I know what it’s like to be poor.
But I don’t know what it’s like to be black and poor.
I know what it’s like to be afraid to walk alone at night.
But I don’t know what it’s like to be a black woman walking alone at night.
I know what it’s like to worry about the world my child is growing into.
But I don’t know what it’s like to raise a black child in a world set up to to see them him as less than.
I know what it’s like to be furious at injustice and abhorred by polarising events.
But I don’t know what it’s like to live with that injustice as a companion. All, day, every day because of the colour of your skin.
I know what it’s like to be judged because of my clothes, accent. level of education, gender and job.
But I don’t know what it’s like to be judged by the blackness of my skin before considering anything of who I am.
I know what it’s like to be horrified and disgusted by the murder of a black man by a police officer captured for the world to see.
But I don’t know what it’s like to wake up knowing that simply by being black skinned I would be over twice as likely to die by the hands of a police officer.
That even though Black Americans account for less than 13 percent of the USAs population, they are shot and killed by the police at a rate that’s over twice as high as that for white Americans.
I don’t know what I don’t know and I have that luxury because I am not black.
And lets not pretend it’s just an American thing. As a Brit I badly want to think that it’s not the case here but I know differently.
Since 1990 there have been 74 people fatally shot by police in the UK. 20 of which have been BAME.
Proportionally this means the same thing as in America. That simply because of the colour of your skin you are twice as likely to die at the hands of the police.
And what about racism outside of police brutality? Surely *most* people aren’t racist here are they?
Well, check out the report UK Office of National Statistics report, specifically where it discusses hate crimes:
“In 2018 to 2019, there were in total 103,379 hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales, an increase of 10% compared with 2017 to 2018 (94,121 offences). In all, 8% of hate crimes were related to religion, an increase of 3% on the previous year (to 8,566 offences), with most hate crimes related to race (76%; 78,991 offences).”
This doesn’t diminish the fight and the outcry that is underway in America today. But to be ignorant of the fact that the problem isn’t elsewhere is part of the problem. Systemic racism is it’s own version of a centuries old pandemic and we MUST accept that the UK certainly also needs to address it’s own. After all, it underpins our very infrastructure not least our judicial, health and economic systems.
I am donating, learning, having tough conversations and doing what I can but it’s not enough yet.
I will continue not just while the anger is high and the ‘optics’ seem served by it. But I will continue when I once would have moved on because my skin colour meant I could.
I commit to continue to change the world in whatever way I can because I don’t know what it’s like to be black, but if there is anything my privilege has taught me it’s that with great privilege comes great responsibility and it doesn’t stop just because there was once a black president, or because the cameras stopped rolling or the furore dies down.
It is because you are black, but let us all take action today, and tomorrow and next week, and next month and next year and forever more ACT so that one day, black people will not consider each time they open their eyes, whether this will be the day they are added to a list of names like these:
(the above list is not exhaustive, I have done no additional research as yet, these are simply names I recalled without research)