By the end of today’s Black Lives Matter protest I had a lump in my throat.
The sheer amount of people who attended was unreal. Hundreds flooded into Kings Park with signs and masks. Hundreds screamed, in unison, that black lives matter.
And then, hundreds sat in complete silence for eight minutes in absolute and unwavering respect for every victim of police brutality and institutional racism.
I felt many emotions during the protest. Anger and grief were certainly among them, but so were love and pride. I will never experience what it is like to be treated as a black person within our society, and for that I am incredibly lucky and incredibly privileged. For many, their realities are brutally different. Change needs to occur. Here and now, we are trying to make that change a reality.
The photos you see show only a handful of the protesters at Kings Park today. These people are allies of the Black Lives Matter movement. They, unlike many others, decided to take a stand.
To simply be ‘not racist’ is not good enough. Given, there will be many tasks that cannot be done and events that cannot be attended, especially given the current situation. There are those who are elderly or those who have underlying health conditions and should not be attending protests. Donations may also be impossible to give, particularly now that so many have lost their jobs/have been unable to find work during the quarantine period.
But this protest has come at an interesting time. Just last night the University of Stirling sent out a rather contradictory statement regarding the Black Lives Matter movement:
“Statements of intent are not enough if not matched by action”, they said, while simultaneously choosing not to match their statement with action.
So far, the University have chosen not to comment on this issue.
Now more than ever, words are important but not enough. Choose to go and protest. If that is not an option for you, educate yourself through podcasts, documentaries and literature. Sign petitions. Donate to charities. Write to your local MP. Do everything in your power to be more than simply ‘not racist’. Be actively anti-racist.
If you do not want to support this movement because it does not affect you, that is your privilege talking. And if you think this is only a problem in the U.S., you are very out of the loop.
Remember: change does not happen overnight. Continue to influence change, but do not forget about racism if outdoor protests are over and if #blacklivesmatter is no longer trending on Twitter.
To better ourselves and our society we must be willing to continuously learn and grow.