Illustrations - Sarah Dahir, instagram.com/nawaal_illustrations
There has been a lot of support shared in response to the awful, senseless and distressing murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor – but there has also been a lot of people worried about what to say, what to share and how to react. For me, that’s easy – do it with emotion, proactiveness and most of all learning – you don’t have to be the first to react, you just have to make a stand and use your voice.
Firstly, as a white woman, I acknowledge my white privilege – I can go for a jog, I can go birdwatching, I can even get arrested without the fear of being murdered for the colour of my skin. Society gives me more privilege in this world just for being white – that’s a fact.
The Black Lives Matter movement isn’t about saying white people’s lives don’t matter, that white people don’t have hardships and struggles, to be honest, I can’t say this in a nicer way, this isn’t about you, this is about Black people who are in danger just for living their lives.
For those people at the back still not listening, this isn’t about all lives matter, that’s a given, this is about #BlackLivesMatter – this is about ensuring that all humans no matter the colour of their skin are treated equally with respect and to ensure that no one lives in fear.
Simply put, all lives can’t matter until Black lives matter!
This is also not just an American problem we have racism here in the UK – if you don’t think we do – ask yourself would you be happy to be treated how Black people and PoC are treated? I bet you say no, which means you know that there is a divide within our society – this is what needs to change.
There will be some people who can’t relate, they will state they aren’t a racist, and yes that’s good, no one should be a racist, but it is also not enough anymore. If we want to make lasting change – we all need to be anti-racist – we need to be more than allies to the Black and PoC community, we need to take action.
We can’t stay silent – we need to stand up, we need to be angry, we need to protest these injustices.
We need to educate ourselves and the people around us, both online and offline, we need to listen to PoC, understand their fears and their experiences, we need to actively diversify our own friendship circles not only in who we follow on social media but also in real life, we need to support Black businesses, designers, artists, writers etc., and most of all we need to take a stand against all forms of racism in our everyday lives.
Most importantly don’t forget this anger you are feeling about recent injustices – let this fire change that has been needed for such a long time.
It’s a privilege to educate yourself about racism rather than experiencing it and I really do believe that small actions can lead to big changes, you just have to be willing to keep up the momentum.
So, you posted your black square and wondering how you can make a positive and permanent change?
Well, for me I see the black square as a statement of solidarity and the start of the ongoing journey to become anti-racist. First, you have to listen, take in what your Black friends and the Black community are saying, reflect on your white privileged and channel that into educating myself. I really do believe that for lasting change, this has to be a personal journey, no one can force you to listen and learn, research and understand how we as white people need to rise to the occasion and help stamp out injustice and inequalities in our society to move forward as one.
Don’t burden Black friends, colleagues and influencer to teach you about racism!
I also believe that this is a journey that needs to happen both online and offline, yes share resources on your social platforms, but also talk to your friends, family and work colleagues, make anti-racism part of your conversation, yes it is uncomfortable but necessary. I found this article – ‘Eight Lessons for Talking About Race, Racism, and Racial Justice‘ really helpful as well as this series of Ted Talks to understand racism in America.
Other actionable steps – there are so many amazing articles, books, films, TV documentaries and Ted Talks on the history of Black oppression, systemic racism and how to become anti-racist.
Some free online resources that have helped me:
- TED Talk: How To Deconstruct Racism, One Headline at a Time
- Walking While Black by Garnette Cadogan
- White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack Peggy McIntosh
- Racism Defined. Dismantling Racism
- 75 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice
- How to Be an Ally if You Are a Person with Privilege by Frances E. Kendall
- White Fragility – The Conscious Kid
Books to read:
- White Fragility by Robin J. Diangelo
- How To Be An Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
For more books see this essential reading guide for fighting racism on Buzzfeed.
- Hope Not Hate
- Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust
- Black Protest Legal Support UK fund
- Stand Against Racism and Inequality
Petitions To Sign:
- Black Lives Matter Card has a great list of petitions to get you started
- The Fight for Breonna Taylor
Movies, TV shows and Documentaries to watch:
- The 13th – Netflix
- Dear White People – Netflix
- When They See Us – Ava DuVernay — Netflix
- I Am Not Your Negro – Amazon Prime
- Becoming – Michelle Obama – Netflix
- If Beale Street Could Talk
- LA 92 – Netflix
- Rodney King – Netflix
For more resources – these Google documents are very handy:
- Anti-Racist Resource Guide – Victoria Alexander
- Anti-racism resources for white people – Sarah Sophie Flicker, Alyssa Klein
- Resources for White People to Learn and Talk About Race and Racism – Nicola Carpenter
- Resources for Accountability and Actions for Black Lives – Carlisa Johnson
- Recommending Reading List – Robin DiAngelo
- Tools and Guides to Defend Black Lives
- A working document for scaffolding anti-racism resources – Anna Stamborski, Nikki Zimmermann, and Bailie Gregory
- Anti-Racism for Beginners
- Black History Google Doc
- Lesson Plan On Being An Ally – Autumn Gupta and Bryanna Wallace
How to Respond to Common Racist Statements:
Diversify Your Social Feeds
The final thing I wanted to mention on this blog post and the simplest of all action points is to diversify your social media feeds. How many Black creatives, influencers, designers, artists do you follow? Take the time to find Black voices to be inspired by and lift them up by sharing with your followers.
I’m working on another blog post about Black creators I love following as well as Black-owned businesses to get behind and support – I want it to be more than just a list, but why I love them, and why I think you will love them, so will probably come in a few weeks – but keep an eye out for it. But I did do a Twitter thread on some of my favourite Black-owned fashion brands.