Posted on 30 June 2020
Oops, I did it again… I disappeared from socials and emails! I have been struggling (what’s new lel) to navigate how and what to communicate during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, and honestly, I let my overwhelm stop me from taking ANY action!
While I’m still unsure what the ‘right’ thing to do is, I’ve stumbled on a few interesting videos that I wanted to share and of course, some reflections. While our social feeds are somewhat back to normal and corona virus dominates the media once again, it would be an awful shame to forget about the cry for racial justice that is still echoing around the world, and to let it pass us by without some learning.
I’m far from an expert on racial justice so I just wanted to encourage you to keep educating yourself about what is happening in the world and to keep questioning why this is a big deal right now. (And if this isn’t a big deal for you, why that is the case.)
A key takeaway for me is that this is an on-going conversation that involves layers upon layers of complexity. Identifying what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, navigating historical contexts, changing legislation and perhaps more importantly, changing behaviour, will not happen overnight, but the purpose of rallying together (yes, even during a global pandemic) is to draw awareness to the need for change.
I have only had a handful of conversations with friends and family about #BLM (each has been difficult to navigate even on a very superficial level!) but a few common threads are evident. Sadly, these threads have very little to do with what we can do to end racial injustice and more to do with news stories such as extreme acts of vandalism or whether it’s right or not to protest during a pandemic. More general statements also come up - that racism occurs in many different forms around the world and not just for African Americans, or that ALL lives matter, not just black ones.
This is a huge politically and socially-charged issue to be associated with, and understandably it is much more comfortable to glaze over what is happening without getting involved either as an organisation or an individual. But I think the reason I’m so darn uncomfortable about the whole thing is because whether I’m actively involved or not, it feels like I don’t actually have a choice - I AM involved by default.
Post a black square and I’m ‘for’, don’t post and I’m ‘against’. But wait, was my black square genuine? Or was it a cop-out to feel better about myself without inciting any actual change? It’s the ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ sentiment that caused me to withdraw from the whole situation (the same feeling circulates ethical fashion unfortunately!), so while I grasp the gravity of lives at stake under the current circumstances, I also resent the pressure to behave a certain way that is non-productive and anxiety-inducing. I’m learning that it’s okay to feel all these things.
At the end of the day, my involvement in #BLM is less about black squares and tangents of popular media stories, and more about whether I believe that racial injustice needs to stop. If I believe it needs to stop then I stand with those protesting on the streets of New York, pandemic or no pandemic. HOW I choose to stand is entirely up to me.
Should I be attending the Melbourne rallies? Should I even be writing this blog? Should I be calling out the racist comments that have previously been acceptable but are no longer? I don’t actually know the history of Black America - what kind of social justice warrior am I?! I know that indigenous Australians are involved too, what do I do about that?! Phew. To quote Abbie Chatfield, it’s a LOT.
But as is also the case with sustainable fashion: We cannot do everything but we can do something. The goal is not to shout at others but to quietly encourage ourselves. Gain a new perspective. Research the statistic you heard on the news and didn't necessarily agree with. Ask a respected friend what their thoughts are and actually listen. Pick one task and have a go at it. Sign ONE petition. Read ONE article. Follow ONE person of colour. My hope is that you allow yourself to go down the rabbit hole. We do it with cat videos so surely we can do it with racial justice.
One of our greatest cravings as humans beings is to be understood. This is our chance to understand our brothers and sisters who are being treated differently because of their race, and in turn, we can be heard and understood for our own unique perspective. Soon, the protests will fade from the media and many people’s minds, but I’m SO hopeful that our collective efforts are driven to the right side of history. I've included some of the content I've consumed below to help you down the rabbit hole!
- BLACK LIVES MATTER official website for an overview of what the movement is about.
- Just Mercy movie on YouTube $7.99 to rent (It was advertised as free to watch but wasn't applicable to Australia so I almost didn't watch it! I'm glad I did - it was digestible and eye-opening, based on a true story.)
- A timeline of black American history in digestable paragraphs (though still lengthy - so take your time with it!)
Until next time,