I’ve been trying to craft the right words to explain how I’ve been feeling lately. Will it come across as aggressive? Could this come across as bitter or pessimistic? Will I be labelled another angry black woman?
I’ve been going through all these questions in my head to ensure whatever I do write is articulate, but I also wanted to ensure my real emotions are portrayed correctly because the truth is, I am angry – very.
I have come to one realization though; people will react the way they want to anyway and those who want to act like nothing is happening will do so regardless of what I say or don’t.
The last couple of days have been terrifying and difficult. I’ve been enraged, emotionally drained and mentally exhausted giving all that has been going on. My heart has been heavy, heavier than it’s been in the last couple of months as this year continues to throw rocks, each headed our direction faster and harder than the last. 2020 has dealt us no favours and a part of me worries there could be more curveballs coming our way.
As I caught myself crying my eyes out as I watched the news every single day, I discovered that perhaps I’d been naïve thus far in thinking that I had seen the worst of it.
Yet again, we watched another police officer shamelessly take the life of another black man without consideration or any care in the world. We watched once again as abuse of power and privilege and blatant racism played their part in George Floyd’s death and we heard his cry loud and clear. The whole world heard him. We all watched as he gasped for air and pleaded for his life. We demanded that justice be served and yet we were still called the ‘thugs’ in the situation. What a world.
Being online every day was hard and overwhelming too, but I felt it was very important to take part in the conversations that were finally happening all over the world. The least I could do was sign petitions and share resources that could help people get involved as what happened in America seemed to wake everybody up. Many awoke to the reality that was living brazenly around them, campaigning for what should be common human rights respected, whilst, as always, some chose to doze off as they would normally, pretending they aren’t the biggest part of the problem.
I don’t care what you say, no matter how you put it, racism is still prevalent in the UK. Racism still exists within Europe, Asia, and countries you probably don’t even know how to pronounce. Claiming it’s no longer a problem doesn’t make it go away, it only means you are complicit in letting racist behaviour carry on and if you take a good look in the mirror you might just notice, once again, you are part of the problem.
Here’s a simple fact: it hurts. It hurts to be judged instantly when you walk out of your house in the morning. It hurts to not be considered good enough regardless of the things you achieve. And it certainly hurts when people say racism no longer exists because clearly, they don’t live on the same earth as we do. It hurts to see history repeat itself consistently. I truly believe that as long as race can be weaponized as we saw with Amy Cooper in Central Park, racism exists.
There are so many questions I’ve been asking myself lately.
How have we not progressed further when it comes to black lives in this world? Why are we even being put in a position where we have to scream and cry and shout and march to be kept alive in a society we are technically a part of? In what kind of unjust world is it acceptable for black children to have to practice drills in preparation for interactions with the police? Why don’t black lives matter enough to everybody? Why do some people priorities the lives of some insects more than ours?
So, am I optimistic that things will change? Uncertain, rather.
It warmed my heart to see many coming together to demand black lives be respected and treated fairly under the law and within society. I felt a sense of hope in seeing some soldiers and police officers taking a stand and taking a knee in solidarity. As people took to the streets, I allowed myself to find consolation in the fact that so many people were showing up. Yes, it seems like the whole world recognizes the need for change on a massive scale, but how long will this last? How can we make it last?
You know how the media and the internet works; the urgency dies down, the outrage plateaus and then it’s all back to ‘normal’. In fact, it didn’t take more than a day for many to resume their usual posting schedules of selfies and outfits of the day right after the #blackouttuesday campaign. Some people were so bothered with not disturbing the aesthetics of their Instagram feeds that they chose silence instead.
With the way the world goes round, a part of me is also aware that in many aspects it is inevitable that things return to how they were, but why can’t we do both?
My hope is that as things might slow down we continue to learn about race and unlearn ideals we inherited from the past. I want to see people taking initiatives on random Tuesdays and I wish to see people continue to read books on structural racism and white privilege.
To my white friends and readers, I ask of you one simple thing; do the work. I don’t believe it is up to black people to explain the constructs of racism to you and we certainly don’t owe you a detailed breakdown of our feelings or reactions to our oppression. It is up to you to google search, read, educate yourself, join the conversations and come with an open mind and the willingness to learn. It is up to you to be active allies and to make sure your activism goes beyond Instagram posts and hashtags.
One day, I hope we’ll look back at this period and will remember it as the time we went beyond pretty aesthetics and clicks and caused the massive change to happen. It won’t happen overnight, that’s for sure, but I hope we don’t fall back asleep too soon.
Your restless romantic roamer