Words by Tamay Nehir
We’ll all remember the 25th of May, a day which will forever mark the senseless and brutal murder of late George Floyd. Since then, we have seen the world roar in pain, protesting and chanting for change. Awareness continues to be raised through social media day-by-day with posts not only emphasising the inequalities faced in the USA but also the United Kingdom.
The UK stands guilty to racism. Names of victims that were failed by this country include transport officer Belly Mujinga, University student Julian Cole and Somalian refugee Shukri Abdi, names that fall amongst many others. Sadly, violence motivated by race is not the only thing they have in common, all these victims’, nor their families have been granted any form of justice. Despite the other global pandemic, coronavirus having a larger, more detrimental effect on BAME individuals, protests have swept the world.
On the 30th March, London’s Peckham hosted its own protest with hundreds of demonstrators holding cardboard signs with the words, “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace”, with a turnout of all kinds of individuals coming from various ethnic backgrounds.
We spoke with 18 year-old Nathan Pinnock-James who attended the protest, among many other recent demonstrations where he explained his experience as “overwhelming” explaining, “it was surprising for me to see so many young people of all races turn up. I have never been in a huge group like that without having to worry about people trying to fight one another or anything of the sort. As it felt, and appeared to me, that everyone was there for the same reason which was beautiful to see and be a part of”. In the midst of true solidarity, Nathan explained that the Black Lives Matter protests have been his first experience demonstrating and therefore “had no idea what to expect” from the rally.
When asked about his personal experiences with racism, Nathan said that he’s even been subject to racism from a friend. He blames the education system and media for this type of ignorance yet admits to being “shocked” as it fell short the expectations he had of his friend. With that being said, he has battled with the feeling that he is “obligated to hold them accountable as they are old and wise enough to educate themselves and understand that what they are saying and their views are ignorant and racist”.
However, despite these negative encounters Nathan stays optimistic and believes that even people who are already racist can learn to unlearn obliviousness. Admitting to once being ignorant himself about other issues as a youngster, through maturity Nathan took initiative to educate and learn about things that he was brought up to think are unacceptable.
14HQ also spoke with new graduate Tola Coker who lives by wanting to “understand other people”. She, like Nathan, has also experienced racism. A story too common, shared by so many. She recalls being called “the n-word” at just 12 as well as more recently being told by a co-worker at Selfridges that she was “one of the funniest coloured people they’d ever met” – a form of microaggression. Luckily, another co-worker stepped in “giving him verbal drag” while Tola remained completely spun!
Various statistics have circulated social media platforms, particularly Twitter and Instagram showing evidence of racial bias in Britain today. No, this is not just about history. A survey conducted by the Guardian results of bias, unconscious or not. It showed that minorities were twice more susceptible to encounter abuse from a stranger, while 38% said they had been wrongly suspected of shoplifting in the past 5 years, in comparison to white people being only wrongly suspected of 14%. These are only some of the statistics… the more people take the time to educate themselves on disparities, the more individuals will realise how broken social and institutional structures are within this country.
In order to keep pushing the movement, stay educated and informed, have uncomfortable conversations at home, speak up when you notice injustices and make it a priority to always do better.
Resources to utilities at home include Netflix, which offer educational documentaries via their newly added Black Lives Matter category. In addition the BBC have added BLM related content in the form of short videos, matters include subjects such as; healthcare inequalities experienced by BAME UK residents. Books to read can be found by Googling “BLM Books”, which will show a myriad of educational titles as well as Instagram pages like @blmldnmovement and @theukisnotinnocent being able to provide you with UK protest dates, petitions and other useful resources you can tap into.