By now, you should be aware of the murder of George Floyd, and the subsequent rioting and protesting. Most of you will also be aware of how important it is to be anti-racist. Unfortunately though, racism is still very much alive in the U.K., not just the U.S., which is why I’m writing this blog – because most of you is not good enough. I need all of you to be actively anti-racist. I strongly believe that each post/quote/website/action/blog/etc that advocates for racial equality and actively fights against the inequality, police brutality and systemic racism, is one little baby step towards the ultimate goal: worldwide equality.
When the news first broke out, scrolling through emails and social media, I viewed multiple videos, pictures, quotes, links to several different donation pages, links to different petitions and highly recommended books that were made to educate people about racism. I think a lot of people, including myself, felt a bit overwhelmed by this. I was of course so angry about the murder, and therefore passionate about making a change, so when I saw all these different kinds of amazing resources, I felt like I was behind. I felt useless because over 8 million people had already signed the George Floyd petition. I felt like I had so much work to do.
But I’m not useless. There are over 7 billion people in this world, so 8 million signatures is not good enough. After adding my signature, I felt a bit more relieved. But a signature that takes up 30 seconds of my time is still not good enough. I watched 13th on Netflix (highly recommend). This was not the first time I watched it. Back in 2016, for my media GCSE, my whole class analysed the documentary. To think that four years later, the issues that were highlighted so effectively in the film, are still happening today, is pure madness.
But me watching a documentary still isn’t enough. Posting on insta doesn’t cut it. Not even close. Can’t attend one of the protests because you’re a high risk coronavirus case? Donate to the different organisations. Can’t donate because you’re low on money? Leave this YouTube video to play, without skipping the ads, whilst you go and cook dinner or something. This costs you nothing and yet will still generate some money to go towards the organisations. Who knew that in the 21st century, it would be possible to donate money to charities, without any money actually leaving your pocket?
As my sister is a high risk coronavirus case, we decided not to go to our local protest. At first, I thought how inconvenient that there’s a pandemic going on at a time where we all need and want to protest more than ever. Seeing it in a more positive light though, I think the fact that hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are still showing their support despite the risks, only helps to show how important this movement is.
What a pandemic can’t stop me, or anyone else doing, is reading. Many of the suggested educational books on racism are sold out on sites like Amazon, which really warms my heart. It also sucks for people like me who didn’t get their hands on them quick enough. Luckily, one of my course mates brought to my attention that, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, is available online on my university’s library website (only for UoB students though). Whilst I know that not all of you reading this will be UoB students, it’s worth checking, if you are a student at all, your own uni library website. And if you are one of the lucky ones that managed to grab a book, give it to someone else to read when you’re done!
As well as using and engaging with all these resources, there’s also the option of posting on social media, or your blog page, to spread awareness and show your support. Due to how accessible the online world is, I think it’s safe to say that this was and still is the most used method in the movement. Although this is great that literally anyone with an internet connection can get involved, it does bring about the issue of performative activism.
At the time of writing this, there are 16.8 million signatures on the Justice for George Floyd petition. In comparison, there are 28.9 million #blackouttuesday posts on Instagram right now. I can only assume that a few million of those 28.9 million people, wanted to look like a good person on social media, but didn’t actually care enough to sign the petition, despite it literally taking 30 seconds of your time. Adding a signature rather than a black square is arguably far more beneficial to the movement, and far more likely to bring about change. So I urge you, if you haven’t still haven’t signed the petition, get off my blog and click here.
Whilst I do believe that posting on social media is helpful in the Black Lives Matter movement, you should also be signing petitions, educating yourself, calling out racist friends or family members, protesting (with PPE) and making donations (even if it’s just a quid) – it’s all important.
I fear that after only a few days or weeks, a lot of people will maybe sign one petition and post a black square on their Insta, and then just go back to posting on Instagram as normal and forgetting entirely about George Floyd, and the many other POC who have lost their lives due to the colour of their skin. Already, this seems to be the case. So, I’m posting this as a reminder that the battle against racism has not stopped, just because your Instagram feed is back to a load of lockdown memes again. We still have a long way to go.
I’m not saying you can’t post on social media now. I’m saying that this is not just a trend that’ll fizzle out after a week. This is going to last for weeks, months, years, or however long it takes to end racism. We will fight until we see real change. And to be an ally, we must keep fuelling the movement. Donate every possible penny in your possession. Fight until your racist grandma understands. Sign all the relevant petitions until there is no more to sign. Educate yourself until you’re an expert. Shout about it until you’ve lost your fucking voice.