It’s been a little while since I last wrote a blog, not that I haven’t had plenty of material to write about given the world’s collective experience recently (I won’t say the C word here…). Before the pandemic truly kicked off I had been experiencing a very difficult time. Being physically unwell for a long time and mentally in a bad place. I had been going too fast for too many months trying to ram everything in to every day as well as be a mother to an 18 month old. I was desperate for some ‘time off’ to recoup and realised I had reached complete burn out. I booked three weeks off of work finally breathing a sigh of relief that time out was imminent. Ironically this coincided with the pandemic becoming serious and everything closing down. It seems to me that this has been mirrored by the world too. We have been going too fast for too long, polluting the world, busying our minds, forgetting about what is truly important in our lives. We have been forced to slow down. We have been forced to retreat and go back to basics. As we were all adrift on a life raft that no one had any idea as to whether it would capsize at any time.
But what has really caught my attention in the last week or so is the change of attention of the nation (and world in fact) that had happened after the horrific, insensitive killing of George Floyd. I have not allowed myself to watch the video of this happening. I know the details, I have read about the words that left his mouth and how he called out for his mother as he neared death. I don’t need to watch a murder of someone because it won’t change the fact that this inhumane act happened. I can’t even imagine the fear he must have felt and my heart bleeds as when my baby calls out for me, I am there to hold and comfort her. But what has upset me the most over the past week is how the general population has reacted to the news.
Now this may ruffle a few feathers but this is simply my view of the situation. Yesterday somebody decided to come up with the idea of ‘black out Tuesday’ which was slapped across every single social media channel that I opened up that day. The idea was to post a black square to signify support to #blacklivesmatter, a new slogan that has come of George Floyd losing his life from which absolutely is a racist crime. Then to come off of social media for a day and ruminate about racism and the affects it has had on the world and of course the black community as a whole. So I must make it crystal clear at this point that this is not something that I disagree with, to educate ourselves on the history of racism is absolutely imperative if we want to advocate change. But what struck me is how easy it was for hundreds of thousands of individuals to do exactly the same action – and for what outcome? What happens after black out Tuesday? Do we all go back to our normal lives and complain about racism but not actually do anything about it? And where did the idea even come from, the media? The media that depicts we are only of value if we are performing enormous actions such as Capitan Tom who wonderfully raised millions to help the NHS? Would we even know who Capitan Tom was if he had not been given the media attention that he got and dare I say being an older gentleman could he have become another statistic if COVID was involved? Thank god he wasn’t of course, but for the sake of this article I wanted to make a point of mentioning that. It breaks my heart to think of all the families across the globe who have lost their mum or dad or sister or brother who have simply become a statistic. And even though Capitan Tom’s garden walk was hugely successful and inspirational I wonder if how many people compare what kind of attention their actions would get if they were to do the same and decide against them because they would seem incomparable? This is not so, as Mahatma Ghandi once said ‘in a gentle way, you can shake the world’.
It occurs to me that whist we focus our attention on the brutality of racism we still give power and energy to the hate that this emulates. The riots, the fights, the anger, the looting, the screaming, it just adds to the collective sadness and grief that this world continues to feel. Especially after suffering from the recent pandemic where thousands of lives were lost before their time. What I truly see from these actions are the trauma we all feel on an individual level, George’s death has just been the catalyst for so many to express their deep pain that they carry around every single day. It seems to me that everyone ‘thinks’ of changing the world, but no one thinks that change has to start with oneself. Change comes from small individual actions, change comes from internal healing and the only way towards healing from pain, is through it. The interesting fact is we must be interested in being different ourselves before we can collectively add towards a change to the world. Because surely if we are individually living in pain, trauma, anger doesn’t that mean that we are accumulatively adding to the low energy that the planet is weighed down by? By posting a black square people are of course supporting a cause, but truly what difference is that going to make? I actually saw a number of posts that suggested how the blackout movement was even dangerous for the black community. Some said how this is false activism, as black individuals’ voices are already suppressed on social media platforms and literally burying them under more blank squares isn’t going to help. ‘UK Black Pride’ actively encouraged ‘those who care about black lives to delete their black squares and post useful, helpful, uplifting and empowering information and images that further the cause’. Further adding that ‘social media is a vital tool in the fight for equality, and a feed full of black squares does not let us know that we all stand in solidarity – it is a silence and an erasure that we cannot afford.’ With another post stating that by posting blank squares with the hashtag #blacklivesmatter isn’t helping, all the resources and useful information is now hidden! So yet again black voices, history and information are literally being silenced by blank posts.
So what is it I am trying to say here. I am trying to say that to advocate for change, we need to be willing to heal ourselves first and foremost. Change comes from within. Change came when Rosa Parks decided enough was enough, refused to sit on a different part of the bus not allowing herself to be treated less than, because of the colour of her skin. I would wager money on the fact that this was instigated by many years of sadness and oppression that led Rosa Parks to do a single act of courage contributing to a much bigger ripple effect. We need to look at the pain, the anger, the rage even that this current situation has triggered in us and become curious why. Why do I feel this anger and how can I work on healing this for me first? As a white person I can simply not understand what it feels like to experience the level of hate some have to date for having black skin. I do not for one second claim to know what it must feel like. But what I do know is how it feels to be treated like you’re worthless as a human being. To be beaten, abused, called names, dragged around by my own hair, deafened in an ear by a blow so hard to the head, poured over the head with human piss – yes I know how that feels. So if anyone is reading this who is black, judging me for writing this article and thinking ‘how could SHE ever understand’ oh I understand my friend. I understand how it can feel to not be seen. I can understand what it feels like to live life in constant fear. I understand how as a woman I was used as a sex object without a thought for how this will damage my innocence for life. But I have had to find my own journey through healing from this pain and trauma. And only THEN when my actions could come from a place of a true desire to help others, could I start to make a change to the world in small ways. Because as Socrates said ‘The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new’ and what a wise man he was. We need to get to a place where we go peacefully, because heaven knows the world is in need of peace, compassion and kind energy. Then and only then, can we truly go in to the world and make our differences through actions, because those actions will be done through the lens that the world needs. Love.