George Floyd's death at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis last week has caused a mass outcry across the world. Floyd, an unarmed black man, died as a police officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes. After his death, protests began in Minneapolis, which saw the torching of the city's police station, and soon spread to other cities including New York, Denver and Los Angeles. Thousands of people also marched in the UK – from Cardiff to Manchester to London – protesting the killing of black people by the police. More protests are set to take place this week and at the weekend.
Like the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Sarah Reed and Mark Duggan (the list is far too long), Floyd's death has refocussed the spotlight on the disproportionate number of unarmed black people who continue to die in police custody. Of course, this issue is not simply America’s problem. Police brutality against black people is a very real problem in Britain too, prompting many here to ask: what can I do to help fight racial injustice?
When standing up to something as insidious and deep-rooted as systematic racism, it’s easy to feel powerless. But there are practical things you can do to make your voice heard and support those that need it. Here is a list of ways to donate, protest and educate yourself in support of the George Floyd protestors. It's by no means a comprehensive list, but it is somewhere to start.
Peaceful protests will take place at various locations in London this week, including Hyde Park and Parliament Square. Organised by London Black Lives Matter, all the details can be found by following the #LDNBLM hashtag on Twitter, and in the tweet below. In Birmingham, a protest is taking place at 1 PM on Wednesday the 3rd of June in Victoria Square. In Manchester, there is a protest on Saturday the 6th of June in Piccadilly Gardens at 1 PM. Action is also planned in Glasgow, Leeds, Brighton and Southampton in the coming days. See this tweet from
@persona2ep with the details of dates and locations.
If you plan to join a protest, you should take extra precautions due to the ongoing pandemic. Assess your risk and the risk of the people you live with before deciding whether to join in-person action. Equip yourself with a fitting face mask, gloves and hand sanitiser.
If you are arrested and require legal help, you can check out this thread of lawyers willing to work pro-bono. Take note of their contact details before you go to the protest.
Much of the history taught in British schools ignores this country's brutal colonialist past and the impact of slavery. Try to offset this by reading up on the history of racism in Britain, as well as the discrimination that black people continue to face today. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge; Natives by Akala; Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga; and Ain't No Black in the Union Jack by Paul Gilroy are all good starting points to learn about racial politics and history in the UK.
You can also add your name to this petition, which calls on the Department of Education to add Why I’m No longer Talking to White People About Race to the GCSE curriculum.
This public Google Doc, made by @perkin_amalaraj, includes a useful list of online resources for learning about the history of slavery, colonialism and racism – including a number of free online courses.
Support Black Voices
gal-dem, a UK-based website and magazine created by and for women and non-binary people of colour has a new membership system, which allows you to support its journalism for as little as £4 a month. The publication often covers stories overlooked in the mainstream press, such the death of Shukri Abdi, a 12-year-old refugee who drowned in a river in Manchester, and the murder of university student Joy Morgan.
Many people have also used their online profiles to highlight black voices. This Twitter thread by actor Obioma Ugoala has suggestions of black authors to read, as does this thread by Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South. Editor Mireille Cassandra Harper has also shared a practical list of ways to be a "non-optical" ally, which includes a "further reading" list of Instagram accounts to follow.
There are many charities in the UK that help fight racism. Stand Up to Racism UK and Stop Hate UK are two national charities that work to combat the oppression of people of colour in the UK. Amnesty International also campaigns against violations of human rights, such as racism.
For a recent UK cause, consider donating to the GoFundMe page for the family of Belly Mujinga, the National Rail worker who was spat on while doing her job and later died of coronavirus. BAME people are at greater risk of dying from the disease, compared to white people, as well as more likely to be in precarious work during the pandemic.
Write to Your MP
Changing legislation is one of the most tangible ways to help improve black lives in the UK. Many policies in this country negatively impact people of colour, whether that’s cuts to welfare or policing of the lockdown guidelines.
Your MP is there to represent your voice in Parliament. Write to them and let them know how you feel about racism and police brutality in the UK. The Google Doc from @perkin_amalaraj provides a template for a letter you can send to your MP, asking for their response to the death of George Floyd and the many other black people who have died in police custody.