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Black Lives Matter

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder by U.S. police there has been a lot of momentum behind the Black Lives Matter campaign.

On North Ronaldsay, with an entirely white population, it could be easy to ignore what’s going on and not do anything about it. It’s all too easy to feel removed and powerless to help.

But if we haven’t done anything to change the system, if we live passively in it, if we’re not an enemy to the system, that makes us an ally to it. While many of us may not identify as a racist, it is not enough, we must be anti-racist.

So how does one tackle systemic racism from a small remote island devoid of racial diversity?

I’ll give a short summary on the points I’ve identified that I can work on below, with links to more detailed information. Most importantly, we should be listening to black voices. As a white person I want to use my platform to raise awareness and take you to black activists and educators, articles, books, podcasts, films and programs produced by black people.

There are 2 areas to focus on: Action and Education


Educating: Yourself

It’s so important to do the work and educate ourselves on racism. We shouldn’t be relying on black people to explain and spend their time teaching us, unpaid.


There’s a wealth of resources: books, tv programs, films, podcasts.

There are also black educators to follow on social media. Some offer online courses. To ensure that their work is sustainable, purchase their books, pay for their teaching on Patreon, and send a Venmo/Paypal to compensate for the education you receive.

I am committed to consuming content produced by black people

  • Reading fiction and non fiction (including non-race related subjects)

  • Tv programs (documentaries and series)

  • Films

  • Podcasts

  • Online articles

Diversify your feed

I have followed more black people on social media, including authors, influencers, activists and educators. I am also committed to finding more accounts related to my interests such as hiking, permaculture, knitting, dry stone walling, etc, to diversify those areas too.


See below for resources


Educating: Others

While educating ourselves, it’s important to educate those around us and have conversations about racism and white privilege. Talking with friends and family about these issues, it will likely get uncomfortable. It’s important to commit to and support the learning and growing of our loved ones, especially when it gets hard. Get comfortable with discomfort. “Some people are so used to privilege that equality feels like oppression”, which is why people get defensive when talking about racism and white privilege.

 

Action:

Employment Opportunities

I’m not in a position of management or hiring/recruiting at work, so I may feel unable to influence decisions to employ more black people, or how those people are treated at interview or while their employed. Instead I can have conversations with managers and colleagues, “why don’t we see more black people in x sector”, what are they doing to appeal to black people in their job adverts and where they put those adverts in order to reach a diverse audience?

I may not employ anyone, but I do recruit volunteers. How can I appeal to black people in my volunteering adverts and where can I put those adverts to reach a diverse audience? How can I reach and support black students looking for work experience?


What would their experience be like when they got to North Ronaldsay, with its ageing and white population? Can I have conversations with islanders to raise awareness of systemic racism and confront micro-aggressions and unconscious bias within the community?


Companies that I interact with: I can ask them about the diversity of their workforce, especially those at higher levels within those companies. Who is earning the most, who is making the decisions, whose voices are being heard?


Consumer Power

How many black business do I buy from? Seeing as I’m focussing on buying more local - and Orkney’s population isn’t diverse, probably not a lot. When I orders things from outside of Orkney, can I buy from black businesses instead?

If what I'm looking for isn’t available from a black business, is the business I’m buying from anti-racist?


As consumers we are responsible for how we shop. It might take a bit more research to find a black business to buy from, or to find out the anti-racist commitments of a business, but it’s imperative that we do the work.


Charities

Many of us are feeling the pinch during lockdown, however most of us can spare a small one-off donation to one of the charities listed below. Even better is a monthly direct debit to one of these charities, and income they can rely on to continue their work.


Donations aren’t the only way to support charities. Share their work with friends and family, and on social media. Many charities need help with admin or social media, so volunteering to help them remotely is another way to help from afar.


Please watch this video about how donating 0.7% of your income can "build a fairer, safer, more sustainable world for us all"



Local Movements

I was surprised to find a group on Orkney who are focused around the Black Lives Matter movement. Especially now during lockdown, more groups are moving online over face to face meetings. This makes it more accessible than ever to take part.


