How to support the Black Lives Matter movement if you can't protest
NO JUSTICE NO PEACE
Around the world people within the black community have been vocal about the atrocities they have faced for many centuries, however, with modern age technology these violent acts are now captured on smartphones, to show the world the shocking acts of brutality commonly at the hands of police officers and of white people.
The difficult conversations from black parents towards their children continue but so does the violence. Black children across the globe are being told at an early age that they are different and that there will come a time when they will experience prejudice, covert racism (including in the workplace) and potentially physical violence; they are told they have to work harder.
The many murders of black people have sparked outrage and protests for countless decades and even centuries. Today, names such as Trayvon Martin, a young man walking home with iced tea and skittles, shot by George Zimmerman (who was found not guilty); Amadou Diallo, shot forty-one times by 4 police officers who were acquitted); and Ahmaud Arbery, a jogger killed in a modern-day lynching by men who claimed they suspected him of burglaries, has left the community with a lack of trust as they commonly see these stories fade away in the mainstream press and those responsible slapped with menial punishments.
This is why black people feel society perceives their lives do not matter. The more people see this behaviour, the less respect there is for black life, and the freedom to continue the massacre of and racism towards black lives with perpetrators knowing the system - particularly in the US - is set up for them to walk away without consequences and a lack of justice for the victim's family.
During COVID-19 racial tensions have been at their highest and increased profiling has seen many members of the black community slapped with unfair fines in the UK (data released by the Met Police reported disproportionate numbers of ethnic minority groups were fined for alleged breaches of the lockdown in London) whilst Dominic Cummings checked out beauty spots 250 miles from his home without even a slap on the wrist.
Christian Cooper, George Floyd and why there are protests
On the 25th May in New York City, avid bird watcher Christian Cooper politely asked a white woman (now identified as Amy Cooper) to kindly put her dog on a lead per the park regulations.
He immediately took his phone to film the encounter which saw Ms Cooper attempt to flaunt her white privilege and leverage her racial power. She threatened to and then called the police, brazenly shouting “I’m going to tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life”.
What was most shocking about this scenario was that Ms Cooper appeared to be the aggressor and used her white privilege in an attempt to threaten Mr Cooper's life, raising discussions of racism and police brutality against black men. For Ms Cooper, this was an exercise of power and control but historically it is clear that there are consequences for black men, particularly in New York, where incarceration rates for black men are twice as high as Hispanic men and five times higher than white men. This case echoed that of Emmett Louis Till, the 14-year-old African American who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 after being accused of offending a white woman in her family's grocery store.
Ms Cooper describes herself as "liberal", "not a racist" and someone who "rescues animals" but appeared happy to threaten harm on an African American's life so easily.
The community has been further outraged by the murder of George Floyd on the same day as the Christian Cooper incident. Captured on video in broad daylight for the world to see: a man (not just a black man) struggling for his life and gasping for air as white police officer, Derek Chauvin, forcefully knelt on his neck for over 8 minutes, over the alleged use of a counterfeit 20-dollar-bill.
Shocked witnesses watched Chauvin - along with 3 other officers who did not intervene - mercilessly take the life of Mr Floyd, knowing they would face no consequences. This was apparent as the video went viral and Derek Chauvin was not arrested. At this point, black America had simply had enough of watching the lives of people in their communities cruelly taken, whilst Chauvin and his colleagues (I would say accomplices) flaunted that a black life simply did not matter. Protests emerged in Minneapolis and spread to neighbouring states demanding justice for George Floyd. Quite frankly, white people had simply had enough too.
Black American's have had enough but need white people to not only understand that this cannot be yesterday's news but that a change must happen.
Chauvin has been arrested and, as of today, his colleagues have been fired - but the world is sick and tired and this is clearly not a world that black people or our white counterparts wish to exist in unless a progressive step is taken.
The Black Lives Matter movement is not just to highlight the inequalities and brutality faced by black people, but also to ask white people to step up and support this community; choosing not to be present during that one moment and be present always, not to be naive and think that this community can handle this alone - this is a call for help.
The atrocity of George Floyd has placed the spotlight on this issue yet again and we all need to have difficult conversations: with our children, families, friends, colleagues, black people, and most importantly, ourselves. We have the power to change the narrative on this story.
In London and across the world protests have formed to ensure that people in positions of power, particularly in government, recognise that this is not going away any time soon unless a serious change is made. Actor John Boyega was present at the London rally alongside other high profile persons.
Boyega's spinetingling words resonate the pain of a young black man who has faced his own battles in society, yet these words stay with me the most, “Today is about innocent people who were halfway through their process; we don’t know what George Floyd could have achieved, we don’t know what Sandra Bland could have achieved, but today we’re going to make sure that won’t be an alien thought to our young ones.”
What can I do if I don't live in the US or can't protest?
The answer is plenty, but it starts with educating yourself on what is truly going on in America and across the world, including where you live. Racism is everywhere and you may not even realise it as it presents in many forms including covertly.
We have researched some ways that you can help, particularly if you are afraid or can't protest peacefully but want to help the movement so these issues can be addressed. Remember this is everyone's responsibility.
For Cops Who Kill, Special Supreme Court Protection
This Reuters special report examines the biggest barriers to charges being brought forth to police officers and those to accountability. The report published last month, coincidentally days before the murder of Geroge Floyd also dissects the American criminal justice system and examines why appeals courts have increasingly ignored the question of excessive force within the police force.
