To truly understand the current outcry for change is to live your entire life under the cloud of racism. But even if you acknowledge that you’ll never truly understand, there are still ways you can help.
No, sharing a black square or a hashtag on your grid isn’t going to cut it. It doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the true work that needs to be done.
In theory it’s a simple problem to fix: just stop treating black people like second class citizens, right? But it's much more complex than that. The deep, insidious, multi-layered nature of systemic racism means there is not an overnight fix.
Since George Floyd’s tragic death, support for the black community has been immense, with tens of thousands taking to the streets around the world and an influx of supportive materials from brands and individuals shared online. This is the biggest demonstration of civil unrest in a generation. But, vitally, it can't be a fad. We must maintain momentum once the news cycle ends.
Here are some simple things you can do to help keep that momentum going:
Have the discussion
We know that you are tired of explaining what white privilege is, and that there is no such thing as a positive stereotype, but never has our voice been louder, our platform more global, our audience more willing to listen. We must continue to have the conversation. No, it’s not nice reliving past experiences, but sharing stories humanises what it is to be on the receiving end of racism and chips away at its power. It’s time to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Detect, reject and suppress
Confront not just the overt racism but also the covert racism which can be more damaging given that it’s often unchecked, undetected and so insidious that it presents itself as normalised, everyday behaviour.
Hold your employer to account
In the last couple of weeks, every business with a social media presence has made some kind of solidarity pledge - a supportive ‘We are with you’ statement. Hold them to it. Ask for data and measurable steps in fixing the inequality present in the workplace. Representation matters from grassroots to the boardroom and there needs to be a linear chain of representation right to the top. Call it out and demand it.
Don't accept the status quo
Be stubborn and unapologetic in your pursuits to shine a light on racism.
Be an ally
This is the absolute minimum you can do. An ally is defined as “anyone who actively promotes and aspires to advance the culture of inclusion through intentional, positive and conscious efforts that benefit people as a whole”. Making an active decision not to remain silent is all we ask.
Know your biases
We all have unconscious biases. They are learned stereotypes that are automatic, unintentional and deeply ingrained within our beliefs, and have the ability to affect our behaviour. Only when you know your triggers can you check yourself when it shows itself. Remember that it's a privilege to learn about racism instead of experiencing it your whole life.
Listen to the community
Listen and respect your black friends' lived racial experience. Empathy is key.
Taking an active stand and calling out racist behaviour isn’t an easy thing to do, so start with your family, close friends and colleagues. This may strain relationships but it is an absolute necessity.
Don't take it personally
We have been fighting for equality for generations. We are angry, traumatised and tired. This is an attack on systematic racism - not you as an individual. We are not asking you to apologise for your white privilege, but rather to acknowledge it and use it to make a difference.
Black or white, you need to educate yourself and the people around you, lean in to uncomfortable conversations, and be willing to make mistakes along the way. It’s OK to not have all the answers or to get it right every time; we’re all learning.
Look ahead and follow through
Ask yourself what you can continue to do in one month, three months or six months’ time. Instead of making a one-off donation, perhaps you set up a smaller monthly payment; if you've signed up to a petition, follow up and see how it's progressing; if you've emailed your local MP or child’s school, chase them up if you haven't had a reply. Whatever action you are taking or commitments you are making, follow through.
It goes without saying this is a very simplified approach to ensuring we don’t lose momentum, but everyone has to start somewhere. We at Conscious Londoner aim to shed light on racism, promote black excellence and diversity, and celebrate positive change through education, stories and powerful imagery. For more ideas on how to maintain the momentum and links to our upcoming stories and blogs follow us on instagram @consciouslondoner.
Akin Adams & Sigi Joseph (Conscious Londoners)
You Might Also Like