Confirm Humanity

I haven’t posted anything yet about what’s going on in the world. Not because I don’t have anything to say but because there’s so much to say it’s like a Tsunami. Apart from everything else I’ve realised how much energy I use just trying not to make people feel uncomfortable. I hate confrontation but I have to say my piece.

I know that there will be some of you who don’t want your social media ‘messed up’ with ‘politics’. Let me tell you LIFE is politics, you might not like it but its reality.

Some of you who are thinking “oh it’s in America”, well, it may not be as horrific and as relentless as in the U.S. but racism is alive and well in the U.K. Also if you’re saying it’s nothing to do with me because …slavery, even a slight acquaintance with the history of most U.K. cities and legacy industries will reveal a link to slavery; and the attitudes of superiority which drove slavery, still drive racism today. In addition, we have our own list of those who did not survive an encounter with the police.

Some of you will be thinking “I know there’s racism, but I don’t have a racist bone in my body”. Let me tell you if you do and say nothing you are allowing the status quo to remain unchallenged. Saying you’re not racist is not the same as acting against racism.

What is Racism?

Have I experienced racial violence? Thankfully, no. Have I been verbally abused, yes, occasionally. If you think that racism is just about name-calling and some violence, think again, it’s more like a death of a thousand cuts where one look at me means white people routinely do things like follow me around shops, accuse me of trying to dodge the bus fare, telling me that I look suspicious or scary or unprofessional or that “You don’t sound black on the phone” or question, loudly enough for me to hear, why or how I can be booking a holiday or eating in a nice restaurant or a multitude of other reminders that I am not really “one of us”.

If I describe my life I’d probably be described as middle class here in the U.K. I have a degree, I’ve worked hard in healthcare, finance and education. I don’t rent my home. I enjoy LOTS of foreign travel, I go to theatre and eat avocado smoothies. I’m often expressing my thanks for the life I’ve built but it is always overshadowed by the fact that none of that makes me good enough in the eyes of some.

Things to consider.

If you use the phrases “playing the race card” or “…chip on your shoulder” you are deflecting and dismissing others’ lived experiences.

If you’re saying “All lives matter” it’s at best disingenuous, watering down the issue to save yourself from facing an unpalatable truth of our society which does not value Black lives as it does others. If all lives truly mattered to the same degree, we would not be where we are. It’s code for “Actually Black Lives don’t matter enough for me to want to talk about this.” At worst, this is a retort used to insinuate that a campaign to save Black lives is anti-white. Someone saying Black Lives Matter” is not suggesting that others lives don’t. If you need a bit more help try “Black lives matter too”.

If you cherry-pick the Martin Luther King quotes about non-violence, but have been silent about the reason this wave of protests started, you need to do a bit more homework about what MLK stood for.

If you’re upset about the way some people are protesting but silent about the reason they are protesting, you may want to consider your priorities: property vs people.

If you’re moaning about a statue of someone you probably never heard of before last week, ask yourself why is anybody celebrating slave owners in the 21st century?

Why does talking about racism makes so many people so uncomfortable? Why is it that you celebrate Pride, support LGBTQ issues openly, march for women’s rights, campaign for male suicide awareness (and don’t try to suggest I’m against any of these) but don’t want to get your hands dirty when it comes to challenging racism.

I know it’s hard and uncomfortable and exhausting and a lot of work, but it is about confronting things which you can change rather than turning away and saying this is somebody else’s problem or worse that it isn’t a problem at all. If you don’t know what to say or do about it, you can do something powerful just by learning more.

This wonderful image created by @jane_mount gives us a starter on what to read about race

I hope with all my heart that this is not just a flash in the pan and people are going to start…START… down the road to making this old news. I’m hoping people will confirm their humanity and let us have ours.

About LaineeMakes

I'm a teacher, a lifelong learner, a traveller, a maker, an adventurer and a 'want to do more' kind of gal.

19 Responses

  1. Oh my goodness – you nailed it with this statement: “I’ve realised how much energy I use just trying not to make people feel uncomfortable” – seems like my life everyday! Excellent post!!! Another important statement you made: “If you’re moaning about a statue of someone you probably never heard of before last week, ask yourself why is anybody celebrating slave owners in the 21st century?”

