In the last couple of weeks l have felt a range of emotions including frustration, sadness, pain and anger. One emotion that lingers longer than most is tiredness. I am tired of watching the news and seeing others who look like me repeatedly having to justify their right to be treated equally or, simply, their right to breathe.
These images have me constantly asking questions. Why is it so easy for some? What more can I do, say or pray for? When will it stop? What will it take? How will it end? Questions that are always left unanswered, and then parked until the next unfortunate incident.
Last week, we heard from Jabar Wilson on his experiences as a young black boy trying to make sense of his identity and sexuality. Those of us from the BAME community have all had similar encounters with prejudice, and most can point to the exact moment when they were first made to feel ‘different’ because of the colour of their skin. To be constantly reminded that your life or views do not matter is a reality that some are fortunate never to experience. For those of us who have experienced it, or even milder versions of it, it is tough. It is hard. It is draining. It is soul-destroying.
Yet, this is our reality. This is the life we live and the life our children will live. All because we were born black.
This is not a US issue - this is a human issue. George Floyd’s life was tragically lost in this latest instance, but there have been so very many others who have had the essence of life literally taken from or denied them because of the colour of their skin.
I urge everyone to please reach out to colleagues or friends within the BAME community, especially those who are black, to check on them. We don’t always talk about this openly, because even in our moments of pain and despair - when as human beings we are all naturally inclined to lean on others - we worry we won’t be understood. But I am inspired by the support from people of different backgrounds to the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It shows that we are ALL desperate for change.
It doesn’t end here! To begin to make real, impactful change in organisations, institutions and communities, we all need to listen, without prejudice or judgement, to the experiences of others - even if it makes us uncomfortable. We all need to act on the information received and champion the essential values that make us all human, so we can level the playing field and make it fair and equitable for all.
I am hopeful that change will come from all of us standing up to racism and discrimination in all its forms. It’s been too long!
For those who are struggling with any of this, please reach out to Mental Health First Aiders, colleagues and/or members of the BAME network. We are all here to support each other.