“Beacons” song by Nik Ammar https://youtu.be/TFCeHJSe5Dc
There are many conflicting understandings out there about this movement and people are battling back. Firstly I need to say I am not black, I can lay no claim to personally understanding the ingrained generations of experience that are coming into public awareness right now. I do however support people’s universal human rights, I support love and kindness to all fellow human beings and I support the need to address such devastating and outright wrong treatment of people as less than second class citizens in a free democratic society (in all societies actually but that’s a topic for another post). I feel utterly heartbroken that lives are being taken, families broken and devastated due to discrimination, especially because of the colour of skin. I don’t have that history or experience as I have said, I am however Lesbian and have come from adverse circumstances in life meaning I need to work harder to have the ability to function and relate in society, I’ve had to work harder to get a good education, believe in myself harder to achieve university, getting a professional diploma and job. I grew up in poverty. I am also now disabled. Despite all of that I am still afforded privilege and less hate for who I am and the body I have been born in to. Arising from personal life experience I have throughout my adult life supported, in various roles, the most vulnerable people in our society. People affected by mental ill health, with developmental disabilities, other disabilities, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexuial, Transgender, Queer and other people with differing identities within this community. I’ve supported other adults whom have grown up in adverse circumstances that resulted in trauma and left them with difficulties fitting in to society or whom have been at the hands of all kinds of violence. All people whom have faced discrimination at different levels and in different ways, some more than others but discrimination none the less. I don’t know what it is like to be black and under threat and I’m sure my sense of it is still nowhere near the felt and lived experience of those whom are. What I do have from life experience and from supporting others though is empathy. Empathy for fear, persecution the sense of second class, lower class and in many moments less than human treatment.
Many people are finding themselves feeling anger and hitting back at the #blacklivesmatter movement stating ‘All Lives Matter’ of course they do. Of course they do!! This isn’t in question. However those whom don’t find themselves faced with prejudice and threats of violence, deprivation of their human rights, oppressed equality and death every day don’t need as much support in this moment (they may well in others, domestic abuse for example) right now in this world people are dying for things that are innate to them, for loving someone of same sex, for having been born in a body that doesn’t match their sense of identity, for differing religious beliefs and for having a different colour of skin. Some people may just be feeling relief that it isn’t happening to them and needing to put the thoughts or the anxiety that arises in response to the situation to the back of their mind but all of this abuse has been happening consistently for years. If we change this we can change other discriminative attitudes and behaviours. We have to make sure that indeed ‘All lives matter’
Also here is a link to a video well thought through non bias and offered to explain what is meant by what is happening and why it matters. https://www.facebook.com/ProjectNightfall/videos/3586583434704960/?vh=e&extid=HKzaYeBWHdAA5S8A
A wonderful woman talking about her sense of privilege in general @kweenwerk https://vm.tiktok.com/JLfCBAW/
…and privilege in general here by Anne Hathaway https://www.facebook.com/908009612563863/posts/3314830561881744/?vh=e
Right now we all feel the threat of this coronavirus we can see how it has impacted our senses, our feelings, our families, our lives. The threat is real and people take steps to adjust their lives because they don’t want to die or lose people that they love. This is how it feels for so many black people every day not just temporarily through a pandemic. Please take a moment to feel that in your gut, heart and soul.
This can also be said specifically for transgender individuals and at times in in Britain or America LGBQ people have been physically attacked too. Hate crime in Britain is on the rise and in other non democratic countries people are murdered for who they love and who they are. These # movements are platforms to end exclusion, discrimination and cruelty in democratic countries. In this movement black people are asking for help to end the discrimination, injustice, exclusion, death and fear of death that they and their families experience.
There is no disputing that across the world there are other situations that also need our support. Of course, mass genocide, war and famine. It’s wide and rife. All deeply heartbreaking. All are important to heal as humanity. Of course, however not all countries are democratic, there are different political and military set ups and this reduces our ability to help without inciting war, which would end up harming even more people. There is a lot we can do to try help these situations, but there is understanding that these are not our systems and need navigated differently in order to affect change.
In this instance with the #blacklivesmatter movement we are in the western world where there is a democratic system and process (supposedly). It is truly devastating to know that within this democracy where people have either universal, European and/or constitutional rights that such atrocities happen. People with rights, families and purpose just like the next person. This is an issue. The attitudes and circumstances that enable prejudices to grow and thrive, where people either oblivious or choosing not to think about it or see it, whatever the reason, are giving rise to attitudes that support prolonged abuses. All contributes to lives being lost in a democratic rights and protections filled society, murder, suicide or death by health inequality. How abhorrent, this is shocking and it should shock us to our core! This could be you. It could be your children, your grandchildren. It was your ancestors. Where is the protection from the prejudice and the abuse when really needed? For those whom think this is just an American issue you are grossly mistaken it’s happening everywhere. These attitudes of supremacy, pecking order and grandiosity are everywhere. Remember school? It didn’t end there. If you have a workplace are these attitudes there? Do you know your place? Right.
