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.
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.