Black Lives Still Matter

How we can support the movement after the hashtags have stopped trending

It’s been four months since George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement is still as important today as it was then. Days after his passing, and other injustices around that time, people took to social media to share fundraisers, petitions and information. We are seeing less and less of this now, but that doesn’t mean anyone should stop supporting the movement.

Just last month, dance group Diversity took to the stage on Britain’s Got Talent to deliver a powerful performance in support of the #BLM movement. The dance routine follows a story told to a young child about a corrupt world and a “disease” called racism.

During the performance, lead dancer Ashley Banjo is seen with a police officer kneeling on his neck (in tribute to George Floyd) soon followed by the group kneeling in protest of black lives lost. The moving dance shows a battle between what can be assumed to be protesters and armed police officers, ending with all of the group members including the young boy holding a fist up to the air, as a historical symbol of defiance and black pride.

It’s without a doubt a performance that people will still be talking about in years to come. But sadly, the routine is close to having the most TV complaints this decade, with 24,041 Ofcom complaints. ITV stood by the dance group as they want Britain’s Got Talent to be an inclusive show, supporting storytelling in all forms.

Image Via Tola Vintage Instagram

Recently, Temple Bar, Dublin was spray-painted with racial slurs and ‘all lives matter’. Meanwhile, a video emerged on social media of a white woman on Dublin bus screaming the N-word, claiming to be a racist and harassing the black bus driver, screaming “I can walk home, he can’t walk back to Africa.”

Racism in Ireland and the UK is sadly still a prevalent issue with just a handful of examples above to prove this.

The key to ensuring that we keep the conversation going is listening to others and educating ourselves. It’s about understanding that racism is still an issue, listening to those who speak out, and being aware that we all have a responsibility to make society an equal place.

Recognising Racism

Blatant racism is easy to spot and call out, but slurs and offensive behaviour aren’t the only type of racism we face.  It also takes on the form of microaggressions, these are remarks, questions or actions relating to their ethnicity that are hurtful.

At the Galway international arts festival, youth worker Amanda Adewole spoke about her experiences with racism and explained what microaggressions are. “It (microaggressions) takes away from your sense of self, your sense of self-identity,” she said.

Different types of microaggressions include:

  • Microinvalidations –this involves attacking or denying the thoughts, feelings or experiences black and people of colour (POC) have. For example, saying “I don’t see colour”
  • Microinsults – these are verbal and nonverbal insults that demean black people, for example “you’re pretty for a black girl”
  • Micro assaults – this includes verbal and nonverbal attacks such as avoiding eye contact or using racial slurs
  • Fetishizing black people – glamorising mixed-race babies or saying things like “I’ve never been with a __ person before” is offensive and unnecessary
  • Asking a black person or POC where they are originally from is never okay, this includes saying something similar to “you don’t sound like you’re black”

No matter what the situation is it’s never okay or justifiable to be racist in any form. If you are told directly by a POC that something you are doing or have done was racist, you need to accept it, listen and take action.

What can we do now?

First and foremost, you should always try to call out racism when you see or hear it. If this is at home and a family member is being racist explain to them why what they are saying is wrong and try educating them on the subject.

To directly help the BLM movement, you can donate to charities or organisations. Check out this list of places taking international donations for the victims, protesters and black-owned businesses.

You could also sign and share various petitions on websites, such as petition.org to raise awareness for cases of racial injustice.

Supporting black-owned businesses is a great way of showing your support for the black community. Bees of Honey launched earlier this year, selling self-care packs including a bath soak, body butter, black soap and lip balm. Favi Design is a creative outlet for UCD student Favour Ogundare who showcases her amazing illustrating and designing talents.

M.I.O. Prints is a lifestyle and fashion brand with bold colours and prints, focusing on African art.

There is no shortage of businesses you can support while getting yourself or someone you know something nice.

If you’re looking for some books to learn more about racism, Emma Dabiri has two books on racial inequality, providing you with a great place to start your own education.

The most important thing you can do is ensure you are constantly trying to better yourself and educate yourself on racism to help take a step towards a better future.

Words by Emily Clarke

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