Amplifying Black Voices

I had a post about perfume lined-up but it’s not what’s been occupying my mind for the last two weeks and it didn’t feel right to post about anything else.

While it shouldn’t have taken the murder of George Floyd for the world to wake up to what Black people have been suffering, it has lead to a mass realisation that it is not enough to be un-racist, White people (and me) need to educate themselves and become actively anti-racist. I have justified avoiding difficult material featuring racism with the excuse that I need to protect my mental health from anything anxiety-inducing. This is a luxury Black people don’t have. It is a privilege to learn about racism through education rather than through experience.

This may be a tiny platform but it is a platform nonetheless and so I’m using it to share a few resources I’ve found over the past fortnight.

allhousesmatter-krisstraub-600x593

By Kris Straub

An easy place to start is with diversifying your social media feed. I’ve been following Black female (mostly UK based) activists on Instagram. The first stage is just to listen. Some accounts I’d recommend are @laylafsaad, @rachel.cargle, @candicebrathwaite and @emmadabiri.

These women have also written books, many of which are climbing the Amazon non-fiction charts. Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad, I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite and Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri.

Another two books to look at if you want to do the work of unlearning racial biases are How To Be An AntiRacist by Ibram X. Kendi and Why I Am No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge.

“Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”  – Reni Eddo-Lodge

it’s pretty normal for White people to feel defensive about the idea that they may be harbouring racist beliefs. I recommend this excellent interview with the author of White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo. This isn’t about guilt, it’s about greater awareness and doing better.

Of course there are Black women covering every area you can think of. If you love beauty, check out the fabulous UK journalist @ateh_jewel, for skincare follow London esthetician/facialist @dija_ayodele and for fashion @karenbritchick is one of a multitude.

Obviously, these are just jumping-off points from which you can discover the many melanated voices on social media.

I’m currently reading the much-nomiated novel Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams and will no longer shy away from potentially upsetting books by Black writers (which will be reflected in my Reading Diary). It’s hard enough for these authors to get published, without people like me being too soft to read them. If you have any recommendations, please leave them in the comments.

Sadly we can’t rely on the schools in this country to provide anything more than a watered down version of Black history. I’ve ordered this book for my eleven year-old niece:

black history

In the same way homophobia isn’t a gay problem, racism isn’t a Black problem. Having these discussions isn’t easy: we’re afraid of getting things wrong. But giving-in to that fear isn’t going to get us anywhere. That’s why I’m pressing ‘Publish’ on this post despite still having a lot more to do.

I’m hopeful that we have at least reached a tipping point where having these uncomfortable conversations en masse and doing the work will lead to real, lasting change.

black lives matter

 

 

 

 

16 Comments

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16 responses to “Amplifying Black Voices

  1. Kirk Thompson

    Articulated so eloquentlyTara.. Conscience stirred this came from the heart. At a time when it’s easy to remain silent you chose not to. Thank You x

    Like

    • Thanks so much Kirk. That means a lot. It’s been a steep learning curve but there no going back to a state of ignorance now. Not for any of us really whether we take action or not.

      Like

  2. I’ve been on a similarly steep learning curve but couldn’t have spelled it out as clearly as you have here. You’re right that we have had the privilege to be “soft” and shy away from discomfort while Black people have been living the effects of racism every day. I also hope this time there will be real change. In the US, the most popular antiracist books are sold out in many places. The documentary “13th” is powerful and eye-opening and I would recommend that as well – on Netflix and now Youtube.

    As we normally talk about perfume, I just learned about a perfume destination in New York called Modern Urban Sensory Experiences, MUSE, “Harlem’s first and only fragrance destination.” According to the website, “Kimberly Waters is the founder of Modern Urban Sensory Experiences. She may be the first African American woman to start her own independent retail company focused on niche fragrance.” One to visit virtually or in person when circumstances allow!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks Tara,
    There’s some good stuff for me to be reading and learning.
    Back in my London days I briefly dated at black American man. He gave me a book to read, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. It went WAY over my head. I think it deserves a reread now that I am older.
    Did you ever read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks? That was another excellent read about exploitation, lack of education and big business trolling over the small person. I love that even years after she died she was able to get a bit of her own back.
    Portia xx

    Like

  4. bonkersvanessa

    The death of George Floyd was shocking and repugnant, but I must say I am with Kier Starmer on not condoning the criminal damage to statues, and am not sure that a pandemic is the ideal time for mass gatherings, though the cause is obviously an urgent one.

    I confess I haven’t done anything of a remotely activist nature since I went on a peace march in Belfast in 1977!

    Like

    • Never too late to start up again V!

      I’m happy about the statues of slavers coming down. People have been campaigning in Bristol for 30 years for Colston’s to be removed. . Now it’s in a museum where it belongs.

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      • bonkersvanessa

        I should have been clearer perhaps and added that I am happy the statue is in a museum, but don’t like vandalism, however worthy the cause. The council should have moved the statue before now. Same script with the defacing of the one of Winston Churchill, another mixed figure, though very much with the values of his time. I think vandalism is a very slippery slope. I saw a thing on FB about a woman setting fire to a load of police cars in America somewhere, which also troubled me.

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        • I hear what you’re saying V. I just think we need to be careful not to let the incidences of vandalism minimise the main cause.

          Like

          • bonkersvanessa

            The discomfort I feel may well be coloured by growing up in Northern Ireland, where there were regular riots, cars set on fire etc, and from an early – and impressionable – age I became traumatised by these acts of violence against property, and it strikes a nerve even now.

            Like

  5. Well said Tara.
    This year has brought so many injustices to the surface.
    We all need to play our part in the change and healing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for this wonderful post! I’m planning a few of my own, it’s taking me a while to write.

    Like

    • I appreciate that! It can take a while to think about what you want to say and how. Speaking up is not an easy thing to do for the first time but I felt I had to, and I’m very glad I did.

      Looking forward to your own post.

      Liked by 1 person

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