I’ve rewritten this blog post countless times as I try to find the right words to say and then it hit me! I’m pretty much free to write what I want and say what I want (with very little fear of recrimination). Meanwhile the words, the voices, the real-life experiences of black people are being dismissed and drowned out. There’s been too much silence and censorship. Too much hiding from the truth. And things have got to change.
I am anti-racism. But have I done enough to help put an end to racial persecution? Have I done enough to challenge systemic racism and to question my white privilege? Have I done enough to defend the rights of black people? Have I done enough to make sure black people are seen and heard?
No. I have not done enough.
I’m really sorry for that. But I know it’s not about my apologies. It’s about the actions I take now, and in the future, to do better. I need to be proactively anti-racist. I need to be an ally. I need to listen. I need to learn. I need to open my eyes and my ears to what is happening around the world; in my country; in my community and in my circle of family and friends…and I need to do more to help.
Every one of us needs to consider if we are guilty of apathy and ignorance; to think if there is more we should have done, more we should be doing. It might feel uncomfortable; there may be some difficult conversations with ourselves and others. But that’s nothing compared to the suffering that black people have endured. And it’s not just something that happened in the past; it’s not just an American issue. Racism is happening here and now…and it will continue to happen if we don’t all play our part in stopping it.
Over the last few days I’ve signed petitions; joined a local Black Lives Matter group; begun to better educate myself. I’ve been reading, watching, listening. I’ve taken some time to reflect on Women Aloud and asked myself, what can I do in my privileged position?
More, that’s what. I can, and should, be doing more. So, here are some of my thoughts and intended actions for Women Aloud.
- The Women Aloud community: Our members’ community welcomes women of all racial groups. I’m committed to ensuring that everyone who joins our community feels they are accepted, respected and supported. I will also ask what more I can do to make sure that black women feel that Women Aloud is a safe and inclusive community for them to be part of.
- Women Aloud events: At the beginning of May we voted on the books we wanted to read for our monthly book club events…Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo was the most popular choice and we are discussing it for our June book club. I will continue to ensure that we regularly read black authors and books that keep us exploring inequality. I also plan to hold a separate event for my members to talk specifically about Black Lives Matter – to share information, to learn, and to discuss ways in which we can help.
- Women Aloud social media: As I write this blog, I haven’t as yet posted anything on social media. My silence is not compliance; I haven’t been active on social media for a while now and when I did return I wanted to be clear on my message. So once this blog goes live. I will post on my social media to show my commitment to Black Lives Matter; to being actively anti-racist. Yes, my usual Women Aloud posts will resume as well but please know I will still be committed to supporting the black community through my social media.
- The Women Aloud website: I will be more mindful of the imagery I use on the website (and across all my marketing) to make sure it is representative of all women. I am also passionate about using the Women Aloud website as a platform for women to tell their stories. All women, regardless of skin colour, are invited to share their experiences with our readers. This has never been exclusive to white women but on reflection I haven’t done enough to ensure diversity. I haven’t done enough to seek out the stories of racial injustice and inequality. Nor have I done enough to let black women know I am here to help amplify their voice. So, I will be proactively looking for ways I can use the Women Aloud website to give black women the opportunity to share their truth. And I also invite any black women who have something to say to please get in touch with me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I am here to help tell your story. I am here to stand next to you and to stand up for you.
That’s it for now, but I’ll be back. This will stay on my agenda. Prejudice against black people needs our attention today and tomorrow and for as long as it takes. This is not a bandwagon to jump on because everyone else is. This is not a whim to be forgotten when the media hype focuses elsewhere. Being actively anti-racist; defending black lives; fighting for equality and freedom – it’s a lifelong commitment. We all have a role to play. We can all do something to help bring about change.
Black Lives Matter. x