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
The National Book Award-winning history of how racist ideas were created, spread, and deeply rooted in American society.
Some Americans insist that we're living in a post-racial society. But racist thought is not just alive and well in America--it is more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues, racist ideas have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit.
In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. He uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to drive this history: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary activist Angela Davis
Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by Bell Hooks
A groundbreaking work of feminist history and theory analyzing the complex relations between various forms of oppression. Ain't I a Woman examines the impact of sexism on black women during slavery, the historic devaluation of black womanhood, black male sexism, racism within the recent women's movement, and black women's involvement with feminism.
The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.
Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala
From the first time, he was stopped and searched as a child, to the day he realised his mum was white, to his first encounters with racist teachers - race and class have shaped Akala's life and outlook. In this unique book, he takes his own experiences and widens them out to look at the social, historical and political factors that have left us where we are today.
Covering everything from the police, education and identity to politics, sexual objectification and the far right.
Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga
In this vital re-examination of a shared history, award-winning historian and broadcaster David Olusoga tells the rich and revealing story of the long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa and the Caribbean.
Drawing on new genealogical research, original records, and expert testimony, Black and British reaches back to Roman Britain, the medieval imagination, Elizabethan 'blackamoors' and the global slave-trading empire.
It shows that the great industrial boom of the nineteenth century was built on American slavery and that black Britons fought at Trafalgar and in the trenches of both World Wars.
Time: The Kalief Browder Story
Bronx teen Kalief Browder spent three horrific years in jail, despite never being convicted of a crime, and covers the story involving the endurance of the brutality of Rikers Island's adolescent unit, including repeated abuse by the prison's corrupt officers.
Directed by award-winning American filmmaker and director Ava Duvernay (When They See Us, A Wrinkle in Time) 13th thought-provoking documentary, scholars, activists and politicians analyze the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S. prison boom.
Within Our Gates (1920)
Within Our Gates is a 1920 American silent film by the directorOscar Micheaux that portrays the contemporary racial situation in the United States during the early twentieth century, the years of Jim Crow, the revival of the Ku Klux Klan, the Great Migration of blacks to cities of the North and Midwest, and the emergence of the "New Negro". It was part of a genre called race films.
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
Presented and written by Henry Louis Gates Jr., this six-hour series guides viewers on a journey across two continents to explore the transition of African-Americans.
Eyes on the Prize
Produced by Blackside, Eyes on the Prize tells the definitive story of the civil rights era from the point of view of the ordinary men and women whose extraordinary actions launched a movement that changed the fabric of American life and embodied a struggle whose reverberations continue to be felt today.
Write to your MP
We ultimately hold the power in terms of what happens within our community. In addition to voting, writing a letter to your local MP, expressing your concerns can help with the change.
Recognising that we all need to look after our local communities will bring issues to the forefront and the more we all push the more likely the government will listen. Not only do you have the power to influence decisions but also laws, such as stop and search, underfunding in communities, and recognition of covert racism and the barriers black people face.
Change your way of thinking
Black people and particularly black men can be portrayed in the media as violent. This brings unfounded fear and preconditioned and irrational perceptions of the community, even though you may not be a racist.
A white female listener of BBC Radio 1Xtra rang in and although ashamed admitted that her thinking had become distorted by negative images of black men that are perpetuated by the press. Although the lady does not consider herself racist, she opened up about her fear of black men intimidating her.
She was honest enough to admit that she doesn't even know where it comes from, how it shames her to feel that way, and goes against what she believes in, but if she "walked out the gym at night and saw a black man," she would avoid that area and doesn't understand why.
Here are some organisations that you can follow, donate and become involved in.
The organisation challenges the stereotypes associated with black men, starting as a visual campaign documenting 56 black men who are doing something other than what is widely portrayed about black men across various forms of media, and championing the idea that “I am Not My Stereotype”.
The campaign looks to challenge the lazy and dangerous stereotype of ‘the black man’ and the negative connotations and stigma attached to the cliché image of a black man wearing a hoody.
This is a worldwide organisation focused on educating and giving young black people opportunities.
Volunteer with Show Racism the Red Card
This is the UK's leading educational anti-racism charity who aim to stop racism by providing educational workshops, training sessions, multimedia packages, and a whole host of other resources, to tackle racism in society
There are a lot of fake Go Fund Me pages around at the moment but below is the official account ran by Floyd's brother Philonise Floyd and sets out how the money will be used to support the family. There is also an address where people can send cards and letters of encouragement should they wish to.
Click on the pictures and sign this!
This is the change.org link to ensure that Mayor Jacob continues to convict those involved in the death of George Floyd and bring charges to them. At the time of press Drek Chauvin has now been charged with second-degree murder and the other three officers have now been charged with abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Now the petition as of 3rd June is focusing on getting 16.5 million signatures (currently has 15.5million) to ensure the charges and convictions continue.
This current change.org campaign focuses on the suspension of UK export of tear gas, rubber bullets and riot shields to the USA in the wake of Donald Trumps worrying messages to protesters, which is inciting further attacks and inflicting injuries upon all communities and even amongst medics and journalists who are trying to do their jobs during this difficult time.
Photographer Zekaria Al-Bostani
Words by Jheanelle Feanny