This is the longest post I’ve ever written. It’s about Black Lives Matter and Why it is right the UK is angry about George Floyd and British Racism. It was written end of May when the emotion was still raw. Please stick with it til the end…
Today has been such a long day. The day after the week before.
I’ve had so many conversations in this last week. I’ve had more conversations about race in the last week then maybe the whole of the last 20 years put together. Discussions about racism and prejudice and black women and black men and what’s going on in America and what’s going on in the UK. Is it the same over here as over there and why are we getting angry in the UK about what’s happening in the US? Why do we care, why do we bother ? People telling me it’s not the same over here as there.
I have to say I’ve had so many conversations but it all comes down to the same thing. Yes in America they have lots of guns. We don’t have as many guns in the UK as they have in the US. But I don’t believe we need guns to commit violence. I do not believe we need guns to kill or maim. We don’t need guns to inflict lasting damage.
When I was a child growing up and going to primary school I did not need a child to have a gun or a knife for them to inflict wounds so deep and painful they would last a lifetime. When I was young there was a saying that sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me. I can tell you now that was absolutely bullsh*t. Names can and do hurt. Names that are repeated again and again and again and again do hurt. They can’t be forgotten.
So it isn’t just the physical abuses that people are bringing up and have been bringing up over the last week or ten days, it’s the emotional abuse.
It’s the fact that when you report to somebody what’s happened to you, you’re not believed. You’re accused of being “aggressive” or a “diva” or some other words used to silence you and keep you down.
It’s the fact you get forced out of jobs or Companies for being a troublemaker or calling out the bs.
And all this takes a toll. I would love to say that I have lots of white friends. The truth is it takes a long time for me to truly trust any friends but especially if they’re white. I have to ask why are they my friend? What do they want from me? And can they be trusted not to stick the knife in. And all these things take time and as I get older I realise I have less time. When somebody asks “how can I be less racist” what’s going through my mind is how much time do I have? This is a discussion that has been raging for over 100 years and yet people step forward now.
I spend my days doing long hours. I do the work finding out how to be a better person for me. I read books , I listen to music, I go onto YouTube, I do research and coaching. I know more about my white friends and colleagues, about their lives then i feel like they know about mine. All the TV programmes I watch are all about their lives. If there is a TV show full of black people will they just turn over and think it does not relate to them? I hope not now.
So what I’m saying is Black Lives Matter. We’re not at the point yet where all lives matter equally. It would be great but we’re not there yet. For us to get to that point where All Lives Matter all of us have to do the work and some people need to do more heavy lifting than others to find out about black people’s lived experience.
They have to teach their children about different cultures and shut down racism the instant it rears its head.
Dear White People,
We know so much about your lives but how much do you really know or care about ours?
And for those names that wouldn’t hurt me? They did hurt me and shaped the experiences of people in my family and of my friends growing up. This is what resonates and you can’t get rid of those experiences just like that. Maybe you can ask your black friend to share incidents with you but be aware they may still be traumatised by those experiences. Asking how you can be better aware or less racist can sound to them like a lazy way of going about it.
The honest truth is you can just do the research, you can just consume the media , read the books listen to the audio files, look on YouTube search on Google.
There’s lots of stuff out there.
At the moment there’s also a lot of suffering out there so rather than dig into somebody else’s pain, explore for yourself. Hopefully, you’ll get to a better place where you don’t have to keep asking. Open your Antennae to the world, and when you hear somebody talking about racism don’t shut them down. Listen to what they have to say. Read what they’ve asked you to read. Listen, ask questions but really listen.
Above all don’t assume you’re always right. Black Lives do matter and for all lives to matter we have to do the work. To not just be comfortable in our skin, step inside and get underneath somebody else’s. Spend a day in their shoes just try to imagine what it might just be like just for one day. Then multiply that, not just by years but decades . Decades of constant torture and trauma and abuse. Black Lives Matter but let’s work towards a day when all lives matter and when Black Lives are not characterised by physical violence and psychological abuse.