Artiscado is a place for change. Right, ethical change and therefore NOT commenting on the brutal killing of George Floyd and countless others would be fundamentally wrong. This post therefore is overdue but being completely honest I have not until now felt able or had the strength to comment on this. I have been outraged like the rest of the world but I just couldn’t find the words that I needed to say.
Last year, my own experience of systemic racism in the workplace came to a head and while I fought my hardest and achieved the ‘right’ overall outcome, the impact on my mental and physical health has been so severe that I now am a ‘shell’ of who I used to be. The fight that I once had, while I know is still there deep down and I’m sure burns just as brightly; has been pushed down so low that it has taken me longer than it probably would have before for me to make comprehend this and voice my thoughts on something so important. I think that is the thing that I find most profound – I am an activist for what’s right and I haven’t felt able to speak out, fearing for what might come from speaking out. But as many have said, doing nothing is worse.
John Boyega said that ‘every Black person remembers the moment they were made to feel different’. I remember the moment I was reminded that I wasn’t white, I remember what it was like to be called a ‘Paki’ in the street or told to go and wash myself with bleach. I remember people in my own family telling me to use ‘Fair & Lovely’ because my skin was too dark and so no one would want to marry me. I also remember being in Year 4 and a girl named Laura trying to poison me with bleach in my drink. Those words said by John Boyega rung out in my head and I’ve not been able to shake them. Why were we made to feel different, why were we made to feel lesser, less human or less important simply because we were not ‘white’?
What happened to George Floyd and so many others is unforgivable and unacceptable. Abhorrent in a time when we need each other the most but more prevalent now than ever perhaps. We talk about diversity and inclusion in the workplace but personally I feel that highlights the deep rooted racism/prejudice of many and brings it to the surface. When we talk about systemic racism in society – it’s been allowed to go on for so long and so are we to blame as well? Enabling, allowing and shrugging off prejudices justify them and allow them to continue. And when we surround ourselves with likeminded people, those opinion, prejudices and feelings grow – if you’re surrounded by people who share your underlying prejudices – how will you learn? How will you grow and see how wrong it is?
Today, I am conflicted about the protests and while I know that they are right, I question if now is the right time with the pandemic still so rife. But then I question if any time is right and if the time is now, then the time is now. Standing up for what is right is right, there is nothing anyone can do to stop that. But the question I now ask, is what happens next, what will change or will this be just a moment in history?
I’d like to offer another post that I wrote a while ago – Am I just that brown girl in the corner? I hope this will offer further insight into why this matters to me so much.