‘Speak truth, act from hope, show love. Together we can work for the world we imagine.’
-Diane Randall, FCNL
The Friends Committee on National Legislation
FCNL stands with protesters across the country. Advocates are calling for radical change because our institutions, poisoned by a legacy of racial oppression, have failed us. It will require work from every one of us–especially white people–to pave the way to a better future.
And we must make repeated calls for our government and leaders to do better. If you aren’t protesting yourself, hold protesters in the Light and ally yourself with impacted communities. Here are some ways to start:
THINK TWICE BEFORE SHARING VIOLENT VIDEOS
In an article for gal-dem, writer Kemi Alemoru discusses what should be done with videos of police brutality, questioning who these clips are for and whether they actually bring about justice. She writes: “We’re now in 2020, and black people already know about brutality and oppression. It’s this fact that forces the question of whether creating a spectacle out of black death is for black people, who are already familiar with the evils of racism, or whether it is to make white people see the white supremacy they ignore.”
On a platform like Twitter, where videos on your timeline autoplay, users are regularly faced with violent, disturbing footage that could damage their mental health – particularly when it shows someone being murdered. “Sharing violent, explicit, and exhausting images of George Floyd’s brutal death is not healthy for black people to see continually,” poet and activist Kai-Isaiah Jamal wrote on Instagram. “There is so much death, there is so much imagery of death. Please find alternative ways to share this story without the triggering video that is circulating.”
ONFRONT RACISM WHEN YOU SEE IT
In a chart shared by education organisation The Conscious Kid, examples of white supremacy are split into ‘overt’ and ‘covert’. At the top of the pyramid is lynching, hate crimes, and blackface, all of which are categorically unacceptable in society. Further down are examples including calling the police on black people – e.g. this week’s BBQ Becky: Amy Cooper – racial profiling, and ‘All Lives Matter’, which are all still regarded as socially acceptable. In order to change this, and ensure no racism is deemed OK, white people must confront one another about their privilege and enforcement of white supremacy.
As Dazed 100-er Marcelo Gutierrez wrote on Instagram: “To my white followers. It is your responsibility to engage and confront your white family and white friends. Have them question themselves. Hold their inaction accountable. Hold their ignorance accountable. Show them how to take action. Teach them how to begin to change their white community.”
“Do more / something other / than re-sharing images of violence on my timeline challenge,” Travis Alabanza wrote on Twitter yesterday (May 27). Many have criticised the grim trend of simply sharing an image of a black person killed by police, along with a hashtag or empty sentiment, without actually taking action, nor – in the case of white people – addressing the systemic racism that benefits them and kills POCs. Instead, join Black Lives Matter protests – follow your local group on social media to find out when marches are planned – donate to funds that support people of colour, including this one in Minnesota, call your local politician – in the case of Floyd, contact Minneapolis’ mayor Jacob Frey. As Jamal continued on Instagram: “This is not another excuse for you to pretend like you stand with us, whilst filling up our online safe spaces reminding us of our current position in the world and our proximity to danger.”
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR PRIVILEGE
In a post on Instagram, Munroe Bergdorf urged white people to reflect on their privilege at a time like this, and question how they could use this privilege to make change and educate others in their community. “We need to acknowledge that privilege exists as a spectrum and is an indicator for where the work needs to take place,” the model and activist wrote. “Expecting marginalised folk to be the ones to deconstruct their own oppression is as good as saying “not my problem” and letting it happen, as it doesn’t acknowledge where the problem is coming from. The definition of privilege is thinking that something isn’t a problem because it isn’t YOUR problem.”
PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING
Earlier this month, it emerged that black people are four times as likely to die from coronavirus than white people. Based on this alone, to be a true ally – as gal-dem founder Liv Little rightly pointed out – you must practice social distancing during the pandemic (no matter what example the UK government is setting). As Little wrote on Instagram, accompanied by a chart showing the disproportionately high levels of Black Caribbean COVID-19 deaths: “If you aren’t practicing social distancing, you are truly selfish and there are no polite words to describe how I feel about you.”
‘In dangerous times like these we have to produce generations of dedicated, courageous, and creative contemplative activists who will join [the conscious collective] to bring radical healing and change to this damaged world, before it’s too late.’ -Fr. Richard Rohr
We are Quakers and friends changing public policy.