Yesterday we shared solidarity with the black community through seeing black squares on Instagram everywhere. We posted the hashtag #blackouttuesday because we wanted to show our support. Our hearts were heavy and broken and I know I’ve shed a lot of tears over the last few days.
I’ve had conversations with my black friends who’ve had mixed emotions ranging between being hopeful that real change will come, in disbelief of what is happening in America with the actions from police and their President, and frustration at how the media is focusing on symptoms of the problem like looting rather than the real issue at hand.
I’ve had conversations with white owned businesses who were ‘scared / worried’ of saying the wrong thing so as not to ‘offend’ anyone or appear like what they were doing was being insincere. Because we/they are in a period of realisation that the society that we’ve been brought up in and have been building our businesses within, have been biased towards white people’s success. Yes, we can create our own luck in one respect, but it’s tipped in favour of the white person. And there’s guilt there. White, privileged guilt.
This realisation has caused a lot of us to look in the mirror and see where we have happily bought into this though, because business is hard, right? We all need that helping hand. We’ve thought about ourselves only and how we can make it. We never considered how much more difficult it might have been for a black person / BIPOC to be in the same industry, in the same business, because we’re taught to think about our dreams and how we can make only ourselves successful.
So today, I ask you to lose the fear about speaking up and getting it ‘wrong’, because that’s where your learning will come from. There’s probably words and sentences within this email that a black person will *eyeroll* emoji at because I have so much white privilege that I’m not even aware of. Is writing this post white privilege in itself? Probably. Am I getting it totally wrong and completely missing the point? Maybe. But I’m risking getting that wrong and being called out so there’s an opportunity for growth, because taking a risk where racist people may unfollow or BIPOC people criticise is insignificant compared to people who are being murdered because of the colour of their skin.
It’s time we educated ourselves waaaaay more than we have done. It’s time we donated to bail out funds, black businesses and charities. It’s time we watched more documentaries like ’13th’ on Netflix to understand the ways in which we’ve been indoctrinated. It’s time to take action and remember as white people, how utterly privileged our lives have been and we need to now use that privilege to help other communities that have been oppressed. We need to ‘lean in’ to those conversations which are uncomfortable, we need to write the emails that are uncomfortable and we need to not only acknowledge the ways in which our past actions have contributed to white privilege but call ourselves, our families and friends out for them.
I am not exempt from this. I too will be listening and learning more. I used to pretend to ignore what was being said from my black / Irish family members about how they would be refused entry into places because the signs said ‘no dogs, no blacks, no Irish‘ because I didn’t want to hear about horrible things happening to them. When in actual fact, I should have leaned into that uncomfortableness and figured out how I could help. Because it’s still happening.
I will be listening to members of my family who are black about how I can help more, learning from my black friends more when they feel called to share their experiences with me and showing up more for my black members who need my help. Because that’s what we’re all here to do right? Make a change, leave the world better than we found it. Well, we need to be that change. To embody it.
If anything 2020 has shown us, it’s that we need each other. We need each others support to succeed. We cannot do this alone. But we can start by ourselves.
So show up. Take the action and then KEEP taking the action. This isn’t a ‘one black square’ time. This is forever.
This is the action I have taken so far.
Watched 13th on Netflix
Donated to the George Floyd Go Fund Me, Fund
Bought ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ by Bernadine Evaristo
Shared stories on Instagram of useful resources
This is not enough. I’m aware. And I’m working on it. If there is something else specific you feel that I should do, then let me know. I’m listening. I’m learning. I’m here to help. Black lives matter.
If you’d like to start / carry on this conversation with me in my facebook group, you can here > https://www.facebook.com/groups/747642638997413/