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Dear White People: There's More To Be Done

Saturday, 29 August 2020

Happy Saturday, friends!

I hope your week has been well spent. 
I hope you did, or said, at least one thing that meant something. 


The photo above was taken by one of my best friends on a trip to Berlin in the summer of 2019.

The two of us only spent three days in Berlin, but those three days changed both of our lives in the most unforgettable ways, and opened our naive eyes to some of the monstrosities of our world. As we learnt about the difficult history of this great city, I couldn't help but draw parallels between the reality of the past and present. At the time I linked it to the divisive xenophobia that seemed to be sweeping across Britain as a result of Brexit... but in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, I now feel that it is more relevant than ever.


"forget not the tyranny of this wall... 
nor the love of freedom that made it fall"
~ Unknown, Graffiti on the Berlin Wall


As the quote above suggests, perhaps the most important lessons I learnt during my trip to Berlin was that no matter how strong the walls of division are, love is infinitely more powerful in breaking down the barriers that hold us separate. 

But here's the thing: it took thousands of people to demolish the Berlin Wall.

And it's going to take a hell of a lot more people to put in a lot more sustained and continual effort into demolishing the racial divisions which exist in our world. 

Now let me be clear: when I say that love is more powerful than walls of division, I don't mean it lightly. It is not enough to simply say that you love Black people. And yes, my fellow white people, I'm looking (pointing) at you. Your 'loving' words are not enough. And frankly? If all you're offering up is empty words, you are not showing love. It's kind of disgusting.

Especially if you only use your empty words through social media when it's 'trending'.

Photo Credit: Lan Nyguyen


As I write this, a few months have passed since the death of George Floyd. 

Last week, I spent some time reflecting over the events of the past few months. I reflected on the thousands of people who went out to protest in support of the Black Lives Matter* movement, despite the risk it might have posed to themselves and their household due to the ever present global pandemic. I remembered how, in spite of the emotional heaviness of it all, many people started vocalising their opposition to racism loudly and clearly... And I remember being encouraged by this. At least for a week or two. 

(*As someone who lives in Scotland, I do not associate Black Lives Matter with any organisation or political party. I see it only as a fundamental fact: Black people matter)

Until I realised that a huge proportion of the people I followed were only speaking out about it because that was what everyone else was doing.

There were very, very few people (and yes, again, I am pointing at the white people) who continued to speak out against racism, discrimination and racial inequalities, after the 'hype' had died. When I realised this, my heart broke. And when I realised how disheartening this would be for all my Black friends, I got mad.

I think in that moment, I started to understand why Reni Eddo-Lodge didn't Want To Talk To White People About Race Anymore.

I mean there I was, a 21 year old white girl, and even I didn't want to talk to white people about race anymore. But I knew I had to... because the day after George Floyd's murder, I made a pledge to myself: that I would not stop fighting this fight until it no longer needed to be fought.

Because the day after George Floyd's murder, I realised that I ~personally~ had not been vocal enough in the face of injustice. 

I recognised that if God puts something on your heart, and you do nothing about it, you may as well be ignoring God. When we sing "break my heart for what breaks yours" , it's supposed to spur on action. Because when your heart breaks for something, or someone, you do everything you can for them... and I hadn't been doing everything I could to fight against injustice. 

My heart truly was breaking, but all I was doing was acknowledging the hurt on social media and calling that 'activism'.

Dear white people, let me break it to you: that is not activism.

That's attention seeking.


Being upset about racial injustice should be is the absolute bare minimum. If you are aware of an injustice and do nothing about it, then nothing will change. If you witness an act of racism, and you don't say or do anything to stop it, then you are allowing it to happen. 

If you are a living breathing human being on this planet, you have a responsibility. 
Dear white people, most of us are not fulfilling this responsibility. 

We need to do more. 

My good friend Nadine said this in a blog post she wrote about white privilege in June: 
"I know that I would not be doing right by my God if I did not speak out on the racist acts in this country and encourage my fellow brothers and sisters to educate themselves and give them stepping stones to do so. Racism is a matter of ignorant minds and callous hearts. Only God can change hearts, it is up to us to change everything else".

