Black Lives Matter!

I know I’m a little late to the game, but I really wanted to think about how to write this post, make a decent attempt at writing something about this sensitive topic. But I also couldn’t sit on my arse any longer and not say something.

I have seen a few actors, singers, comedians, and many others who are in the public eye getting slated for either not saying something, or when they do say something, saying it ‘too late’. I don’t consider myself famous, but I am in the public eye at least a little bit, so I feel I need to say my bit and show support.

This too might be late, but I, like many others, have tried to find the best way to talk about it. I probably could write this much better too, but I feel like it needs to be said.

I am writing this for my black friends. My black friend’s friends and family. The black friends I will make in the future. The black kids who will grow up and deserve a life without oppression and discrimination. To the black community as a whole all over the world that I may never have the privilege to meet.

I am with you, my black brothers and sisters. Black lives matter!

In this post, I am going to talk about why it’s important to stand up for black lives, why these protests are important, why right now we cannot say ‘All lives matter’, my thoughts on George Floyd, police in both the United States and the United Kingdom, the vandalism, the tearing down of statues and how to help.

Why do we need ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests?

I know I am not the best person to speak; I am a white woman living in the United Kingdom. I am not black, I am not even in the United States where the majority of the discimination is happening. Although, I have heard there is still discrimination/racism here in the UK.

But the fact I am white should, hopefully, speak more, because more white people DO need to speak up, that’s half the problem in the first place, white people aren’t speaking up for the injustice.

We also need to stop the discrimination, the oppression, the hate, the racism towards my black brothers and sisters. They deserve to live the way they want to live. They deserve to live without judgement, without hate, without being oppressed.

Why not ‘All Lives Matter’?

I saw a post on Facebook that summed this up really well, a young girl was holding a sign at a protest that said:

We said –> Black Lives Matter
Never Said –> Only Black Lives Matter
We Know –> All Lives Matter
We just need your help with #BlackLivesMatter
For black lives are in danger!

So, yes, of course, all lives matter. All lives DO matter. White, black, Asian, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, LGBT+, non-religious, etc. They all matter. I get annoyed when I hear racism towards my Muslim brothers and sisters. I get annoyed when I hear racism towards my Chinese/Asian brothers and sisters. I get annoyed when I hear women are still being treated differently. I get annoyed when my brothers and sisters from the LGBT+ community are being oppressed, hated, even killed!

But that’s not the POINT. The point with #BlackLivesMatter, just like where the feminist movement came from, something needs to be done to stop the racism direct and indirect discimination towards our black brothers and sisters.

There are separate movements, issues and support for the other communities. #BlackLivesMatter is specifically to help the black community.

The ‘All Lives Matter’ tags, speeches and movements are seen as another form of oppression to the black community. Let’s share #BlackLivesMatter to start a discourse, to stop the discimination in the black community so that we can finally say All Lives Matter. But until then, we cannot.

And yes, let’s also stand up for our Asian, Muslim, LGBT+ brothers and sisters too! These are also issues, and we need to stand up just as much for them as we do our black brothers and sisters!

But George Floyd was a criminal!

I’m not going to agree or disagree, I don’t know George Floyd, nor do I know whether he is/was a criminal. I have heard he was, and I also heard he was on drugs. I have also heard that he was accused of buying cigarettes with counterfeit money.

Does that mean he should have been killed? Does that mean the police officer’s actions are justified? No. Of course not.

Never mind that his past criminal actions shouldn’t define him, certainly if he’s been through the system and has paid his dues. If he was arrested due to new criminal activity, or due to his drug issue, then he should have a right to be put on trial. Of course, I don’t know the US legal system, but I’m pretty sure death by a knee on the neck isn’t part of it.

And if he was handled in such a way for suspected counterfeit money? Is that fair? Or excessive use of force? Was he really in possession of counterfeit money? Or was the shop owner racist and assumed he was?

Okay, George Floyd may not have been completely innocent, he may not exactly be a saint, but he certainly didn’t deserve to die because of it.

Plus, we cannot assume things based on hearsay. Look at the facts. He died in police custody. He died from the knee on the neck. If Joe Bloggs down the road heard someone say that George Floyd was a criminal, and told you, who’s to say that it is true? How much is true? I’m sorry, but if I was to put that in a research article and reference Joe Bloggs, I’d probably get a huge fail for it.

What about the white men killed by cops?

Yes, absolutely, there clearly is a problem with the policing system in the United States. Too many people are being shot or dying in police custody needlessly. I completely agree! Something needs to be done about the policing system in the United States!

But that is a separate issue. Hopefully, from these protests something will be done. Better training, perhaps.

From what I can gather, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I see the black community seeing this death as the last straw. They have got to the point that they are tired of their voices not being heard, from being oppressed, disciminated, and so on, and George Floyd’s death was the last straw.

Plus, I have heard that there are more black deaths in the hands of the police, than there are white people in the United States.

Here’s a link to an article I found: https://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/criminal-justice/deaths-police-custody-united-states/

A quote from the article: “It finds that black people were most likely to die in police custody.”

