If you’re wondering why I’ve published this blog post under the category lifestyle rather than race, it is because I believe that people should have continuous conversations about race and racial discrimination. I think it’s a discussion that should be part of people’s everyday life and not just when deeply disturbing circumstances lead to the world opening its eyes to the fact that racism is in fact a global issue.
I’d imagine that at this stage, anyone who considers themselves to be in true allyship with the Black Lives Matter movement has been putting in the work to educate themselves on black oppression and racial injustice across the world. With that in mind, I’ve tried to avoid compiling a list of endless resources. I would also hate to have crucial information slip ones fingers.
As an alternative, I have decided to put together a variety of resources that I have found to be profoundly moving. I also found each of these resources to be an important catalyst for constructive discussions about racial issues.
At some stage of the Black Lives Matter movement, I felt that the conversation in Ireland descended into white Irish people saying they were also mistreated under English rule. There was almost a battle with black people to determine who suffered the most. I think conversations based on the premise of who has had it worse don’t help either side. Pain is subjective and people have different thresholds for it.
Instead, it would serve us better to look at it from the point of view that if two parties share similar sentiments in how they feel or once felt discriminated against, then shouldn’t that birth empathy and compassion?
Wouldn’t it be more useful to acknowledge one another’s pain and say: “What can we do as a team to prevent the next group of people from enduring a similar struggle?”
The list below will hopefully open your eyes to having constructive conversations about race and racism. It is not exhaustive of course, but I think they each offer a perspective that is imperative for real change.
1. Why I, as a Black Man, Attend KKK Rallies, TEDxNaperville by Daryl Davis
This TEDx by Daryl Davis speaks to my fundamental belief that people are not inherently racist. There is no such thing as a racist gene because racism is a taught behaviour. It can be unlearned. Daryl offers a solution to dismantling racial discourse which involves boldly confronting the enemy in order to determine the source of hate, find common grounds and ultimately, prove that we are all human. Davis shows us the true power of leading by example. After watching this TEDx for the first time, I thought to myself, “if he can convert a member of the Klu Klux Klan through open and honest conversation, imagine what we can do?”
2. When They See Us (Netflix)
Every second of Netflix’s When They See Us left me with a gut-wrenching feeling in the pit of my stomach. Creator, co-writer and director Ava DuVernay, tells the gripping stories of five teenage boys, labeled the exonerated Central Park Five, who were convicted after being falsely accused of rape. For non-black viewers, it is a window into the systemic racism in the U.S police force and for black viewers, it is another painful reminder of the damaging consequences of existing within a society that is deeply rooted in racism.
3. Dublin InQuirer: As the Black Lives Matter Protests Continue, It’s Important for Black People to Look After Our Mental Health
If you follow me on social media, then you would know that I had to take a step back from the digital when the story of George Floyd first came to light. It conjured up all sorts of feelings for me which I go into greater details of in the article I wrote for Dublin Inquirer. In this piece I address the importance of protecting mental health, being mindful of people’s grieving process as well as the hope I have for the future of Ireland.
4. Political Horror Film: Get Out
This Jordan Peele film exemplifies the sort of racism that is cloaked under overcompensation and the eagerness to prove that one is not racist. It also highlights negrophilia, a phenomenon prevalent during 1920-1930s Paris when the collection of African art and listening to black music were all signs of being fashionable. Jordan Peele is notorious for leaving easter eggs in his films and every single time I watch the film Get Out, I discover something new. Get Out is one of my all-time favourite social thrillers and a brilliant catalyst for discussions on covert racism and white fascination with black culture.
5. Instagram’s #ShareTheMicNow Campaign
Started in the U.S by authors Luvvie Ajayi Jones, Glennon Doyle, business woman Bozoma Saint john and fashion designer Stacey Bendet, #ShareTheMicNow is a campaign born from the suppression of black voices. The initiative aims to magnify black female voices and stories by having black women take over the IG accounts of white women with a big following in order to help foster conversations about race.
I find this campaign particularly heartwarming to see because I think there is only so much studying a person can do. In order to really face the problem of racial injustice, you have to speak to those who have actually experienced it. It isn’t enough to read about black people, you have to engage with us and listen.
I will be taking over Fionnuala Moran‘s IGTV tomorrow evening at 8.30PM so be sure to tune in.
As a final note, I would like to add that much like any situation that lends itself to exploitation, there are going to be people out there who are looking for clout and equally, there will be brands out there who are seeing the global outcry for justice as a PR opportunity. They are capitalising on black people’s pain.
Be wary of performative online activism and know that there will always be a small minority of people who are self-serving during a time of worldwide pain. However, that is not to take away from the bigger picture. What’s important is that the right message is being delivered and what’s even more important is that it is being put into practice.
Well done to everyone who is using their platform and their voice. Keep fighting the good fight in whatever way you know how and I look forward to chatting to you on Fionnuala’s Instagram tomorrow at 8.30PM 🙂