People of colour have been oppressed by white people for over five hundred years. To be surprised by the George Floyd murder is to be ignorant of how the police, amongst others with institutional power, have systematically committed acts of racism across the world. For white people, we are nothing but the oppressor. How can we shift that and be the best allies possible?
It is as simple as that. Reach into your pockets: spare any change you have, and financially support the efforts to change justice systems around the world. No amount is too little. Performative activism, like tagging ten friends in your Instagram story, or doing a blackout on social media for a day means nothing without real action.
2. SIGN THE DAMN PETITIONS
Every single one you see demanding justice. You may not think your signature will make a difference, but it will. It takes ten seconds, and you could change lives forever. Write to your local MP, demanding change to the system, including banning the UK sale of rubber bullets to the US.
3. PROMOTE BLACK VOICES
It’s great that you feel so passionately about the BLM movement and the historic injustice people of colour have faced, but now is a time to listen, not speak over people. Retweet; share; repost messages from BME voices, and help their voices to be heard. When they tell you what to do, listen.
Support black creators. We’ve already seen previously that TikTok deliberately pushes people of colour off the For You page. Just because someone doesn’t look like you, doesn’t mean they aren’t just as relatable, just as funny, just as talented as your (likely problematic) white faves.
4. EDUCATE YOURSELF
You heard me. Do not, under any circumstances, think that it is appropriate to ask a person of colour to explain to you how your race has oppressed theirs for hundreds of years. How police brutality makes them feel. Read about it. On the internet, or in books. Educate yourself. Do not demand the emotional labour of people of colour in order to better your activism.
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele
5. SUPPORT BLACK CREATORS
Buy books from black-owned bookshops, not Amazon. Stop giving so much of your money to huge corporations, and start giving it to black talent. You’ll probably get a better buying experience and product from supporting a small business as opposed to your £2 mass-produced slave labour clothing from China that you love so much because ‘it’s so cheap!!!’ Stop ignoring the suffering of others and start buying mindfully.
6. BE CONSCIOUS WITH YOUR SHOPPING CHOICES
Check out your favourite shoe, clothing, beauty brands. Did they make a statement? Did they make a donation? Or did they stay silent about injustice and choose instead to keep pushing their products on you? Is that a company you want to support from now on? The same applies for influencers.
7. PROTEST RIGHT
If you attend a protest, listen to the people of colour protesting. There has been a disgusting amount of white people in the US (including controversial YouTuber Jake Paul) looting businesses and destroying property. This is not your right. Actions like these reflect terribly on the black community and can lead to serious harm. White people at protests must be peaceful and protecting of others. If you take photos, make sure no faces or identifying features of anyone are visible.
8. DON’T EVER FORGET
We’ve seen this before. Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin. The list goes on. When the Instagram posts run dry, don’t stop your activism. Keep fighting for black rights for as long as you live. Don’t pretend that police brutality doesn’t exist in the UK. You will be desecrating the memories of Mark Duggan, Joy Gardner, Jimmy Mubenga, and so much more. If we give up fighting, we lose our humanity.