And, I was very shocked to see that it isn’t just the United States, statistics show that black people are more likely to die in police custody in the United Kingdom too.

Here’s a link to an article: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/jun/11/black-deaths-in-police-custody-the-tip-of-an-iceberg-of-racist-treatment

And yes, okay, there are some criticisms of the actual references I gave; they’re not peer reviewed research articles, although the first one is paraphrasing from a real research article, but it at least shows you there may be an issue and something needs to be done!

Is it right to be loot and vandalize in protests?

It depends.

Looting, I would say no. That is just exploiting a situation for your own gain.

But vandalism, I can see why people do. Of course, I dislike vandalism, I dislike the idea of trying to fight hate with hate, or causing unneeded destruction, especially to properties or businesses that had nothing to do with the oppression, causing more fear and hate.

But, I understand it. Imagine you were in a work place and you were being disciminated against because you had a different eye colour. Snide remarks, jokes that you don’t find funny, being left out of meetings or social gatherings, being given the shitty jobs to do, missing out on a promotion, and you hate it. You go to complain, but there is no system and no one listens to you. Days, weeks, months, years pass and you try each time to voice your concerns, to get people to stop, to show them you’re no different to they are, that you have the same likes they do, same interests, are just as capable as they are. Then the years of discimination gets the better of you and you lash out.

That’s what I think is happening right now. And this is why we need to speak up for our black brothers and sisters to help.

I don’t agree with the vandalism, but if all other options have failed, then yes, this is probably their last resort.

Is it right to pull down statues?

This was all sparked off by a statue being removed and thrown into a harbour in Bristol: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/12/opinion/edward-colston-statue-racism.html

Was this right? Should they have been allowed to do this?

Again, it depends.

The statue was of Edward Colston, he was a 17th-century slave trader. Between 1672 and 1689, his Royal African Company shipped 100,000 enslaved people from West Africa to the Americas and the Caribbean. Over 20,000 people died of disease and dehydration, their bodies thrown into the ocean. Colson’s statue was engraved with ‘…one of the most virtuous and wise sons’. People have been petitioning to have the statue removed for ages (I’m not sure how long, but my money is on before the protests). So, yeah, I think they were right to pull this down. And apt to have it thrown into the harbour too.

So, in answer to that question, first look at; was the statue of a person who was a slave trader? Did the person get his fame for the slave trade? Was he a horrible person? Then, yes, probably best to take down the statue.

But, was the statue of a man who faught in a war for his country? Died for his country? But might have had some ties to the slave trade in a small way? Then no, probably shouldn’t be taken down.

Of course, this is just a very basic idea. It’s not going to be straight forward as that.

A lot of the United States and United Kingdom (and other countries), history is based around the slave trade. It’s an unfortunate part of our history. I don’t think every statue or memorial should be taken down just because of links to the slave trade. I believe statues that commemorate only actions in the slave business should.

Statues of people mean that we worship or look up to them. It’s a show of power. A person who built his/her power based upon the slave trade or other forms of suffering, shouldn’t be looked up to. Thus, taking down the statue is a good idea. But maybe replacing it with something else to commemorate why the statue was taken down, explain the history of that person and why we no longer accept it.

But statues of people we commemorate that only have small links to the slave trade, that represent other aspects of the person, like his service in a war for example, I don’t believe should be taken down.

We need to remember our history, remember the good and the bad. So that we learn from our mistakes. I don’t believe we should forget what happened, but I also don’t believe the statues of slave traders should be worshipped either.

What can I do to help?

The first and foremost you can do, is stand up and show your support. If you can’t actively attend a protest, then show your support in other ways. Post it on social media, tell your black friends, and be there to listen and learn.

Learn is the most valuable thing you can do. Even if you think you’re not racist, you still need to educate yourselves. There is such a thing as indirect racism and uncouscious bias.

I am still learning. You should too.

Here are a few links that I just found (I know, I need to do some more research myself) that you might useful:

https://blacklivesmatter.com/

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/black-lives-matter-charity-donate-uk-stephen-lawrence-stop-hate-a9544786.html

https://www.timeout.com/things-to-do/how-to-support-black-lives-matter

If you have any more charities, or links to where you can help, please do let me know and I will update this section.

Summary

I’m not sure how else to end this blog post, there are still a lot of things I feel I want to say. It’s a complicated topic, but I hope I at least voiced my thoughts on a few of the more relevant ones.

I will end this, however, with this small plea: please stand up for #BlackLivesMatter.

And please, do not fight hate with hate.

(and yes, also stand up for other lives! Let’s stop the hate, discrimination, oppression of all!)

I am sorry if I have said anything that is offensive, anything that isn’t politically correct, or incorrect, I am still learning.

Also, please note, any rasist, violent or unneeded negative comments will be deleted. I am happy for a discource into the subject, that’s what the world needs, a discourse to find a way to end the issue and to educate, but anything that is just unnecessary hate will not be tolerated. Thank you.

Fifty Shades of Life

Life isn’t black and white. There is no good and evil. Everyone has the capacity to be good. Everyone has the capacity to be evil. We all lie somewhere on a scale between good and evil. Some are more good than evil, while others are more evil that good.

