So if you follow us on Instagram, you would have seen that we have curated The Isolation Diaries, where each other week a member of our team would talk about how they are handling the lockdown and the things they had learnt during this time. This was curated in the height of the Covid-19 outbreak, however in true 2020, Black Mirror type reality, a new era was brought to the forefront of society. I use such a particular description because it is a very particular reality that has rocked most of us more than the pandemic did.
Unless you have been living in a hole - which since you are reading this we know you aren’t - you would know about the Black Lives Matter protests that have been spreading globally across the last two weeks. I would say this is something we hold close to our hearts, but in all honest truth, it is more than that. This is something we live day to day, we exist in the reality of understanding what it means to be Black in Western society, in which fighting against covert suppression is as part of our everyday reality as eating lunch.
Needless to say, as I debated with coming out of my house to protest amongst 20, 000 people in the midst of a global pandemic, I was reminded of the necessity to make a stand as The Daily Mail was sprawled out on my living room table, sporting articles essentially aiming to highlight how ‘unnecessary” the protests were.
It’s one thing to be overwhelmed with anger and pure exhaustion from the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and of course George Floyd, it is another to be emotionally exhausted from the undercurrent of systematic racism we face as a general reality in our normal day to day lives. From the knowledge that justice isn’t served to people that look like us in the way it is for people that don’t look like us. Walking around with the knowledge that police brutality has murdered and crippled people that look like us, right here at home, without anyone being held accountable. It’s being hyper vigilant every time we see a black man being arrested or interrogated by police, because they look like us and we fear for their safety. It’s the fear of our children growing up in this same reality.
See the thing is we have our own names, Smiley Culture, Sean Rigg, Sarah Reed, Jermaine Baker, Mark Duggan, Rashan Charles, Edson De Sousa, Julian Cole, Christopher Alder, Leon Briggs, Sheku Bayoh, Jimmy Mubenga… to name a few. And that’s just looking at deaths in police custody, not to mention the statistics of how the black community are targeted (imagine, the last time a police officer in the UK was successfully prosecuted concerning the death of somebody in police custody was in 1969, sound dodgy or nah?). Let’s not even start talking about the systemic racism within the workplace that prevents black members of staff from speaking out or even being themselves, without fear of retribution for existing within their blackness.
I mentioned to my parents earlier on in the week, that their child would most likely be at the protests (I mean they think I am radical in my views - but that’s a conversation for another day). My dad telling me he doesn’t believe this will change for another 100 years, having experienced the era of “NO BLACKS, NO IRISH, NO DOGS”. Devastating. With worries of the current pandemic being echoed, I returned it with “ I would risk my life for the liberation of my children, because if they don’t have freedom, what have I really done?”
These protests needed to happen. The questioning of the police needs to happen. The questioning of government (Boris in particular) needs to happen (I mean how we stannnn for the QUEENS that are Diane Abbott & Dawn Butler). The questioning of brands needed to happen. But in the fight for equality, we have to learn something from those that came before us. We need to do something different. Protesting works in bringing the awareness but the real ground work will begin once the protests die down. It’s accountability. It’s brands/organisations/employers really showing up to support diversity - with progression - at every level. It’s in the growth of black businesses. It’s in the celebration and progression of black creatives in the same way black culture is celebrated.
Racism is so endemic in British culture that there are some poor souls out there that believe that refusing to accept oppression is detrimental to being British. It’s a new generation, many of us are Black British, our ancestors helped build this country. We are born and bred here. The joy that resides in my heart as these statues are toppling, as symbols of murder and oppression are being disgraced for what they truly are. Because it’s not our Britishness. We have a hell of a part to play.
One thing we do need to remember though is to not drop the ball. To support our black businesses, to give them a chance of survival that other cultures give their own, to support initiatives that build up our communities where systematic/structural racism has taken from them, and most importantly to fight for justice for ourselves the way that justice has been displayed and practiced for others. The current fight can be overwhelming, but it needs to be done. We have to hold Britain accountable for the atrocities it is guilty for - we have to stay informed and focused. It really come like shift work; rest, recuperate and armour up to fight the battle again, but this is the practice/lifestyle we have to absorb if we want a better future for our children.
Here are just some links below for information/causes that will keep us supporting the community and keep us informed. Stay safe and stay strong Beauts! As a community we have inherent strength, always remember that xx
Words by: Tia @mstiaroberts
BLM UK -