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