‘Don’t just open your eyes, stretch, yawn and think that it’s over.” George Floyd’s brother, Terence.
It’s now a year after the murder of George Floyd, and Black people globally are still exhausted. “There’s something called racial battle fatigue, and it is the exhaustion that comes from event after event, assault after assault.” Anti-racism movements across the world were given a shot in the arm by the anger around Mr Floyd’s death, many of which capitalised on that momentum to bring greater awareness about racial inequality and police brutality in their own countries. Institutions in America and beyond looked at themselves in a different light, though in the UK, the shift is slower than you think.More needs to be done in education in the home, in school and in the workplace. All shape behaviour.
I focused on language when I submitted the artwork in this post to an exhibition run by @everydayracism_ :
“Anonymity-I don’t see colour” Inks on paper
I considered naming it: “Disposable Lives”.
People love to tell me that they often forget that I’m black. They say this with a sort of “a-ha!” look on their faces, as if their dawning ability to see my blackness had gone.When I point out that my skin has never changed colour, and that they probably did not really forget that I am black, they inevitably get defensive. Often they argue that it was a compliment; the smart ones quickly realise that complimenting someone on not being black is actually pretty racist, so they switch gears.“I don’t see race” is usually their next position, followed by I am colour blind. By “colour blind” they don’t actually mean that they can’t see green or red; rather, they are suggesting that they can’t ever be racist, because they don’t register skin colour at all.This ideology is very popular but it’s quite racist. “Colourblindness” doesn’t acknowledge the very real ways in which racism has existed and continues to exist, both in individuals and systemically. By professing not to see race, is ignoring racism, not addressing it.
For many, this will be challenging post to navigate.So a year on, a lot of things have changed. A lot has not. Education continues to be the key.