REFLECTION ON PRIVILEGE… I didn’t want to let my single black square be the final word. Although this is far from a social or political commentary account, and, let’s face it, barely anyone is reading, but I feel we should all use any platform we have to make ourselves clear and say something.
As a woman, it may been even easier to dismiss white privilege because barely any woman I know has not, at some stage, been afraid to go out alone, or harassed in the street so we may think we have a certain understanding of this sort of injustice, but the difference is I sure as hell can rely on help from the police if I need it and not feel afraid of being profiled negatively at first sight. I spent much of yesterday listening and contemplating. I also really hope this marks a time of real and lasting change for equality and I do think this is possible if we are all prepared to really check ourselves. First thing in the morning I posted my #blackouttuesday square on Instagram with the intention of showing my solidarity with those protesting for their rights and used the hashtag blacklivesmatter because I took this movement at face value without stopping to think for myself. I am fortunate to have connections with a broad demographic of friends and it later became apparent that this could be damaging… wait what? I’m just trying to show my support right? But let’s think about this – if the whole planet just posts a mass of black tiles or profile pictures, using the handles and hashtags by which important activist information is shared, then we have blacked out the information! There is a whole day or more where events at this crucial time may get lost in a sea of black tiles at a time when sharing the truth of current events is vital.
It’s been happening ever since social media started. How many of you have shared those “Like if you care about our troops” pictures and not realised you have inadvertently shared a far-right group who then benefits from the attention. Those of my clients who may read this and be newer to social media may not realise what on earth it means to like and share and the impact and reach of that support. So I feel part of what what we can do is to reach out to people we know and educate them at least on this! If your parents are on Facebook, make sure they know what they are doing and the implications of what they may share.
In the same way, how many people think ‘all lives matter’ is an inclusive sentiment rather than the shout-down that it really is. Yes guys, in this era of “whataboutism” just stop and think before you spout off. If you worry how to explain to your slightly racist uncle how this works without upsetting everyone at Sunday lunch, then try this: If someone’s house is on fire, we need to help them put it out now, and fast. It doesn’t mean that hole in your roof doesn’t exist or isn’t a problem or in need some attention too, but the fire takes priority! And until the day that all anyone in the world has to worry about is a hole in their roof, then we need to keep the pressure on society until there is no more fire. I mean, you won’t find me marching into a cancer care ward shouting at people to stop having chemo because I need some ibuprofen for my back! There can be more than one problem in the world and we can deal with them all if we try.
I also commit to calling people out, yesterday I actually called a client a “fucking idiot” and then we both laughed at a lesson learned. I won’t stand for this being excused as people being ‘traditional’ or ‘old fashioned’. As Michelle Obama says; words matter.
I live in North London, it is a predominantly white village-like area and my client base reflects that population. When I took time to think about the rest of my client base who I am not affectionately swearing at (I promise we get along famously), I can only name 2 black clients I see regularly out of the usual 25-ish people I see in any normal week. But the point is not the demographic but that I had to think about that, nothing had seemed weird about that to me before BECAUSE I DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE. And that’s not a self flagellation on my part and of course I welcome anyone who would like some treatment or a Pilates class, but the fact that I hadn’t noticed reflects my white privilege. That ingrained expectation that my world should just look like me and I think that what some people just don’t get and are possibly afraid of.
Remember that in this day and age the most important commodity is your information. What you click on counts, what you read counts, what you follow and share really matters. So maybe have a look though your accounts and make sure there are no voices there which do not reflect your views. Help the less experienced Facebook-ers in your family do the same.
I welcome any pointers to information which may help me further with my understanding around these issues and I further commit to keeping my mind open and to always listen. The image of a black victim of police brutality on TV should not be the norm. We need to be careful that we don’t become numb to it, and certainly never that this is just someone else’s problem.