I don’t think any of us could have envisioned 2020 the way it has paned out. A global pandemic (COVID-19) brought the world to a standstill, while the Black Lives Matter protests march through our cities demanding an end to police brutality and systematic racism.
The brutal killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by a police officer in America became the latest catalyst for vocal demands for reform. But how do we ensure his name doesn’t become another hashtag among so many other names of black people who faced untimely deaths due to a system which has failed them?
If the protests and #BLM posts make you feel uncomfortable, or you find them an inconvenience, just imagine the inconvenience of racism towards black people – for centuries. The other day I cried. I cried from sheer mental and emotional exhaustion of how people who look like me are treated. The events of the past few months have left me battling my own inner battles to stay afloat. My anxiety has intensified, blocking my creativity and leaving me in fight or flight mode with nowhere to run (or fly) to. And to top that off, I’m reminded every day that black bodies are still in danger from COVID, a disease killing disproportionally more black people than white people. And the police. The Black Lives Matter protests felt like the steam of a pressure cooker.
I needed a safe space to express these feelings, so I arranged to do an Instagram Live with my Brazilian-Italian friend Kwanza currently in Salvador Brazil and I in London UK (we met in Brazil last year, and hung out in Ghana over the Christmas holiday). Despite neither of us being African American, we still felt the weight of the African American experience, not too dis-similar from our own realities as black women navigating through a white world. Our internet connection tried to stop us from being great but we persevered (reconnecting at least three times!) to create our safe space to share cooped up energy.
Some keys points from my discussion with Kwanza (@kwanzadosamba):
- We’re exhausted. Explaining why black lives matter is exhausting. It’s triggering seeing the mistreatment of our own. Black folks: don’t try to do it all! You can be effective without having to be at every protest. Preserve your energy when you feel your tank running low. Look after your mental-being. This race is for the long run!
- White Allies: You can support by sharing #BLM content. Don’t claim it as your own! Tag/reference sources when re-sharing. Donate to Black charities and #BLM platforms doing the work. Pay black creates for their work!
- Google ‘Systematic Racism’… This is the reason you’r part of a racist society even if you claim not be racist. It isn’t enough to say you’re not racist… Are you calling out your racist friends, family members, co-works?
- Call out corporate brands jumping on the #BLM bandwagon. Our pain isn’t your click bait. Change comes from within – and from the top! Diversify the board rooms and decision-making!
- Black Lives Matters is a Global issue, and it’s intersectional. ALL Black Lives Matter.
If we’re on the verge of witnessing the largest civil rights movement to date, it’s important to recognise that the Black Lives Matter movement isn’t a singular discourse about the unjust treatment African Americans only.
It’s a global issue. 400+ years ago when the European slave ships sailed from the African continent packed with kidnapped Africans to the ‘new world’, they didn’t just dock at the shores of the USA. They were taken all over the western hemisphere. Today, people of African descent are all around the globe. Our voices unified brings change for black lives everywhere.
And we see that with protests are happening in cities around the world.
And we can’t talk about black lives mattering if it’s not intersectional; inclusive of Black Women, Black LGBTQ+ especially protecting our Black Trans women.
Black Lives Matter Around the World
My passion to share a global black experience has taken me around the world. In my most recent trips, I visited Colombia where I travelled solo visiting predominately black communities such as Palenque. I also spent some time in Brazil where I continued with my Tabom research and connecting with black activists.
With the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement, this is the time to change the narrative. Last summer I shot a pilot of a travel series Around The World and Black I created with DoGoodFilms. Can you (or anyone you know) help get it commissioned?
I leave you with some images of BlackJoy in resistance in my recent travels… Just being our authentic black selves is a form of resistance too!
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p.s I’m #DelightfullyDyslexic so please excuse any minor typos.
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