Recently I have decided to stay informed on current events that I can personally relate to. I have decided to do this by obtaining my news from a medium that gives you raw and unfiltered news – twitter.
Recently, Misha B, a former X Factor contestant, took to the twitter timeline to share how she was subject to underhanded racial profiling (which is very common in the UK) whilst on the show. In addition to being the only contestant reprimanded live on TV regarding backstage drama, she was also scolded for being “feisty which can come across as quite mean”. Some may argue that the judges merely gave constructive criticism, but the truth is there was an utter disregard for her feelings and talent as they simply criticised her for being herself. This is what is done to many black people daily resulting in them feeling the need to ‘tone down their blackness’ in an attempt to accommodate others.
Gary Barlow stated that “the producers cook up drama to get ratings”, but at what cost? Are black lives just a means to an end? It appears so when looking at the entertainment industry; e.g. in Little Britain blackface was done as ‘banter’ but black people weren’t laughing. Time and time again, black people’s feelings have been cast aside and we’ve been left to deal with the trauma in silence. However, since the latest spark of the BLM movement, more people have felt comfortable to share their experiences which has led to an increased sensitivity to those experiences.
Black people are often labelled ‘aggressive’, ‘thuggish’ or ‘sassy’ when they are just expressing themselves. I have had personal encounters with these slurs and it is 100% patronising, being told ‘Tanya you’re so sassy’ for standing up for myself. When others exhibit the same behaviours they are merely ‘expressing themselves’. A prime example is Donald Trump’s polarised responses to protesters.
When white people protested against lockdown rules he referred to them as ‘very good people’, meanwhile when black people are protesting for the inhumane death of another human being they are dubbed ‘thugs’. For too long, my people have been subject to implicit societal regulations that only pertain to us, including: you can’t yell at someone for disrespecting you, else you’ll be labelled an ‘aggressive thug with anger issues’ and run the risk of losing your job. It may seem like an ‘extreme’ example but, ladies and gentlemen, the reality is that we live in an ‘extremely’ unequal society.
The statues of slave owners and notoriously racist men may be a part of this country’s checkered history, but they simultaneously represent oppression, hatred and a regressive mindset that still plagues people’s minds till this day. The mixed reactions to the overdue removal of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol illustrate this perfectly; where some people rejoiced in the downfall of the memorial to the 17th century slave trader, others were outraged and attempted to revive the submerged statue. Would the same people appreciate statues of Hitler? They most certainly wouldn’t. So why is it that when the inhumane treatment of black people is in question, it’s ‘debatable’?
Despite all the remaining problems i.e. the media portraying black people as a subspecies, the movement has been more successful than ever in raising awareness and in turn, evoking change. More people are coming to the defense of black people and banding together which is the reason the movement has gained this much traction. Certain things are coming to light: Misha B, Gary Barlow, not to mention more isolated incidents are being brought to the forefront, cases being reopened (Breonna Taylor) and verdicts being questioned. Similar things have happened in the past, but never on this scale, so arguably the movement is finally gaining the traction it deserves.
By Tanya Gozho