Look to your dystopian novels, tv programmes and films to see how easily your experience of reality can shift.
Here is a British guy Akala talking about his life experience https://www.facebook.com/www.JOE.co.uk/videos/566293927406967/?vh=e&extid=s1OU3VPGVOANM8LMhttps://www.facebook.com/www.JOE.co.uk/videos/566293927406967/?vh=e&extid=s1OU3VPGVOANM8LM
People are either living with assumptions and racist tendencies as a norm, facing discrimination or genuinely living in terror for their lives, for their families lives and for what their children are growing up having to face. Of course all lives matter but to say this as a blanket statement is negating a real issue that is prevalent within our societies. Let’s make sure all lives matter, when people say they are dying and suffering let’s do what we can to bring an end to that. Covid-19 united us for a moment, united us in our humanity. Let us unite humanity in general. We all bleed the same. People are dying and are being treated less than others. To those of you whom may read about inequality you will know how it has such a negative impact on a persons health and wellbeing too, over and above the direct discrimination. It creates health inequality and a lack of belief in oneself creates less social mobility and as a result financial security. It is impoverishing. People are dying every day from this problem. We have evidence of that. How must it feel to know you are at risk of harm and have less of a chance or are more likely to be dismissed as a human because of the colour of your skin, who you love or who you are? What if this was you? Facing anything on a scale from verbal abuse to death because of who you were born as or because you had to escape from war zones or places where you will be murdered just for who you are. On a bigger scale race bias and racial attitudes, whether unconscious or conscious, is problem. All lives matter, of course so let’s start behaving that way.
When I saw a video of a young 14 year old boy being pinned down and beaten up by a strong police officer because of the colour of his skin I felt sick, I can’t forget that image nor it’s impact. When I saw a video of young teenagers in Texas being dragged from a party because of the colour of their skin and then physically attacked by police officers when they asked why it was just them and no one else being removed, I cannot forget this footage nor it’s impact. When I saw a video of three police officers restraining a young 10-13 year old boy by pressing a knee into his back and also straddling him, placing a plastic bag over his head claiming that he was spitting when he wasn’t, I cannot forget this, I feel it’s impact. A plastic bag! We don’t allow children to put bags over their head it’s a very scary and threatening thing to experience! No guardians called to the place where he is accused of doing something wrong? No guardian present, instead three police officers restraining him, he was not fighting he did not attack. Who does this to a child? An adult straddling a child whilst putting a bag over his head, how does that sound? This wouldn’t be tolerated and may be identified under a different term in other circumstances. Can you imagine how this felt for that child? It was an abuse of power. All of these are children were not behaving in violent or threatening ways, nor were they needing any level of restraint. They were scared and confused. I cannot stand by and say nothing. It’s not nothing. These behaviours may not have been in our awareness in times past, we may have been oblivious to or may have felt distant from it as a society previously but it’s right there in front of us now, daily due to social media. We can do something powerful here (less so in other countries as mentioned previously) because we have democratic power, we have speech, the ability to protest and vote which in turn can change policies and hold people to account for actions born of prejudice and discrimination. That’s why it’s important to use this power to protect our most vulnerable and right now the people whom are facing disproportionate violence and are dying at the hands of the powers put in place to protect them are black people (also transgender and LGBQ individuals in many different ways) so all lives do matter but not all lives are facing prejudice, persecution, violence and death. Right now #blacklivesmatter is a platform to acknowledge the hurt felt by our global black community (raised from America of course from police brutality events) and to bring about reform and more widely to challenge discriminatory attitudes that have allowed abuse to happen, to hold people to account for mistreatment of our friends, neighbours and fellow humans.
This is 2020, why are we still having to raise awareness and challenge these things?
I can’t help but wonder also that there are so many analogies here that parallel with poverty generally and inequalities which arise universally to any human in these circumstances regardless their country, is this also underpinning some of the emotion here? Black and Minority Ethnic people are disproportionately affected by these issues in areas where it has been identified that people are facing these inequalities. So I query why that is? Why is it that in 2020 the issue of class, of who fits and who doesn’t, seem to still be an undercurrent.
