Published 29 October 2020
I've been thinking about the Black Lives Matter movement recently. It does seem on the surface to be making headway in every day life. Media coverage, advertising campaigns, podcast line ups etc seem to be getting more diverse and that's a good thing for everyone. What I have been wondering though is when will it come to fruition?
Although it may appear that overnight we've because increasingly diverse in our portrayal of human kind, I don't think black children growing up now will see the benefit of this current movement. When the #blacklivesmatter movement kicked off, media outlets rushed to find experts to talk to on the subject. The people they found were already in a privileged position. The black actors, poets, artists and social commentators we're suddenly seeing more of on our screens are the 1% who worked twice as hard as their white neighbor to get where they are today, not the average Jo off the streets being called up to add their voice. In short, the black people who beat adversity to get recognition or fame are being rewarded more but this doesn't affect the average black person.
Our family certainly made changes as part of the #blacklivesmatter movement. It made us stop and take a look at ourselves. Our white privilege, the things we say and do out of habit and they way we were brought up by our parents (and them by their parents etc.). We now try to check our privilege as often as possible. We're both reading more in black history in the UK and elsewhere and we've diversified our childrens book selection to include some of the great titles featuring non-white characters. The effect of this has been not only to diversify our content in terms of skin colour, but also gender, sexuality and others.
I believe the Black Lives Matter movement will only begin to affect the next generation. The black and brown children going through school now won't see the benefit of this. For them, it's already too late, the power structures are still there. It's not enough to simply treat black people equally, the balance is too off kilter. Being treated equally doesn't stop the imbalance that already exists. If we ALL (black, brown, white, what ever your skin colour) make an effort to educate ourselves, our children and friends to be allies to the black people around them. To stand up for them, to help them up using the white privilege we give them through sheer luck of being born in a certain place and time to certain parents. Then, maybe our children's generation will be more tolerant, equal, safer and happier than ours.