Black lives matter today, tomorrow and every single day after that. All lives can not matter until all black lives matter.
In all honesty, I was hesitant to write something about the current situation regarding the brutal police murders and the Black Lives Matter protests that spread from America to many other parts of the world. As a white, privileged girl from Central Europe, who has grown up in a loving, accepting, and financially stable family and never experienced problems such as poverty or hunger I was halting to talk about the racial injustice plaguing the black community. People of colour have always had to fight for their place in this world, for their rights, for space to breath, and they are tired. They are tired of being held down, belittled and killed by white supremacy. However, how would I, as a person who has never experienced racism, be able to understand how the black community truly feels about these heinous events?
Nonetheless, throughout the past few weeks of informing myself about historical, systemic and institutional racism, I realised, I no longer want to be part of this messed up system by staying silent. It is not solely up to people of colour to create change in this regard. White people created this destructive system over generations through active participation and silencing the cries of the unheard, and white people, therefore, need to be part of the solution. Especially in a law enforcement structure like the one in America, it approximates an impossibility for black people to rise on their own and break this system. The USA can be considered one of the strictest nations when it comes to denying the right to vote to citizens convicted of a crime. One in thirteen African Americans of voting age is disenfranchised, which equals a rate more than four times greater than that of non-African Americans. This adds up to approximately 3.6 million black people unable to vote for change in America. And even though America is an exemplary model for all things discrimination and injustice, racial inequality can be found in every part of the world.
White silence is violence
Silence is violence, and I will no longer be part of this mess of a system by staying silent while black people are being killed, simply because they are born with a different complexion. Nobody chooses the colour of their skin, but everyone needs to live with it. Particularly because – to say it in the words of Jane Elliot, known for her “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” experiment, during an interview at the Red Table Talk – white people are merely “faded black people”. In the aforesaid episode of the television talk show, Jane Elliot furthermore said: “Y’all came from the same black women 300,000 to 500,000 years ago. The human race began with black people. […] We are all 30th to 50th cousins because we all have the same black, great-great-great-great-grandmother back there, 300,000 to 500,000 years ago. So, get over the idea that you are white. There’s one race. The human race.”
Notwithstanding, while we are all human and biologically the same, the experience of black people every single day is vastly different from white people due to the systemic oppression. If you say you “do not see colour”, this means, you do not see the marginalisation, discrimination and hardship people of colour are facing daily. To “not see colour” equals ignorance towards the inequality of people with a non-white complexion and diminishes their suffering. To “not see colour” excuses white people from their responsibility to be anti-racist, even though that is necessary to combat racism.
Say their names
Sadly, but truthfully, there are hundreds and thousands of people discriminated against and treated brutally and unfairly all over the world due to the amount of melanin in their skin. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Tyler, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Gardner, Philando Castile, Justin Howell and Sean Monterrosa. These are merely a few names of people killed by police in the last number of years in America, next to hundreds of unknown murders through policemen. Killings by people who are supposed to protect the population.
The police in America have not proven a point of trying to change and turn more peaceful in the last couple of weeks. At the anti-police brutality demonstrations, the police have shown violent behaviour again and again and again. Even though peacefully protesting, several people have been killed by the police as well as racist white supremacists. David McAtee, Dave Patrick Underwood, Chris Beaty, Dorian Murrell, Italia Kelly, Calvin Horton Jr., Javar Harrell, Victor Cazares, Sean Monterrosa, David Dorn and James Scurlock, to only name a few. Not to mention the many more that have been harmed in other ways, using chemicals or through brutal arresting.
Who run the world?
We all run this motha – no matter our skin colour, gender, financial status etc. -, and we all need to fight for a world in which the myth of white supremacy is not rooted in our education or systems of the state, healthcare and law. But for that to happen, we all need to act and fight for civil and human rights.
However, how do you create change to move the world?
We live in an age of constant information sharing. Photos, videos and texts shared in a matter of milliseconds from one side of the world to the other. Ignorance toward gaining information, therefore, is a choice. It is a privilege to learn about racism, rather than experience it every single day. Accordingly, as a white person, you need to inform yourself about the unjust system created against coloured people. There are hundreds and thousands of resources you can gain knowledge from about how to help the black community through donations, protests and conversations: Interviews with black people, books, documentaries, articles, YouTube videos, …
Movies and series include “Explained: The Racial Wealth Gap”, “Time: The Kalief Browder Story”, “When They See Us”, “13th” and “Who Killed Malcolm X”. If you prefer books, you should read “Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race” by Reni Eddo-Lodge, “Just Mercy: A Story Of Justice And Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson, “Me And White Supremacy” by Layla F. Saad, “Sister Outsider” by Audre Lorde, “Girl, Woman, Other” by Bernardine Evaristo and “Black Feminist Thought” by Patricia Hill Collins.
Moreover, if you are one to fancy podcasts, then you should spend some time listening to “About Race”, “Come Through With Rebecca Carroll”, “The Diversity Gap”, 1619″ by The New York Times, “Code Switch”, “Pod Save The People” and “Global News Podcast”. Other great podcasts include “In Good Company”, “Founders Unfound”, “Tech Forward”, “Diversity In Tech With Joanna Udo”, “Innovation For All”, “Racism At Work”, “Techish” and “Side Hustle Pro”.
Education, the world-changer
Publicity is the key in trying to educate others and eradicate these toxic systems that have been built to destroy those without white complexion. The least you can do is repost the millions of Instagram posts or Twitter messages helping people spread the message. Obviously, you are not obligated to share these ideals but at least reflect, why you do not want to. The refusal to post about this topic is, at its core, a refusal to give up your comfort. A refusal to give up your power as a privileged individual.
The fear of “getting political” on your platform is, in the end, a racist act. No matter how many times you tell yourself you are not, racial justice is not merely a political issue – it is an ethical and humanitarian one. Black people are being killed for the colour of their skin, the amount of melanin in their skin – it is about human lives.
Are you worried about what peers or family will think and how they will treat you? If they fight you, make fun of you or “unfriend” you, they and their world view are the problems, the oppressors in need to be fought. It is time to get uncomfortable. Racism is not comfortable for those who have to experience it every single day. If you want to make some change in this messed up world, you will need to have very uncomfortable conversations with racist or uninformed people around you. No matter if family, friends or strangers: If someone makes a discriminatory remark or acts on racist believes, you need to speak up, interfere immediately, do something. People will most definitely disagree with you, you might lose friends or disassociate yourself from family members, but you should not tolerate racist behaviour.
In case you are nervous about not being educated enough or being part of a conversation you are not ready for, that is a valid concern, but not a valid excuse. There is no excuse for staying silent while black people die. Do the work and educate yourself.
I personally have found the following video titled “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man Pt. 1” by the Nigerian-American NFL player Emmanuel Acho very informative as it addresses several essential aspects around this topic.
If you have the financial means, then donating is the bare minimum you can do. Support local or international organisations that strive for the eradication of white supremacy and the construction of power to intervene in violence inflicted on black communities by vigilantes and the state. Bail funds are another option for donations as they help protesters to be released quickly in case of an arrest. Following are several options to donate to, and with your own research, you will find hundreds more to support your own community:
If donations are not a possibility for you, then enter “Stream To Donate” into YouTube. You will find several videos you can watch to support the equal rights for black people. The money raised through the advertisements in these videos is donated to different organisations supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Furthermore, several of these videos consist of music, art, poetry or other content by black people in a means to shine a light on the talent of the people in this community.
Moreover, you need to demand accountability from your leaders and law enforcement. You can do this by signing petitions like the ones I listed below, by attending demonstrations or whatever other options you come up with.