Black Lives Matter Personal Audit

Hello!

You may have noticed, or equally may not have noticed, that I’ve not been around much online. And when I am, I’ve been sharing stuff which I hope amplifies voices from people who don’t look like me: Specifically Black People and the Black Lives Matter movement.

I’ve been trying to give more space to BIPOC, this includes trans and non binary folk too.

Many people posted a Black Square on Instagram and then reverted back to “normal” activities. This hasn’t sat right with me. I didn’t post a black square, (and that doesn’t mean I’m better or worse at this than you) I just posted my thoughts about the BLM movement. I have continued to share resources in my Stories.

I am learning too and prepared to make mistakes.

This doesn’t mean as white people, we cant share our own lives; What I mean is, Read The Room. Does sharing another picture of avo toast seem appropriate when there’s a revolution going on?

Everyone will have their own individual take on this, and yes, some people use social media as a form of escapism, to be entertained. Don’t forget, there is joy in Black Lives too. A great example- Candice’s feed is FULL of joy…

And some people have their livelihoods on Instagram, sharing products that they make and sell (and similar) are these people supposed to not work? The answer is incredibly nuanced, and as a White person, I’m figuring this out too.

What I can say is this; The people I do follow who have small businesses and make/sell stuff HAVE been vocal, and continue to be vocal about BLM. If they haven’t, I’ve either unfollowed, questioned them or muted- depending on who it is.

I believe Followers are looking at Influencers (yes, I dislike those words too, but I mean anyone with a following in this case) for guidance on this and if people are being quiet because they don’t know what to say, then that gives their followers the excuse to be quiet too; because so-and-so isn’t talking about it so why should I?

This Vice article goes into more detail and, “...navigating a new political reality in which centring yourself and selling product is the last thing followers want to hear about.”

What I’m getting at here is that we (white people) need to continue this learning and unlearning. I wanted to check myself, give myself accountability, so I’m sharing this audit with you. I may not share this every month but I intend on keeping tabs on myself and make sure I am doing something every month.

This month I have;

  • Read, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
  • Written to my MP twice; She replied today.
  • Shared resources in my Stories on IG.
  • Replied to newsletters from folk I subscribe to if they haven’t mentioned BLM, calling them out in a gentle but positive way. The replies have been mixed, many saying that they don’t know what to say, others saying they don’t need to say anything because their biz is diverse already…
  • Created a page on my blog dedicated to BLM resources.
  • Spoken at length with my husband and children about what is happening, and what has gone before.
  • Downloaded (but not yet read) This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell. This is a really good one for reading with kids, I’ll include it in an upcoming Book Video.
  • Also downloaded and going to read ASAP: Superior- The Return of Race Science by Angela Saini.
  • Posted resources in my kid’s school PTA Facebook group, which I’m ashamed to say went down like a lead balloon.
  • Signed and shared multiple petitions in an effort to bring justice, improve lives and begin to create systems that can ensure equality for Black people.
  • Intentionally diversified my feed, and yes that means I’ve unfollowed some white folk as well.
  • Virtually gathered with friends for deep discussions on BLM, our whiteness, and surrounding issues.

I’m not saying all this to get a pat on the back or a prize; this isn’t a competition. My aim is to keep myself accountable to doing something each month. I hope you are doing something each month too?

Published by

Susan Earlam

Writer of fiction, lifestyle and home interiors

2 Comments

  1. Hi Susan,

    I’ve been thinking about what to write here since reading your post last night (and your accompanying Instagram post this morning).
    Firstly, I’d like to say how much admiration (and just a little awe) I have for how much you are doing to further the BLM movement.
    Personally, I am a little ashamed of myself for not throwing myself into the arena along with other small businesses whose Instagram posts have reflected the current climate. Instead, I have chosen to post less, as I also share the feeling that much of what I put out there is irrelevant while there is a revolution going on (and let there be no doubt, this is a revolution). Also, I am very conscious, as a white male, of coming across as somehow condescending and being something of a bandwagon jumper by posting the importance of reading writers like James Baldwin, Walter Mosley, or Bernardine Evaristo.

    Throughout my life, I have had a passion for African-American culture and have shared my passion with anyone who’ll listen to me ramble on about the merits of AA music, film, literature and politics. I am proud that I have turned others on to a culture that has produced some of the most satisfying, energetic, inventive and original forms of 20th century art and empowerment movements. I say 20th century, because I have become somewhat removed (though not entirely) from the events that have continued to plague the lives of Black people since the turn of the century. My readings into the elite who control the lives of others through imperialism and capitalism have left me feeling beyond disillusioned. When read and viewed alongside narratives that highlight how little has changed decade-by-decade (if anything, they have become worse in a much more clandestine way) – for example, Ava DuVernay’s work, including 13th and When They See Us, and reports on the murders of countless African-Americans from Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin to George Floyd, not to mention the enslavement and genocide of innumerable indigenous peoples, this disillusionment with humanity and the world at large can become all-consuming; once it reaches that point, it gives way to a sense of hopelessness and choosing to deal with the state of the world by distancing oneself from reality (my last dozen or so posts probably reflect this).

    As I’m writing this, I’m aware of how much the phrasing is very much on ‘me’ and ‘my way of dealing with things’; this is the kind of mindset I need to let go of, as I have very little to complain about.

    What I’m trying to say is that your post has urged me to begin re-immersing myself back into the Black experience, however disheartening it can be, because it is also the most rewarding, both creatively and spiritually. I also find that movements such as BLM cross boundaries and re-energise efforts by other marginalised demographics (see Angela Davis’s endorsement of veganism as a revolutionary ideal, Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight, or Bell Hook’s superb essay Imperialism as Patriarchy); there is a definite shift in the way people are looking at the world – If I were to let the revolution pass me by, I’d be as ignorant as those who try to quell it. I’m reading The Dispossessed by Ursua Le Guin at the moment – after reading your post, the next page I read had this line: “You can’t crush ideals by suppressing them. You can only crush them by ignoring them.” It’s time I started acting on the words I love reading, rather than storing them away for my own sense of well-being.

    So, thanks for sharing your efforts. I will look forward to reading your recommendations, focus the Insta posts on Black writers, and reevaluate my own personal hang-ups about putting myself out there. If there is any guidance you can offer me, or anything I can do to help, do let me know.

    Thanks again, Susan
    Keep up your tireless work
    Best wishes and respect,
    Chris

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Chris, thank you for you extended response. I appreciate your words and admire the self-awareness you have. De-centring ourselves is a big part of the work. I’m not an expert in any way, I’m just listening to the voices of others and trying to give space. Thanks for taking the time to comment. We’ve got to incorporate it this work into our everyday lives in a sustainable way. It sounds like you are on the right tracks.

      Like

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