If you feel galvanised yet powerless, do all in your power to channel your outrage in these positive ways.

‘No one person is born hating another because of the colour of his skin, his background or his religion.’

Nelson Mandela wrote this arrestingly simple truth in his book, Long Walk to Freedom. And yet, 26 years after its publication, the devastating reality is that discrimination on the basis of skin colour remains endemic, entrenched and pervasive in both subtle and explicit ways. And while we share Mr Mandela’s sentiments, it is inescapable that, even as children, we are born into systems and societies weighted down with heavy cultural baggage, a pulley system of privilege built over many generations that has a profoundly negative effect on those it was constructed to exclude. Societies in which damaging, destructive attitudes have calcified over decades and centuries continue to affect the daily lives of people of colour. You don’t have to be an overt racist to be part of the problem. But you can be part of illuminating the collective way out of these vicious, inhumane systems.

The daily micro-aggressions towards black members of society have added up to a shattering picture in which, in America, one in a thousand young black men can expect to be fatally shot by police officers, making it a leading cause of death in the demographic. The statistics, both in this country and in the US, make for sobering reading. It runs though law enforcement right through to medical outcomes. Did you know that black women were five times more likely to die in childbirth than white women? And that while women continue to earn less than men, black women earn less still (and that’s if they’re not overlooked before they even get the job)?

Outrage is the proper emotion to feel. It is right to feel fury for Floyd George, murdered in cold blood and plain sight by police officer Derek Chauvin who knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. And for the grieving families of the many others who preceded him, whose lives were also snuffed out unlawfully, and who have never known justice.

And yet, we return once more to Nelson Mandela, for a message of hope. He completed the earlier sentence with the words, ‘People learn to hate and if learn to hate they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.’ When you encounter racism, it is not – and nor has it ever been – enough to keep your head down and ignore it. Speak up. Don’t just ‘call it out’ – speak powerfully and persuasively. For it is through discourse that you change hearts and minds. There is, as anyone harbouring any form of racism, latent or otherwise will learn if challenged, no rational justification for it. Ever.

Black lives matter. They have always mattered. It is a point of humanity. While we oppress others; while we judge them on the basis of their skin, not – as Martin Luther King dreamt of in 1963 – on the content of their character; while we continue to sleepwalk into acceptance of abhorrent discriminations big and small, we can never be whole as a society. The ‘othering’ of people of the same species must stop. Let’s end it now. Invite people onto your platforms. Make the change.
Want to join the fight? Start here.

Donate to the Official Floyd George Memorial Fund

There comes, in every crusade, a tipping point. We are daring to hope that the senseless killing of an unarmed man by a police officer in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, while other officers stood by and watched it happen, is that point in the fight against racial hate. That man was Floyd George. And this is the fundraiser in his name, set up by his grieving brother, Philonise Floyd. He writes, ‘This fund is established to cover funeral and burial expenses, mental and grief counseling, lodging and travel for all court proceedings, and to assist our family in the days to come as we continue to seek justice for George. A portion of these funds will also go to the Estate of George Floyd for the benefit and care of his children and their educational fund.’ Another legitimate fund can be found at Go Fund Me. Do donate what you can to help this shell-shocked bereaved family of a murdered man.

Donate to #BlackLivesMatter

#BlackLivesMatter arose from a social media post. Since then, it has sparked a global movement, a worldwide discussion and continuing international enlightenment. But BLM – founded in 2013 in response to Trayvon Martin’s murder and the acquittal of his murderer – needs your donations to do the work it does. Its mission is both to stop violence towards and oppression of black people, as well as to champion spaces for black innovation, imagination and joy. BLM’s message needs to be heard.

Other causes you can usefully donate to include:

Black Visions Collective
Reclaim The Block
National Police Accountability Project

Donate to The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust

Stephen Lawrence’s name will be familiar to many on British soil. On 22 April, 1993, the 18-year-old aspirant architect, who dreamt of having a positive impact on his south-east London community, was killed in an unprovoked racist attack, and his five suspected murderers, though arrested, were not convicted. Since then, his tireless and amazing mother Doreen – now a baroness – has worked both to get justice for her son and to build hope and a future for many young people who are discriminated against or otherwise disadvantaged. A champion of inclusion, the sites explains, ‘Over the past four years, we have delivered activities to over 2,000 school-aged children to enable them to gain the knowledge, skills and qualifications they need to pursue the career of their choice.’ Meanwhile, the enquiry into Stephen’s death led to the publication of the Macpherson Report, ‘one of the most important moments in the modern history of criminal justice in Britain’. If we want to break down barriers to equality, this charity is a very good place to channel resources.

