“So how can we stand with black people in the fight against racism? How can we be an ally to the black community and create a fairer society?”
Take these facts:
- Black people are nine times more likely to be stopped and searched by police than white people
- Black people are more than three times more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act
- Black workers get paid 8.3% less than white workers (according to statistics from the TUC in 2018)
So how can we stand with black people in the fight against racism? How can we be an ally to the black community and create a fairer society?
Being an ally is more than just speaking up if a black person experiences racist language and remarks being used. It’s more than just “having black friends”.
Being an ally, although it includes speaking up , from my perspective, it is a constant lifetime commitment to education.
Education of yourself and those around you. To understand how people are judged just on the bases of their skin colour and ethnicity, and how this can impact their social and professional life.
Choosing to educate your grandparent on why they can no longer use racist language will be more than one conversation, the more facts you have to back yourself up during these conversations the easier the discussion will be for you. Choosing to educate a friend when they are being ignorant goes a lot more smoothly if you can counteract their opinions with facts.
For example, in the current society we live in, it is common for people to say “I don’t see colour”, meaning to express that they stand against racism. However, in order for us to dismantle racism we must be able to see colour, if we express that we don’t, it shuts down and invalidates others experiences of the world. Because by saying ‘I don’t see colour’ you are saying ‘you don’t see race’. The essence of this statement ignores racism, because it refuses to acknowledge the fact that peoples race does impact their life.
Being an ally is also giving your friends a supportive ear and actively listening to their experiences. Allowing them to speak freely and making sure you don’t exclude their experiences of the world can make a lot of difference. For too long their voices have felt invalid. Allow black people to be delicate, soft, and sad. But equally allow them the space to speak, be strong and stand up, if they choose it. Support them in every life move, because for certain they have met adversities in life that you might not think to imagine..
Being an ally is helping to bridge the gap between communities that blatantly exists today, due to systems our country has been built on. It is being a part of something that is not about you, but about supporting others in their struggles against a system that works against them.
In the local area there are many groups to become a part of which can help people in their anti-racist activist work, such as Black Lives Matter – Zara’s Voice. I myself along with Shingirai Nyamugure run a group named “The Highlight”. This group is currently used as an information portal and for petitions, events and projects related to BLM. However, we have a larger vision for The Highlight.
At The Highlight, through freedom of expression in the form of different philosophies it is our aim to communicate intellectually and “highlight” the grievances affecting our society, so as to heal the wounds of the world.
We live in a world where our different environments, situations and circumstances make us unique, and shape our identities. There are a lot of factors which influence behaviours and attitudes that affect how we live, interact and survive.
Personally I also want to encourage allies to keep going, the more we push these conversations the easier they become for us. It is also important we realise that our tiredness of fighting for the anti-racist movement pales in comparison to the suppression and racism black people experience.
- The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/oct/27/black-people-nine-times-more-likely-to-face-stop-and-search-than-white-people
- Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/legal-news/legal-newsletter-june-2019/discrimination-in-mental-health-services/
- TUC: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/black-workers-levels-earn-10-less-white-counterparts-finds-tuc
- The Highlight : https://www.facebook.com/groups/564416810764468
Image by Eddy Maynard