We have all been having many honest, and sometimes uncomfortable conversations about #blacklivesmatter. I have talked to my housemates, friends and colleagues about how this has been affecting them. I witness friends angry and upset on my social media platforms. The Black Lives Matter protests have now been unfortunately hijacked by other people intent on violence. It’s important to keep this conversation going.
We haven’t been living in a vacuum; we have seen the same narrative played out in the media and have witnessed too many deaths…of black people. Enough is enough. Now it is important as ever to “be the change you want to see in the world.”
Black Lives Matter is not new
I have grown up reading about racism and slavery in history books; watching Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela speak up about Apartheid and segregation on TV; my earliest memories include listening to the protest song “Fuck Tha Police” by NWA. I have read and attended a gallery about the Windrush scandal. As well as listening intently to friends tell me their stories about living in Brixton at a time when landlords displayed signs saying No Dogs, No blacks, No Irish.
We have witnessed many changes in our lifetime. So we slowly convince ourselves that things have got better. Apartheid was a system of institutionalised racial segregation that existed in South Africa and South-West Africa from 1948 until the early 1990s. Obama was the first black president of America. I remember being at MTV, watching Obama’s inauguration with my colleagues, thinking progress at last. I have worked on anti-knife crime events at MTV, with Chip no less attending, thinking that we can join forces to solve problems in the UK. I have lived in Brixton and South London for so long. I too forget that London is just a microcosm of the UK, which is less tolerant. Although I am not saying that Brixton has had its own problems over the years. However, whatever changes have happened. However well-meaning we think we are as individuals. It hasn’t been enough. We watch endless killings of innocent people, thinking that’s in America. When it’s actually still happening in the UK. Where even one life is lost due to racism, #blacklivesmatter.
In 1963, “I Have a Dream” is a public speech that was delivered by American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. in which he called for civil and economic rights and an end to racism in the United States.
We have all been appalled and horrified at the video of George Floyd murdered by a policeman. Let’s not forget all of the other names of people who were killed before and after him.
I chose this picture above to highlight that in showing solidarity, despite genuine intentions, we may still unknowingly ‘get it wrong’. I know that so many people have used the hashtag #alllivesmatter in solidarity. Whilst the connotations of this suggests that ALL lives are equal. That ALL lives matter, including BLACK LIVES. The real discussion here is that #blacklivesmatter.
When Marilyn discovered Fitzgerald was not permitted to perform in the Mocambo nightclub in Los Angeles in 1955, Monroe approached the manager, Charlie Morrison, and promised to sit in the front row if he let Fitzgerald perform there.
Be the change you want to see in the world
I know many friends have been too scared of posting on social media; not knowing what the right thing is to say or fearful of recriminations. Yet silence too is deafening.
Let’s create a dialogue where we can collectively bring about change. It’s important to educate ourselves, but let’s have these uncomfortable conversations to listen and hear our friends, and other people. I know that I have been having them.
Social media, phones and technology means that our voices are now amplified. We all can be the voices of change.
“It is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your hands now – I thank you” Nelson Mandela.
Let’s not just keep this conversation going, but take action too..
My Top 3 Tips:
I wanted to use my platform this week to offer 3 ways in which we can support #blacklivesmatter.
You can donate money to a number of charities and organisations campaigning to bring about change. I donated this morning to Belly Mujinga’s gofundme page, thinking about her daughter who will be growing up without a mother. I will add more links to this page.
UK BLM FUND: To help fight racism in the UK you can donate straight to Black Lives Matter UK – a coalition of black activists and organisers across the UK fighting for freedom, liberation and justice. Your money will be used to help their commitment to dismantle imperialism, capitalism, white-supremacy, patriarchy and the state structures that disproportionately harm black people in Britain and around the world.
My colleague posted up a number of books and films this week on LinkedIn to help educate others. I have included some links below.
– I watched When they see us this weekend on Netflix – a story about the Central Park Five retold by Ava DuVernay. Convicted partly based on police-coerced confessions for the attempted murder, rape and assault of a female jogger, innocent young mens lives were destroyed. A powerful watch
– Why I’m no longer talking to White People about Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge. In her best-selling book award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge explores issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race. This book offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism.
– If you want to get involved with Blackout UK, head over to their website to take part in a new kind of collaborative film-making; using your smartphone.
– Siana Bangura is a Writer. Producer. Poet. Performer. Find out more about Siana’s amazing work and give her a follow on IG @sianaarrgh
3. CREATE CHANGE.
The most important step to affect change. I have listened in to the virtual protest today as I have been unable to go to London. I have witnessed people remove symbols of slavery in their home towns. Racism is so entrenched in society, with symbols everywhere. Change is coming….
Speakers include: • Diane Abbott MP • Claudia Webbe MP • Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP • Marcia Rigg, Justice for Sean Rigg • Kadisha Brown-Burrell, Justice for Kingsley Burrell • Family of Roger Sylvester • Dr Zubaida Haque, The Runnymede Trust Interim Director. Member of Independent SAGE • Rokhsana Fiaz , Mayor of Newham • Roger McKenzie, UNISON Assistant General Secretary • Charlie Williams, co founder of windrush movement campaign, justice for Kingsley campaign • Edem Barbara Ntumy • Elizabeth Adolfo • Sabby Dhalu & Weyman Bennet, SUTR