When I woke up today I did not think I’d be writing this blog.
It’s the weekend of the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival in Dorset, UK, and due to Covid-19 it has gone digital this year, so I intended to spend the day joining in online.
Of course the Festival commemorates six men, who formed a trade union in 1834 to protest about their poor pay, and who were sentenced to seven years’ transportation to Australia. Their story is here.
Some of the weekend’s sessions are covering the importance of equality, education and human rights – all areas of huge interest to me.
So, I logged on to my social media accounts and noted that today was #MandelaDay2020. Two more events then focussed my mind on the #BlackLivesMatter movement in particular.
I discovered that in the last 24 hours two civil rights icons had died in the US after spending their whole lives fighting injustice and inequality.
Read about them, their lives are remarkable.
If you don’t want to read about them then watch a film such as “Selma”. They were there in the frontline being beaten and bloodied. John Lewis suffered a fractured skull whilst peacefully protesting and the Rev C T Vivian was punched in the face by the Sheriff.
Now I don’t pretend to be any kind of expert on racism but I do try to be informed and I want to be part of the solution not part of the problem.
One of the things that has happened for me since the killing of George Floyd in the US on May 25th is that I have understood the importance of not just “not being a racist” but the importance of being anti-racist and being an ally in the fight for equality.
I have seen some real anger on social media about the Black Lives Matter movement by white people exclaiming that All Lives Matter.
Of course they do. But this argument is based around a simple misunderstanding because no BLM advocate is saying only black lives matter or that black lives matter more. Whilst some of those arguing are doing so intentionally to be inflammatory I do believe that many just don’t “get it”.
And they don’t “get it” because they prefer an easy life, a life of white privilege. They choose to remain uninformed, make no effort to understand where the movement has come from and why it was, and still is, so necessary.
I know some people on social media who share racist memes. These are often obvious but are sometimes really quite subtle and are nearly always created by far-right racists.
When I spot it I challenge politely and ask them why they have posted it.
I then attempt to explain why what they have posted is racist/unacceptable/inflammatory/incorrect and sometimes they are horrified and remove the offending post.
Usually though my comments are ignored.
Either way I am unsure if they have really engaged in the conversation and whether their future behaviour will change.
But today, in 2020, I have a moral obligation to speak out. And if you are reading this and are white then so do you.
I understand that white people are sometimes nervous to speak out because they are concerned they might say the wrong thing. But it has to be far better to speak out, be corrected and learn from that than to try to ignore institutional and systemic racism and just post another photograph of your evening meal on Facebook.
So, I decided to write this blog to share a few useful links. It will then always be available to me to share on racist Facebook posts which need to be challenged.
Please feel free to share this link if you want to help others understand why we cannot just say “All Lives Matter” until the day that “Black Lives Matter” to the same degree.
Watch the trailor for Selma here.
George Floyd information here.
A brief history of racism.
An excellent explanation of racism using sexism as the example.
Can white people experience racism?
Do I need to be actively anti-racist?
How to overcome tribalism and help the human race.