7 July 2016

My Voice Doesn't Matter

The first thing I have to say is that my voice does not matter.

I have watched, heartbroken, at the murders, because that is what happened, of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

Two men, two days, two needless and unlawful murders.  Because again, that is what happened.  But these are not the only examples of police officers who have shot down innocent people for no reason.

Michael Brown.  Sandra Bland.  Freddie Gray.  Trayvon Martin.  The list literally goes on and on and on.

In 2015 police killed at least 102 unarmed black people in 2015, that is 5 times the rate of unarmed whites.  37% of the unarmed people in 2015 that were killed by police were black, despite being only 13% of the population.

As a white person, these are statistics that do not affect me.  My privilege as a white person allows me to quote these statistics to you in the knowledge that this will never happen to me.  I will never be treated this way.  

I will never be presumed automatically guilty because I am white.  I will never have to watch my boyfriend die while I film as Diamond Reynolds did, for fear that the police will kill me and my child.  I will never be shot and killed whilst not resisting arrest. 

White serial killers are bought hamburgers after killing a church full of people.  Black men are being shot and killed for traffic violations.  

As a white person, I have many privileges.  This is why my voice does not matter.  You should not be listening to me.  I am not experiencing this prejudice.  This racial profiling.  Who you should be listening to are the black men and black women who are subjected to this, day in and day out.

I feel uncomfortable writing this.  Because I am talking about things that I do not know and have never experienced.  But when I see people saying things like "All Lives Matter" and coming up with ridiculous excuses for white officers shooting black people, I have to say something.  Because it is wrong.  So fucking wrong.

As white people we are so unbelievably privileged.  In ways that many cannot seem to comprehend.  So what should we do?  Listen to the people whom this is happening to.  Learn from them.  Fight against prejudice.  Speak up.  Force change to happen.

The problem is us.  Our privilege.  We are the ones that need to change. My voice does not matter.  Listen to the people that do. 

1 July 2016

Sorry Not Sorry

Last week I wrote a blog post called Be Kind in which I talked about how I was trying to improve myself by being kinder and more helpful to strangers.  This week's task therefore sounds a little at odds with that idea.

I am going to stop apologising.

Now, when I say I’m going to stop apologising, I don’t mean for the times when I have actually done something wrong or stepped on someone on the bus.  I’m talking about the dozens of times that I say sorry every week, simply for existing or having an opinion.

The funny thing is, this behaviour was so ingrained that I did not realise that I was even doing it.

I read an article the other day which talked about how many times a day people say they are sorry, particularly women, when there is no need to do so.  So I thought that I would run an experiment and see when and why I was saying it.

The most noticeable and numerous amount of times I said sorry over the past week, was when I was coming into a new conversation with somebody.  My very first word when I started to speak was sorry.  Using "I'm sorry" at your starting point for sentence is a little bit odd when you actually analyse it.  

You knock on a door, you hear "come in" and then you walk in and say "I'm sorry".  For what? Existing?

You are in an interesting conversation or a debate; you start your point with "I'm sorry but".  I'm sorry I have an opinion? I'm sorry I am expressing my thoughts?

What am I apologising for?  

The second noticeable time I apologised this week, actually shocked me when I realised what I was doing.   Twice this week when walking down a corridor that only had room for one person, I have seen someone at the other end, both men on these occasions, and immediately said "Oh sorry!!!" and immediately acceded to their alleged right to the corridor space.  This was not asked for, it was assumed behaviour that I did not even know I was carrying out until my experiment this week.

This was not being polite.  This wasn't the atypical British way of "You go first" "No you" "No I insist".  This was acceding to someone else who in that moment my brain was telling me that they were more worthy than I to be in control of the space.

Why do I think that I am not worthy? 

So that is my new goal for the week.  To stop unnecessarily apologising.  To realise that I am allowed to speak under my own merit.  That it is allowed.  That I am allowed to exist in the area that I am in.

I have no problem vocalising my thoughts online, so it is time that my offline life matched my online life.  Being brave enough to own that moment as my own, that space,  It is a reaffirmation that I am enough.