Black Lives Matter. Always Have. Always Will.

To be honest, I have been lost for words over the past couple of days. My emotions have been all over the place. I have felt sad, empowered, angry and frustrated and that’s just within the past hour. The pain I have felt is indescribable, watching all the videos and reading all the posts about black people being MURDERED by those who are SUPPOSED TO protect them. The complex mixture of feeling enraged yet empowered has been so difficult to navigate during the past couple of days. I have been trying to find the best way to express myself and my feelings towards everything that’s happening right now and it wasn’t until I re-visited one of my favourite quotes that I realised what I was trying to say.

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

– Jimi Hendrix

IT’S A POWER STRUGGLE.

One of the questions that keeps replaying itself in my mind is “Why us?”. Why do they hate black people so much that even just the sight of us living our normal daily lives, fills them with fury. It’s only when I saw my favourite quote again, whilst scrolling through my camera roll, that I remembered it’s all about POWER. The suppression of black people, black thought and the dehumanisation of black bodies has always been about preserving white supremacy. It was so obvious during slavery and the colonial era and it is so obvious now. The system wants to preserve its power and so the best way to do that is by dismantling the black community. From the policemen and their revolting smirks, when they stop a black person who they know they can harm without repercussions. To the Karens with their Oscar-worthy, hysterical performances when they call the police to make a report, knowing that their white privilege protects them. To the real clowns in power that some of us call ‘Prime Minister’ or ‘President’, who get away with doing and saying the most undeniably racist things.

It’s all about preservation of power for them; but don’t be fooled, even though they try to treat black people as lesser than, they are fully aware of the strength and power we possess as a community, when we stand together. Trump literally went to hide in his bunker when tensions were rising outside of the White House. If we were truly powerless like these white supremacists want us to believe then there would be no need for the White House lights to switch off.

Honestly, it has been so empowering to see the black community standing together, whether its by protesting, educating one another or supporting black businesses and so I hope we continue to empower and show love to each other. Remember, its a power struggle we’re having right now and one day we WILL win, with LOVE.

SAY HIS NAME AND HER NAME TOO.

Breonna Taylor. Sandra Bland. Aiyana Stanley-Jones. Shelley Frey. Atatiana. Jefferson. Pamela Turner. Korryn Gaines. Yvette Smith. Darnisha Harris. #SayHerName. These are just a few names from a long list of black girls and women who have been murdered by the police. Over the past couple of years whenever there has been an uproar about the killing of black people there tends to be more publicity of the cases that involve black men. Even though black women are routinely killed by police, their cases are not always as recognised when it comes to social movements and narratives of police brutality. It does seem as though things are changing slowly, as I saw footage of the London Hyde Park protest where they were not only yelling “Stop killing the Mandem” but they were also yelling “Stop killing the Galdem”. But, I still urge anyone who is reading this to also remember the black women who have died at the hands of police brutality. Say their names too. When you post on social media, write your articles, or speak up about police brutality and racism. They need justice too.

Also, since we’re on the topic of black women. This is a reminder to STOP expecting black women to bear this burden of oppression alone. Stop assuming that strength and resilience is all we know. Its ok for us to feel weak and vulnerable. Its ok for us not to be strong or ready to fight against oppression all the time. We’re exhausted. So, to the black men who see our strength, please also recognise our vulnerability. Take a page from John Boyega’s book and start protecting us. To our non-black allies please remember that you cannot tell us how to feel or react to the current situation. Just keep supporting us by continuously educating yourself and recognising your privilege and how you can use your privileges to stand up for black people.

THE UK IS RACIST TOO.

Over the past week, I have seen so many examples of white people telling Black British people that racism doesn’t exist in the UK anymore.

I mean… Have you seen the makeup of Parliament? Have you seen British school curriculums? Have you read a Daily Mail article before? Have you been on the road when a black man minding his business walks by and Karen clutches her handbag for dear life? Imagine being so privileged that you’re completely oblivious to the fact that racism exists in the your country too. Must be nice.

First of all, the institutional racism that exists in the UK is beyond belief and it doesn’t just prevail in one institution; from schools and universities, to the government, healthcare system, businesses and the media. You can’t escape it. As a black woman you are five times more likely to die during childbirth than a white woman in the UK. As a black man you are four times more likely to be stopped and searched by police in comparison to your white counterparts. The school curriculums are so Eurocentric its unreal and don’t get me started on how they seem to have this collective amnesia when it comes to BRITAIN’S COLONIAL HISTORY. (If they won’t shout about it, I will.)

