To say that my blood has been boiling over the death of George Floyd is an understatement. But this incident is not a one-off - black people are living through racism and discrimination every single day and not just in the USA. This issue is global and definitely includes my home country France and the UK - denying it is a pure delusion! There are so many things we can do to fight institutional racism. Let's start today.
Mentoring changes lives but not everyone has access to a mentor, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. That is why I want everyone to realise that they have the potential to be a mentor and encourage them to take someone under their wing. Mentoring is about caring for someone, teaching them, and giving them advice. It doesn’t have to be a formal arrangement and you don't need to have X experience to be a mentor.
2. Challenge your working place
When I was working at a particular law firm, there were zero black members of staff. I did ask why but the answers were elusive. No one is ever going to admit: “Yes I am a bloody racist.” If you work somewhere where you have little to no diversity in ethnic background, challenge your leaders. Silence is complicit and a huge contributor to perpetuating the problem.
A great article by Natalie Morris on why it is vital to speak up can be found here.
3. Educate yourself
Racism is not just an issue in the US. I am originally from France and my country is just as racist. For example, they never taught us any controversial French history, because if people knew then they would be ashamed or demand retribution to be made. I was blessed with a family who encouraged reading so I read so many books about colonisation, slavery and institutionalised racism. My major during my Master of Laws was Human Rights so I read more about it then too. There are so many accessible books that will open your eyes - I will list them below in the book recommendation section. Knowledge is true power.
4. Write to your MP to stop the selling of tear gas to the US
You can find out where to write to your local MP here.
And you can use the letter template drafted by Monica Heisey here.
Pressure does work and in the age of social media, you see it more and more. Governments and companies are very worried about an online backlash as reputation is everything to their brand. Look at the recent NHS levy on immigrants working in the NHS. Boris Johnson was forced into an embarrassing U-turn just hours after saying the policy was going ahead due to public outcry.
5. Challenge your family
Silence is not what we need right now. You don’t need to change the world, if we all started with the people who are the closest to us, it would make a huge difference. Educate your children! Clearly, the education system has had a vested interest in avoiding “hot topics” and outrage. Some teenagers and adults don’t even know that the UK had slaves, they thought it was just a US problem. Challenge racism wherever you find it, even if that is at home. Turning a blind eye perpetuates the cycle.