Racism in 2020. A response to the murder of George Floyd.
by Maria Fuster, Head of Culture/Office Manager at Forever Beta
Before starting to organise my thoughts to write this I had to sit with the emotions that the brutal and public murder of George Floyd brought up within me. I cried my eyes out. I cried tears of sorrow, frustration and anger. But most of all, tears of heartbreak for all the generations of black people (and by black I mean all people of colour) who have had to suffer since the times when a white person could own a black person like we own cars, pets and houses today.
Racism is not dead, it’s not a thing of the past and it definitely exists, contrary to what some people think. It’s easy for a Londoner to believe that the cosmopolitan bubble we live in, the melting pot of different cultures that we’re lucky enough to experience through food, art and music signifies that we’re past the worst. Then something like what happened to George Floyd comes into the public eye and we’re reminded that outside of a city like London or Amsterdam, Barcelona or New York these behaviours go unseen and unchecked every day!
These are awkward conversations to have, but for far too long it’s been pushed to the side to avoid the feelings that come up. Guilt, shame, anger, defensiveness, pain and denial to name just a few. White privilege is real. It’s not an attack on white people to acknowledge that and to admit that black people are at a disadvantage due to the way that society is structured. With very few black people at the top, making the decisions, choosing who to hire, being represented in the media and ultimately running the world, how can it be an equal playing field?
This might seem a bit strong to some, indeed, my own ignorance as a mixed race woman made me ashamed and embarrassed, but after looking into things deeper for myself I was able to see how the events of the past have shaped and affected black people and how we are still directly affected today. All native Caribbean people are descendants of slaves. A large number of black people in the Caribbean can’t swim, this can be put down to the fact that during slavery they were made to fear the ocean to deter them from trying to escape. Imagine that!
Black history should not be an add on during Black History Month. This is one of the main areas where there needs to be change. Black history shouldn’t even need to be a separate subject, all history is black history because black people were there and this is something that is barely acknowledged. Our history has been white washed from making Africa look smaller on world maps to unseen photos of black soldiers fighting in the wars. This has got to change. Our children, and our children’s children will carry this instilled and institutionalized racism with them if they’re not educated with THE TRUTH.
I have experienced racism first hand, and I’ve experienced it from black people and white people alike. Colourism is a real thing, you can see it from the Caste system in India and Pakistan to the thousands of people who bleach their skin. This is another hangover from slavery, where the fairer skinned black people were allowed to work in the house and the darker skinned people had to go into the fields. Divide and conquer. The truth is, we all need to really take a look at ourselves and sit with these thoughts. We all need to accept that we have our own inbuilt prejudices from our upbringing and understand where it comes from. And then we all need to work together towards putting an end to the perpetuation of those ingrained and sometimes unconscious biases.
Educate yourself, educate your children and stand together as one human race against hate. Start from within, don’t stand by when someone casually throws out a racist comment, and that goes for homophobia, sexism and any other form of judgment based on anything other than a person’s character. It’s 2020, how much longer are we going to allow people to get away with murder? Black lives do matter, stand up for your fellow human and hopefully some good can come out of this terrible act of blatant racism and police brutality.
Some useful links and reading for anyone wanting to look further:
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Native by Akala
Instagram: @privtoprog @theblackcurriculum @blackhistorystudies