Friday, 5 June 2020

BIRMINGHAM BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTEST!: WHY PROTESTING IS IMPORTANT

I AM SO PROUD OF MY CITY BIRMINGHAM!

Out of all the things I have been a part of, this has to be the thing I am most proud of. After spending the week feeling extremely overwhelmed with emotions constantly flitting between rage and sadness about the heinous killing of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, it felt so electrifying to be a part of something that was much bigger than myself. We chanted, we marched, there were speeches and by the time I left I felt so empowered. When I got home after a long day, tired, voice hurting and blisters on my foot,  I decided to participate in a Zoom call where the participants were discussing the 'Black Lives Matter' movement where the question was raised 'What does protesting do and is it still necessary? We have been marching for years and nothing has changed'. I had a think about this after I came off the call and I thought, YES! Yes protesting is still necessary for different
reasons.


MARKETING

1.) Protesting is necessary because it is your marketing tool, it amplifies the message that you are trying to get out to the world, to get people to pay attention too, to evoke conversation, and to spark the catalyst that will hopefully implement change. It is no different to signing a petition, if 10,000 people sign the petition for there to be a change to the law, then parliament can give them a response, but if 100,000 people sign a petition, then it can be considered for a debate in parliament, it raises the stakes.

EMPOWERMENT

2.) Most people do not hold the same power as our iconic celebrities like Jay-Z or Beyonce who can donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to bailout funds or organisations. However what people do have is their voice. Not everyone has a loud voice and some people don't even know what to say, but some people rely on these peaceful protests in order to feel empowered to gain the courage to speak up and do what's right in their own lives going forward.



BELONGING

3.) Protesting can give you sense of belonging. Whilst I have had my family to lean on through these distressing times to talk to and cry with, other people have not. Going to a protest for some people is a learning experience and provides them with a sense of relief that they are amongst other people that are experiencing the same feelings of hurt, pain and frustration.

4.) PHYSICAL UNITY

It is about seeing a physical manifestation of unity which is important, because it forces people to acknowledge that there is an issue that they need to be concerned about, and if this many people are resisting then maybe there is a problem that needs to be fixed.

Participating in the protest yesterday made me feel so proud of Birmingham the city I am from, and how we came together to stand in solidarity for 'Black Lives Matter' and the call to end white supremacy. But it cannot end here, it cannot end at a protest, there must be actionable and tangible change made after the protest.



WHAT DO WE DO NEXT

1. SUPPORT BLACK BUSINESSES

We have so much talent within our own community and yet we constantly spend our money elsewhere. A lot of companies, brands and co-operations really don't give two shits about 'Black Lives' and if they matter, and for many of them the only language they understand is money. If we take our money out of these brands then they will realise the strength of the black pound or dollar and how much we have contributed them, for a change let's BUILD EACH OTHER UP INSTEAD.

2.) INSIDE THE WORKPLACE

Email your workplace and ask the HR department to review their policies for everyone to see, highlighting how they intend to stamp out systematic racism and how they are going to ensure equal opportunities to black staff, question them on how they intend to ensure the mental wellbeing of their staff in the workplace, are there going to be measures put in place to ensure that their black staff are not being overlooked and passed over for career progression. Is there going to be a rise of black people in senior positions.




3.) HOLD BRANDS ACCOUNTABLE

Brands who have committed to standing in solidarity with the 'Black Lives Matter' movement need to prove that they genuinely mean it, they cannot get away with performative rage, so many of them will use this to capitalise off black pain and expression, and then forget about us again in a few months, they MUST follow through. Email them and ask them what they plan to do differently regarding diversity within their companies, do they donate to black organisations what is the HR policy of dealing with racism, is diversity reflected in their brand.

4.) VOTE & WRITE TO YOUR LOCAL MP

It is extremely important to vote. Read up on your local MP and find out what they are doing for their constituents, do they speak on the issues that are important to your community when they are going to represent you in the house of parliament. Write to them and tell them the issues you are unhappy with and ask how they intend to resolve them. Vote in the general election, there is often a misconception that your vote won't count or there is no point voting, but we MUST vote, read up on the different parties and what they represent in their manifestos - it's long and boring, but it affects us so we need to be clued up. The MP for Birmingham Perry Barr is Khalid Mahmood.



5.) EDUCATE

We need to ensure that we are edifying our communities with resources and skills. We need to have those tough but healthy and necessary conversations about race with our children, we cannot avoid it because the learning starts at home. For teenagers and adults (READ, READ, READ AND READ SOME MORE!) I am saying this to myself as well. We need to know our history to know who we are and to also understand that black history did not start with slavery, and to further understand the root of white supremacy which is complex and multi layered.

Essential Reading List by Dr. Akala


6.) FINANCIAL LITERACY

I read a book called 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' and a line that has always stood out to me is 'He who holds the money, holds the rules'. We need to teach our community and children about how to invest, how to save, reduce expenses, build credit scores and compound money.

7.) DONATE TO BLACK ORGANISATIONS

Finally whilst I know that eventually the chanting, protesting and marching will die down, and this is not going to change over night, I am confident that there is going to be a shift in the atmosphere for real change to occur. This protest movement is the biggest in HISTORY! let's not forget what kind of change we can bring about when we come together, let's keep continuing to support the movement and support black organisations who can keep advocating for change and spreading the message. Stay safe guys and be the change you want to see xx

Donate to UK Organisations

Donate to Black Minds Matter UK:
https://www.gofundme.com/f/black-minds-matter-uk?
Donate to Stop Hate UK:
Donate to Belly Mujinga’s family:
Donate to Show Racism the Red Card:
Donate to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Foundation:
Donate to Hope Not Hate:
Expanded list of UK charities that work with Black and POC communities:
Donate to Black Lives Matter:
Donate to Black Visions Collective:
Donate to the Movement for Black Lives:
Donate to Campaign Zero to support policy solutions to end police brutality in America:
Donate to The Bail Project:
Donate to George Floyd Memorial Fund:
Donate to Reclaim the Block:
Donate to bail funds across the US:


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