Active in your activism – a thread

There’s no amount of words that can encapsulate how horrible the current world state is that we’re in. I’m not talking coronavirus and stress, I’m talking the suffering of millions, a whole lot of racism and a whole lot of injustice. Being a young person that’s grown up in London I’ve seen my closest friends experience things I’ll never even come close to comprehending let alone knowing what it feels like to go through such pain. This week, I want to highlight the seriousness of what’s going on around us and share whatever awareness I hold on the situation as I think having a voice across platforms should be utilised to its full potential right now.  

The murder of George Floyd has sparked a global outrage. The world has had enough of being quiet. Black Lives Matter protests have commenced worldwide in response to the ongoing police brutality that takes place every day. Why am I passionate on the subject? Why do I want to project the knowledge I’ve accumulated? Why have I been posting a lot? These are all questions I’ll answer today. The questions I push forward right now are: Why must the world go into peril for people to be listened to? Why are people having to scream and shout in anger just for their pain to be acknowledged? Furthermore, why are people having to protest in order to be treated with the equality and respect that should be given to them to begin with? If you’re a ‘Karen’ you might get irritated as my article continues, nonetheless you should definitely finish it and even hit some of the links I’ve attached; you might find yourself feeling informed or deeply challenged by the end of it. 

Being angry isn’t enough 

Being brought up by a mother who migrated to the UK to seek asylum, I’m grateful to say I was equipped with what I deem as a good set of morals and to be anti-racist from an early age. From young I was taught that there’s no room for any form of racial discrimination and that’s a priority. I’ve always been and am open to calling out any friends or relatives who employ even the slightest racial micro aggressions or wrongdoing towards black people. It’s essential that people, especially my generation use their voices and platforms to do the exact same. I can’t stress how important it is to make this a habit, vaguely reposting images or triggering content isn’t it. Call out that ‘old school’ family member during dinner because that backwards mentality needs to get put in the bin. Call out the girl on the bus using racial slurs down the phone. When encountered by a racist, pick at their mind and speak to them in a way that provokes them to revaluate their entire thought process. Go out of your way in doing this, sitting at home saying ‘I’m angry’ isn’t enough. If you are white, think on how to use your privilege to boost the voices of people of colour. If you don’t know where to begin or how to do this, binge watch various documentaries, plug yourself in with the correct knowledge of history, listen to podcasts, read the right books and remember that it’s always ok to unlearn things and twist your mentality on anything. This being said, I’m indeed a firm believer of doing your best not to hurt other people. This goes for contributing to anything, if you don’t have something positive or enlightening to share, simply don’t share.

Instead of deleting or blocking people who deny, deflect and/or enforce the systematic oppression of black people, keep in mind that black people needn’t entertain these people, however, these people are likely to listen to you. Educate yourself first, otherwise any conversation may be the blind leading the blind. You need to listen in order to help. Dismantling and identifying racism is extremely complex. Good intentions alone won’t help you dismantle a bomb. Also hating the bomb for its existence will not take it apart either. Channel that outrage into thorough research and humility. And if you consider yourself aware already, remember you weren’t always this awake. Keep compassion in your pocket and share your flaws. It’s key to educate yourself on what, for example, micro aggressions actually consist of. This is key when sensing your own ignorance and/or correcting others around you if and when necessary. Don’t let things slip or slide just because they’re not aimed at you or affecting you directly. In my eyes, silence is violence right now. 

Listen, learn, inform, repeat 

Facilitate family discussions! Learn about racism as a family. Use given resources and then follow up with a conversation. Look at the facts and listen to black voices to find the answers to questions you don’t know the answer to yet. Make antiracism a regular topic of conversation in your household, circle of friends or workplace. Antiracism isn’t a taboo subject and should not be treated as one. Now “I’m not really into politics” speaks volumes as oppressed groups of people don’t have the privilege of opting out of politics. If you don’t care about politics, politics is probably on your side and benefitting you generously in your daily life. Do your research, get involved in local action groups, learn about social issues that surround us and contact elected officials on what bothers you.  

Be an actively good human. Not just today or this week but endlessly. Look into the core of things, spread the knowledge you hold, don’t just be present, be active in your activism and leave opportunity to keep learning. I want to raise the topic that antiracism work is also mental health work. If you engage in tons of self-healing practices that you invest time and energy into, if you are left still being oblivious, ignorant and callous towards the pain and suffering of black people, what is the work that you’re doing rooted in? Healing is uncomfortable and isn’t tidy. It holds a mirror to our ugliness and forces us to confront it. If you’re more focused on living in light and love than you’re about the lives of the non-white people who walk this earth by your side, then you aren’t doing the work but indeed adding to the harm being caused. Yes it may be uncomfortable touching on specific topics and clashing with the views of others but nothing good ever came from being restrained to your comfort zone. I think it’s important to remind ourselves that change doesn’t come from being angry or upset however it does come from motion. 

Stay aware, stay kind, stay true 

I just want to make clear that I’m not writing this in order to pressure anyone but more I’m urging my peers and those who reach my writing to actively attempt in shaping the world to be a better place for everyone and not just those who are privileged. I understand having a social media presence can be draining and there’s no right way in pushing others to be part of the movement but at least consider the points I’ve made and access the resources provided. There’s nothing wrong with researching and learning about something new. Also, I want to make a point that if you’re and have been proactively fighting for change, there’s nothing wrong from taking some time out and away from processing the tons of info that we’re exposed to daily. Yes, it’s a lot to take in but hiding and being ignorant alone isn’t the answer. Don’t shame others for not engaging in the same way as you but do address it if you feel to whilst being mindful of the person at the other end. You can try to open eyes or fill ears however you cannot force others to do things and we, myself included, need to remember this when debating the ignorant and challenging those whose mind set is heavily embedded in itself. 