If you want to know what you can do from your life position to assist your fellow human please educate yourself more and you can also have a look here just remember to consider context, this is a clearly emotional experience and needs absolute sensitivity and concern going forward: https://amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jun/02/how-to-make-a-difference-in-the-fight-against-racism-and-injustice
We are so often in our own bubbles that we miss the struggles faced by others. Without education, research and direct awareness we miss it. That is why the #blacklivesmatter message and movement is important and would be better supported by deeper research and context to affect real change. Learning context is important if we really want to affect helpful meaningful change. Much learning is needed. The movement itself is raising awareness to something that needs attention. Racial bias is real, it in your communities, in your street, in your mind whether you recognise it or not, in your living-room on tv and on your social media. It is happening to your friends, your colleagues, fellow humans and we need to hear and see it learn more, understand it in specific contexts (every place has different systems and processes) and help where we can. Not looking at it, not acting in whatever way you can (that’s personal to you) does however support non actions or awareness to continue. Change cannot happen without awareness, education, research and collective action on findings. In Britain there are slight differences, and I say slight, at the very least we have had a long run with the European Court of Human Rights (and will do until December then that ends, then we will understand more when we have less rights), but racial bias is here too. It’s disgracefully enacted in our Homeoffice, it’s in our institutes although much good work is being done to mitigate and change this, it is on our TVs masquerading as comedy, it’s the lack of black representation in the media or in our sitcoms and films and it is in our education system due to lacking of the telling of full story history or even mentioning how our ‘1st world’ status came to be on the backs of other countries and people and how this forced other countries into ‘material poverty’. It’s in the slurs of speech of society and individuals which often lead to violent attacks. It is in our anxiety and mistrust of anyone whom looks like the images of people that we have had burned into our minds regarding terrorism. Our brains see danger and we close ranks societally out of fear and fail to see this is more about the persons in question rather than whole races or religions. This in effect causes BAME communities to feel ostracised and causes self hatered (discrimination internalised) as well as counter racial bias. We are found to be a racist and discriminative society. That may be hard to hear, it may hurt and give rise to anger and indigence or many other feelings but due to not knowing, the lack of awareness and education of how things came to be as they are today this is a real problem. Racism in Britain is on the rise on back of the Brexit campaign which was only about leaving the European Union in principle, that was loaded with propaganda to become an issue of immigration in general. A vote which changes nothing on that level at the end of the day has resulted in an increase in racial abuse as much as 50%.
Without a doubt all lives matter and I wish we could demonstrate this worldwide however political and military systems make this very hard, but here in the west we have democracy (supposedly) and this gives us a tool to challenge outright atrocities that breach human and democratic rights. Behaviours and allowances that end up in people being killed for the colour of their skin can be stopped. The colour of our skin is simply due to levels of melatonin in our bodies, is that a crime? Is it punishable? We have a voice and I think (please correct me if I’m wrong or have missed something equally important all of you out there for whom this is your life) that the #blacklivesmatter platform is a way of raising the matter politically and allowing people from all walks of life to show solidarity of support to each other and influence real change that will save lives and bring an end to discrimination.
Here is a link that gives an example of how some black people are and have been disadvantaged in America https://www.facebook.com/908009612563863/posts/3809137562451039/?vh=e
Here is an example of the result of racial bias in the UK: https://youtu.be/1x0G4NCBTzg
Here is some heart-full wisdom from the #wewillremember campaign, coronavirus has given us an opportunity to open ourselves up, challenge attitudes and beliefs, opportunity for realisation please click on the link for their video. We need to remember! https://www.facebook.com/405130486265107/posts/2783061911805274/?vh=e
I stand with you and I choose to be part of creating change to anything that is causing harm. I choose to do all that I can to improve rights and life experiences for people as much and where I personally can. I may not have lived your life and I do not claim to know the experience of it but I have known feelings of raw persecution and discrimination and the fear that arises from ways in which I have been dehumanised personally and no matter what, I stand up with and for you and your human rights. I stand up for asking for more research and context and the pathway of changes that this can arise as a result.
Please take a moment and read this blog post too by a wonderful person named the Pierced Protagonist where she too explore that very subject. Deeply moving https://www.facebook.com/597328374036254/posts/946993562403065/?d=n
Also here is a person with lived experience with an informed perspective talking about their felt sense of what is going on and what needs to happen to bring about change. It comes from the perspective of most people being inherently good and with good intention and overtime how oversights occur and how this contributes to the wider picture of what is happening today in America. A different slant to the sense of systemic racism. A useful read https://alightbreaksthrough.org/is-systemic-racism-the-right-description-of-americas-ill/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=is-systemic-racism-the-right-description-of-americas-ill
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