Until we break the system and rebuild it with fairness, our tears will never dry. Sometimes they will run harder and stronger and heavier than before, like crying for the first time – a new born gasping at life. Other times, desert dry – numbness in it’s place but still the pain.
Today, my tears ran, shaking my whole body. Hard, hoarse and ugly. Tears for a man 4015 miles away. George Floyd was his name. Killed in broad daylight. His crime? Apparently writing a bad cheque.
The real crime? BEING BLACK
His punishment – having a cop kneel on his neck, making him unable to breath. Another 3 cops, stood around allowing it to happen, watching his life slip away.
I couldn’t watch the video, the image alone was enough. We are in 2020 and there are more memes and anger being circulated discussing people fighting for toilet paper, clapping or raising money for the NHS, politicians being politicians and lizards ruling the world (again)!
Has my social media or Facebook ever been awash with solidarity, anger, disgust about George Floyd or any other innocent black person losing their lives due to racist, incompetent law officials? I think you know the answer to that.
Earlier this week I came across a quote by Krishnamurti:
“It is no matter of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick world”
It clung to me so deep as I realised that I’m a well adjusted person. I manage to live and thrive in a world that is unfair and systematically exclusive. I’ve kept quiet and being a good citizen so I couldn’t have the finger pointed at me and labelled another angry black woman looking to cause trouble and a place to wave the race card. This doesn’t work – you are damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t!
Racism didn’t end with slavery or desegregation. It is still alive playing out in many guises. Something has hit a nerve today and now the past is coming up to remind me that it has been there all along. The difference this time is we have social media and technology to share the injustices.
- Age 6 months old: My white foster mother being told by her mother: “You can’t be bringing a black baby into my house during the day time when the neighbours can see”. My mother knew this wasn’t right and told her mother if I wasn’t accepted she wasn’t accepted. My mother was an Ally – she stood up for what was right. (My grandmother also became an Ally)
- Age 7 or 8 years old: Being chased by a group of young boys, monkey chants at me, screaming “get back on your banana boat”. My cousins and foster siblings covering me from the abuse. They were my Allies – they stood up for what was right.
- Age 18 years old: Having a woman shout in front of me. “There’s a black girl in our house”. The son, who invited me in to said house, stood and watched, didn’t say a word to his mum. Not an Ally!
- Age 19 years old: Being called a nigger* by a Welsh boy in Faliraki. His friends watched on and he got my fist. Not Allies.
- Social media years: I say racism and people give excuses as to why it’s not and try to explain to me why I’m being sensitive. Not allies.
*I usually censor this word and say ‘the N word’ but I felt this needed to be uncensored
Today I went on LinkedIn to read about another racist incident in America. This fortunately did not end in the death of an innocent black man. Most people were there to support the original poster and 2 people were there to troll. Armed with defensive and offensive comments, shouting ‘reverse racism’ and calling people passive aggressive.
Angered, I typed, deleted, typed, deleted and walked away. Some people will not change until the system does – the way to win is not fight the trolls. The way to win is to clear our throats, shatter the silence and pick up Allies. We need the allies.
I get it. It’s hard, it’s heart-breaking, it’s easier to be disgusted but look away. Until we are part of the solution we are part of the problem. Our silence is like a huge thumbs up to the people that are openly inflicting the pain, we don’t like it but it is normal.
It has played out again and again that the lives of black people in America do not matter, unless they are famous. America may be many miles away but they are powerful and what we deem as acceptable there will soon seep into the UK.
Here we already have our ingrained issues. Not just Brexit but in the education system, police force, government offices and health organisations.
Last month I found out that in the UK a black woman is 5 times more likely to die in childbirth. This is not acceptable! Again and again I am seeing tick box exercises pop up in offices that say they are looking at diversity and inclusion, papering over the cracks instead of shattering the system and rebuilding.
I am tired but I have spoken. This is an itch that will not go away and I will continue to look into how I can be more proactive and continue to bring the authentic me to the table.
After work today I had to take myself for a walk to clear my head and try and make sense of it all. It felt like I wouldn’t be able to laugh again. The walk helped. Speaking with a friend helped. I laughed again. Of course I would laugh again.
This time the laughter won’t replace the injustices that live amongst us.
“Please, I can’t breath” was one of the last things George Floyd said before he died.
As long as we can breath, we can speak, we can take action.
Will you be my Ally?