Black Lives Matter and being an active ally

Ben Matthews

By Ben Matthews

In Blog, Diversity & Inclusion

Reading Time: 4 minutes

“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist” – Angela Davis

Empower has always been and will always stand against racism and is an equal opportunities employer. As an organisation, we believe we need to be active allies, dedicated to inclusivity and standing against injustice.

The murder of George Floyd in America is not just an American problem. Racism exists in modern UK society. To combat this, we need everyone to be invested in racial justice work, not just the people who are impacted by racism and discrimination.

As Rianna Raymond-Williams, Founder of Shine Aloud, argues, we all need to be allies:

“Black communities do not have equal access to resources, so we need to work with non-white people to leverage access in some ways. These allies need to be willing to listen and learn, but also not be silent or complicit. As always this is a journey.”

It is not enough to merely recognise racism when we see it. We need to call it out and be active anti-racists ourselves. Every person of all backgrounds needs to educate themselves about how racism manifests in all parts of our society, from education to crime to health to under-representation in the roles that shape our democracy.

Here are some resources that the Empower team have been reading and sharing in light of recent events in both the US and here in the UK, with the aim of helping us all to plot, plan, strategies, organise and mobilise to become better allies in the move towards racial equality.

Update: Take a look at how Empower are working to recruit a diverse workforce.

Racial justice organisations to support

The Empower team have been researching organisations to donate to in light of recent events. The following organisations are undertaking excellent racial justice work in the UK and are worth supporting:

  • 100 Black Men of London work with young black men (especially in London) to better their education, mental health and wellbeing. They’ve done some incredible work over the last few years.
  • Black Thrive, based in Lambeth, have a focus on mental health and work across lots of different areas to create systemic change.
  • Resourcing Racial Justice is a coalition of people of colour (POC) innovators, change makers, activists, artists and social leaders dedicated to social change. Together, they have established a new UK wide-funding pool to support individuals and communities working towards racial justice.
  • The United Families & Friends Campaign (UFFC) is a coalition of those affected by deaths in police, prison and psychiatric custody, supports others in similar situations. Established in 1997 initially as a network of Black families, over recent years the group has expanded and now includes the families and friends of people from varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
  • Green & Black Cross (GBC) is an independent grassroots project set up in the spirit of mutual aid and solidarity to support autonomous social struggles within the UK. They have supported thousands of people from many backgrounds in their rebellions and protests – from a 24/7 Legal Support Helpline to Legal Observers on the streets, and from Action Medics at large demos to a kitchen team smuggling flapjacks to students surrounded by police.
  • Charity So White are tackling institutional racism in the charity sector. They have a range of articles to help reflect and identify concrete action.

Anti-racism resources

Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein have put together a document full of anti-racism resources. If you haven’t engaged in anti-racism work in the past, this is a good place to start.

Here are just some of the resources they list:

You can find more in the Anti-Racism Resources document.

Additional resources we’ve seen being shared include:

Reading about racism in the UK

Below are some books you may find helpful to learn more about racism in the UK and other anti-racism work:

  1. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
  2. ‘Superior’ by Angela Saini
  3. Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of the Empire by Akala
  4. Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege by Layla F Saad
  5. Black and British by David Olusoga
  6. Insurgent Empire by Priyamvada Gopal
  7. The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla

If you plan to buy one of these books, we recommend that you buy a copy from your local bookshop, if they have an online shop. Or take a look at Hive, who support independent bookshops with every sale they make.

Let us know in the comments if you have any further links or resources on racial justice work or being an active ally.

Article image from Sacree Frangine

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