Where are all the Antiracists?
28 million Instagram users posted a black square on June 2nd 2020 in an apparent protest to racism and police brutality. I say "apparent" because a protest should be sincere and meaningful. Over 7 months on and it doesn't really seem to be on anyone's radar anymore.
The claims made by many at the time was that #blackouttuesday was an act of tokenism, and it seems that was, in a large part, true. How many of these 28 million people went on to read antiracism books, post antiracism messages on social media, set up antiracism groups, have antiracism conversations in the workplace, donate towards relevant organisations or attend antiracism rallies? The truth that a lot of white people often ignore is that antiracism is not a fad. It is not an act. It is not a trend. As so many people say, from Ibram X. Kendi to Angela Davis, being non-racist is not enough. One has to be antiracist. Ibram Kendi goes one step further to say that non-racist is not an option. You are either racist or antiracist. You either actively oppose racist policy or you passively or actively enable it. And, in my mind, Blackout Tuesday was enacted by many white people so as to kid themselves into believing that they were doing enough. That they were an exception to the rule. That they were being antiracist. And, as it turns out, they were simply being non-racist. And that isn't good enough.
Now I'm not saying that I am the best antiracist. I know there is much more to learn about and many, many more conversations to be had. But I have tried to make a difference. I have read and continue to read, every day in fact, antiracism books and articles; I try to share what I've learn on a new antiracism website that I have set up, and I have tried to engage young people in the conversation by chairing a new antiracist group at school. But when I set up my website and Instagram page I expected to join a wave of millions of other activists. Although I wanted to make a difference, if only for my own benefit, I assumed my voice would get drowned out by all of the other antiracism accounts. But I was wrong. Finding other antiracists on Instagram is harder than I thought. And it is this that gives me the motivation to keep on reading, writing and sharing. Because, clearly, white silence is still a problem.
That's why I'm going to step it up a notch.
From the person who commented that white privilege doesn't exist; to the person who claimed that cultural appropriation is a myth; or, finally, to the person who said that all of the 95% of black kids who witness racist language in schools were lying, every single one of these ignorant, fragile, insecure voices spur me on to keep plugging away.
That's why I'm going to step it up a notch. In the next couple of weeks, I'll be releasing my first monthly newsletter and it will contain new ideas, quotes, challenges and lessons as well details about the first book club book! My hope is that by engaging with the community and encouraging more conversation, and perhaps even debate, more people will take on a role as an active antiracist.
Maybe I am wrong. It has been known. Maybe there are swathes of antiracists hiding under stones I haven't yet turned over. Indeed, maybe I am not looking anywhere near the right place. Either way, I have to keep on looking. An antiracist without a community, without a voice, and without people who will listen, will have has as much impact on the world as those who purports to be non-racist.
Please be part of this community, or indeed any community, and, together, as a collective of antiracists, we can challenge the corrupt and unfair system that continues to discriminates against skin colour.