'...is silence not an act of violence too'
In light of the recent tragic murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests and riots worldwide, the world has been changed. Today I saw a video of George’s daughter, Gianna Floyd, shouting the words “My daddy has changed the word” - and I truly believe that he has. Taking to social media over the last few days has been overwhelming. Everyone seems to have their own opinions (whether I agree with them or not), lots of people have actively tried to help others understand how is the best way to help, 99% of posts I have seen want change. I have seen many caring white people posting about how they feel unsure as to what they should say. Staying silent seemed sickening. But speaking up didn’t appear to be as straightforward as people previously thought and I witnessed countless posts from people saying that they wanted to speak up and help, but they were scared of accidentally saying the wrong thing. At the beginning of the week I did a post highlighting the Nike campaign ‘For once, don’t do it’, I have participated in the social media blackout on Tuesday, I have donated (and attached links/numbers to those places you can donate to at the bottom), I have highlighted some of my favourite books centred around the topic of race. But I am angry and this is not enough. I am sickened by the complete disrespect for human life, due to the colour of one’s skin. It seems like madness that people think that this is ok. The videos, pictures, tweets and posts I have seen online over the last few days have played on my mind immensely. They have upset me to my core, and this is why I cannot and will not stay silent. One of my favourite poems by the amazing Blythe Baird has the line‘is silence not an act of violence too’. This quote has stuck with me since I first heard it as a teenager and it is one that is as appropriate today as it could have been decades ago. But I am going to use my tiny platform to praise those amazing black people who have had an impact on mine and countless other people’s lives, no matter how small. Without the world being exposed to their greatness, life would have been a whole lot duller.
If you follow me on social media, you will have seen I have been singing the praises of Reni Eddo-Lodge and her book 'Why I am no longer talking to white people about race'. I would highly recommend this book, which is education and eye opening. There is no wonder it is at the forefront of minds at the moment. Reni is more inspirational as she is asking those who wish to buy her book to use independent book shops, to donate to anti-racist charities or to borrow the book from a friend and donate the money you would have used to buy it.
I am almost positve everyone should know this name, either for her immense activism or her brilliant reads. For me, Maya makes this list because of her book 'I know why the caged bird sings. I know Why the Caged bird sings was one of the books I studied in my A Level English classes. There were three quotes which have remained with me for the last eight years, and shall do so forever. This autobiographical read is a coming of age story documenting the racism, inequalities and hardships faced by Maya from the ages of 3 years old, to 16.
‘There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you’
'Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst and unsurprised by anything in between’ ‘Instead pursue the things you love doing and do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you’
Now, Stevie Wonder seems like a random choice of person who has impacted my life. However, his song 'For Once in my Life' is one of my very favourite songs. I first heard this song played four years ago, when it was the first dance song at my cousin's wedding. I was a bridesmaid that day and I remember looking on and feeling such joy, and dancing with my wonderfully wacky and loving uncle. Every time I hear this song I smile and it takes me back to that moment. It became even more prominent when I met my boyfriend and the lyrics seemed to take on a whole new level to me. Whenever I am sad, this song makes me happy; for that happiness, Stevie Wonder makes my list.
Tarana Burke/Simone Biles/Gabby Douglas
Now, originally I had included Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas for their involvement and courage in the face of the #MeToo project. However, I learnt that the project was founded by Tarana Burke and was originally set up in 2006 to help survivors of sexual violence, particularly Black women and girls and other young women of colour, find a pathway to healing. I had no idea of the original origins and visions of the movement. The #MeToo movement is one of the biggest campaigns behind Black Lives Matter that I remember in my lifetime. It has a created a community of women all around the world speak up about their experiences of sexual assault and violence. This movement inspired the courageous Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas (amongst other amazing women) to speak up against Larry Nassar, which helped to result in his conviction. It helped to show young girls and women across the world that they are not alone and that it can and does happen to everyone.
Lastly, I wanted to give Anyonita a mention. I am sure that lots of people from the marketing community know her, and her business Northern Bee Marketing, but I have had the pleasure of working with her for the last 10 months. I have never seen her without a smile, a cheerful voice or a joke. She has acted as a colleague, mentor and teammate to me and does everything she does with determination. I felt it would have been wrong to not mention someone who has had a direct impact on my first year in business, all whilst running her own business and homeschooling too! I am looking forward to the day we can meet in Manchester for a drink again. To those black people who need us to use our white privilege to fight, know that I cannot understand your lived experiences, but I stand by you in the fight against racism. I will continue to educate myself as much as I can, to see race so that we can defeat its inequalities and to spread a message of love, inclusivity and acceptance in all that I do, teach and say. I hope our children grow up and learn how George Floyd really did change the world, for good. If you wish to donate:
Black Visions Collective - https://secure.everyaction.com/4omQDAR0oUiUagTu0EG-Ig2
Reclaim the Block - https://secure.everyaction.com/zae4prEeKESHBy0MKXTIcQ2
The Bail Project - https://www.communityjusticeexchange.org/nbfn-directory
Show Racism the Red Card - https://www.justgiving.com/theredcard
Stand Against Racism and Inequality - https://www.sariweb.org.uk/who-we-are/donate/
Stop Hate UK - https://www.stophateuk.org/donate-to-stop-hate-uk/