Over the last two weeks, on social media and in mainstream news, you will have most likely heard the name, George Floyd. His death has sparked up engagement with anti-racism movement in a way that you may not have been a part of before. We wanted to hold some space here, to open up a conversation about racism and injustice.
For some of you, the names Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Mark Duggan, and more recently Belly Mujinga are part of your daily life. For others, this will be the first time their names have been known to you – the first time their stories heard by you. On her recent IGTV @charlottesevensix says, “If this isn’t your lived experience it might be a bit confusing”.
To give full transparency and to inform the perspective: I am a non-black, youth worker. I write the following, as a learner:
Seeing the pictures and videos would have stirred up many emotions in you, I know it did in me. Perhaps you feel sadness, anger, maybe confusion. Some will have felt guilt or shame others fear, anxiety, pain. I hear terms like “heavy”, “tired”, “spent”, and “unheard”. Whilst the pictures and videos are important, watching them over and over is traumatic and will not cause change. Please be careful how much you consume. We are not saying this to deny what is happening but rather, to encourage you to take steps forward into community change.
It is also traumatic because it is real life and real fear for many.
We want you to know that we are here to listen and if it has bought up trauma and anxiety or you need your story to be heard or are grieving (we can signpost you towards more help).
We are here to listen if you are sad, confused, fearful or angry; particularly if you feel out of control with your feelings.
We are here to listen if you have questions or want to understand why this matters.
One of the best places we have found so far is Black Minds Matter UK who connect black individuals and families with professional mental health services across the U.K. They are also offering therapy for those who would prefer a black therapist.
I, as a youth worker, have chosen to take action in showing my values of inclusivity, diversity, equality. I have used the term “all youth” in the sense of the long term vision rather than the current reality.
Listen: and just listen. Although understanding right now, a lot of the black community are tired and fearful and may not have the energy to engage straight away.
Heart Check: check your own heart and your language. Many of you will have seen the iceberg post by the conscious kid. This can help. You may need to google some terms – or contact us so we can explain them. It might feel uncomfortable to do, but you will grow as a person. The point is not to dwell on what you have done, or might have done or try and justify it. Instead, acknowledge it and look to re-educate yourself.
Talk to an appropriate adult: If you are fearful, confused about what you are feeling or why this is such a ‘big deal’, angry, sad; any of the feelings we listed, and you want to talk to an appropriate adult, you can email us. Contact us we will listen without judgement and point you to where you can get more support,
As a youth organisation for all the youth of Swale, we believe every young person deserves opportunities and to be heard. We recognise that there are young people in Swale, who racism is something that you live with on a daily basis, whether overtly or covertly. We hear you, we stand with you and we chose to be part of the change. We recognise this on a national, and global scale too. As organisations that work with those who are often marginalised through disability, disadvantage, or mental health; we see equality and opportunities for all as something that is really important to educate people about and work within our day to day lives.
We wholeheartedly agree, Black Lives Matter, and will continue to hold up the values of equality for all through championing and amplifying the voice of the disadvantaged. We acknowledge that within the black community injustice, disadvantage and fear can be a daily reality and so we champion & amplify their voice too. Words however are not enough, we want to see true systemic change and that is what we are part of creating. This is not a trending topic for us, the heart of our organisations is that we see and we listen and amplify the voice of those who feel disadvantaged, oppressed, and unheard.