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Falling Behind

by Andrew Hartley 12 months ago in activism

It's so easy to do in times like these....

That is especially when we live in a world as crazy as this one. Racist systems and corrupt politicians manage to continuously and successfully blind millions into going about their days being ignorant to the blatant racism that occurs every single day.

Despite this, the straw has finally broke the camel’s back and it has come in the form of the brutal murder of George Floyd. The response that has followed and continues to follow this atrocity has been nothing short of incredible and it has taken me to a point of huge realisation; I have so much to learn and I need to get on with learning it.

It says it all that people are willing to go out in the midst of a pandemic to protest for what is right - this is more than just one death, it is years and years of injustice.

In recent weeks I’ve flicked through social media, read through news articles, signed petitions and shared plenty of advice on what more white society can do to combat racism in all of its forms. However, this is nowhere near enough. The truth is, I never usually respond in this way after seeing something as shocking as the murder of George Floyd plastered all over mainstream media and I know I’m not the only one.

After discovering so much over the last month, I’ve been left in a state of confusion. I’m angry and I’m upset, I’m disgusted at the past and I’m fearful for the future. I’m going through every emotion under the sun when I read reports about atrocities just like the murder of George Floyd and as much as people like to say it; these scenes don’t just occur in the US but everywhere in the world. Sometimes, I feel guilty for not doing enough in my past and at other times I feel optimistic at the response that we’ve seen. Despite my emotions and confusion, one feeling that I do know for certain is that on this occasion, I will not sit here and be silent.

Some of the most important people in my life are black. So why in the past have I been so inactive and reluctant to discuss racism and the oppression of black people? I feel that it’s because of a lack of knowledge, the media don’t report it, schools don’t teach it and it is never discussed as an important issue. I mean let’s be honest, we only found out about George Floyd because somebody recorded the whole thing.

An edit by @thepanafrican posted to instagram - this speaks volumes and it is one of many eye opening posts on her page, give her a follow and start learning. https://www.instagram.com/p/CAq4u1IBBDD/

Nobody is born a racist, it is learned and it is taught by either racist parents/peers, a closed minded society or through a system that has deeply rooted problems. So what about anti-racism? How can we teach that and move forward into the future, teaching ourselves and the younger generation how to battle the issue of racial oppression? I don’t think there is one definitive answer to that. However, one thing is for sure, it starts with us as a society working together to actively discuss racism, to immerse ourselves in black history, to be prepared to be uncomfortable, to learn about the history of white supremacy and to listen to what black people have to say.

The saying goes ‘there is strength in unity’ and that has never rang truer.

A snap from protests in the UK, sights that have marked moments of history - Some people may not be able to attend them but it is imperative that everybody is supported and not criticised in their attempts to make a difference.

Personally I think the first thing that many of us can do is simply listen. Whether that's paying attention through reading, through watching videos, listening to interviews or even talking to friends that have grown up in and around the struggle of racial oppression. The truth is, white people will never ever know what it's like to go through any of it so we can’t relate but if we take the time to listen then that learning process can begin and that is a step in the right direction.

Racism is complex, it's much more than verbal abuse or prejudice. Racism is systematic and it’s taken too long for a large proportion of society to realise this. As a white, straight, British male I will rarely feel unsafe roaming the streets at night, I will never be followed around a shop due to racial profiling and I will certainly never be looked over when applying for a job simply because of the colour of my skin. These aren’t the only issues to discuss but they are simple, everyday issues for black people in areas all over the globe.

The question is, how can we expect to get anywhere near tackling the problem when we have governments that offer no position of power to anyone that is black. It is simple, if any part of the world is going to take steps forward then we need more ethnic minorities in high profile positions. In a world currently governed by the likes of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, it is always going to be difficult to create change in these areas but with enough public pressure, who knows what could happen?

We can do much more than simply post a black tile on instagram or share a #blacklivesmatter post and we’ve proved that lately. Over the past week or so, there have been many calls to make black history mandatory in schools, several pleas to enter books on the issue of white supremacy into the school curriculum and there has been an influx of pressure being applied to MPs and people in positions of power. This has been done through several channels such as emails, social media posts and as we’ve seen consistently in recent weeks, protests. It is imperative that this energy is maintained and not just for the next few weeks but for life, that is the only way that change can occur.

