Why #BLM matters to you!

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I’m assuming your social media feeds yesterday looking a lot like this;

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So. It’s the day after #BlackoutTuesday. You’ve seen the news, and although you knew what was going on with the police force targeting the black community, you weren’t entirely sure how you could contribute, or where to start. Maybe you weren’t (or still aren’t) aware of how it impacts you.

Let’s break it down.

For those new to this, here’s a brief summation. The killing by 4 police officers of an unarmed black man by the name of George Floyd has sparked protests around the world. Mr Floyd, aged 46, had been wrongfully accused of trying to pay for groceries with a counterfeit $20 bill. During his arrest, 3 other officers held George down, whilst leading officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George’s throat for 9 minutes. Despite George’s multiple pleas of ‘I can’t breathe’, The officers continued, despite being recorded by eyewitnesses. Two autopsies conducted on George Floyd ruled conclusively that he died of homicide via Asphyxiation. Floyd’s Death has parallels with countless other incidents of young black males dying needlessly as a result of police brutality but has drawn rather specific comparisons to the 2014 death of Eric Garner. This also follows on from a number of other high-profile incidents, including that of Christian Cooper. Christian had spotted Amy Cooper (No relation) with her dog illegally off the lead in an area of Central Park dedicated to Bird Conservation. Upon confronting her, and asking her to put the dog back on its lead, Amy, rather than doing the right thing and acknowledging she’d fucked up, called 911, and reported that Christian was threatening her life. Thankfully, he caught the exchange on film, and has not only been fired from her job but faces criminal charges.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODhNRyjJsl8

…and this all took place in one day. There’s an entire library of incidents stretching back decades. And some of you may well be asking “Well, isn’t this an American Problem? How does it affect us in the UK?”

But it’s not just an American Problem.

Take Julian Cole who was tackled by police outside of a nightclub, who suffered brain damage and a broken neck. Take Jermaine Baker who was shot by police in ‘Self Defence’ claiming he was reaching for a firearm when the only thing Baker had on his person was a mobile phone, wallet, and keys. Kevin Clark suffered a mental breakdown, and rather than assist him, was forcibly restrained by 9 officers, and later died from injuries in hospital. Derek Bennet was shot 6 times by police officers who assumed he was carrying a gun, only for it to be a cigar lighter.  These are just a handful of incidents, I could continue. How many names were there? Is that making you uncomfortable? Good. It fucking should.

Here’s the thing, when we talk about racism, we often view it as individual acts of prejudice as opposed to a systemic injustice. a 2018 poll by The Guardian found comprehensive evidence of unconscious bias that negatively affecting ethnic groups in the UK. Some of these included;

• 38% of people from ethnic minorities said they had been wrongly suspected of shoplifting in the last five years, compared with 14% of white people, with black people and women in particular more likely to be wrongly suspected.

• Minorities were more than twice as likely to have encountered abuse or rudeness from a stranger in the last week.

• 53% of people from a minority background believed they had been treated differently because of their hair, clothes or appearance, compared with 29% of white people.

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In addition, 43% had been overlooked in a job application process or for promotion at work in a manner that felt unfair. 57% of minorities saying they felt they had to work harder to succeed in Britain because of their ethnicity, and 40% saying they earned less or had worse employment prospects for the same reason. 25% had been refused entry to a nightclub without due reason.  Let’s talk about that last one for a second. Some of you may be reading this thinking ‘Why are they talking about systemic racism? Isn’t this a music blog?’

 

The thing is, we as music fans owe a great deal to the Black community. The fingerprints of black culture are all over the DNA of the current musical landscape. Listen to rock, Indie, punk & metal? That’s derived from Blues & Gospel. Maybe you’re into Hip-Hop, Drum & Bass, Dubstep and the like? Brilliant, that’s all descended from Soundsystem Culture. How about House & Techno? Great, that’s derived from Funk & Disco, as well as the Chicago house scene of the late 70′s & early 80′s. Whatever you listen to, in the great cultural melting pot that is music, at some point, it’s been irreversibly changed for the better by Black artists.

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What does it say about us as a society that will happily appropriate Black Culture, but not allow its originators to partake in it as a shared cultural experience? 

Is it sinking in yet?

There’s ALOT that we could, and should be doing to tackle this as a society, so in the next few days, here are some suggestions.

If you live in an area where there’s a protest or a march, And you feel able to. Attend. Show your support.

Maybe like me, the current pandemic has left you in a position where You’re unable to because either yourself or family member sit in the ‘At-Risk’ Catagory. There’s still a lot you can do. You can donate to the George Floyd Memorial Fund, to help cover his funeral costs, cover the legal costs, and to make sure his children’s education is covered. That’s not the only fund you could donate to though, ‘Black Lives Matter’ has a comprehensive list of places right here.

Next up, try reading up on some of the struggles faced by Ethnic groups in the UK. There are some incredible, insightful books on the subject. Here’s a few I can recommend;

  • ‘Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire’ by Akala
  • ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ By Reni Eddo-Lodge
  • ‘The Good Immigrant’ by Various (Anthology of Short Stories & Flash Fiction)
  • ‘No Place to Call Home: Love, Loss, Belonging’ By JJ Bola
  • ‘I am Nobody’s Nigger’ & ‘The Black Flamingo’ by Dean Atta

In the current climate, where you spend your money has a MASSIVE impact. Bustle has put together a great list of UK-based Black-owned businesses.

Black Lives Matter has put together a great list of recourses you can access via GoogleDocs HERE.

Finally, remember that this is a marathon. Not a sprint. Even if the governments of the world acknowledge their failings, and look to make improvements, sweeping cultural reform doesn’t happen overnight. Keep on fighting…

…Because it’s 2020. And we really shouldn’t be still having to have this fucking conversation.

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