Hi! I’m Gill, a white woman, living in a borough where just 1 in every 47.2 people come from a Black, or otherwise ethnically diverse background. My primary/junior school was 100% white and my high school experience had a single Chinese girl that join my maths class for the final term.
Once I started to work and critically, once I could drive, I started to get out and about a bit more, experiencing different cultures as I went. But I realise that after all these years I thought I was informed, it turns out – I am really, really not.
I realise that racism has always been there – but those of us not directly affected by it have somehow grown to live with that particular mistreatment of people – and I don’t know how or why? I realised that I don’t know enough. That I have cultivated my social media without ever consciously thinking about it, which means I follow more white people that anything else. Again, I don’t know why.
IRL I treat people as equals, I am firmly anti-racist as I do KNOW that racism is bad and I genuinely don’t understand people that judge based on skin colour. BUT and it’s a niggly, annoying but… my lack of education and lack of cultural diversity in social interactions was wrong. So what could I do?
I believe that education is the key for me, so I have set about trying to find some people with good info to read. I’ve searched for good films to watch and good dramas to binge on from black creators. I have also reflected on a trip M and I took to Alabama in 2006, where we visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum and I remember the stark image of the “colored” water fountain next to the one for white people.
If I was going to recommend 3 things to watch or read I would go for:
- Queenie, by Candice Carty-Williams. A great story about a black girl, living in London, who experiences poor mental health after a breakup (of sorts). This book was great and showed me some of the day to day issues that young, black women face.
- Selma – a film starring Oprah Winfrey and David Oyelowo about the march from Selma in Alabama to Montgomery organised by Martin Luther King. This was an eye-opener for me as I sort of knew about this story in the abstract, but I had NO idea of what happened in reality. It made me cry to watch it and so it should.
- I may destroy you – a drama on BBC about a late 20s black girl, living in London. I am only halfway through, but so far it’s a tale of how vulnerable someone can be in the blink of an eye. Be warned if you are thinking of watching, it does contain some sexual violence.
All I can really do is try harder, be more educated and speak up when and where I can. I am consciously trying to follow and listen to more black influencers, creators and activists to not only to see but to hear – really hear. You see, it DOES affect me – I have never been afraid of the police, I was taught to go to them for help. I thought it was the same for everyone… it’s not.
Black. Lives. Matter.