This post is something I’ve been writing for over a week, chopping and changing as I learn…wondering whether to even post it… and then I read the following verse: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden” Matthew 5:14…what does this mean? Should we be a light that is hidden, or be standing up boldly for what we believe in like a town on a hill?
Raising your child to be a “good person”… teaching them right from wrong… to treat people with kindness and respect. Isn’t this what every parent wants of their child? My girls are young- conversations with my 3 year old haven’t really ventured much past Baby Bum TV these past few weeks! But my 5 year old is growing up quick, watching the world completely change and develop around her. Now more than ever I’ve found myself wanting to sit with her and work out a way to explain everything that’s happened this past week. What are these protests about, who are the people protesting for and most importantly why. I’m struggling to find the words to say to her there are people in this world who would look at your beautiful chocolate coloured skin and think you are less worthy than them… that you don’t deserve the same respect… that you are less privileged than they are. Maybe I could tell it to her as a story… I don’t know where I’d even begin- there is so much history to tell. Your immediate reaction as a parent is to shield your children from disturbing stories but what happens when the ugly truth is just staring at you in the face? Change starts in our hearts, in our homes and then in the world. So let’s start educating ourselves- starting with our own.
A massive part of the problem is that some stories are so uncomfortable to hear, you just want to turn away from it… but if something is making you uncomfortable… it matters to you and it is moving you- so let it. The murder of George Floyd is such a sad portrayal of human society in every possible way. The fact is that blatant racism is systemic and has been ingrained in society since the dawn of man. In the words of Will smith, “Racism isn’t getting worse, it’s getting filmed”. As a man of colour from an ethnic minority group, watching these videos of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Christian Cooper (endless list)… it shakes my soul and you can’t help but get upset. I watched this video below that a friend shared on social media- as a father, it just broke my heart… please watch:
Just how in God’s name do you explain that? No parent should ever have to have this conversation with their kid. Teach them to ride a bike or how to cross a road safely… but how to deal with the police because of the colour of their skin?! This is ridiculous, enough is enough. Racism is a man-made belief system which just has to be broken down.
But before I can educate my children, I need to educate myself…in fact we all need to educate ourselves continually. Why is there such a deep rooted problem and how have things got to this stage – there is a lot of history to unpack and it can be overwhelming but I saw this video shared on social media on “Systemic Racism Explained”. It’s a very useful resource in understanding some basic principals and I recommend taking out 4 minutes & 23 seconds of your time to watch it:
The last thing I wanted to just try and help people with, and I include myself in this, is understanding the difference between #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter – because whilst they both come from a good place, there is a difference. Firstly “Black Lives Matter” does not mean that other lives do not – what this movement is trying to do is highlight the disproportionate discrimination of black people and bring everyone to an equal footing where black lives matter just as much as white lives. The focus is on standing together as one for the black community. There have been so many analogies thrown about but a very easy one to understand: If you break your arm and go to the doctor, and the doctor says “all your bones matter, not just your arm.” You’re gonna look at them stupid because yes, all your bones matter but they are fine, your arm needs attention. “Black Lives Matter” is that arm, saying “all lives matter” is, in that moment, redundant.
I couldn’t finish this post without being completely honest about some of the other feelings that have been stirred over the last week. The recent protests around #blacklivesmatter has brought up memories of the horrors and atrocities that were carried out in my country of origin, Sri Lanka. Over a lengthy civil war culminating in 2009 the government army carried out unthinkable war crimes against the Tamil minority. Tamils were persecuted for just being Tamil. These perpetrators have never really been held accountable for their barbaric sins. It is not fair. Injustice and inequality is like a plague and it’s all over the world. How do we rid it? As with anything in life, the first step has to come from somewhere within. And then make some noise about it! Because this is a time where silence becomes an accomplice to injustice. Ultimately what these protests are simply trying to say is: this life, this world, it’s everyone’s EQUAL privilege.
#BlackLivesMatter – I’m standing with you
“There are decades where nothing happens; and then there are weeks where decades happen”