Action points might include:

  • local black history awareness

  • film showings

  • virtual book clubs

  • petitioning to remove blackface from events

  • petitioning to remove the statues and names of people who profited from the slave trade from buildings and streets

  • petitioning to introduce black history to the curriculum

  • writing to the local MP

  • raising awareness through newspapers, tv, radio, social media

  • protests

 

A brief look at racism

Systemic racism

Systemic racism creates disparities in many "success indicators" including wealth, the criminal justice system, employment, housing, health care, politics and education. It is embedded as normal practice within society or an organisation.


Problems in the U.S.

Mass incarceration

  • the U.S. locks up more people per capita than any other nation

  • blacks make up 13% of the U.S. population, but they represent about 40% of the prison population

  • when black people are convicted, they are about 20% more likely to be sentenced to jail time, and typically see sentences 20% longer than those for whites who were convicted of similar crimes

  • a felony conviction means, in many states, that you lose your right to vote

U.S. police brutality

  • Black men are 2.5 times more likely than white men to be killed by police during their lifetime

  • Black people who were fatally shot by police seemed to be twice as likely as white people to be unarmed

  • hite officers dispatched to Black neighbourhoods fired their guns five times as often as Black officers dispatched for similar calls to the same neighbourhoods

This is not just a U.S. issue - Black British History

  • The UK played a pivotal role in the barbaric acts of slavery and the slave trade. Africans were stolen from their homeland and systematically dehumanised – ripped from their families, raped, beaten into submission and reduced to “property”.

  • Caribbean soldiers had done some of the most dangerous and back-breaking work for lower pay than their white counterparts and were treated appallingly when they moved to the UK after the war, denied work and places to live.

  • Commonwealth Immigrants Act in 1962 is described as a cruel and brutal anti-colour legislation and a deliberate attempt to restrict the flow of people of colour to the UK from British colonies.

  • In the 1964 general election Conservative MP Peter Griffiths used the slogan “If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour.”

This is not just a U.S. issue - racism in the UK today

  • Today, black people in Britain are still being dehumanised by the media, disproportionately stopped and searched, imprisoned and dying in police custody, racial wage gap, lack of diversity in government, and now also dying disproportionately of Covid-19.

  • White British people have higher than average home ownership rates — nearly double that of black Caribbean people and more than treble that of black African people

  • A-levels: white British students are more than three times as likely to achieve high grades than black Caribbean students

  • Black people had at least double the unemployment levels as white people between 2004 and 2018

  • Black people are twice as likely to die from Covid-19 than people of white British ethnicity.

  • Black women are 5 times more likely to die from complications surrounding pregnancy and childbirth

  • London police officer kneels on neck of black man

 

Resources and Links

Mentorship

Routes

Girls Out Loud

Fluid


Where to donate

George Floyd’s Memorial Fund 

Black Lives Matter

Black Protest Legal Support UK

Liberty

Stop Hate UK

Black Lives Matter UK

The Stephen Lawrence Trust 

The Innocence Project 

Show Racism The Red Card 

Black Visions Collective

The Free Black University Fund

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/justiceforsheku/

Reading List

Non Fiction

Why I Am No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite

White Fragility by Robin Diangelo

Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

How To Be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi

The Good Immigrant compiled by Nikesh Shukla

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Women Race and Class by Angela Davis

White Rage by Carol Anderson

Brit-ish by Afua Hirsch   

My Name Is Why by Lemn Sissay 

Slay In Your Lane by Elizabeth Uviebinené & Yomi Adegoke

A Burst of Light by Audre Lorde

Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri 

Taking Up Space: The Black Girls Manifesto For Change by Chelsea Kwakye & Ore Ogunbiyi 

Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad 

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

Natives: Race & Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala

Aint I a Woman: Black Women & Feminism by bell hooks 

So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo

Freedom is a Constant Struggle - Angela Davis

They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America's Racial Justice Movement - Wesley Lowery

It's Not About the Burqa: Muslim Women on Faith, Feminism, Sexuality and Race - Mariam Khan

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings- Maya Angelou

Fiction

Beloved by Toni Morrison