All aquatic animals matter 

Another thing I want to shed light on is this All Lives Matter concept that keeps circulating. I’ve had numerous conversations about this recently and would like to break down my views on it. Nobody is saying other lives are irrelevant or have no value. This isn’t the case here. Here is a brief explanation of my perspective on it; we all know that “save the sea turtles” doesn’t mean “scrap the other aquatic animals” so why Black Lives Matter is so controversial to some is something I fail to understand. Take two humans in a field, one is holding a bottle of water and the other isn’t holding anything however his foot is on fire. The one with the water barely acknowledges the other who is in need of help and instead turns to face the other way. The one with the burning foot asks for the water in order to extinguish the flames but is met with “I rather drink the water because I’m quite thirsty”. Thirst is definitely something worth paying attention to however being on fire is a lot worse in that very moment. If you’re on fire and the person next to you was drinking water and ignoring you, would you feel content? 

Protest, but do it safely and know your rights!

I’d like to cover a few protesting bits that I’ve shared with my friends and close ones fighting for change. I’ll start by saying I can’t stress enough how important it is to have protest related solicitor or help numbers to hand. Before attending a march write this down on your wrist where it’s less likely to come off. That way you can’t lose it whatever the weather. Before going, I strongly suggest you give yourself a quick knowledge check on your rights when protesting and making sure you understand your options if and when faced with police.

Section 60 is a blanket search power which means police can search anyone in a given area for a given period of time. The officers carrying this out don’t need to have reasonable suspicion to search anyone under this power and can enforce this on vehicle drivers too, a case in which face coverings can be instructed to be taken off. Please keep in mind that under no stop and search power can police demand your personal details. You’re entitled to answer every question with ‘no comment’ if you choose to do so. You might be offered a duty solicitor however I suggest turning that down and using someone equipped with protest experience. You can also decline a caution and if you feel an officer is acting unlawfully, ask “under what power” which might challenge them to act correctly.

If an officer in non-uniform approaches you, they must present you their warrant card. Police have reasonable powers to stop and search you if they conclude ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect you’re carrying illegal drugs, a weapon, stolen property or something that can be used to commit a crime (e.g a crowbar). You can only be stopped and searched without these ‘reasonable grounds’ if it has been approved by a senior officer. This can happen if it’s suspected that serious violence could occur, you’re in possession of a weapon or have utilised one or you happen to be in a specific location or area. Before this search is conveyed the officer must inform you of their details, what they expect to find, their reasons for searching you, the legal reasons as to why they’re permitted to search you and that you can have a record of this search and if not possible, how you can get a copy.

Keep in mind that officers are also allowed to ask you to take off specific items of clothing such as your coat, gloves or jacket. This includes anything you may wear for religious reasons too and if an officer wants to remove more than the items listed above, they must be of the same sex as you. Legal stuff aside, I not only suggest wearing a face mask for privacy reasons but also for your protection from the virus as it still very much exists! Just because the sun has come out doesn’t mean Covid-19 has magically disappeared. Protect yourself and those around you. When returning home for the night from activism, remember to strip and wash your clothes immediately, rinse all the things you took with you in sanitiser or soap and have a very thorough shower. It’s essential not to bring the virus home with you!  

Keep on fighting the good fight 

Being a supporter of LGBTQ and somewhat a feminist, I think it’s important to educate ourselves on intersectional feminism and not just white feminism. A list of inspiring names to read are Angela Davis, Alice Walker, Bell Hooks, Audre Lorde and Roxane Gay. Social media platforms are soaking in reading lists, petitions to sign and places to donate however I know some of us may be experiencing financial hardship as I write this. If you want to be supportive but haven’t got the funds right now, search ‘Black Lives Matter donate playlist’ on YouTube and let in run in the background as you go about your day, the ads donate. A very educational and eye opening video on police and protests can be found on AkalaMusic’s Instagram for further info, along with tons of other good to know content. IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS. Read and watch things about Black oppression so that you can actively fight for the social change that the world is calling for. Watch free TED talks on YouTube, they’re saturated with valuable information. Listen and learn from the knowledge and experiences of black people.  

I’m doing a weekly petition shift in my bio and stories, where every week I find a new petition to share and show people around me. This is just one of the many small things you can engage in to contribute to the movement. 

TED Talks: 

“We need to talk about injustice” Bryan Stevenson 

“The Dangers of whitewashing black history” David Ikard 

“Let’s get to the root of racial injustice” Megan Ming Francis 

“The symbols of Systematic Racism- And how to take away their power” Paul Rucker 

Watch list: 

7 Seconds – Netflix 

13th – Netflix 

When They See Us- Netflix 

The Hate U Give- Hulu  

Dear white people – Netflix 

The Racial Wealth Gap, explained S1:E1 – Netflix 

Reading list: 

Solitary by Albert Woodfox 

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou  

How to be Anti-Racist by Dr. Ibram X Kendi 

Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad 

The New Jum Crow by Michelle Alexander 

Protest related helplines:

Green and Black Cross 07946541511 

Liberty Human Rights 020 7403 3888 

Maya Barach

Maya is 21 years old and currently studying English Literature and Philosophy.

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