After George Floyd: How to be an anti racist ally
5 June 2020
This week has seen protests worldwide in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. People of all colours and all political parties have joined the protests in America.
Globally, people now recognise we can’t go on without addressing the problems of systemic racism and police brutality.
#BlackLivesMatter began in 2013 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of African-American teen Trayvon Martin – but we must never forget that the UK has many cases of racist violence and police brutality. Remember victims like Stephen Lawrence and demand justice for the family of Sheku Bayoh.
Being an anti-racist ally just means being a decent person who cares about others in society. That can be speaking out for those being discriminated against, sticking around and being a witness if someone is being abused or assaulted in the street, and supporting political efforts to get things to change.
Stay safe if you attend protests – especially during COVID-19 please respect social distancing as the Government’s own research shows that BME people are twice as likely to die from Coronavirus.
Educate yourself about racial inequities and disparities in every sector of private and public life. That includes in politics, health care, criminal justice, education, income, employment, and home ownership. Being anti racist means learning about and identifying inequities and disparities that give, in particular, white people, or any racial group, material advantages over people of color.
Here are a few things you can do to be an “anti racist ally”.
Silence is complicit.
- Silence is complicit. Speak up. Remember those 4 law officers who stood by while the life ebbed out of George Floyd? Don’t be a bystander – when you see racism whether it is obvious or more subtle. Speak up. Have a conversation about racism. Not saying anything is saying a lot. We can hear your silence. At the bare minimum, a friend would reach out to another friend. Watch this to see how cruel silence can be. But remember, free speech is limited by hate speech. It reduces people to silence and makes conversation impossible. Want to protest? Go ahead and check out Stand up to racism , Unite Against Fascism
Challenge polite racism
- Challenge “polite” racism of language and the policies employed to excuse and perpetuate racial injustice. Martin Luther King called out the systemic cruelty of such racism, of “allies” who denounced discrimination elsewhere but explained away prejudices at home. Here’s an interview with teacher and anti-racism educator Jane Elliott who devised the famous ‘Blue eyes–brown eyes’ exercise in the 1960s
Learn history. Teach your children.
- Learn history. Teach your children. A very prominent thinker, Sivanandan, had a phrase when people would say, ‘go back to where you came from.‘
- The phrase was ‘But we are here because you were there.’
- If you don’t know that you were there and you don’t know what you did there, then it’s very difficult to understand why people are here and how and why they might see history as very different to you.
- This country is not just about Kings and Queens and Robert the Bruce. Educate yourself about this country’s colonial past, the exploitation of the Middle East slavery, and modern day versions of it. Learn about Scotland’s black history. Teach colonial history in schools. Take part in Black history month
Ask your council to review racist symbols
Following the removal of a slave trader monument by protesters in Bristol, the movement to erase colonialist statues has gone international. We would not as a society tolerate Nazi symbols, so it makes sense not to tolerate racist symbolism. Ask your Councillor to support a review of your council’s slave links and stop the glorification of slavery. Where there are Glasgow Street names of slave traders, why not suggest these names are replaced by slave names with explanations of why underneath them. Why not write to your local council and ask them to review it in light of concerns raised by Black Lives Matter.
- Switch off the hate. How many times have you seen a newspaper article about refugees, or a Muslim or black person is quoted saying something, anything. Look at the below the line comments and you will find a stream of hate comments, racist comments. It’s a toilet wall. It doesn’t encourage people to speak up. It bullies them into silence. The campaign #switchoffthehate calls on newspaper editors to strictly moderate or switch off the below the line comments. It is not Freedom of Speech – it is incitement to racist hatred, harassment and silencing of minority voices. Read more on this topic.
Diversify your board and workforce.
- Diversify your board and workforce. Make your organisations – and government – ethnically diverse and representative from top to bottom. And that means ensuring people from black and minority ethnic communities well represented at the top of organisations, where decisions are made that affect people’s lives, not just at the bottom. You would not expect a committee run by only men to decide what women need. The same goes for our diverse communities, reflect them in your board room. And dont be tokenistic either. Diversity is a common goal not the job of the lone black person on your committee or in your team. Be real. Read more and more. Get involved in the PATH Scotland scheme to recruit black workers into the housing workforce.
The word *black refers to anyone who faces discrimination because of their colour, ethnicity or country of origin .
Keep supporting after the outrage. Donate to Positive Action in Housing’s anti racist and humanitarian work
There are a lot of resources out there.
A good start might be some of these documentaries about racial injustice (and more here) in particular we would recommend the 2016 Oscar-nominated film “I am not your Negro” about James Baldwin and key figures of the civil-rights movement, bringing us up-to-date with what is happening today.
Organisations which have good anti racist resources are the Runneymede Trust and the Institute of Race Relations.
8 Facts About Migration To The UK You Won’t Hear in the Media Click here
Show Racism the Red Card. https://www.theredcard.org/
The protests in response to the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor have elicited questions from children of all ages, and many parents are left wondering how to respond.
Children are like sponges. They soak up news headlines and images of unrest on TV and social media. They may also be keenly attuned to conversations about current events happening at home. Parents and educators alike (and those of us now wearing both hats) should address questions about racism that arise and maintain an open dialogue with children. Check out Talking to kids about racism
See Anti-Racist Resources from Greater Good and anti racist books for children and teens.
See also Resources for raising an antiracist child. Because being “not racist” is not enough.
The EIS antiracist resources
31 Children’s books to support conversations on race, racism and resistance