The UK and other western countries have given legitimacy to the currently trending notion that Black Lives Matter. Their vast power to influence thoughts, minds and actions through the eyes of the press and the media is now being used to keep the topic of Black Lives Matter firmly on the agenda.
It is perhaps ungracious to scoff at the crumbs that have been put on our table but surely, it is reasonable to ask why it has taken many decades of blatant injustices, reported and commented on by them, for there to be an acknowledgement of what was and is the blindingly obvious imbalance in the society.
There is no doubt that the ability and responsibility to fashion public opinion fairly have been tainted over the years, and sadly, it has taken the recent murder of George Floyd to arouse consciences across both lands. The cry that Black Lives Matter was made a long time ago. It was perhaps seen by many as just another knee jerk reaction to events across the pond. However, it is better late than never and maybe the newfound impetus in a drive for fairness will ultimately change the ways of the white world.
It seems we have reached a place where it is generally recognised that something must be done to reverse the evil doings perpetrated on black people for a very long time.
Progress is slow and recently, there have been signs that the wall is beginning to crumble. Barriers that were systematically and institutionally erected over many years will, in time, fall, as protests across the western world by individuals and corporate bodies gather pace, momentum and purpose, as like and fair-minded people recognise that the world cannot much longer continue to rape a large and significant section of its people.
So where do we go from here, how do we stop the magnificent and pertinent statement that Black Lives Matter from falling into the category of just another short-lived protest? How do we bring legitimate action to bear down on those who seek to keep black people under the knee?
The avalanche of news coverage is welcomed, but we must not avoid a fundamental question that should be at the heart of the Black Lives Matter campaign. Is Black Lives Matter a pressure group or is it merely a statement?
Barbados TODAY decided to speak to two young, second generation Barbadians to get insight into the thoughts of our young people in London.
I first spoke to Christopher Roach, a 27-year-old who is passionate about the subject. Christopher said: “Of course, Black Lives Matter is a pressure group with many different views. The sector in the US where it all began is vibrant and a fine example for us to follow in the UK.”
He said he is interested in real change taking place and he noted that it would be difficult to achieve given the attitude of those in authority. Warming to his theme, he continued: “The problem is that no one listens to us. We and our body of representatives and spokespersons are constantly ignored. There was a recent report The Lammy Review (David Lammy is a black member of the British Parliament) on the subject of equality for black people and nothing has happened. It has been completely swept under the carpet.”
Christopher added: “Black Lives Matter is not a perception. It is the biggest civil rights movement since the 1960s and it will incite global change.” And he further noted that international corporate bodies are now thinking about what impact they can have as they seek to give redress to the imbalances.
In a final appraisal, Christopher said when he looked at the situation in the United States he saw a clear ambition of black people to achieve empowerment and equality and he advised that if that situation is to be achieved in the UK, young people must go to the polling stations to change things through the ballot box.
I turned to Josh Brathwaite, a 32-year-old who, like Christopher, is tired of the old negative perception of black people across the world.
First, I suggested that in accepting that Black Lives Matter is a pressure group did he see another reason than that currently propagated. Could it be that a major area of work for Black Lives Matter is to show black people that they should hold themselves in high self-esteem and worthiness?
Josh said he is currently reading all areas of African history, particularly in relation to the African kingdom of Benin (founded in 1180) and its positive impact on the wider world. Josh has undertaken the task of educating people, both black and white, on the lives lived by black people. Part of the exercise is to encourage group discussions and invite participants first to look at history and then at themselves. He sees this as an opportunity to debunk the theory of stereotyping the black man as not of much worth to society.
He said: “I would hope that Black Lives Matter could move positively to shift a system which seeks to keep black people as the underdogs. Sadly, this state of mind has been created and exported to our people and the knowledge that would counter this perception was hidden from us.” Josh, in a passionate comment, added: “Learning of our history helps to highlight the strengths of our people and we should capitalise on it.”
Speaking to Josh and Christopher gave a refreshing insight to a determination to do things to raise the profile of black people. They see it in a very different light to their elders and when I suggested that we are passing the baton he quietly said: “But is it not the case that the person who passes the baton stops running?” Certainly food for thought.
Vincent ‘Boo’ Nurse is a Barbadian living in London who is a retired Land Revenue Manager, Pensions and Investment Adviser. He is passionate about the development of his island home and the diaspora.