I’ve watched the news as the recent weeks have unfolded as once again a light has been shone on the great disparity between black and white in this country and the rest of the world.
For the record, I 100% stand with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and the peaceful protests that have occurred.
I am trying to educate myself, I want to learn more about how we have reached this moment and ultimately I want to know what I can do to help?
Earlier today, I shared the following video on my personal Facebook page along with the words "Please watch every second of this. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to do more."
The reason I shared it was because I felt it helped me to better understand the problems and if it helps just one other person then it was a worthwhile click.
What I didn't expect however was a message out of the blue from a friend I used to play rugby with back in the 2000's. I haven't seen him in person since my stag do, some 15 years ago so I was delighted to hear from him. He wrote...
"...I wanted to thank you for your post today. I don't wear the race card often but FB has been 'interesting' of late, especially a lot of comments about what 'the blacks' have got right/wrong and should/should not be doing, from people who really, really have no concept of the experience skin colour conveys. Yours was a refreshingly decent, humane post. Cheers Fella."
Following on from this message, I asked if he would mind reading this blog post (obviously prior to me adding in this part of the story). I was interested in his thoughts. His feedback was positive but called me out on one point which I'll highlight further on.
As a white male, born and bred in Eastbourne, East Sussex, I live in a town which is over 90% white. I’m in a bubble. I don’t see in my day-to-day life the struggles that are depicted on the TV, radio and online. Not seeing it first-hand should never be an excuse not to act though.
I’ll be honest, there are times when I’m not sure what to say or what to do and in a society where offence seems to be taken at every turn, there is a genuine fear of saying the wrong thing.
There’s also a nagging worry that because I’m a white male with no real knowledge of the problem, whether I should even comment on the subject matter as a whole at all.
So I guess this is as much a pledge as much as it is a request for help.
My pledge is to learn as much as possible about the Black Lives Matter movement, the historical struggles of the black community* and the struggles that are still rife today. I pledge to try and find ways that I can help and I pledge to continue learning and helping forever, not just while it is the story of the hour!
Let’s start a conversation, an open discussion, where I can learn, where others can learn and together we can start making the small changes in our communities that lead to big changes in society.
*Black community was a term that my friend called me out on. He rightly pointed out the following...
"My observation is there is no 'black community' as a whole, just like there's no white one - everyone is different... "
He also said that
As far back as I can remember that he was made to feel an outsider and 'beneath' white people. I always (still) expect the N word to be used everywhere I go.
I can't imagine what that must have been like and clearly it has had a lasting effect. Nobody should be made to feel that way and it is one of the reasons that change needs to happen.
For me, this conversation has been a real eye opener. I was simply unaware that this happens day-in-day-out for so many.
If the protests can raise awareness and enough people try to educate, learn, talk and be open, then maybe, just maybe, real change can happen!
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