    Like

  2. Thank you and others for sharing… as a middle aged white woman who was raised in the Deep South, I can learn a lot hearing your voice and the voice of other women of color. Keep it up, please. I want to learn and change.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mary

    I sat in from of the tv for night and nights watching WHITE looters, thugs, smash store fronts and the media blaming the protesters, who were a mixture of ALL RACES in Phoenix. And I wondered how did we get so far down the wrong road? We had all the right intentions. I grew up in Chicago with riots, black riots, white riots, black power, and all these years later, we have learned NOTHING. This is America in the 21st century — this should not be happening here! But, I have learned, it is happening everywhere around the globe. How is it that nothing has changed after so many decades of civil rights legislation, voter rights, desegregation, laws against descrimination in hiring, education, housing.

    As I watched the murder of George Floyd, I felt I was in a surreal “other” world. The protesters in this world, however, we from all races, not just black protesters from my past experience. The protests and riots were frightening when I was young. They are frightening now. It took decades for the looted neighborhoods to recover in Chicago. Some never did. So many of us worked hard to make changes through the legal system to make things better. How did this not work?

    As for those statues, we have way too many of them honoring the wrong people. Fort Benning and Fort Bragg were both named after Confederate generals. Since these bases were set up for WW1, there was no reason for this, and there is no reason to keep these names honoring men who fought to keep a slave society intact. So many changes need to be made, and the biggest change needs to be in people’s hearts. That begins with one person at a time and with people who are willing to talk and share. So, Thank you for sharing.

    Please do not think badly of those of us who are silent and blame us for not being out there protesting. Many of us are old and weary. Our days of protests are over. It’s pretty obvious that my generation tried and did not succeed in changing things far enough. This new generation is the one who has to change things now. I, for one, am cheering them on. I hope that 50 years from now, they are not looking back and making the same observations that I have made.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mary

    I sat in front of the tv for night and nights watching WHITE looters, thugs, smash store fronts and the media blaming the protesters, who were a mixture of ALL RACES in Phoenix. And I wondered how did we get so far down the wrong road? We had all the right intentions. I grew up in Chicago with riots, black riots, white riots, black power, and all these years later, we have learned NOTHING. This is America in the 21st century — this should not be happening here! But, I have learned, it is happening everywhere around the globe. How is it that nothing has changed after so many decades of civil rights legislation, voter rights, desegregation, laws against descrimination in hiring, education, housing.

    As I watched the murder of George Floyd, I felt I was in a surreal “other” world. The protesters in this world, however, were from all races, not just black protesters from my past experience. The protests and riots were frightening when I was young. They are frightening now. It took decades for the looted neighborhoods to recover in Chicago. Some never did. So many of us worked hard to make changes through the legal system to make things better. How did this not work?

    As for those statues, we have way too many of them honoring the wrong people. Fort Benning and Fort Bragg were both named after Confederate generals. Since these bases were set up for WW1, there was no reason for this, and there is no reason to keep these names honoring men who fought to keep a slave society intact. So many changes need to be made, and the biggest change needs to be in people’s hearts. That begins with one person at a time and with people who are willing to talk and share. So, Thank you for sharing.

    Please do not think badly of those of us who are silent and blame us for not being out there protesting. Many of us are old and weary. Our days of protests are over. It’s pretty obvious that my generation tried and did not succeed in changing things far enough. This new generation is the one who has to change things now. I, for one, am cheering them on. I hope that 50 years from now, they are not looking back and making the same observations that I have made.

    Like

  5. Barbara Showell

    Here by way of Carolyn. Beautiful post. Lots of self examination going on, lots of fire in wanting to educate the misguided and just eliminate any stuck racists in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Margaret Freeman-Stubley

    Thank you for sharing. I’d like to hope we can find a way through all of the nasty, to a world where we all feel equal, but it feels hard at the moment…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I just wanted to say how often I have seen white people, secure in the belief that they are not racist, determine the validity of BAME experience. I can only hope this movement starts to truly challenge those ‘well intentioned’ assumptions. With hope Christine

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Rachel Lawson

    So grateful to Carolyn from Diary of a Sewing Fanatic linking to your post because it is excellent. Thank you! My friends and I were discussing many of these points yesterday and I’ll definitely be using this as a resource in follow up convos – thank you!
    Take good care, Rachel

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.