Here’s how you can support Black Lives Matter and fight racial inequality, both internationally and here in Manchester.
You might have noticed that Secret Manchester was a little quiet yesterday, as we took part in the #BlackOutTuesday campaign in solidarity with protests that have erupted across the world, fuelled by the brutal killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old man who died after having his throat crushed under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. Yesterday was a day to listen to black people who’ve suffered at the hands of both outright and systemic racism for centuries, and not a day to listen to us. However, to be silent is to be complicit in maintaining the status quo, and whilst this isn’t our usual area of expertise, we thought it would be an important use of our platform to direct you towards people and organisations who can explain and educate far better than we can.
For a radical transformation to take place, action is necessary; to be a part of the change and support the movement for racial equality requires both bold action and education. So, here are some things you can do right now to support the Black Lives Matter movement and agitate for justice in Manchester and worldwide, along with some educational resources that could prove vital going forward.
Words and blacked-out Instagram squares are good for awareness, but they sadly mean very little unless they’re backed up with action. And right now, one of the best means of support you can offer is financial, with plenty of advocacy groups and freedom funds set up to help protesters and victims in the US:
- The Minnesota Freedom Fund – which has been posting bail for protesters arrested during the unrest. Failure to pay bail funds in the US often leads to jail time: a system which disproportionately affects black people.
- Official George Floyd Memorial Fund – a GoFundMe page which helps to cover funeral costs, grief counselling, family assistance, and education cost for George Floyd’s family.
- National Bail Fund Network – a group of more than sixty bail fund networks across the US, this fund helps protesters from across the US post bail.
Donations are also highly encouraged to a range of charities and organisations with the explicit aim of stamping out racism and working towards racial equality at home and abroad:
- Black Lives Matter – a global campaign, Black Lives Matter seeks an end to white supremacy and police brutality, and works to counter violence and promote black liberation.
- Campaign Zero – a campaign which seeks to end police violence in America.
- Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust – named after the London teenager killed in a racially-motivated murder in 1993, the Trust works with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to help them follow their dream career.
- Stand Up To Racism – a UK anti-racism organisation who were also behind the nationwide #TakeTheKnee this week (read all about that here)
- Runnymede – a UK thinktank which seeks to end racism in the UK and promote an equal, multi-ethnic Britain.
- Show Racism the Red Card – a UK anti-racism charity with its roots in football, Show Racism the Red Card uses education, training, and media to tackle racism in UK society.
If you don’t have the spare funds to donate at this time, a really useful initiative has been circling on Twitter. A YouTuber by the name of Zoe Amira has created a video filled with the work of black artists and creatives, in which 100% of the ad revenue is being donated a wide range of funds, including bail funds, funeral costs, and advocacy groups. By watching and not skipping the ads, you can raise money for Black Lives Matter even if you’re a little-cash strapped right now. We’ve embedded it below, but you can also find it on the website if you’d prefer.
Do remember that support goes beyond money; for instance, following black influencers and supporting their work is another easy option in our social media-obsessed world. Londoner and blogger Tinuke Bernard has compiled an invaluable directory of black UK influencers, posting on everything from fashion and beauty, to food and culture, and beyond. In the course of putting together this article, we’ve found Whimsicella (a blog by London-based writer and comedian Ella) to be really helpful, particularly her dedicated page to supporting Black Lives Matter. Finally, if you’re looking for a media outlet which focuses on issues of race and inequality on a regular basis, the excellent gal-dem magazine is “committed to sharing perspectives from women and non-binary people of colour”. See their website here.
Specifically, to educate ourselves about the part we play in maintaining a system that disproportionately suppresses black voices, and actively works against racial equality. Sadly, unless you suffer at the hands of these systems daily, it can be a case of “out of sight, out of mind”, which makes educating oneself even more crucial. For anyone struggling to know where to begin, this is a really valuable Twitter thread about stepping up in support, whilst simultaneously ceding the spotlight to black voices who’ve been denied it:
Secret NYC has put together a bigger list of Instagram and Twitter accounts to follow if you’re interested in learning more about racial justice, allyship, and equality.
