Black Lives Matter

Some of you may have seen the Black Lives Matter protests over the past couple of days and the social media blackout yesterday. Whilst we are still in the midst of a worrying global pandemic, seeing the news of sometimes violent protests and unrest may have added to your anxieties. Many of you may have done your own research in to what’s going on but we have attempted to condense the mass of information in to something more digestible below!

 

We have also added some suggestions of things we can all do from home to support each other and educate ourselves further on the Black Lives Matter movement.

 

Some of you may have a lot of emotions about what is currently going on surrounding the Black Lives Matter conversation. A good way to express these emotions is creatively. If you feel like writing a poem, creating a piece of art, etc please send them to us to share - c.angus@smithillsschool.net

What Happened to George Floyd?

There have been several nights of protests and violent clashes between police and protestors as demonstrations have swept across cities in the US.

The protests in Minneapolis begin in reaction to the death of a man names George Floyd after police officers stopped him. A former officer has been charged with his murder. The protests have now spread across the country to cities including New York, LA, Chicago and even to the UK in London and Manchester. While many protests have been peaceful, many places have seen rioting, looting and violence.

 

Why are these protests happening?

 

This is not the first time that the police in the US have been accused of being racially motivated, or using unnecessary force against black suspects.

The Black Lives Matter movement (which you may have seen a lot of on Instagram yesterday) began in 2013 after a man called George Zimmerman was cleared of murder charges after he shot an African-American teenager called Trayvon Martin. Angry protests over the treatment of black men by white police officers have happened several times in recent years – for example in Ferguson after an officer wasn’t punished for killing a black teenager.

 

Many people in America feel the police and the justice system treat black people unfairly compared to how they treat white people – African-Americans are five times more likely to be sent to jail than white Americans, for example.

 

The Minneapolis Police chief has responded by saying “Being Black in America should not be a death sentence.”

 

How have other people been reacting to the protests?

Many celebrities have spoken out about the death of George Floyd and what has happened since. Stars like Beyonce, Cardi B and Rihanna have taken to social media to protest about what happened. Stars like Ariana Grande and Michael B. Jordan have gone out and joined peaceful protests. Another way the entertainment world is showing its concern is many record labels, musicians and other celebrities took a break from social media yesterday using the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday.

 

Reactions Around the World

The world of sport has also spoken out about what’s happened. Players from Premier League teams such as Newcastle, Liverpool and Chelsea all knelt in protest. England forward Jadon Sancho was booked for unveiling a ‘Justice for George Floyd’ T-shirt after scoring for Borussia Dortmund on Sunday.

 

What can we do?

 

1.  Talk about racism with other people

Have conversations about prejudice with people in your family and friendship circle. Racism shouldn’t be a topic only addressed after a black person is persecuted. Be proactive rather than reactive.

 

2.  Educate yourself

- This website presents the often untold stories of the generations of migrants who came to and shaped the British Isles from AD43 to the present day

https://www.ourmigrationstory.org.uk/

- The BBC Bitesize Website has some great videos of young people talking about their own experiences of racism

https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/clips/zsm9jxs

 

3.  Knowledge is Power

Think about reading any of the following books which all explore race and racism written by talented black authors:

·         The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

·         Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

·         Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

·         Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah

·         Straight Outta Crongton by Alex Wheatle

There are some excellent articles written for students on The Day. Start with these:

·         https://theday.co.uk/stories/wave-of-violent-fury-erupts-across-usa

·         https://theday.co.uk/stories/protest-plague-and-the-year-the-world-changed

·         https://theday.co.uk/stories/put-down-your-protest-banners-or-i-shoot

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