After a number of deaths of Black people in the U.S. in recent months including George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, protests have sprung up across America to fight for Black lives and against police brutality - but this isn’t a new issue, nor is it just a U.S. issue. This is global.
Yesterday the UK saw protests in support of the Black Lives Matter taking place in London, Cardiff, and Manchester. While these protests were a show of solidarity with those fighting in the U.S., those who gathered were also drew attention to racism in the UK and what should be done to tackle it.
Black people are four times more likely to die from COVID-19 here in the UK and, as the Guardian reports, black, Asian, and other ethnic minorities are being fined more often than the white population under coronavirus lockdown laws. On May 29, it was announced that the person who spat on Belly Mujinga, a railway worker who has since died of COVID-19, will not be charged. There are injustices that happen here every day.
The Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 showed the glaringly obvious disparity between poor Black and brown people and the rich people in the same borough. The Windrush scandal was another example of how Black people who worked and helped to build this country were treated as disposable. And these are all very recent examples. Racism in the UK is institutional, blatant, and an every-day occurrence.
It is the responsibility of non-Black people to be anti-racist in the UK, and this has to go further than simply acknowledging racism and that privilege exists — we need direct action and we need to dismantle systems of oppression. You cannot stay neutral. Anti-racism must be done all year round. Through financial support, education, petitions, and protests, you can help fight racism in the UK.
Follow and listen to organisations
There are grassroots organisations, charities, and community leaders who have been putting down the groundwork for years to fight racism in the UK and help those most in need. It’s crucial to follow the leaders of these groups and listen to them more than you would celebrities and influencers. See how you can help and what they need from you.
Posting online and sharing acknowledgement is good but it’s the bare minimum and non-Black people must go further than performative allyship. Financial support and redistribution of wealth right now is very important. Making sure those most in need have access to money can help make lives a lot easier. Donating to bail funds for those arrested at protests can help prevent more Black people being imprisoned, and donating to pages that are raising funds for the funerals of those who have died helps to alleviate lots of stresses for loved ones.
Sign petitions and write to your MPs
If you become aware of a specific injustice that needs addressing, write to your MP and call for action. You can also sign petitions. In the UK, a petition with 10,000 signatures or more will get a response from the government. A petition with 100,000 signatures or more will be considered for debate in Parliament. Collective voices can make a change.
Educate yourself on racism in the UK and listen to people who have experienced it. If you are non-Black, you shouldn't ask Black people to educate you and expect more labour from them. You can do the research yourself. Reading books and articles, listening to podcasts, watching films and documentaries by and about Black people in the UK is a good start. It is important to know the history of racism is in the UK, and learn about the UK civil rights movement, prison abolition, and the names of black people who have died at the hands of the police here. Pass on your knowledge, tell friends, families, loved ones, and colleagues.
Donate to Black businesses
It is critical to look at where you are spending your money and ask yourself whether it's going towards companies with near-trillionaire bosses. And ask yourself whether the businesses you buy actively stand up against racism and whether they have exhibited institutional racism in the past. Support Black businesses, sign up to the Patreons of Black content creators, pay for memberships for publications for and by Black and brown people in the UK.