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Back to Black – Lives matter so let’s talk drug dealers and words. Language matters.

So it’s almost 6 months since I didn’t post a Black Square and I didn’t speak up.  I learned a new term ‘Race Adjacent’ thanks to a North American based cousin who read my blog post

We hear a lot about racism in North America – it’s more vocal and more people are aware of its modern and historical context.  In the UK, we still take a stiff upper lip approach to racism and find it hard to talk about – we’re not as vocal. But are we aware of the historical context of the British Empire and its colonies?  Were you taught at school to consider that the great British Empire was once the King of Drug Dealers?!  Yep – think Breaking Bad goes global, replace blue crystal meth with opium and rename it as the ‘Opium Wars’ – these modern cartels are amateurs in comparison!  Ever wondered why Hong Kong was returned to China or how it became part of the British Empire (#landgrab anyone?)       

So there’s education/wokeness needed through conversation but alongside that how do we become more vocal?

This is where North America are ahead of us in the UK – in the language by which they have to talk about race.  And this is important.  Many of us in the UK don’t have the language and therefore the tools to talk about race.  Let alone the confidence and the guts to open up these tricky conversations.  

Do you understand the terms Unconscious Bias, BAME, BIPOC, affinity groups, diaspora, imposter syndrome, privilege, white fragility, etc?

Are you equipped and fluent with the language and also have confidence to talk about race?

Are you aware of using inclusive language?  There’s a huge (albeit subtle) difference between talking about ‘the disabled’ vs ‘disabled people’ – the difference between a descriptor of a group of people vs a collective term.

In the last 6 months I’ve unknowingly been working on he above three questions.  Through watching TV, reading and having open discussions – I have now learned some of the words to talk about experiences I have had over the years.  There’s a common language and now a means by which to talk about and share these things that were so fluffy and intangible before.  Whereas before I had a niggly feeling that something wasn’t right, I didn’t have the right words to talk about it.  Now I feel a bit more equipped to firstly recognise that niggly feeling for what it is and also have the tools of language to express it without being not understood or shut down.

If you’ve read my previous post – you will realise that the death of George Flloyd really affected me.  It made me question my role and impact in changing the conversation and the system.  I’ve also learned that currently we seem to be in a time when we can share our experiences and open up conversations safely. Thank you to all those people who have been willing to engage with me and talk openly over the last 6 months – yes you’ve tended to be females but I guess that’s because of my situation and because you recognise the struggles of being in a minority.

So if you posted a Black Square –  what have you done over the last 6 months since posting that Black Square?  If you didn’t post a Black Square – if you’re reading this – read on and consider what you might read or watch.   Has your vocabulary increased? Do you have the tools to talk about race? Here’s what I’ve been reading and watching.

What have you done and what are you going to do before the 6 month anniversary of George Floyd’s death?

The School that Tried to End Racism on All4 (Channel 4 On Demand)This was filmed a year before George Floyd’s death and in a school with a white, male and progressive headteacher.  I found this hard to watch as a parent of mixed kids – which room would they go in?  
The Talk on All4 (Channel 4 On Demand)Again a hard watch as a parent. Have you considered when and how to bring up and talk about race to your children?  How do you explain systematic racism, its consequences and break that childhood innocent?
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism  by Robin DiAngeloThis is quite a heavy read but the term ‘White Fragility’ has crystallised a ‘niggly feeling’ for me although I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to use it.
Queenie by Candice Carty-WilliamsBoth well received books – these opened my eyes to others experience in seeing their worlds and hearing their voices
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernandine EvaristoIt won a Booker Prize.
Watched Good Trouble Season 1 and 2 on BBC iPlayerLove this – I’m still watching it. It raises so many of the issues I can relate to …

Let me know if you have an tips on what to read or watch next – my ‘What Next’ list includes:

How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X KendiSo the concept is that an action racist or antiracist – there’s no in between …
Native: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by AkalaHopefully I’ll learn more about the Empire from this.
Something written by or presented by David OlugosoEnough said.
Crip Tales on BBC 4 iPlayerWatching and hearing about life through the lens of disabled people – eye opening.