Before anything else we are black.
Before we’re somebody’s friend, we are black.
Before we’re somebody’s partner, we are black.
Before I’m Rachel, I am black.
We have been and continue to be viewed as black before anything else.
I’m tired of being defined by my race. I’m tired of being tired of being defined by my race. For as long as I can remember I have been defined by my skin colour, my hair, my taste in music.
I’ve never belonged - too white to fit in with black people, too black for any of my white friends. Enough is enough. I am enough. I am more than enough.
To all my mixed friends, please, even if you read no further make sure that you read that again.
WE ARE ENOUGH!
My heart aches so badly for every POC right now. I’ve struggled to even find the words to truly express the extent of my feelings at this time and I’m unsure as to whether I will ever be able to fully convey how I have felt and continue to feel.
Why are we arguing that our lives matter? Why are our people out on the streets literally begging not to be killed because of the colour of their skin? Why are we out here doing this and yet there are STILL people who don’t understand or care? Why would anybody disagree with, belittle, or want to fight against our desire to put an end to the oppression, inequality and injustice that we have suffered for so long?
I don’t feel as though I’ve ever really sat down and considered how complicit I've been in life with the racism that I have witnessed and that I have experienced first-hand. When I come to think about it, I can’t help but be angry at myself for what I’ve put up with and for what I’ve grown to accept as the ‘norm’. But more than anything, I can’t help but be disappointed in myself for allowing it to happen. I know that this isn’t entirely my fault, and when it comes down to it, it’s a result of my surroundings and the people that have been in my life. But at some point, as a result of my upbringing in a predominantly white area, I have learnt to accept, ignore and become accustomed to not only the blatant racism but also the subtle racism that exists all around me. And that's not OK.
Now that I reflect on the racism that I have endured growing up where I have and attending the schools that I have, I’ve realised that I have more often than not been the only POC in any given group of people that I am with. As a result of this, I can now say that I’ve never really felt, and still don’t necessarily feel, as though my friends have ever understood the struggles I have faced going through life as a POC; as a minority. I don’t think that they fully understand what has gone on for so long in the world. Somehow, they’re so far removed from it that it’s just incomprehensible to them. I’m not saying that this is their fault or that they don’t want to understand, that’s not my point. But we aren’t taught about black history in schools. Schools continue to tell us that they have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to racism. But it’s all just a front. Why are we not being taught about the harsh realities faced by so many of our friends and families on a daily basis? Why are we allowing our children to be victims of racial slurs, discrimination, suffering and isolation at such a young age? Why are we allowing it at all?
This has gone on for far too long and I need people to realise that what’s going on in the world right now is not just because of George Floyd. This is for all of our people and for all of those whose names have gone unspoken and unheard for so long. We’ve reached the tip of the iceberg and at this point, if we don’t speak up, do something, fight for change, the only other outcome is that we fall back down. And that is NOT an option. We need to work together to inspire and achieve change and equality.
I am going to use my voice; I will no longer be complicit. I will speak out about my own experiences and I hope that it will help people understand how prevalent racism still is. How engrained into the world it is. Yes, even in the UK.
I will be writing a series of posts in the hope that I can help people to take a step back and open their eyes to how close to home this can be.
If I achieve nothing else by writing this, I hope that my friends gain some insight into what it truly means to be a POC in the world today and how their being complicit affects not only me as an individual, but the overall BLM movement. A lot of people I know seem to think that if they’re not racist themselves then everything is OK. But that is far from the truth. It’s not enough to not be racist, you need to do everything in your power to be anti-racist. As far as I’m concerned, if only 1 person changes their mindset or actions as a result of this post or any future post of mine, I will have won.
You need to use the privilege you were born with to speak up and speak out for POC. It’s time to see past your own bubble of life and see the bigger picture. Do your research. Educate yourselves. Ask questions. Don’t be quiet just because it makes you uncomfortable to use your voice.
Now is the time to talk to your families, friends, colleagues. Don’t just be silent and let this slip. Unless we stand as one and fight as one, this won’t work. Nobody is asking that you constantly post on social media or shout from the rooftops. Anybody, including myself, that is saying how interesting it is to see who is staying quiet now does NOT mean that. What it does mean is that we are asking you to not be quiet when your voice is needed. When you are a witness to racist behaviour (and I say when rather than if, because this issue will not just disappear overnight), don’t be quiet. Please don’t let your fear of speaking out allow you to remain silent or oblivious to the racism. Don’t let silence even present itself as an option in your mind. Call it out, sign the petitions and stand with us.
Silence is never and should never be an option.