Beyond Twitter, there are plenty of books that’ll help open your eyes to the inbuilt racism of our nation’s power structures, and educate you on what you can do to help bring about change. Reni Eddo-Lodge’s bestselling Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is an excellent place to start – Eddo-Lodge also ran a podcast series called About Race that you can find on Spotify – whilst Akala’s Natives is an equally vital, thoughtful book. We’ve rounded up even more suggestions, including works by Audra Lorde, James Baldwin, and Ibram X. Kendi. Do consider buying them from a black-owned bookshop in UK, if you can – here’s a really useful list you can use.
Meanwhile, if books aren’t your style, Instagram user @unity.celeste put together a list of Netflix shows and documentaries you can watch.
Another campaign that’s currently gaining speed is a push to overhaul the way history is taught in UK schools: specifically, a history curriculum that glosses over the atrocities of British colonialism and UK civil rights protests such as the Bristol Bus Boycott. The Instagram post below provides a useful crash-course for starters, and organisations such as The Black Curriculum, which works to address the lack of Black British history in the UK curriculum, have email templates to use and fundraising campaigns which you can join.
If you’d like to help see a more diverse reading list for GCSE English courses, this petition is aiming to get Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race and Nikesh Shukla’s The Good Immigrant onto secondary school reading lists. You can add your support here.
Want to add your voice to those protesting racial inequality and the treatment of black citizens around the world? Manchester has two demonstrations happening this week, both taking place across the weekend in the city centre. If you’re heading along, remember to maintain social distancing, and bear in mind that the aim of the protests is to remain peaceful.
Unsurprisingly, many who’d like to be out protesting are uneasy about doing so during a pandemic. Helping from home can be the simple yet powerful act of signing and sharing a petition, of which there are plenty right now.
- Justice for George Floyd – now the biggest US petition of all time, with 13 million signatures, this petition calls for the firing of the four officers involved in George Floyd’s death, and for charges to be brought against them.
- #WeCantBreathe – another petition which looks for justice for George Floyd, and asks for a second-degree murder charge for the officers involved.
- Support the ‘Eric Garner Law’ – set up by Eric Garner’s daughter, this petition seeks to ban the illegal chokehold performed by a police officer which caused Garner’s death.
- Justice for Belly Mujinga – a petition which seeks to find and prosecute the person who spat at Victoria station worker Belly Mujinga, whilst claiming they were infected with coronavirus. Mujinga later died of the virus, and the individual has not yet been identified.
- Justice for Ahmaud Arbrey – which calls for justice for Arbery, who was shot and killed by two white men whilst jogging in the US state of Georgia. His death is widely suspected to be the result of racial profiling.
- A Demand for a COVID-19 Race Equality Strategy – as Stand Up To Racism has noted, 34% of UK coronavirus deaths have happened in the BAME community. This petition, backed by figures such as Afua Hirsch, calls attention to the huge racial disparities in the healthcare industry, and the structural inequalities which leave BAME individuals at a greater risk of dying from coronavirus.
Of course, you can always go directly to the people who make the laws, and write to your MP. They’re in Westminster to represent you – their constituents – after all, so it’s worth letting them know your thoughts on this and other matters. Handily, this tweet has put together all the information you need to make your voice heard, including an email template that you can use if you’re struggling for words.
Last but not least is the need to call out racism in all forms, wherever it appears. Recognising one’s own privilege is not always obvious or easy, but the system won’t change simply by declaring yourself to be “not a racist”. It needs more effort from all to enact change, and this will take the form of calling out behaviours whenever you see them, even if it means uncomfortable conversations with friends and family. Clear, honest conversations are an excellent starting point for this, and if you’re struggling to know how and where to begin, I’d suggest Show Racism the Red Card’s education resources as a good starting point. This will inevitably mean that your beliefs and actions are challenged at times, to which the best response is an honest, open appraisal. It’s not going to be an easy journey for our society to take, but better a flawed, bumpy journey to equality than a comfortable seat going nowhere, right?
No-one is exempt from this process, including Secret Manchester. We’ll be listening, learning, and trying to become more open and active about what we can do on this issue, so if you’d like to make suggestions or get in contact with us, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.