I woke up this morning to a different world, one which sent shivers down my spine, one which terrifies me, a world so dystopian, it felt like I was a character in George Orwell’s book. My first reaction to it, as I believe most of us had was why is this affecting me so much when it’s happening thousands of miles away from me, in a country that’s not even mine. And while I was contemplating of whether or not I should voice my opinion about this, a thought crossed my mind.
When I was 13 years old, I was bullied by someone I considered to be my best friend. I felt sad, frightened, but most of all I felt alone. There was absolutely no one I could turn to, not even my family, because I felt so ashamed of it happening to me, I felt like it was all my fault. The constant taunts I endured from this person were heavy blows to my heart and I considered myself guilty and in a way responsible. Somehow, even though I was not aware at the time, I felt like I was actually deserving of it. So the obvious questions like “why me?” popped into my head so frequently, until they became constant thoughts that flooded my mind. The only thing that got me through this terrible dark times and made me survive this whole period was music. It was my escape from the everyday reality I had to face in school. And it wasn’t just any music, it was Tupac’s music. In his lyrics I saw a new perspective, a life I was fortunate enough not to have, struggles I never had to endure, because I was blessed enough to be born in a wonderful loving family, a mom and dad that would have done anything for me and a sister who was a best friend, even though I didn’t see it that way at the time. A world torn by violence, where thirteen year old girls become drug fiends, where thirteen year old boys have to grow up so fast, they find themselves holding guns by the time they become fourteen and see their friends buried by the time they become twenty and not by choice, but because the world insists on making it hard for them to get out of the living hell they were born into.
So you see, it was a black man’s music that saved my life. Me, a white girl thousands of miles away whose privileged life felt like such a tragedy, but pale in comparison to the struggles of thousands of lives like his in the projects. And even though his story was not my story, his struggles were not mine, he unveiled a different kind of world and offered me a glimpse of every injustice people like him went through, every psychological torture they had to suffer just because of the color of their skin. His story and the way he told it, allowed me to get out of that selfish zone I’ve captured myself in for so long and changed the way I saw life ever since. Needless to say it was critical to my development as a human being. And for this I will eternally be thankful. But if you still can’t relate to it, watch this video which will definitely change the way you see the world and the part you play in it.
Years later, just few weeks before George Floyd killing happened in the states, I was watching “when they see us”, a story so powerfully portrayed that weeks after I watched it, the injustice the four black boys go through still tortured me. It tortured me because I couldn’t believe it and perhaps I didn’t even want to believe it that white supremacy is not only alive, but in its full swing even today. And again, I was grateful. Grateful not to have suffered through something like that.
So, when I woke up this morning and saw what’s happening in the states, I felt compelled to do something about it. I felt compelled to do something about the community who gave the world figures like Tupac, Martin Luther King, Viola Davis, Nina Simone and hundreds more silent heroes whose names we might never learn, but whose deeds will nevertheless be remembered. So, first thing I did was to make a personal contribution to the George Floyd Gofundme campaign and make sure to donate additional 15% of Bastet Noir’s June profits. I’m well aware that this might not right the wrongs done, nor will it bring back the people this community and the world had lost. It might not even change a thing, but it might just give their families a fighting chance at life. It might help them see that they are not alone in this fight and bring hope into this whole madness, so the next generation, the one that comes after us, doesn’t have another George Floyd.
We all owe at least this much to black culture and since silence is not an option here’s few things to help you start:
Educate yourself — New York Times has put together a reading list to help us all learn. It’s a good way to start. You can find the reading list of an antiracist book here.
Donate — I’m well aware that this period in time is extremely difficult, but if you find yourself lucky enough to have a steady job, a roof over your head and enough food on your table, please donate to anti-racial organizations, as much as you can. Here’s the link to the campaign I chose to support and here’s the link of list of antiracial campaigns you can support.
Support BIPOC businesses — this article by WhoWhatWear which lists many BIPOC businesses is a great place to start.
Raise awareness — regardless of how big or small your platform is, in times like this it’s absolutely necessary to voice your opinion and stand for what’s right. We share so much of our lives, parts that are not that important on social media, so much so that when it comes to the important stuff, we choose to stay silent. Silence should never be an option in times like these. I’m not black, but I see you.