No more hiding - it's time for white people to take a real stand against racism
A lot of things feel trivial right now. Talking about films, TV, music or anything else seems redundant in light of the anger and pain being expressed across America (and in places like London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Berlin and more). Everyone here at The Digital Fix is deeply passionate about the topics we write about and we are sure everyone who visits the site feels the same way. It’s those sort of connections that bridge social and political divides for people to find a common ground to share and enjoy art that means something to them.
The coronavirus pandemic has been distressing enough for everyone over the two-and-a-half months. People have lost family members and friends. They’ve lost jobs. Lost faith in leadership. Hope. But despite being asked to say indoors and limit our movement outside, the one thing white people have not lost (and never have) in the Western world is their human rights.
Black Lives Matter. Not just now because another Black man was savagely murdered in broad daylight by the police, and the community has once again been forced to express their pain and anguish so publicly. They have always mattered. It’s deeply depressing to write these words down but it feels necessary. It shouldn’t take yet another horrific murder to jolt white people into taking action. But the reality is it’s a common human reaction that many continue to turn away until there’s nowhere left to hide. If you are still unaware of the role you play in all of this as a white person then it’s time to wake up.
The effects of slavery and colonialism in the UK and America still rings through our societies today. It has given every white person the advantage of not being subjugated and prevented from accessing opportunities in life due to the colour of their skin. As a result, direct and indirect white descendants of colonisers have been granted a superior position in society that has never been earned. It’s a privilege that was stolen at the expense of others. And the continents, countries and communities that have been looted under the banner of the British Empire are the ones who continue to suffer today.
This is far from the first time we have seen similar events play out on our TV screens. If the name Rodney King doesn’t mean anything to you, take some time to find out what happened 29 years ago. Go back further to the civil rights era. Read up about the Jim Crow laws, slavery and the ugliness of the British Empire. And we cannot act as if these same injustices do not occur on our own doorstep in the UK. Countless lives have been lost at the hands of a force paid to protect British society: Mark Duggan, Edson da Costa, Nunu Cardoso, Rashan Charles… the list goes on and on.
Black and brown people are harassed and abused by the police in this country every single day, regardless of their social status. Institutionalised racism continues to rot away every corner of Western society and the people out there putting their lives on the line right now need support from white people. It’s clear that the powers that be will never really listen to anyone else. History has long proven that. The more white people that stand up and speak out, the more authorities will have to not only listen, but actually enforce change.
Not being racist doesn’t stop by refraining from saying the ‘n’ word, ‘p’ word or any other racist slur. It’s about the everyday words you use. The actions you take. Taking the time to educate yourself. Listening to others and attempting to understand experiences that are different to yours. A willingness to understand differences in cultures and respect them. Confronting racism wherever you hear or see it taking place. Reporting it and making sure action is taken. You may be surprised how many people will feel the same way. But it takes one person to puncture the silence and to create a channel where discrimination can finally be heard and addressed. If you ignore it, you are complicit, regardless of the music you listen to, the TV shows you watch, or how many Black ‘friends’ you may have.
This feels like basic, basic stuff and placing it onto an arts-based platform may seem like it is being spoken within a bubble. That's why it's so depressing to write this out so plainly. But it's also necessary and a minor task to carry out. Thousands of people visit this site every day and I can only hope it creates conversations, however uncomfortable, to make white people stop and think about their own behaviour, how it impacts others, and what they can do right now to make a difference.
But what else can be done? Of course, given the pandemic, not everyone feels safe to go out onto the street and protest because of the coronavirus. Understandably, people are in contact with others who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and do not want to risk bringing it back into their homes. But if you want to participate, or even organise, then do so safely and let your voice be heard. There are countless anti-racist and fascist organisations in the UK in need of support (see a list below). Money is tight for everyone right now, so if you can’t contribute financially, then get in touch to see if there are volunteer activities you can participate in. Again, these will be restricted due to the coronavirus, but even the smallest show of support can go a long way.
If you believe in the political system then contact your local MP about any racial injustices you have witnessed or heard about. Put the pressure on them as representatives of your constituency to bring this to places of power. Make them accountable. Not everyone believes in this system and that is totally understandable but, for those who do, try to use it as a form of activism to bring about change wherever possible.
Being perfectly honest, this post was spontaneous and not planned at all, and as a result it jumps from one point to another. In reality it barely scratches the surface in terms of talking about this subject. But hopefully you get the overall picture. Once (or maybe if) these protests taper out, the struggle for equality and liberation is far from over. It’s when the real work starts. For everyone. And if you are white, the onus is on you to make sure the voices and rights of Black and brown people, as well as those fighting for gay, gender and disability rights are heard. If not, your silence will be heard loud and clear.
You can sign the George Floyd petition here: https://www.change.org/p/mayor-jacob-frey-justice-for-george-floyd
If you want to start your own petition go here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/new
You'll also find some of the points raised here - and more - on Ellie Osii-Wood's Twitter feed here: https://twitter.com/ElleOsiliWood/status/1266346426444812288
Here are some organisations you can help in the UK right now (apologies this is not exhaustive, but let us know if you would like to see any added and we will happily do so):
Inquest: The only charity providing expertise on state related deaths and their investigation to bereaved people, lawyers, advice and support agencies, the media and parliamentarians. Their specialist casework includes deaths in police and prison custody, immigration detention, mental health settings and deaths involving multi-agency failings or where wider issues of state and corporate accountability are in question.
Black Lives Matter UK: The official #BlackLivesMatter Global Network builds power to bring justice, healing, and freedom to Black people across the globe.
Stop Hate UK: The organisation started life in 1995 as a service for victims of racial harassment. The project was established in direct response to the murder of Stephen Lawrence. In 2006 we launched the Stop Hate Line to respond to Recommendation 16 of The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, 1999.
Stand Up To Racism: A racist offensive is sweeping Europe, with governments and the right-wing media using migrants, refugees and Muslims as scapegoats for an economic crisis and wars they did not create. The racist tide will only be driven back by anti- racists standing up and confronting it. From Germany to Greece to the USA, people who want a society free from racism are saying no more. People are taking to the streets in large numbers to oppose racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and to say migrants and refugees are welcome here.
4wardEverUK: 4WardEverUK is a community collective providing news and information sharing services for our readers and members. Their purpose is to provide a one-stop-resource for case profiles, news and event details, useful resources, statistics, appeals, and more in relation to deaths and abuses whilst in custody; including the death penalty, other injustices and human rights abuses in the UK and internationally.
Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants: LGSMigrants is a queer activist group that, through fundraising and direct action, stand in solidarity with all migrants and refugees. Inspired by Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners in the 1980s they build on a proud history of queer solidarity to say: no one is illegal.
Runnymede Trust: Runnymede is the UK's leading independent race equality think tank. They generate intelligence to challenge race inequality in Britain through research, network building, leading debate, and policy engagement. Runnymede is working to build a Britain in which all citizens and communities feel valued, enjoy equal opportunities, lead fulfilling lives, and share a common sense of belonging.
London Campaign Against Police State Violence: South London communities and groups are coming together to oppose police brutality and legal violence. Their aim is to support victims of police assault and to link them in a London-wide campaign. They monitor police harassment of our communities and people of colour in particular.
Project 17: Project 17 is an organisation working to end destitution among migrant children. It works with families experiencing exceptional poverty to improve their access to local authority support.
And for some essential self-education reading material, take a look at the below: