So, you’ve signed petitions, donated to charities and bail funds, marched in a protest – what’s next?
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of emotion, frustration and passion. The Black Lives Matter movement has finally seized the attention of the world that was so desperately needed, but we need to remember the road to revolution has only just begun.
“It took all 50 states, the Amish, Kpop, 13 countries, witches, Anonymous, the LGBTQ+ community, celebrities, people of colour, white allies and Batman to get 2nd degree murder and the three cops arrested and we had the president and military against us, my God”. This statement regarding justice to be served for George Floyd was humorously fitting - it really did take all that. Regardless, action was taken and consequently the process of getting justice for George Floyd’s murder has begun. But there are tens of thousands more who are still fighting for justice.
While as allies we have made it our prerogative to educate ourselves, instigate conversation, and share resources, the ultimate mission is to dismantle the racially-biased systems that underpin our societies. Quite the task that requires stamina more than anything. Allyship does not have a time scale, it cannot merely be performative when and where it’s convenient. Blackness, on the other hand is not something an individual can opt out of - the struggle persists daily. The cyclical routine of a high-profile racial injustice followed by a short-period of public shock and outrage before returning to normality cannot repeat itself this time.
So, here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of things we can do to keep momentum going…
Read, read and then read some more. Keep learning, understanding and reflecting so that we can all have a greater knowledge of what is needed for the fight ahead. Knowledge is power. Please see our previous post for an extensive list of resources.
Continue to amplify black voices on social media. Continue to share #BLM posts, articles written from black perspectives, petitions, Go Fund Me’s and other educational resources.
Challenge racists and the misinformed. It is now your duty as an ally to speak up when racist comments, casual or overt, are said in conversation. Whether it’s a family member, friend or complete stranger, it is your responsibility as an individual to educate the people around you. The conversations will be challenging at times but nothing good ever comes easily, and it’s the most difficult conversations that are the most important ones. Approach these discussions logically and coherently – BLM and racial injustice is a reality backed by facts; it cannot be denied.
Check in on your black friends, family and community members. Without care and empathy for one another and our communities the mission is impossible. It’s not an individual mission, it’s a collective one which requires us to have each other’s backs at all times.
DISMANTLE THE SYSTEM
Support black owned businesses. Your purchasing power is more powerful than you might think. When we buy from big brands it is a political act in the sense that we are investing our money into them. We are filling their CEOs’ pockets. In turn we are unintentionally upholding the biased capitalist system that makes it so those at the top stay at the top. We need to start investing more into black owned businesses, large corporations make it convenient for us to be loyal and stay complicit. We’re all guilty of that, but it’s time we start researching what and who we’re investing into and start using BLM to inform our purchasing decisions.
Be politically active. Write to your local MP, mayor or even the Prime Minister. Express your concerns, demand what needs to be done to overcome it. We live in a democracy and there is power in the masses. Follow politicians on twitter, @ them directly. Accountability is fundamental for the movement to progress, the current lack of it here, in the States and all over the world is what enables tragedies like Grenfell Tower, the Windrush scandal, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the death of Shukri Abdi here in Manchester to persist.
Decolonise education. History is written by those who possess the power - the colonisers. The earlier we get taught about the atrocities enacted in the name of the British Empire, the earlier we will understand why the system is rigged. Schools and universities need to modernise syllabuses to incorporate black voices and perspectives – how can we ever truly understand history if we are only taught an inaccurate biased portrayal of it? We must demand more black teachers, more books by black authors, more black academics, and a system that facilities this.
Question the media and become our own news outlets. Do not believe everything the media publishes, those who own the media shape what stories are covered and what angles they are written – in short, white male billionaires determine what information we as a nation consume daily. For decades papers have reinforced racial stereotypes that increase racial tension and division. To overcome this, we must always ask from whose perspective is this written, what is this journalist’s track record on racial justice and so forth.
It’s disheartening that police brutality in the US must be captured and shared on social media by the public in order for us to be informed of this reality. But social media has equipped us with the ability to become our own news outlets and we must take full advantage.
Keep donating to bail-funds, Go Fund Me’s and directly to protestors. Again, your purchasing power is powerful - allocate your resources where and when you can afford it, directly to those who need it. Bail fees are expensive, and having black skin means you’re already more likely to be arrested and imprisoned. On top of that, as black communities make up a disproportionate share of those living in poverty, having access to bail funds is vital if we wish to keep the fight going.
This is an uphill fight … and this is just the start.
Artwork by @soju_gang