I have struggled with this notion for a while. One day I might pride myself in being good. Another day I might feel crushed by how unfair the world is and say ‘fuck it’ and dabble in the world of evil.

But I cannot truly be evil. It isn’t within my nature. I cannot sit by and watch someone suffer. I cannot play a part in such suffering myself.

I see a world that is tainted with negativity and hate. A lot are selfish with a thirst for power – whether this is power in riches, power in popularity, power in knowledge. Everyone wants power.

It’s easy to fall into line and follow like lost sheep. It’s ingrained into us when we’re young to compete over each other. We compete in sports – one team against another. It’s seen as okay to do so. We compete against our classmates for either recognition from the teacher or to get a gold star. We see it in the work force, with employee incentives.

It’s probably human nature to do so. Before humans became civilizations, before we cultivated farming, we were simple hunter gatherers. We learnt to survive for only our own benefit, or at a stretch; our small immediate families. Outsiders were threats. But as we became more complex ‘thinking’ beings, we grew into this huge web of civilizations. We had to learn to get along, but all the while this ingrained desire to dislike the ‘others’ is within us.

But we are ‘thinking’ humans, we are able to think, to creative, to learn, to evolve, to philosophise. We should be able to see past our ingrained human desires to hate the others. We should find ways to work together. If we cannot work together, then the world may as well go back to being simple hunter gathers.

Doctors work with nurses, work with scientists, work with the maintenance staff, work with the people who invent and make new tools. We work alongside strangers in our community to keep the space the way it is, to fix issues, to keep the place clean and safe. We work with the police, the fire department, the tax man (sometimes we don’t, but the majority of the time we do until something threatens us). We have come together to create technology, art, public spaces, road networks, other transport networks, even trading foods and materials to our distant neighbours.

If we don’t work together, all this fails.

Life isn’t black and white, there are those of us don’t want to work with the guy next door because his views are different, or he looked as us funny, or he’s from a different land. We don’t want to work with the police officer because we believe he isn’t doing his job properly for no fault of his own. We don’t want to work with a person because of something that he did a long time ago and has since paid his dues. We don’t want to work with a person because of what a collective body has said and we have decided we believe it.

Sometimes there are parts of life that don’t work well. Whatever it is you believe. It might be that you believe the police force doesn’t work well. It might be that the NHS doesn’t work well. It might be the government. It might be something ethical or moral, like a homeless persons on the street, or a pet being abused, or our sisters and brothers in a foreign country do not have a decent quality of life whether that’s from hunger, thirst, safety or other.

We should do something about these. We should come together and make them right. We should stop making excuses, we should stop our ancient human prejudices get in the way, we should stop thinking ‘someone else will do it’. WE should do it. Not the guy next door. Not the guy with lots of money. Or the woman who is popular. We ALL should.

If you do not do your part in society. I see this as negativity. I see this as being just as bad as pushing someone down or hurting a helpless animal. If you want to live in a world that has better quality of life, better policing, better NHS, better government. YOU should be doing something about it. Don’t just make excuses. Actions speak louder than words.

How many of you can say that you did something selfless? How many can say they gave money to a homeless person? How many can say they helped in a charity? How many can say they didn’t put aside their particular anger and just be nice to a stranger who didn’t deserve to be shouted at for no reason?

This world runs on all of us. At the moment it has become a popularity contest. Who is most popular, who is the richest, who is the brainiest, etc. “How many likes can this post get?” “How many retweets can this post get?” Games require you to be popular for others to help you out. Being creative requires you to have friends to help you out. If you don’t run the race of popularity, you lose.

Back to the idea of life being a scale of black and white. I used to think that because I wasn’t popular, because I didn’t have many friends and family supporting me, I was obviously a bad person. People didn’t want to know me because I was bad. No one was helping me out because I was bad.

Yes, I agree. I’m not a saint. I’m not 100% good. No one is. I’ve said nasty things, I’ve cut people out, I’ve been selfish in cases. But does this mean I am a horrible person? Does this mean I am evil? No, it means I am human. I make mistakes. I have probably said nasty things because I was in a bad place. I have probably cut people out because I was upset (I have cut people out because they were bringing me down, that was for my own sanity), I have been selfish because the world has made me selfish.

I’m not always nasty. I’m not always pushing people out. I’m not always selfish.

I try to be there for people when they need it. I try to support my friends when they need support – whether literal support or emotional support. I give money to the homeless. I try to buy charity items instead of new. I offer a stranger a chair to sit.

I am not evil. I am human.

I am trying. I am trying to stay happy in a world that is full of hate, fear, and violence. I am trying to inspire people to do good or do what they love. I am trying to avoid these ingrained human tendencies to dislike others that are not like me, or who are different, or to avoid angry outbursts when I am upset. I am trying to fill this world of hate with as much happiness and love as possible.

I have hardly any support. I have hardly any friends. I have family that don’t talk to me, who don’t support me. I don’t have a lot of money. I’m not popular. I am struggling through life. I try to make the most of it.

I will get back up again when I am pushed down. What other choice do I have?

I will try to make a difference in this world.