We are living in such strange and uncertain times – the world as we know it has changed dramatically over the past few months, from the Australian bush fires, to COVID-19, to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the Black Lives Matter protests. We are hearing and seeing news stories all the time about the inequalities that the COVID-19 crisis has unearthed, and watching the Black Lives Matter protests drawing crowds of thousands, fighting for racial equality, despite being in the middle of a global pandemic. This is a human emergency.
It’s left a lot of us feeling unsure and helpless. So what can we do? Want to do something positive on anti-racism and all other forms of discrimination but not sure how? It can be super daunting, but it’s important – and the right thing to do. The Power to the People! webinar explores allyship and activism in 2020, and provides information on how we can all become better allies to marginalised groups. This session will help you to understand your own place in the world and equip you to stand in solidarity against inequality.
Here's a few main points from the video:
What is Black Lives Matter? – and why do we say that?
Black Lives Matter is an international human rights movement which campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people. Systemic racism is not just a United States thing. It’s here in the United Kingdom too. Black people are systematically discriminated against worldwide. All lives will matter when #BlackLivesMatter. We say Black Lives Matter because black lives should matter as much as white lives do, and it doesn’t mean that other lives don’t matter. We are focussing specifically on the discrimination that Black people face in our societies. Saying “all lives matter” takes the attention away from Black lives, who are the ones in danger. Black people are disproportionately impacted by systematic racism and police violence in both the UK and US.
Here’s an easier example to explain it. Saying “all lives matter” is like going to the doctor with a broken leg, and the doctor saying “all bones matter”. Yes, all bones do matter – but the broken leg needs attention first. That is why we use the specific phrase “Black Lives Matter”.
Privilege and our space in the world
Privilege is invisible to those who have it and it’s really important to understand our own privileges in our quests to become allies. Understanding our personal power and privileges is an opportunity, and nothing to feel guilty for. Guilt isn’t helpful. We can’t help who we are and what world we were born into. It’s a powerful tool to foster empathy with others, increase our understanding and play a part in correcting some of the injustices in society. Skip to 8:30 for an exercise where you can explore your personal privilege.
How can we take action and become an ally to those who need it?
There are so many ways to take action – these are just a few.
The most important task of all as an ally is to listen and be there for others. Standing in solidarity with marginalised groups is the right thing to do, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel – it’ll make a real positive impact, and we will start seeing movement towards a better future. I want to end with a great quote by Ijeoma Oluo.
“The beauty of anti-racism is that you don't have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it's the only way forward.”