Monday, 1 June 2020

To my Black friends, the Black community and George Floyd, I’m sorry - Editor's Letter  

I listened to you but I haven’t always helped you shout. I haven’t always been there to scream with you when another black person has been killed by corrupt cops, but that changes now.

On Monday, George Floyd, described by his family as a "gentle giant" and rightly so as his community agreed, was murdered in cold blood by police in Minnesota, America.

The young man, who moved to Minnesota "to be his best self", was murdered by cops in a town that he respected enough to move too in an attempt to better himself.

George, 46, was shown on footage pleading for his life as police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck while George screamed, "I can't breathe". He even called out for his Mum.

George wasn't armed.

George laid on the floor with a white officer kneeling on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds - almost three minutes of which was after Mr Floyd became non-responsive, the footage that has gone viral shows this.

Nearly two minutes before Derek removed his knee the other officers checked George's right wrist for a pulse and were unable to find one. Remember, that was nearly two minutes before Derek lifted his knee.

He had no pulse and Derek didn't lift his knee for nearly two more minutes.

George was a 46-year-old man described as a "gentle giant" with goals and the drive to get him there by those who knew him.

George is also a Black man.

And we need to talk about the fact that George is Black. Because let’s be honest, that’s the reason George was murdered.

It’s because he’s black. And that’s disgusting. It’s vile, barbaric and we (white people), we need to talk about it.

Racism is seen as an awkward topic to discuss if you're white because, to put it very simply, a lot of us are not that educated on it.

We don't know how to help or talk about it because white privilege does exist and I haven’t lived a day as a Black woman and I need to listen when you tell me what that would be like.

I, Sophie, am a white British woman. 

In my current life I can expect that no matter what, I will receive days off from work for holidays that matter to me.

People never fail to spell or pronounce my name. I am also never mocked for my name. 

The police don’t scare me, I wave at them and sometimes say "good day".

I’m told my national heritage "made it what it is".

There is people like me around me in all situations.

I never think about my race. It never even enters my mind.

I wouldn’t stress about the police unless I committed a very serious crime.

People don’t assume negative things about me because of my skin colour.

The thought of someone trying to socially or scientifically eliminate people of my skin colour is bizarre to me. It’s never happened.

I don’t worry when I click the ethnicity box.

I am seen as an individual and not part of a race, my race is never responsible for my actions.

My life would simply not look like that if I was Black and we need to change that.

I'm sorry to my Black peers, I know that above passage would have been hard to read, but I'm listening, I see the problem clear as day, I feel the rage.

In your privileged life, you may think racism is over but racism doesn’t die until the day we all live like the above.

And don’t give me, "it will never happen". People thought slavery would never end, it did, people spoke up and we joined forces.

We can do it again.

If we (white people) act instead of just sharing a petition once every time an innocent Black person is killed we can stop it happening.

Sadly, a lot of white people have been taught racism, because that's the truth, it's taught no one is born racist.

But if you can learn to be a racist, you can learn that Black Lives Matter.

When the riots and protects started following George's death, I will not lie to you today, at first I was confused and couldn't understand the riots.

But now, oh no, now I'm screaming "fuck Target" at my telly.

I took the time to research, to educate myself and to read a lot of threads on Twitter etc just reading Black people's responses so I can learn how to use my white voice to help.

I reached out to my Black friends and asked questions. I asked if they would read this piece and help me figure out my words, they did.

White people, we need to wake the fuck up.

Because it's not just George Floyd, its Emerald Black, its Tony McDade, its all the names above and more.

All innocent Black lives. Every single one. 

I’m white and I avoid talking about race because I worry I’ll say the wrong thing. But I don’t give a damn anymore.

Racism is still being taught and I’d rather speak up and risk being wrong from time to time than see another beautiful soul like George die.

I might say something worded slightly awkwardly now and again as I help you speak out because while I am somewhat educated, I am still learning and I hope my peers will help me along that path.

I'm just a very small writer with not a large audience, but my art is writing and I hope my fellow white writers will join me.

To George Floyd, his loved ones, to every Black life murdered and to my Black friends, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t put pen to paper sooner.

I may only have little reach but if everyone used their words and voices we can make a difference.

If you’re white and you’re reading this, please Google George Floyd. Read his story. Then Google a brief history of Slavery. Then Google “Why shouldn’t white people say the N word”.

The answers are all there. The problem is right there. But there isn’t a single problem that willing minds can’t solve.

To wrap up this post, I, and my team at VavaViolet, will keep writing about how we can use our voices to help throughout June and forevermore.

Right now I am still educating myself because my school preferred the Titanic to Slavery.

But as I and the team find new ways to use our voices, we will show you too and together, we can act instead of wishy-washy posts.

My messages are open on every single platform. Feel free to flood me with anything you think I should educate myself on. Articles, petitions, stories, videos, movies, books, anything.

Let’s keep the conversation going and let's act #GeorgeFloyd #GeorgeFloydWasMurdered #BlackLivesMatter

Please see the following to sign the George Floyd petition,

Written by VavaViolet's Founder and Editor-in-chief, Sophie Blackman.


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