Hello all, Happy July!
I know, it’s been a while and I’m sorry.
With all that’s been going on in the world this last month or so, I’ve had a severe case of bloggers block!
It hasn’t felt right to post my usual light and fluffy content. I haven’t wanted to.
I wanted to say so much more but didn’t know where the hell to start, I’m still so embarrassingly new to this and feared I didn’t have the right experience or knowledge.
I still don’t really but I know if I don’t just start, I never will.
On the morning of May 27th the video of George Floyd’s murder hit my time line, captioned “I can’t breathe” and it stopped me in my tracks.
But not in the way a shocking, unjust incident shared online usually does- where I’m baffled and my heart hurts at the sight but I scroll past as fast as I can in an attempt to remain blissfully ignorant and carry on with my day.
This time it was different and with every passing second of the harrowing video I was overwhelmed with feelings of heartbreak and rage. I felt sick to the pit of my stomach and brought to tears.
Then… when it was all over…
When George Floyd’s life was over…
I just sat in silence with no idea what to do with all of the intense emotions that had completely consumed and debilitated me.
I could no longer concentrate on my work…
I couldn’t keep scrolling and carry on with my day…
I couldn’t shake the sound of his helpless and terrified voice from my head.
Nothing could change it. None of my anger or hurt could undo what was done to George Floyd. I felt frustrated and useless.
All that was left were the racist, power hungry policemen that enabled and caused his death, so I took to social media to do the only thing I could think of.
I signed every petition that I could find to support having his murderers arrested and sentenced, then I shared them as widely as I could.
The further I got into researching how I could help and spread awareness, my eyes were opened more and more to the far bigger picture and problems.
One of the biggest, being how the everyday problems which lead to these bigger, louder ones… happen every single day and have been for hundreds and hundreds of years, but my privileges had allowed me blissful ignorance to them.
Seriously, think about it,
I’m nearly 29 years old and although I don’t class myself as intentionally racist, after being fully aware of my conditioning and the very obvious oppression of black people to this very day, only now, after 29 years… this video was the catalyst to my realisation that I wanted to do my part towards it’s undoing and speak up.
Acknowledging the part I’ve played, questioning my own internalised racism and unconscious prejudices, dismantling them, educating myself and committing to being actively anti-racist from then onwards.
I exist in a society that not only allows, but encourages me to cruise through my 28 years of life adding to the problem, and even in the moments it was a little harder to ignore, I CHOSE to keep my blinkers on for my own convenience and comfort.
I spent the next month consuming as much information as I could, watching and reading content by black creators, listening to people’s stories and experiences, talking to my friends and family, checking myself and making sure I had a diverse following online and continued to spread all that I found helpful with my own followers.
The irony of this post is that as a white person speaking up about racism, I shouldn’t place myself at the centre and revolve the conversation around me.
I’ve also learnt that systemic racism was created by white people, so white people need to be the ones to break that system down. We have to be the ones to speak up because it is clear black voices are being valued below ours.
I understand the immediate defensiveness that courses through a white person’s body when they hear the words racist and white people in the same sentence. I do.
We don’t like to believe we’re contributing to something so wrong, it doesn’t feel good. We don’t agree with the KKK so we’re not racist, we don’t feel its fair that we’re tainted with the RACIST brush.
But as a race who have been conditioned to think we are superior, we must be willing to listen and consider the fact that maybe, because of the way we were brought up, we have unconscious biases and prejudices instilled into us. And as a result of that we have no idea just how much of an impact our unconscious actions and words have on others because, we simply cannot relate. It’s never effected us.
We cannot tell a black person who feels offended by us that they’re not allowed to feel that way because we didn’t INDEND to be racist. We have no right. We have no idea how it feels. But if it has an impact, the intent doesn’t matter. And we shouldn’t argue and fight our ignorant ground, but learn and grow from it.
For example, I’ve seen many white people express they feel attacked and made to feel guilty for being white. They’re offended to be referred to as WHITE PEOPLE because it groups them together with “racist white people”.
Think about it, this is how black people have been made to feel for over 400 years.
White people are experiencing a teenie weenie taste of what it feels like to be pre-judged by the colour of their skin and they do not like it.
When it comes to the subject of racism and how black people have faced this kind of bias for hundreds of years, we roll our eyes and say get over it…
But for a few short weeks when white people suddenly felt labeled, there was uproar.
We should use this to help us gain perspective and use THAT to help break the cycle.
I know it’s uncomfortable and it’s hard, dismantling my own racism, opened my eyes to so much more that I just couldn’t pretend to be blind to anymore, and it’s a lot to deal with. It’s emotionally draining CARING about all of the unjust going on in this world because there is SO MUCH of it (poor little white girl).
It’s hard work to question our beliefs but shouldn’t we understand, WHY we believe WHAT we believe, BEFORE we preach and cause harm with them?
We have the privilege to learn about racism in our “spare time” instead of being faced with it every day after all.
George Floyds video changed me but it shouldn’t have taken that.
I know this is way bigger than him.
I think some people see how big the problem is and they just think “why bother trying, you’ll never get rid of racism”…
Maybe that’s how I felt subconsciously.
“If I call out the next time a family member or colleague makes a racial slur, intentional or not, it’s going to feel awkward and cause friction, can’t be asked with that, it’s far comfier here in my oblivious bubble”.
But you know what I’m finally awake to it and I want to do and be better, whether it causes discomfort or not, even if that just means sharing my learning journey in hopes it will help others too.
“You’ll never get rid of racism” they say.
No, probably not in our lifetime… but I would much rather be that one person, TRYING to make that little bit of a difference towards a better, fairer world.
Even if that’s just helping to change a further ONE MORE PERSON’S perspective, in the same way others helped to make that difference in me.
I’m proof in myself that it’s worth putting in the work.
I’m no expert but I know people are accused of staying complicity silent when maybe they just don’t know where to start just like I didn’t, I used to shy away from anything like this because I didn’t understand, I was embarrassed to chip in or ask questions.
So I want any of my friends, family and followers who feel the same to know they are always welcome to speak with me if they need to chat or want to get involved in the conversation but are put off by the fear.
My contact page and comment section is open for anyone who is willing to have a productive, healthy conversation on the matter or has questions you think sound silly, that I probably had too, please feel you can come and talk about it, because we NEED to talk about it!
I believe there are so many more unintentional racist people out there than there are openly hateful ones, let me assure you that putting your ego aside, acknowledging and taking accountability for how you may have played a part in the problem, so that you can do better going forward is SO worth the uncomfortableness, to ensure you’re CLEARLY torn apart from those you’re offended at the idea of being accused of.
Here are a few resources I’ve been keeping informed with over the last month, for anyone that would like to check them out too.
Book by Reni Eddo-Lodge: Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race
Book by Layla Saad: Me and White Supremacy
Netflix: Dear White People
Netflix: She’s Gotta Have it
Netflix: Who Killed Malcolm X
Highlight reel containing lots of videos and information I found helpful on my instagram: BLM