This is a guest blog from 18-year-old Amanda Veitch of our partners, the URC. Amanda currently lives in Derbyshire and has been attending Greenbelt for the last theee years and is devastated that 2020 couldn’t be her fourth! She has been a member of URC Youth for the last four years where she has attended Youth Assembly in each of those years. Amanda wrote this piece in response to the Black Lives Matter protests this summer following the murder of George Floyd.
In light of the Black Lives Matter protests that have been taking place across the world in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, I’d like to talk about the importance of being an ‘ally’. If you are white (as I am), you may feel distanced from the protests taking place in the US, and even in the UK, but there are ways that you can help as an ally.
For example, you can challenge other people over racist or outdated opinions, write to your MP about your concerns, or actively support black-owned businesses.
As a white person, I need to start taking responsibility and educate myself, because it isn’t anyone else’s job to do that for me. Allyship isn’t a specific point that you suddenly achieve, it is a continuous process of questioning your own thoughts and learning/re-learning ideas. As political activist Angela Davis said: ‘it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be actively anti-racist.’
However, the journey towards an anti-racist society also involves combatting systemic racism. Claiming that you ‘do not see colour’ is damaging because it does not acknowledge the ingrained racism in the society we operate in. A recent poll by CNN showed that black Britons are twice as likely to believe that the police are institutionally racist than white Britons. White people who don’t believe that systemic racism exists in the UK are actually examples of that same systematic oppression; while their lives may be made more difficult by other factors, their race will never be one of these reasons, and their inability to see this is further evidence of their white privilege.
What does this mean for white people like me? We must stand alongside our black siblings in the fight against racism, while taking care not to speak over black voices.
Here are some specific ways you can help:
- Educate yourself on topics like the Windrush Generation, Britain’s role in the slave trade and how its effects are still visible in Britain today;
- Support black-owned businesses – you can use this directory to help find ones local to you https://www.ukblackowned.co.uk/;
- Watch this panel conversation hosted by Greenbelt earlier this summer – ‘Black Lives Matter: is the church complicit?’:
- You can also find recorded sessions from Greenbelt on the topic of Black Lives Matter here;
- Try to identify ways in which you are privileged that you might not have thought about before – how can you challenge them in yourself and in the organisations that you belong to?
You might also want to check out a second Black Lives Matter panel conversation we hosted as part of our Wld at Home digital festival. It featured Lemn Sissay, Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, Evie Vernon, Azariah France-Williams and Bev Thomas. On-demand passes for that content are available throughout September from our Box Office.