I was confronted by a very angry white man
The killing of George Floyd brought racism into the public eye in a big way.
People everywhere are united in their disgust and their collective fight against a system which is set up to favour those with white skin. Finally.
I am white. I have tried my hardest to be anti-racist in recent years. I had an awakening really, that moment where you realise how easy you’ve had things based on the colour of your skin.
It is a privilege not to notice, of course it is.
A privilege which Black people do not have. Black people are aware of their skin colour right away and are reminded constantly. Every time someone looks at them differently or treats them differently. Every time someone assumes something about them based on their Black skin. When Black kids are warned by their parents against doing certain things in a certain way because of what may happen to them. This is unacceptable of course it is. In this day and age, this should not be happening. In any day and age, this should not be happening. And yet.
Yet it is happening.
In America, caught on video. In England under wraps. Every day, in every Western ‘civilised’ society it happens. So, we have the protests and hopefully things will change. It’s really tough for me to understand how some in society fail to see things I do, the way protesters do, the way Black people do. It is not a difficult concept to get your head around. It is not advanced mathematics. It is cold, hard fact. Black people are treated differently, treated badly, based on their skin colour.
Black Lives Matter does NOT mean only Black lives matter. Black Lives Matter does NOT mean Black lives matter more than white lives. Black Lives Matter means that Black lives matter just as much as white lives. It is a call for equality.
Nothing less, nothing more.
I respect and encourage the protests. I would have been out there myself, but for the fact that we are shielding due to the virus which still hangs around us. Yet, I applaud those who are out putting themselves at risk for a greater good. Protests bring change and we can see the changes which they have brought already. I’m proud that they took place throughout the world and people are saying ‘enough is enough.’
However, I wore my ‘Black Lives Matter’ t-shirt on a short trip to the shop recently and was confronted by a very angry white man.
“All lives matter, mate,” he yelled at me from across the street, pulling down his mask in order to do so. I tried to keep calm, answering that he was incorrect and until things are equal, Black lives matter. He muttered something about things being equal, which I interrupted, saying that white people are not killed by police officers. He shouted that I was “f*cking stupid” and that I should “f*ck off to America”. I told him he was being racist and was called a “f*cking idiot” in response.
It was at this point that I decided nothing I said to this guy would get through to him. All lives matter as a response to Black Lives Matter means either you are racist or really stupid in my opinion, and in most cases, both. I decided that this man is now Kevin. Karen will ask to speak to your manager; Kevin will shout and swear at you for wearing a t-shirt which hurts his feelings and makes him feel like his rights are being diminished.
Black Lives Matter and if you feel the need to correct that or if it makes you angry, go read something, go talk to someone. Talk to your employer about it, see what happens. Tell your family and friends how you feel, see if they are still proud of you. Look in the mirror and say, “I’m a racist” — see how you feel about it then.
My son is seven, and he gets it. I’m honest enough with him to ensure he is awake to his white privilege. There is no excuse for full grown men not to understand this basic concept. Do better.
Don’t be like Kevin.