The last time I posted was on the tenth of March. Just before the whole world turned upside down. First with an unprecedented pandemic, and then with the murder of George Floyd and the re-emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Over here, in Australia, it’s easy to feel detached from things because we’re so far away and separate from most of the world, but it was impossible to not feel the effects of everything that happened in the US. Not this time around. Perhaps it was because the world already felt so small, so connected, because COVID knows no boundaries and doesn’t discriminate based on any factors. There is a whole argument about medical care and the accessibility of it for POC and disadvantaged communities in many countries, but that’s a huge discussion for another day. What I mean to say is that I think everyone’s been feeling vulnerable, and being locked-down has made people want to reach out more, connect more, be part of the world. And so, when the BLM movement kicked back into full force in America, the whole world felt it, and protests were held all over the world – for BLM, to begin with, and then followed by protests about other injustices and issues.
In Australia, there were discussions about our own racist history, and all the people who were a part of it, resulting in the tearing down of statues of the supposed ‘Greats’ of Australia. And then our PM came out to say we don’t have a history of slavery, which was exactly the wrong (and completely untruthful) thing to say, at any time, but especially at a time like this. And now, our COVID cases are soaring again in my state, after the lockdown was eased, and nothing makes sense and everyone is losing their minds.
All this to say, it has been an insane few months. From a personal perspective, I am in a very privileged position to be able to say I actually thrived in the lockdown. I was able to focus all my time on writing. I even finished a whole new manuscript. But when every news story wasn’t about COVID anymore, it became instead about BLM and the protests, and that made me think a lot. I read a lot and learned a lot and listened to the voices of black people, and donated as much as I could and tried to educate as well as I could. But nothing ever felt enough. I’ve always been the kind of person who feels things intensely, just a sensitivity I was born with, and I don’t feel like I can just sit back and do nothing, while the world rages around me. People justify not taking action by saying that it doesn’t affect them, that there are people directly affected who are taking part and helping the issue.
But of course it directly affects you. It directly affects all of us. Black lives are human lives, and we are all human. That dreadful phrase – all lives matter – is dreadful because it is averse to what the moment is about. If the people who throw that phrase around stopped and thought for even just one second, they’d realise that it’s exactly what everyone else is saying. A black person is as important as every other person. But the phrase is #blacklivesmatter because those are the lives in jeopardy in this moment.
My point is I’ve been thinking a lot about what I can do because if any community is being oppressed and hurting, then we’re all hurting and it’s our duty to help them out of this tragedy. Other than donating, which is really the only tangible way to help – in my position anyway – the only other thing I can do is to learn, and to pass on any knowledge and information I learn to others, to speak up when I hear someone spreading problematic, offensive, damaging views, and to urge others to do the same. I’ve been reading/watching a fair bit in recent times, and plan to perhaps spotlight non-fiction books, films, and even creators that help shine a light on everything related to the BLM movement, as well as other injustices and oppressions I learn about – any important part of history that should be known. Because the only way to not repeat history is to know it intimately, and to learn where the leaders of the past went wrong.
I don’t know exactly where this blog will go, but if you want to come along for the ride, that’ll be grand.
If you’ve read until this point, thanks. You’re kind of a legend. I hope you’re all doing well, and are safe and with people who you love and who love you.
Stay safe, stay happy, stay kind.