Not everybody is able to contribute through protesting or donating and if you are one of those people, you can 100% still make a difference, you just need to look in the right places.

Tools you can use to get started

Everybody has a different way of learning, what works for me might not necessarily work for you. However, one of the blessings of growing up in this era is that great educational sources are just a couple of clicks away. There are useful sources all around us including books, podcasts, series, instagram pages, websites, documentaries, petitions and much much more. It’s hard to know where to start so I’ve made a list below of the best links and sources I’ve seen this week, if you’re struggling on where to look then they will help a damn lot (especially if you’re in the UK).

https://uk.lush.com/article/lush-library-recommends-bame-authors-have-your-reading-radar

- ‘Each recommendation has been written by a BAME (black, asian, minority ethnic), some sharing their experiences of growing up in white Britain, others exploring how segregation continues to, even now, form the basis of the structure of today’s society.’

- Reading is a great place to start educating yourself and if you don’t have a clue where to start when it comes to finding important books on the matter then look no further because this is an informed and detailed list of books written by BAME authors.

Black Lives Matter: ‘BLM is a call to action & response to anti-Black racism. Join the movement.’

- Website: https://blacklivesmatter.com/

- Insta: https://www.instagram.com/blklivesmatter/

- Twitter: https://twitter.com/Blklivesmatter

The Black Curriculum: ‘We teach Black British History in schools and out of schools to young people around the UK, - all year round using a range of art forms.’

- Website: https://www.theblackcurriculum.com/action

- Insta: https://www.instagram.com/theblackcurriculum/

- Twitter: https://twitter.com/CurriculumBlack

https://www.marieclaire.com/fashion/a32729106/black-owned-businesses/

- A great way to support black-owned business that will help light the spark in creating change.

Das Penman - https://www.instagram.com/das.penman/

- She has been sharing a lot of advice on where to look and how to help contribute to the fight against racism, I have taken a lot from her instagram page and I’m sure it can help you too.

WE THE URBAN: ‘Celebrating inclusivity, self-love, & marginalized voices. Our posts have been proven to increase your power by 1000%’

- Website: https://www.wetheurban.com/ryan-keith-cover

- Insta: https://www.instagram.com/wetheurban/

- Twitter: https://twitter.com/WeTheUrban

Parliament Petitions - https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/301079

- Get yourself to the parliament petition site so you can contribute to petitions like this one! There are thousands of petitions that can be signed which could lead to dramatic changes, especially in the UK. Remember, it will only go to the house of commons if it is a petition on this site and NOT on change.com

https://www.newspostleader.co.uk/read-this/you-can-sign-these-black-lives-matter-petitions-online-enact-change-home-2878585#gsc.tab=0

- A great article on specific petitions that UK residents can sign to help the cause.

Dissect Podcast Series One - https://dissectpodcast.com/tag/to-pimp-a-butterfly/

- You can also find this on Spotify. If you’re anything like me then you can learn a lot through music, especially hip hop and this podcast breaks down Kendrick Lamar’s album, To Pimp a Butterfly, it makes for an extremely interesting and educational listen.

Murkage Dave

- Another musical figure, he has attended several protests over the past couple of weeks and he has shared his insights along with posting links to educational sources revolving the BLM movement. He has also released a single that you can buy digitally for £1 with all proceeds going to Black Minds Matter; an organisation making mental health topics relevant and accessible for all black people in the UK.

- Twitter: https://twitter.com/murkagedave

- Track: https://weneedtolookafterus.bandcamp.com/track/weird-kid-in-the-ends-mike-skinner-demo-2

There are plenty more sources out there, but these places may be a great starting point if you are as uneducated as myself on matters. It is so positive to see so many people caring for once, let's hope we can keep this energy up, keep campaigning, keep learning and keep fighting against the ugly systems that we live in. I hope to read this post in the near future and at least know that I have educated myself and that society has seen a positive change in the battle against racial oppression, my fingers are crossed and my thoughts are hopeful.

activism
Andrew Hartley
Andrew Hartley
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