E n o u g h i s e n o u g h :
h o w d o w e a f f e c t r e a l c h a n g e ?
Once #blacklivesmatter is no longer trending online, brands and individuals need to look at their reality offline in order to implement real change.
words: Lauren Demir
Following the horrific footage of George Floyd’s murder, which circulated the internet for millions to see, the world has descended into a state of disarray. The protests which sprung up across the fifty states of America, as well as all around the world, calling for justice for George Floyd, is proof that enough is enough. Since, all four officers have been charged, and killer Derek Chauvin’s offence has been upgraded to second degree murder. Whilst this is a step in the right direction, we still have a long way to go.
What we need is open and honest discussions about the reality that black people face in their day-to-day lives. Whilst it’s great that we are supporting African American’s, we do not need to look across the Atlantic Ocean for examples of mistreatment of black people. As a former colonial power, with an extensive history of trading slaves, Britain is a nation founded on the systematic oppression of others. More recently, this system of racism and neglect has manifested in the tragic fire at Grenfell, as well as the Windrush scandal. It is easy to stand in solidarity when not much is asked of you and the offender is on someone else’s ground, but we must keep that same energy when racism presents itself and is rife within our own country.
It comes across as insincere to hear people in the UK exclaim “Black Lives Matter!!”, yet when an investigation comes out highlighting the disparity of BAME deaths due to COVID-19, it is quickly swept under the carpet and dismissed. Similarly, seeing no justice served for TFL worker Belly Mujinga, who was murdered at work after she was spat on by a passenger, tells us exactly how important black lives are in this country. In the past year, almost a third of BAME NHS staff have been the victim of bullying, harassment or abuse from colleagues showing even our beloved NHS is institutionally racist. It’s as clear and transparent as these brands who are posting their black squares and hashtags on social media, but have zero black people in their board rooms or campaigns.
If black lives really matter we need some tangible action to prove so. Companies need to hire black people in the highest positions, and stop using our outrage as a marketing strategy. We need to change the laws and how the police and justice system operates. We need to challenge any racism we witness in public, or private, to let people know that it’s unacceptable.
The support for reform in America somehow feels different this time. The outrage appears to be genuine and long may the momentum last. However, this isn’t new to black people. We understand what has been going on and how the system has been built to oppress us. We’ve been demanding change for generations, through both rioting and peaceful protesting, and have made some progress. But the real change we need to see is within the institutions which govern this country, and their policy makers. We need these individuals to realise if black lives do really matter, they need to deal with the issues on their door step.