I have a lot of thoughts regarding the current situation we are in. More and more, it feels as though we are at a crucial point within society, and it feels somewhat encouraging to feel that there can be real change from this precise moment. Being black is a unique experience where you have to be constantly vigilant, constantly aware. Now, we have instagram blacked out in support of #blackouttuesday, we have Black Lives Matter trending worldwide. We have protests in all 50 states in America and in multiple countries across the globe in solidarity.
What I find interesting is that this solidarity is being used as an excuse to whitewash and ignore the crucial problems of racism and anti blackness within our own society. While this level of protest is relatively unprecedented, something unseen since Ferguson in 2014, I can’t help feeling helpless because this is a constant cycle to watch. Black people – men, women and children – mistreated and abused, and us fighting for equality, justice or even recognition is not new. It’s a constant cycle and a constant backdrop. Being black means often having to remain aware of these issues and valuing that over yourself and the need to protect your mental health and stability. Black Lives Matter is a global issue, because antiblack racism is a global issue.
Within the ongoing pandemic, it feels even more cruel and indicative of what is uniquely the black experience of having to deal with and consider multiple issues at once. Black people, particularly those who give so much to the NHS, are dying en masse, the lack of police efforts to identify the person responsible for the physical attack that lead to Belly Mujinga’s death, the issue of police brutality and the prolific nature of anti-black racism has been, again brought to the forefront. I feel that everyday is an exercise in remaining calm and composed against a constant barrage of antiblackness and harrowing subject matters. I have been wanting to say so much and be vocal seeing black bodies slaughtered, seeing blackness exploited and attacked in equal measures in general society. But I can’t take away that I am mentally exhausted. Social media is no longer an escape when it is littered with black bodies and examples of anti blackness and virile hatred. What is a new development to many, seeing the true extent of antiblack racism is a staple of my life, and has been since I was a child in primary school getting taunts on the playground. It has been since I had the N-word thrown at me in secondary school. It has been since I had teachers refuse my ability and effectively limit any possible progress I could make. It has been since I have been fighting against the attainment gap in my entire educational career.
I feel there is so much to the conversation to be said. From the issues of white complicity and the very specific methods of white supremacy within the UK, and the decades-long issue of police brutality the UK has yet to deal with, the case for reparations and the British complicity in slavery and the general racism within university cultures. But I think that that discussion can wait.
I feel confident enough to say it. I am a black (zimbabwean) british person. I am not a person of colour, but a singular category within being a black woman. I feel it is now time to stand proud (a la james brown) because it is black issues and black culture that made me, and shape me. I am not some invincible, unaffected superhero. I am very human and directly affected by misogyny and anti blackness generally. I am allowed to be angry and violence is justified in reaction to the things black people must suffer through. Now is not the time for neutrality and positivity. They are also what is commodified and co-opted by non-black people and I can no longer allow that to be something I allow to happen or align myself with. Racism is, of course, negative, but it affects those of us who suffer under it the most. So to other black people, my brothers and sisters. Do what you deem fit. Do not be policed by those who don’t know your experience. Take care of yourself. Prioritise your health and wellbeing. This is the beginning and not the end.
Seeing the recent murders of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Belly Mujinga light up social media and the mainstream conversation is uplifting. It feels as if we are in a watershed moment. One in which it is not enough to simply stop at hashtags and black squares on instagram. The performativity makes a great statement, but what we need is active protest. Active change. For those interested in helping fight and dismantle racism and educating themselves:
Please take care and reconsider before you share violent and graphic content of black bodies being brutalised. Use empathy and be considerate.
The minnesota freedom fund: https://minnesotafreedomfund.org/donate
Student letter to universities: https://t.co/6z1vtxwsAh?amp=1
The end of policing Ebook (free!): www.versobooks.com/books/2817-the-end-of-policing
Black- Dave BRITs performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzyjDR_AWzE
By Tadiwa Ndlovu