The dust is yet to settle but the silence settles in. That silence, so painful and yet I understand. How hard it is for you to speak up – it’s uncomfortable, it’s awkward, it hurts. Oh I deeply understand. I felt it. I feel it. Your silence may be your protection but your silence is the knife in my back! A note on your door saying ‘you’re not welcome here’.
Amidst the noise of the protests and riots and fires in America. I can hear the…
Amidst the build up of solidarity from allies all around the world. I can hear the…
Amidst the fifth video conference of the day, friendly chatter. I can hear the…
Monday. All day I wait for the email to come in from the head of the organisation or equivalent. Checking in on staff. Mental health awareness month freshly ended. I waited. No email came to shatter the silence.
When the usual “How are you?” question kicked off the video conferences, the “good, great, okay” answers started to flow in. I followed suit. I answered the empty question with an emptier response, complying with the standardised unwritten agreement that we have set for ourselves.
Tuesday brought more of the same. By 10am my mask was slipping, dragged down by the silence that was being emitted from every angle at work. Eyes dead, glazed over, monotone voice, visibly in pain. I switch my camera off and let the tears flow.
I was not okay.
I was in a phase of trying to process how I was feeling. I was surrounded by love and support and kind words and promises of allies and social media rants and powerful opinions and…I had never felt so all alone.
Each time I see someone share an image of George Floyd’s lifeless body or ask people to ‘do the hard thing‘ and watch the video, a piece of my heart breaks. Impacting my mental health. Why do people need the proof before they can believe? Why do people need to be pushed to disgust before they can have empathy or take action?
The insensitivity of those sharing, to bring about justice hurts just as much as the silence and taints the mirrors that I look in. Instead of seeing me, smiling back. I see pain, I see beautiful black skin that is constantly victimised. I am not a victim!
Yesterday I took the day off. Off work. Off responding to messages and calls. Off social media. Off books. I unplugged and recharged.
I know people want to go back to normal. A time before they had to use their voices. A time when ignorance could be accepted. Yet what is normal? What we have been living is anything but. I’ve lived my whole life comfortably uncomfortable and played it off as normal – I don’t want to go back to that. I can’t go back to that.
I am not here to educate. I’m still figuring out what my role is in this. I am not a leader. I am a woman with my own story. I am learning myself about how the world is systematically and institutionally racist. I do not have the energy to teach others when I am constantly breaking and healing.
So for all those that have asked me what they can do to learn more, to become a true ally, to become anti-racist, to help break the system. The following link is a list of resources and tools regarding ‘Racism and Anti-Blackness and How to be a Better Ally‘ that Tatum Dorrell, Matt Herndon and Jourdan Dorrell put together. It includes articles, books, organisations to donate to, films etc.
For me. I’m still trying to navigate through my feelings. So, if I’m silent – please do not make me feel more alone by pointing that out without touching on the subject. Please do not try and educate me on what you believe is going on. Please do not expect me to alleviate your uncomfortable feelings. Please, give me time.
I took this photo today as since lockdown started I have dressed up every day for work and used the hashtag #DRESSUPSTAYIN – I dressed up and showed up for work today, well a part of me did. Life goes on and I shall continue to show up and navigate through the silence.
My blog is about me and because I’m a black woman living in the UK on several occasions I have written about my experiences. Links to my other blog posts on being black can be found below:
Back to Black 🙋🏿
Results from the IAT 😶
My Kryptonite!My Power! My Hair 💇🏾
Me, Myself and my DNA!
I’m back. Still black. And think we need to keep talking about racism!
Love may be colour blind but dating is not!
Tales from a dark skinned girl…
An open letter about race!
Dear Liam Neeson, I invite you to continue….
When they hurt – I hurt!
So I’ll just go running off on my own tangent. You dress up for lockdown, I take a shower and shave and change my clothes every 2.5 days. I really think I’m starting to worry my wife. I’m back in the office next week and the concept of breaking out the ironing board (which we put away in March) bums me out. I hate working at home, but I hate becoming presentable too. Why do I need to clean up, we aren’t letting any clients in the building for months.
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From seeing what a lot of people are doing in lockdown I think every 2.5 days is pretty decent. Although I’m interested in hearing about the .5 day! Is it like the Oscars where you change your work outfit during the afternoon? Ironing board? That’s like a swear word to me. I have one and have used twice in 2 years. How are you feeling about going back to work? What do you not like about home working? I didn’t like being so close to the kitchen until I got an Invisalign brave 😊
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I’ve had a tendency to get around to my showers at odd times 2PM, etc. I have a hard time focusing at home and being at work is forced focus. I’m taking my ally activities seriously. I’ve been listening to Dan Harris podcasts this week on racism. Tomorrow, my wife and I are going to start a conversation with our kids about privilege. We’ve got some catching up to do.
It hurts so much to read this – but truth hurts.
I admire you so so so much – I always have – and I’m glad our friendship had grown.
I’m guilty of silence.
I’m guilty of well meaning, but insensitive approaches to racism.
I’m learning – and I will never ask you to educate me as such – but be aware that knowing you, reading your amazing blog and genuinely trying my hardest to listen and embed what I’m learning from you into my day to day life is making me want to be a better ally.
You may not want the crown as such – and that does you credit as well – but to this ignorant white lad ; you are a constant inspiration.
Love this blog! I’ve dealt with silence from colleagues I thought we’re close as well, and it was painful! Sending you love and support from the Us
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Thank you. I’ll be sure to check your blog out too ☺️ sorry to hear you’ve faced the silence too. Hope you manage to find a positive way through this. Where are you in the US?