Watch the TED Interview With the Founders of Black Lives Matter

‘Black Lives Matter is our call to action. It is a tool to reimagine a world where black people are free to exist, free to live. It is a tool for our allies to show up differently for us.’ That was Patrisse Cullors talking to Mia Birdsong about BLM’s foundation, along with her co-founders Opal Tometi and Alicia Garza. BLM, she explains, represents to her the opportunity to ask why, while offering a new vision and an alternative narrative for young black women growing up. As Alicia Garza explains, ‘When we talk about the wage gap, we often say women make 78 cents to every dollar that a man makes. You all have heard that before. But those are the statistics for white women and white men. The reality is that black women make something like 64 cents to every 78 cents that white women make. When we talk about latinas, it goes down to about 58 cents. If we were to talk about indigenous women, if we were to talk about trans women, it would even go further down. So again, if you deal with those who are the most impacted, everybody has an opportunity to benefit from that, rather than dealing with the folks who are not as impacted, and expecting it to trickle down.’ Sobering, inspiring, hopeful. Do watch it.

Listen To The High Low Podcast With Candice Braithwaite

Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes talk to Candice Braithwaite, influencer and founder of Make Motherhood Diverse about the global emergency that is racism. If, like Dolly and Pandora, you are a white person striving to do better, this is useful: they discuss a host of resources to help with educating yourself. There’s a list of books to read – both fiction and non-fiction – as well as resources for children, funds and charities to donate to, and a huge amount of food for thought. They offer a window on how, knowingly and unknowingly, as white people we have benefitted from systems that discriminate against black people, and how to change that.

Write To Your MP

The little black squares that flooded Instagram on 2 June were a powerful symbol. But a fleeting symbol will be all that they were if we don’t collectively take further action. One way in which we can all do this is to write to our MPs. It is a quick and easy process, mostly especially since, if you wish, you can use a template, as outlined on Twitter by author of the Forgotten Women series, Zing Tsjeng. She writes:

‘Please don't just post a black square. Write to your MP now with these demands:
- Immediate suspension of UK sales of teargas, riot shields + rubber bullets to the US
- Condemn Trump's use of force against his own citizens
- Release the delayed report into BAME Covid deaths (NB this report has now been released, but there remains value in demanding that the government does more to tackle to death rate amongst ethnic minorities.)

Resources For Children

Damaging attitudes are often enforced early. It is vital that young black children get to see, read and enjoy representations that actually reflect them; it is also imperative that young white children see diverse characters to reinforce a more open, accepting and equal view of world and all who call it home. You can donate to the cause here, and find out where to buy diverse books here.

Watch Obama’s Speech

Donald Trump’s brutal response to the protests has been reprehensible. It is reassuring then, to watch former President Obama’s speech, at the very least as a reminder that America can and will, one day, return to more responsible, thoughtful, self-reflective and compassionate leadership. He calls the systemic racism in America (and indeed the west generally), the ‘plague and original sin of our society.’ He calls for our collective awakening, and for the terrible death of Floyd George to be used as an opportunity to make a change, to galvanise America to ‘live up to its highest ideals.’ His faith in young people is encouraging. As he says, ‘Dr King was a young man’. Listen, feel inspired.

Read, Read, Read

Education is the key to all. To that end, we can’t recommend The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander highly enough. Alexander is a civil rights lawyer who argues powerfully that while we may change the legal and political systems, social attitudes too must be addressed in order for true change to happen. The vastly disproportionate number of black men in prison – both in the US and the UK – tells its own devastating story, and, argues Alexander, propagates the attitudes that surrounded segregation, even if that structure long ago crumbled.

How To Argue With A Racist by Adam Rutherford is, hearteningly, a Sunday Times Bestseller. An incredibly important book, allow it to be your guide as you encounter those propping up and keeping alive old, unfit and destructive attitudes.

They say: ‘Race is real because we perceive it. Racism is real because we enact it. But the appeal to science to strengthen racist ideologies is on the rise – and increasingly part of the public discourse on politics, migration, education, sport and intelligence. Stereotypes and myths about race are expressed not just by overt racists, but also by well-intentioned people whose experience and cultural baggage steer them towards views that are not supported by the modern study of human genetics. Even some scientists are uncomfortable expressing opinions deriving from their research where it relates to race. Yet, if understood correctly, science and history can be powerful allies against racism, granting the clearest view of how people actually are, rather than how we judge them to be.’ Read the manifesto and equip yourself with the facts. These books are the tip of the iceberg, but they are great places to start.

Sign A Petition

There are a number of petitions to sign at present. Adding your name is a simple, small act. Collectively, however, it has huge power. And the fight against racism is, after all, about the collective. Do consider signing Change.org’s Justice For Floyd George petition.

Keep Listening, Learning and Supporting Black People

It’s simple – so simple, in fact, that it should be an anachronism to have to say it in 2020. But it isn’t. So do make an effort to show your support. Employ black people. Buy from black people. Read books by black people. Amplify their voices if you discern suppression. And most of all, don’t shout over black people. Listen. We can all do better. We WILL all do better.

June 2020
By Nancy Alsop


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Hero image by Mike Von on Unsplash

Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.