I’ve taken some time to address it, but my silence at this crucial time is not useful and I recognise if I don't actively use my voice to condemn what is happening, and be actively part of the change, I am, in turn, supporting racism, inhumanity and violence. So, I want to express my thoughts, and support wholeheartedly the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
I can’t keep going with “business as usual” before I fully take my time to educate and better myself. I am a white woman, and I need to fully acknowledge my own privilege and I’d like to take you on that discovery journey with me if you’d let me.
“I don’t see colour” doesn’t work anymore. It never really did. Because who doesn’t want to see colour? Colour is beautiful, and it’s what makes this diverse world such a paradise. And also, not seeing colour is a privilege only white people get to have. Only white humans get to go through life not aware of skin colour, in societies made by and for them.
Why should the amount of melanin one has within, determine anything else but being a worthy human? But the fact is, it does. And that SHOULD trouble you and make you uncomfortable.
Did you know in the UK a Black mother is 5 times more likely to die of childbirth complications? And this is not due to underlying conditions, or any biological reasons, or age or social deprivation. This is partly due to medical professionals being wrongly educated that BIPOC humans don’t experience pain in the same way as white humans and their complaints are not taken as seriously.
There is plenty of biased research suggesting that black patients are seen as older (the kids), more resilient (the men), more hysterical (the women) and opioid seeking (sickle cell patients). When this is engrained in the minds of the primary carers of life and wellbeing you have another seed of everyday systemic racism.
But please, don’t twitch at the sight of the word privilege. White privilege does not mean you had it easy, not struggled or worked very hard to be where you are, or your life is a fairy tale of popsicle trees and fluffy cloud beds. It just means you didn’t have it worst to start with, due to the colour of your skin. White privilege is also NOT your fault. But it’s something to be actively aware of, from now until the end of your life.
And we’re all guilty of some form of systemic racism in our lives. It doesn’t make us the worst person on earth, if we acknowledge it and actively change.
Think of it this way, if you’re trying to identify someone in a group, you’ll most probably reference the skin colour as the first attribute for a non-white person, but if it’s a white person you’ll say something like “the girl in the hat”, “the tall one on the left”, etc. Next time play by the same rules for both sides of the melanin spectrum. This is the smallest example of how to catch ourselves and be better. We can. Believe me. The world deserves it.
The world that we live in is rich and wonderful, and I’m a bit biased for bringing it back to the arts a bit, but can you imagine a world without jazz, rock&roll or modern-day pop? All of those genres, and so many others, came from Black musicians. What would the Acting world be without Sidney Poitier, Morgan Freeman, Viola Davis or Hattie McDaniel (first Black woman to win an Academy Award in 1940 for her role as Mammy in Gone With The Wind. Did you know she was not allowed to be in the room during the ceremony and was ushered in solely to accept the prize?). We are all richer if we embrace all colours, creeds, nationalities, differences.
I’d like to also share with you a list of resources you can read and consume to help you on your journey. So I’ll add that to the end of the post. And if you have any I missed, please link it below/message me. I am eager to learn more.
I’m not an authority in any of this, I have made and will probably make plenty of mistakes whilst on my journey of inclusivity and equality. Heck, probably in this exact post I will have made one or more mistakes! But the time to not do, not search, not speak, not be, is gone. And I’d rather learn by doing than not trying at all.
Resources to dive in deeper:
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man – Instagram account of Emmanuel Acho
Get in touch with your MP to encourage them to address the government report on BAME COVID-19 deaths and ask what steps are being taken in light of it, suspend the sales of riot supplies to the US, and to condemn their use of force during protests. You can write to them here.