TAKING A STAND IN THE FACE OF RACISM
BY PRISCILLA CASEY FROM LONDON, UK
Priscilla was recognized with The Diana Award in 2019 for her work on tackling youth homelessness in London. Today she shares with you her thoughts on the #BlackLivesMatter movement as well as ways you can educate yourself and make a difference.
26 June 2020
Type #BlackLivesMatter into Twitter and you will get an overflowing digital ocean of results. Same for Instagram. Same for Google. It’s a hashtag that carries the cries and anguishes of millions and has become an internationally recognized distress signal. In a society that claims to promote equality and champion diversity, black people are continuously fighting for fair treatment. But yet, the simple request to be heard via the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag has been met with ridicule, violence and even a counter hashtag.
“The simple request to be heard via the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag has been met with ridicule, violence and even a counter hashtag.”
Founded in early 2013, Black Lives Matter (BLM) manifests itself in the form of a civil rights movement with a global network. Just prior to its formation, a black boy from Florida named Trayvon Martin was gunned down by a policeman. He was just 17 and was unarmed. In a shocking, yet sadly predicted turn of events, Trayvon’s killer was acquitted and thus the BLM movement was born with main aims of protesting against state sanctioned police brutality, fighting systematic oppression and championing the rights and liberation of black people.
It’s important to note that Trayvon’s case was not the first of its kind and was unfortunately not the last. The recent brutal shooting of Breonna Taylor and the horrifying public execution of George Floyd – both black, unarmed and killed by police are just two further heart-breaking examples.
“Racism is out in the open but it’s also deep within the cracks.“
Photo by James Eades on Unsplash
Social media has created a connective bridge between nations and now thousands of experiences of racially motivated violence and prejudice have been exposed online, many of which have been video recorded. As a youth rights activist I have come across many cases of young black men and women (myself included) who have experienced racism, whether at the hands of police or in wider society. Our collective experiences highlight the flawed system in which racism has been allowed to fester – a system of propaganda, ignorance and interlinked institutions.
Racism presents itself as hatred but it’s also a large intricate web of tools, ideologies, propaganda, structures and practices used to disempower and oppress. It can manifest through microaggressions, stereotyping, loose legislation, redlining, mass incarceration, police brutality, overt violence and countless other forms. In short, racism is out in the open but it’s also deep within the cracks.
“We must not be silenced. There are petitions to sign, protests to attend and conversations to have.“
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash
So what can we do? Well, we can continue to take a stand in the face of racism and use our voices to inspire change. We must not be silenced. There are petitions to sign, protests to attend, conversations to have, fundraisers to donate towards and the list goes on. In the fight against racism, every effort counts so please don’t allow a fear of ‘doing too little’ to stop you from doing anything at all.
History repeats itself lest we forget. We must remember and highlight both the overt and subtle, but no less dangerous forms of racism we see, hear and witness so that we can learn to dismantle it from the inside out. Learning more about racism is of course not the be all and end all of the fight but it is the initial armour and ammunition against a system that has allowed racism to prevail for so long.
History repeats itself lest we forget. We must remember and highlight both the overt and subtle.
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash
How can you make a difference and contribute to the Black Lives Matter movement?
Petitions to sign:
Add education on racism and diversity to school curriculums: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/323808
Include Black British History in the national curriculum:
Introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting:
Replace flammable cladding in UK buildings:
More protection for black trans women UK:
Documentaries to watch:
LA 92 (NETFLIX)
Black Sheep (Amazon Prime)
The Uncomfortable Truth (Amazon Prime)
The Rise Of Black Lives Matter (YOUTUBE)
Citizenship GCSE, Racism and institutional racism, BBC Teach (YOUTUBE)
A booklet on allyship