Speak Up / Editors Letter
Photography Chi Chi Mate Langlah, Ebony Barret, Shanice Myrie Words Simone Konu-Rae
As recent events have unfolded surrounding the killings of George Floyd, Ahmad Arbery and Breonna Taylor in the United States, I can’t help but feel angered that another black person has had their life cut short due to racism. As the world erupts around this moment it’s important for us all to remember George, Ahmad and Breonna were people, with families who are mourning for their loss. My thoughts go out to his loved ones, and although we can never bring them back, we can and need to learn from this moment.
So what are the lessons here? This is not simply an American issue. The UK also suffers from structural racism, affecting all parts of society, and reducing opportunities for black and ethnic minority people. We also have issues with our policing and we should remember the names of those who have died in police custody including: David Oluwale, Cynthia Jarrett, Joy Gardner, Christopher Alder, Sean Rigg, Mark Duggan. As a person with mixed heritage I have experienced racism in the UK throughout my life, and it is still prevalent.
Everyone of us needs to be ready to speak out and stand up to racism; no matter where you are from. Be intolerant of intolerance, and be vocal in the ways that you can. For some this means taking to the streets and protesting. Given the backdrop of a global pandemic and recent government reports stating that black and minority ethnic communities have suffered more COVID deaths I urge you to stay safe, wear a mask, gloves and practice social distancing.
For those of us that cannot go out and protest there are other ways to get involved – we will be sharing some reading lists on ALSO over the next coming days as part of the reeducation.
There are also some great charities you can support including Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, Southall Black Sisters, Runnymede and Collection for Belly Mujinga. Belly Mujinga was a railway ticket officer who was spat on by a member of the public, contracted COVID-19 and died 11 days later – the police have said they will take no further action. There are many more you can support so if you are able to then please donate.
Support black businesses and those businesses who are truly trying to make a change. It’s not enough for the fashion industry to use a black or ethnic minority model and feel the box has been ticked. The creative teams themselves need to be truly diverse and representative, as do those working in commercial roles. At ALSO from our inception diversity has been at the heart of what we do. We champion women of different races, ages, sizes to show that beauty is not exclusively a white notion. We want to and will push this further. We can all do better and this can start today.
Use your vote to appoint parties, politicians, and police and crime commissioners (PCCs) who are anti-racist. In PCC elections, the turnout is woefully low, never more than 50%, and often below 20 or 30%. When you have a chance to have your say, do so, and exercise your democratic right!
Next time you see or hear someone suffering racist abuse, speak up! I was recently called a ‘monkey’ and told to ‘go home’ when riding the tube due to racist sentiments that have been whipped up with Brexit. No one spoke up. A whole carriage full of people watched on as a man shouted abuse at me. Use your voice to stop this behaviour whether it’s blatant or a subtle microagression. Offer support to the victims of abuse – make sure they are safe and ok. And if you haven’t spoken up about this issue ask yourself why? The right time for you to get involved in this conversation is here and now.
Chi Chi Mate Langlah
It’s important that we do our best to make this a meaningful and lasting change. Beyond a few Instagram posts and stories today but a change that becomes embedded in our thinking. A change we can continue to build on for our future. We have lost too many souls already to racism. Let’s not lose anymore
Black lives have always mattered. Then, now and always.