen.
“If there is anything I have learnt, it’s that we can only fix this world together. But we can’t do it divided”
We can all play a part in creating radical change- addressing the rotten root of the problem. Change cannot be made now, by sitting back and being indifferent, change will happen when we collectively use our voices and powers to create it.
We must stop thinking and saying “I can’t believe this is still happening’… this has been happening for hundreds of years and we need to now break down the systems that have allowed it to continue for far too long.
We need to stop worrying about ‘saying the wrong thing’ and giving up because it is too difficult- it is not about our feelings right now; it is about something much bigger- we need to start learning and supporting others.
Be open to challenging yourself, your friends, and your peers. Let’s talk to our children about racial inequality. Let’s start having honest conversations about race (please can we start having honest conversations about race!) let us hold ourselves accountable and check our privileges. Anti-racism action requires us to face uncomfortable and uneasy emotions rather than avoiding them- because how can we grow and learn?
As tragic and frightening as this week has been, there is an opportunity for us as individuals and businesses to unite and create change. Read about racial inequality. Listen to and help to raise up black voices. Support black led businesses. Speak out loudly against racism.
Black lives matter and we need to back up our social media posts, hashtags with solidarity and tangible actions long after the attention dissipates.
Below you will find a list of suggested articles, books, programmes and social media accounts linked to anti-racism and racial justice.
Videos and articles
Rihanna NAACP award acceptance speech- such an impactful and eloquent speech – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZiyZ2rDdv8
Forbes on promoting racial justice in the workplace
‘Black people are hurt and killed by police without repercussions in the UK too’ https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/politics/article/george-floyd-uk-racism
‘The racism that killed George Floyd was built in Britain’
Saffron – a Bristol brown led organisation supporting womxn in the music industry have put together a list of useful links and resources linked to supporting and learning about BLM: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/17jbgGZBxLjSOSRK9D1h4vzZ3iG_5Jghm
UK Organisations and charities that you can support or access services from :
Black Lives Matter ( US)
Black Lives Matter ( UK)
Stop Hate UK – one of the leading national organisations working to challenge all forms of Hate Crime and discrimination, providing services and resources. https://www.stophateuk.org/
Show Racism the Red Card : the UK’s leading anti-racism educational charity. https://www.theredcard.org/
Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust : the Trust was founded to tackle inequality in all forms in memory of Stephen Lawrence who was killed in unprovoked racist attack. https://www.stephenlawrence.org.uk/
Runnymede Trust -: the UK’s leading independent race equality thinktank.
SARI (Stand Up for Racism and Inequality) Provides support for victims of any type of hate crime including racist, faith-based, disablist, homophobic, transphobic, age-based or gender-based. https://www.sariweb.org.uk/
13th – Documentary available on Netflix
When they see us – Limited drama series on Netflix
Fruitvale Station – Biographical drama film by Ryan Coogler available on Netflix
Time- The Kalief Browder Story- documentary series available on Netflix
Why I am no longer talking to white people about Race- Reni Eddo- Lodge
The Good Immigrant- Nikesh Shukla
Natives – Akala
And Still I Rise – Maya Angelou
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism – Michael Eric Dyson
Social media account suggestions
Black Lives Matter @Blklivesmatter
UK Black Lives Matter @ukblm
Layla Fsaad @laylafsaad
I Weigh @Iweigh
Munroe Bergdorf @Munroebergdorf
No White Saviours @nowhitesaviours
Rachel Cargle @rachel.cargle
Check your Privilege @Ckyourprivilege
Galdem Magazine @Galdem
Mona Chalabi @MonaChalabi
Azeema Magazine @azeemamag
Featured image artwork by Fuzzed Up Bear – https://www.instagram.com/fuzzedupbear/