Black is light. Black is love. Black is community. #BlackLivesMatter

In the best and the worst of times, we come together. We unite, we sing and we dance. Together we bring light to the gloomiest of environments. Even in the darkness, we shine. Even when thwarted, our lights never dim. Even when they are stolen, we come up with new ground-breaking ideas everyday. Even when discriminated against, we remain proud. We are strong in the face of adversity. But for how long are we to keep fighting just to keep our heads above water? When will we all have the freedom to not have to worry about trying to stay afloat? At which point do we swim the seas of the world without even an ounce of external baggage weighing us down? When do we take a break and enjoy the seaside views, without having to worry about what is going on at the ocean floor?

Last one, thank you London pic.twitter.com/xNtfdNjjmu

— blu (@keyahblu) July 8, 2016

This last week has been eventful. As always, there is a lot going on. There is a lot to process, to navigate and to have to get to grips with. I am both Black British and Zimbabwean and my people are fighting injustice here in the UK, in America, and in Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe right now, it’s more of an issue with the Government but that is a different topic, for a different day. My people, black people are fighting many different forms of injustice and oppression all over the world. Before the “all lives matter” party interject – okay yeah, all lives do matter, but TODAY AND RIGHT NOW I want and need to talk about the Black Lives.

Police brutality has been rife in America for far too long, we know and we have seen. To say that we are tired, to say that we are hurting, to say that enough is enough, to say that families are distraught, to say that this is outlandish, to say that this barbaric… these would all be understatements. It has gone above and beyond this.

 

How the hell can this still be something that we have to protest about IN TWO THOUSAND AND SIXTEEN? Sometimes I feel like I’m in a movie, maybe this is just a bad dream and I’ll wake up and realise that none of this is real.

What we read about in the history books… Did it ever end or was it just put on standby long enough for us to feel comfortable enough, to start thinking that maybe racism was over? We were never fully comfortable; we have been surviving.

Too many people have died and too many men are still dying. Too many times their deaths are dismissed and their deaths are normalised. Almost every time their murderers, the men who are stealing lives as though they have the worth of a 5p bag are getting away without a conviction. How can anyone be expected to stand by when there are men wearing the uniforms of society’s protectors, like fancy dress costumes? I cannot say anything that has not already been said or make you aware of anything that you don’t or shouldn’t already know.

I don’t need to call upon Alton Sterling’s name, or remind you of Sandra Bland’s story for you to understand. Too many graphic and uncensored videos of the cold-blooded murders of black people have surfaced on the internet, and quite frankly I am tired of seeing death resurface on my timeline like the highlights of a football game?

I’m tired of seeing the corpse of another human used as a tool to incite shock or to galvanise, it is really not normal! Are they animals?! Is this a sport? Have we really been desensitised so much that being told that someone has died is not enough to move us? We have to watch them lose their lives, the five seconds it takes for them to cease to exist and their bodies lieing lifeless, is that what it takes for it to become real? No, there should be no more of that!

So what do we do? Well, empowerment and solidarity is a start, Jesse Bernard wrote the perfect article on that. Nothing can be achieved when we are divided.  The protests here in London this week, have shown incredible unity and remarkable solidarity; from Southbank, to Brixton, to Oxford Circus. I went to the march that started in Oxford Circus on Sunday and I was in awe, at times speechless. I felt proud to be a part of such a unit. So many came out in peace, to show respect and to demonstrate love. Love isn’t something to be reserved for  those in close proximity to you alone. Love transcends distance, it transcends race and it transcends creed. Well, at least it should. At the very least, love and respect should be shown whenever possible, and when we are all connected by the internet distance is far from an obstacle.

Charisse's #BlackLivesMatter post

If you still don’t understand why we are protesting London then read here also. The one thing that this article doesn’t address wholly is the fact that police brutality in the UK isn’t as rare as we may think it is. Whilst it may not occur as bluntly and as often as it does in America, it does happen and it is worth investigating. A film called 1500 and Counting by Troy James Aidoo and Siana Bangura will soon reveal details about this.

Regardless, this is not a time for black pity. This is not a time to say “awww” and feel sorry for black people because that has done and will continue to do nothing for us. Yes, there is definitely a lot pitted against us, including systematic and institutional oppression, but we are not helpless. We are people like any other and we do have the power to make a difference. We have already begun to make differences and dismantle oppressive structures.

This is a time to stand up. At the heart of black culture has always been community. Black people must stand together. This whole world is comprised of strong networks, allies and “buddy up” systems. We do not need to be any different.

Whilst we do need to keep our spirits high, unfortunately a prevailing spirit alone is not enough to make revolutionary change. We need action and we need strategic action. We need even more fully functional, well informed, well read and well educated networks with a common goal.

We need to continue collaboration between artists, product developers, content developers, accountants, businessmen and journalists etc. We need to pull each other up and share opportunities. We need to combine skills. We need to continue to build structures that can stand the test of time. We need more ownership.

You have an idea? You know a friend that could do the business plan, another that can handle marketing and advertising, another that is good at graphic and web design and another with excellent writing skills. Come together and make it happen, you know like that?  So many of us are doing this already, it’s just about growth and consistency. The #UKBlackOwnedBusinesses hashtag is a wonderful display of ownership and entrepreneurship. We got this guys!

But also this is hard work, it is strenuous. You may be reading this and you’re tired, you’re exhausted, you feel like you aren’t living, you’re always busy, you feel suffocated at times, you feel like you don’t know how to switch off, you feel like nobody understands what you’re trying to do, you’re having a hard time, you need a break, you need to escape, you’re carrying the weight of the world on your back, you feel like even though you’re surrounded by people you’re alone, maybe you’re struggling to find time for your friends and family and that is hurting both you and them. I see you. You matter and everything you feel is very valid.

We must take care of ourselves and each other both physically and mentally. We must check in on our friends and family. It is okay to take breaks when you need them. Pay attention to how you feel. Don’t censor your emotions. Be open with the people you care about and wish to keep in your life. If you need to be alone for a little while, explain that to them. If you’re struggling and you need them to be present for you, tell them. Jesse Bernard also covers this in the piece I mentioned earlier. Eat well. Drink water. You will do your best work when you are fully functional and to be fully functional, you must prioritise your well-being.

Once again, #BlackLivesMatter.