Anthem began as a means to amplify women’s voices online. One of the key messages we started with was that we would write about whatever women wanted to write about, and today, the Black Lives Matter movement is what I want to write about. While we only have a small platform, with that we have not just an opportunity to talk about what matters, but a duty.
I am not black and, as such, I am not the best person to tell you about the experiences of black people in this country or any. The best person to tell you about them is black people themselves, and in this article I want to do my best to point you in all the right directions to learn, to understand and to help, if you can. It’s important to remember (and to understand why I am writing this) that it is not the responsibility of black people to explain racism and privilege to us as white people, but our responsibility entirely. It is up to you to learn this and to help with the knowledge you gain.
To begin with, I feel like bringing our attention back to the Kayla Chadwick quote¹ that has been bandied about a lot in recent months: “I don’t know how to explain to you that you should care about other people”. To explain to you why you should care about the Black Lives Matter movement, I shouldn’t have to tell you how many people have been murdered and how they were all innocent; it should be enough that they are black lives and that they matter.
I don’t want to go on about why ‘All Lives Matter’ is counterproductive for too long, but essentially, while all lives do matter, white lives have it better. In the US, for example, where black people barely account for 13% of the country’s population, they are killed at twice the rate of white Americans². We cannot try to quieten the Black Lives Matter movement and claim their struggle is less than all lives collectively. It isn’t.
So how can you educate yourself and learn? The first and easiest step in most of our lives is to curate our social media feeds. Ask yourself the following questions when you next log in to Instagram or Twitter:
- How many of the people I follow are white, able-bodied and cisgender? Is there any diversity in who I’m seeing on my feed, whether celebrities, influencers or news sources?
- Am I following anyone who broadens my thinking?
- Am I seeing other experiences and voices being represented?
- When tragedy occurs, think about George Floyd in this example, is anyone I follow talking about it or hosting a conversation?
I learn so much from the people I follow on Instagram because I follow people who are different from me. I’m a firm believer in the adage that if you only talk to people like you, you’ll never learn and you’ll never grow. This is your job, and it’s an easy thing to do.
As far as following accounts who actively share information and advice, I’ve listed some of mine and the team’s recommendations below. We’d love to hear your recommendations too.
- Reni Eddo-Lodge
- No White Saviors
- Rachel Ricketts
- Rachel Elizabeth Cargle
- Layla F. Saad
- Munroe Bergdorf
- Candice Brathwaite
- Bolu Babalola
- Gurls Talk
- Donte Colley
- Stephanie Yeboah
- Dom Roberts
These people and outlets, and having greater diversity in your feeds will help you learn more on a regular basis.
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Swipe for resources. • Racial justice is a feminist issue and the deep disparity in how white women showed up for “all women” at the women’s march but haven’t showed up in the millions for the current uprising speaks to the @harpersbazaarus article I wrote back in 2018 titled “When Feminism Is White Supremacy In Heels” • My work has always been done through the intersected lens of race and womanhood. You can find more resources from me on this topic in my bio including the link to my article and the link to my recorded lecture Unpacking White Feminism. • White women I am demanding you tap into the radical empathy I mentioned in my public address yesterday. Move past “I’m so sorry this is happening to you” and ask yourself “how do I play into the pain the black community is doing and how do I hold myself and my community accountable for enacting justice?” Ask yourself what moved you to show up on the streets in 2017 but isn’t lighting a fire in you in this very moment. • Do you hear me? Drop a comment/emoji and tag who needs to hear this • #revolutionnow #manifest #racism #blm #soul #spirit #yoga #crystals #essentialoils #goodvibes #goddess #yoga #retreat #yogaretreat #seattle #nyc #la #marieforleo #gabriellebernstein #spiritual #success #lifecoach #bookclub #nyc #lululemon #doterra #wanderlust #teachersofinstagram #dogsofinstagram #catsofinstagram
Next is understanding. I saw a post recently suggesting we all check on our black friends during all this. The way black killings are shown in the media spare absolutely no thought for the trauma they can induce. To be constantly bombarded by images of people who look like you being publicly killed and tortured is going to be horrifying and it’s going to take a real toll on your mental health. So be considerate when you’re sharing graphic imagery and be considerate of how the black people in your life are feeling at this time. It is not their job to teach you, it is your job to understand.
Lastly, is how we can help. In the long term, we can read those books and listen to those podcasts and speeches to expand our knowledge. In the short term, Instagram user Das Penman shared some advice on what we can do in the UK to help the George Floyd case:
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Hello 🤍 I asked on my stories if anyone would be interested in some pointers on how people in the UK can respond to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and overwhelmingly the answer was yes. This is just a small collection of ways you can take action. I would like to make it clear that I’m not an authority on this issue and the people to turn to and follow are the people mentioned throughout the post. This is simply a way of summarising small steps you can take if you’re feeling as useless as I am at the moment. We can always do more. These are some of the ways. EDIT: you can email the county office at firstname.lastname@example.org 🤍 EDIT 2: I included Robin DiAngelo’s book but many people have pointed out that it’s always best to read Black authors’ work on racism before going for a white author. Please bear that in mind! 🤍
Anisha Khullar said, “choosing to be apolitical in times of political and moral turmoil IS a political act, rooted in privilege.” This conversation is painful and triggering and uncomfortable but these are exactly the feelings we need to engage with. Don’t hide from them. Use them to drive you and together we can bring change.
¹ – https://www.huffpost.com/entry/i-dont-know-how-to-explain-to-you-that-you-should_b_59519811e4b0f078efd98440
² – The Washington Post’s database tracking police shooting since 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/investigations/police-shootings-database/
Words by Briony Brake with contributions from Jessica Yang, Amber Berry, Eleanor Manley and the whole Anthem team.