Yep, that’s me and the sum total of friends I have that are black is one….possibly two at a pinch. So off to the Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol Uk for some education and solidarity. First impression? There’s a hell of a lot of white people here. In fact there’s way more white people than black. I mean no disrespect by that comment. It’s an observation. Fair play to so many for coming out in support of the black community. However I live in a tower block that’s nearly fifty percent black, where were they? I did see what looked like some of the older kids hanging around at the edges looking on, but I generally got the impression that the whites had come turned up to the protest while the black people who are my neighbours stayed at home. Why is that? Do they think we’ve robbed there movement? Do migrants feel to afraid to kick up a fuss? Maybe they think there’s no point and things will never change. I’d love to know the answer to the question.
Anyway….after plonking my big white arse down I began to listen to the speakers and some interesting points were made. One that if (like me) you have very few real black friends you’re perceptions of black people as a group are governed by what you see on the media. Not a comfortable thought as I’d always regarded myself as able to treat people as individuals despite that. But it made sense. I was reading a newspaper the other day and a friendly Sudanese youth asked me what the headlines were. I answered ‘War’. I was actually reading something about how the pubs were re opening but the lads facial features were the same as those we’ve seen countless times in popular media in association with conflict. I was ashamed of myself and I began to wonder how many other unconscious bias’ I possess. Because they’re right the narrative has been written by the colonial power.
Since before Roman times the same thing has been going on. A subjected people sold off into slavery are portrayed as ignorant savages as a sort of moral justification for their treatment. But although that makes me uncomfortable writing it what I find interesting is how long its been going on for and the fact that it’s still happens today. Will it ever change? I hope so and what will be the issues of tomorrow if we manage to successfully tackle what we need to today. Because things do change. I’m currently reading HP Lovecraft a famous old school horror writer from the last century. In one of his short stories he calls his cat ‘Nigger Man’. Can you believe it? But once I suppose that was relatively normal.
Maybe it would help if we Brits kept in mind our earliest ancestors. Bodies reconstructed from remains found in the Cheddar Gorge show that we had black skin…to be honest with you that made me laugh all day when I found that out.
Go on Black Lives Matter I wish you all the best.
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