Secondly, let’s not forget the micro-aggressions that black people in the UK have to deal with on a daily basis. “You don’t sound black”. “Is that your real hair?”. “Where are you from?…like originally from?”. These are just a few of many micro-aggressions that black people face everyday. It’s also the subtle everyday things, like the supermarket security guard following you around the store but pretending not to watch you, whilst you’re just trying to shop. The UK’s racism is INSIDIOUS, which in some ways can be more difficult to deal with.

Furthermore, the UK is far from innocent when it comes to police brutality against black people. One story that particularly touched me is the case of Julian Cole who is still alive but has been left paralysed, with severe brain damage after police officers broke his neck whilst trying to arrest him in 2013. The UK has continued to prove how little they value black lives, through their treatment of the Belly Mujinga case. Belly Mujinga, was cruelly ripped away from her husband and 11 year old daughter when she was spat at whilst working, by a man who claimed to have Covid-19. Belly and her colleague who were spat at, both fell ill and unfortunately Belly died, as she also had underlying issues that made her vulnerable. Police opened an investigation into her death and shortly after closed the case saying Belly’s death was not linked to her attack. Meanwhile, there have been spit attacks on police officers by people claiming to have Covid-19 and the criminals have been arrested and charged every time!

So, when people claim that the UK is not racist, it’s insulting to say the least.

#JUSTICEFORBELLY – tinyurl.com/email4belly

BLACK SQUARE, OR NO BLACK SQUARE.

I’ve seen a lot of criticism online about the way some people choose protest or express themselves. Movements like #BlackOutTuesday have caused a lot of controversy. Initially, #BlackOutTuesday began as a music industry blackout where those who work in the industry would suspend all work related activities and instead re-direct their attention and energy towards the black community, and they urged everyone to follow. Some companies received backlash, for taking part in the movement just to stay on trend as opposed to actually caring about black people and understanding why the #BlackLivesMatter movement was created. I definitely agree that these companies should be named and shamed. Especially those who were posting a black image without actually understanding that’s it’s not about just supporting black people online. It’s also about supporting us within your company, hiring a TRULY diverse range of staff, donating money towards initiatives within the black community and also challenging all of those around you to educate themselves and take accountability for their racist actions.

Things got even more controversial when some people who were posting plain black images on Instagram, were accidentally using the BlackLivesMatter hashtag alongside the BlackOutTuesday hashtag. This meant that due to Instagram’s algorithms, we almost ended up censoring ourselves because a lot of the posts, videos and outrage from the past few days and years were being flooded out by a sea of black squares.

Honestly, I get why posting the black images may not have been as helpful as initially intended, but it was the symbolic meaning behind a lot of us posting the black picture that truly resonated with me. When I woke up to see my whole Instagram full of black images, it left me feeling empowered, inspired and determined to make a change in anyway I could. So, I know how hard it is to find the best way to express yourself during a time like this and I know some people may not understand the way you choose to express yourself, but that is okay. Whether you’re protesting in the streets, posting a black square on Instagram, speaking up at work, writing a poem, signing a petition, re-posting content, creating art, making music or taking pictures. As a black person, your form of expression is valid and valuable to the community, no matter what form it comes in. So, please don’t allow anyone’s opinions to discourage you from expressing yourself.

DADDY CHANGED THE WORLD.

First things first, Rest in Peace George Floyd. I refused to watch the video of them murdering you. But those who have watched the video have described it as horrifying, unsettling and distressing. A nine-minute video of you, taking your last breaths, calling out for your mother and STILL having your neck kneeled on, has been all over the media. I refuse to watch it because it is just too painful to see, yet another black man being murdered by the police. But you know what else has been all over the media in the past couple of days? A video of your baby girl Gianna Floyd, saying “Daddy changed the world.”

The video of Gianna left me with chills. Without even knowing it, Gianna gave the world a sweet yet daunting reminder that now is not the time to give up. The fight is just beginning. Even though all of George Floyd’s murderers have been arrested, it doesn’t mean the war is over. George Floyd was the catalyst for all the protests that have taken place all over the world, but it is important to remember that this also about the countless number of black people who have also been murdered and have received no justice whatsoever. If there’s one thing we can learn from the protests that have taken place so far, its that we have so much more power as community when we stand together and challenge the oppressors.

Please don’t let Gianna’s words go in vain. Lets make George Floyd’s murder the catalyst for a big change in the way we do things! Keep supporting black businesses and boycotting those who don’t support us. Keep challenging the status quo of any institution you find yourself being part of. Keep holding the government and politicians accountable for their actions or lack there of. Keep speaking up and making your voices heard!

Find out other ways you can help here: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co

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