There is so much more that we need to be doing right now, but as Nadine said, ignorance is at the heart of Racism. Therefore, as I'm sure you'll have heard by now, it is essential that we endeavour to educate ourselves on the experiences of others. It is our responsibility as adults (and young people) to educate ourselves on these things, but also to share what we've learnt so that we can encourage the people around us to do the same.

These are some of the areas I have been educating myself on lately:

1. Black British History
Black British history has been somewhat erased. It's never talked about, and it certainly wasn't taught when I was in school. 'Why I'm no longer talking to white people about race' by Reni Edo-Lodge really opened my eyes up to the rich history of Black people in Britain, and helped me understand the roots of racism today. I have also been doing some research of my own, and I would really encourage you do the same. It's so important that you know the history of Black people in your country. 

2. The Experiences of Black People In Your Area Today
If you want to stand a chance of fighting against racial injustice in the country you live in, you need to know exactly what you're fighting against. One thing that I have learnt lately is that while racism certainly exists in both America and Scotland, the nature of racism in both countries are quite literally oceans apart. Therefore, knowing that, I need to be willing to listen and learn about the experiences of Black people in my community before I speak. The danger of fighting against racism with a 'one size fits all' approach, is that people will start checking out. They'll start saying things like "well, that's America's problem, things aren't like that here". And they'll be telling the truth; things aren't like America in Scotland. Things are different, and we need to treat them as such.

2. How To Be a Better Ally
You might have the best of intentions, but end up doing more harm than good with your methods. It's so important that we learn how to be a good ally directly from the people we are trying to be allies to. One of the resources I have found really helpful is https://guidetoallyship.com/, which gives a great explanation as to how to approach allyship. I have also been following a bunch of great accounts on Instagram which have detailed some allyship do's and don't, including @it.aint.it.sis, @officialmillennialblack, and @wastefreemarie, who gave us the great suggestion of watching TED talks! But honestly, if you've got Black friends, and you want to be an ally to them, then the best thing you can really do is ask them



In addition to educating ourselves on the experiences and history of Black people in your area and how you can be a good ally, we need to be willing to put what we learn into action.

Being white means getting put on a pedestal from birth- whether you are aware of it or not. The continuation of white privilege has meant that white people have held on to the stage and microphone for far too long. So if you are really serious about wanting to fight racism and injustice, you need to be willing to amplify Black voices. For white people, that means letting go of the microphone we've been subconsciously clinging on to since birth. 

To hear less of me, and more of them.

I need to acknowledge that while I want to -and can- help, that this is not my story. 

Dear white people, we are not the main characters in this fight against racism... and it's time we let someone else take the stage. We are supposed to be the supportive friend who empathizes with the main character, but recognizes that her experiences are her own. Yes, we are the supporting act. It's time we start shining the spotlight on our Black counterparts rather than hogging it for ourselves.

We repeat what we don't repair, so we need to start working on repairing our communities. We need to be willing to actively work against racism in a way that is not just attention-seeking. Like I said, we need to amplify Black voices. But we also need to be willing to actively work against racism loudly, boldly, and without fear. 

Dear white people, there is so much more to be done... are you willing to stand with me and do it?

Adios,
Sara Louisa xo

4 comments:

  1. This is a great post -- we have a lot to unlearn and much to do to unpick the ways that we (as White people) uphold White supremacy and racism by either being uninformed, unaware or performative (I write about this on my site too). Thank you for adding your voice to this.

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    1. Absolutely Molly- these are some great points. I'll definitely be checking your post out my lovely!

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  2. Very well said, it's great that you're able to self-access and found the motivation do to more. For me, the black squares, retweeting the violent videos (which is incredibly triggering - I tend to stay away) and Instagram trends mean very little to me, like you said, it really is the action that makes a difference. People actively seeking to educate themselves, calling out injustice and doing more than standing there is what will create change 👍🏾

    Anika | chaptersofmay.com

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    1. Thank you so much Anika, your feedback really means a lot to me! As a white woman (and future teacher) I definitely feel the responsibility to act... I just wish everyone else did as well 🙃

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