Darcey Sergison responds to the BLM movement, and how people of other races can show their support as a nonBlack ally.
The Black Lives Matter movement was founded in 2013 in response to acts of police brutality which led to the death of Trayvon Martin. Sadly, police brutality is still common in many parts of America and around the world. Things have particularly come to a head recently with the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer.
No doubt you have seen the excruciating video which captured the policemen kneeling on the neck of George Floyd while he gasped out, “I can’t breathe”. This one video has been shared around the world, demonstrating the violation of an unarmed Black man as a human being.
With the view count growing and more impassioned outpourings to George’s family, it is no wonder that protesting has erupted globally. In the UK, London has become the hub of these protests, with additional large demonstrations in Bristol and Birmingham. The Black Lives Matter movement states that their mission is to eradicate white supremacy. This addresses the root of the issue: inequality. The structurally facilitated disadvantage is clear in the poorer economic and health status of Black citizens. White privilege is so prevalent in society that it predominately gets overlooked in both small and large cases.
British actor Daniel Kaluuya says that ‘Racism’s not [always] seen in England, but it’s felt. And it’s oppressive’. Since the murder of Steven Lawrence in 1993 and the public outcry for change, the Metropolitan police were forced to address institutional racism and make improvements. But 27 years later the same issues are still being faced by Black citizens around the world.
Institutionalised racism runs deep within British culture and for many people it is not until an incident of murder that they feel the need to address this.
However, in order to instruct change in our society non-Black allies are crucial to the success of Black Lives Matter. These allies are needed as they are often in positions of power to speak out about their unfair privilege. If you are not Black, but you do support Black Lives Matter, you can make a difference. It is time for the non-Black allies of this movement to speak out against systematic oppression and challenge and put an end to acts of police brutality. Here are some tips on how…
Advocate to put more qualified Black citizens in positions of power
Equality within society starts from the structures of power themselves. The government, and large international corporations, need to represent the diverse societies in which they serve.
Currently, and for past decades, white citizens have dominated the top boards of these positions of power. Therefore, more needs to be done to assist and support candidates from Black communities, whether this be supporting their campaigns or simply voting for more diverse candidates.
Spread the word about the importance of the movement to other non-Black citizens
Black Lives Matter is not just a Black citizens’ issue. This is an issue that should concern everyone in a community as the state of oppression Black people endure is perpetuated by an entire society of apathetic citizens. Not only that, but oppression of one group going unchallenged can easily lead to further acceptance of the oppression of other groups.
Learning, discussing, and debating these issues are crucial to more people understanding how appalling the situation of police brutality and inequality really is. It should not take acts of police brutality to inflame these passions for change but should be an ongoing process receiving results.
Facilitate and encourage platforms for those that are oppressed to share their stories
Racism has, sadly, been experienced at some level by a majority of Black citizens. In order for non-Black allies to understand more about this, more has to be done to let these stories be heard. No comparisons can be equated to Black experiences of racism. Non-Black allies, no matter their background, need to listen to stories of police brutality which are regular threats to Black lives, as well as all the small and myriad other ways in which racism presents itself.
Education on Black narratives and history
Even outside of Black History Month, this must occur in order to provide a decolonised education for all children. No matter the demographic make-up of a class at school, all children should be taught the history of all cultures.
The Black Curriculum, founded by Lavinya Stennett, campaigns for embedded Black history within UK teachings beyond small references to Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. This new outlook at teaching includes modules such as art history as well as legal systems. It is crucial that education goes beyond slavery and cites Black inventors such as Garrett Morgan and Patricia Bath.
Petitions have also been set up to include more Black authors in GCSE reading lists, as currently they are far from diverse, dominated by white male authors. Therefore, at younger ages, educating children about a more diverse history will remove Eurocentric viewpoints which currently dominate education.
Support Black businesses and charities
It is crucial that in order to be a true ally you support and advocate for the success and equality of Black citizens. Whether this is by supporting a new start-up business or those less privileged by donating to an antiwhite-supremacist charity, it is crucial that non-Black allies’ support is heard as well as felt within Black communities. A few Black owned brands on Instagram to follow: @dailypaper, @unionclothing, @earthtonedcollective, @omiwoods, @patmcgrathreal, @dizziaklondon
Challenge the criminal justice system
This has been discussed a lot recently due to retrials of Black citizens which has led to convictions wrongly being processed due to inequality within the justice system. By writing to the government and local MPs and by addressing this issue it is crucial in order to question discrimination and bias within courts of law. If you want to write to the government about issues to support causes like Black Lives Matter, Amnesty and other organisations have letter templates ready to fill out.
Research the cause
Many people are ignorant or misunderstand the cause of Black Lives Matter because they have not researched and understood the reasons for why this cause is so crucial to the creation of racial equality within society. Therefore, I recommend that non-Black allies read the following books to gain further understanding of Black Lives Matter: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, Locking Up Our Own by James Forman, Race to Incarcerate by Marc Mauer, and The Art of Protest by T. V. Reed.
Support the movement online
If you don’t already make sure that you follow clear and reliable sources to understand more about Black Lives Matter. Here are some amazing sources to follow on Instagram: @blklivesmatter, @theconsciouskid, @colorofchange, @oppagenda, @ckyourprivilege
All photos via Unsplash