What does #BLACKLIVESMATTER mean to Charisse Chikwiri

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What does Black Lives Matter mean to you?

To me, Black Lives Matter means equality. It means that I am sick and tired of the dehumanisation of black people and I want to see something being done about it. It means that I am not afraid to talk about it. It means I want to make sure that people are fully aware of the impact that racism, police brutality, and marginalisation are having on so many black people in their everyday lives. It means that I want to be involved in making a difference. It means that I am a child of the digital era and when it comes to social education, social change or social revolution, social media is one of the strongest tools I have. It means that everyone (especially black people) has the right to not only life but to quality of life. It doesn’t mean that other lives do not matter, it is focusing on the fact that black lives matter TOO.

Why do you think it is important for us to be protesting here in London?

If I was to answer the question in one word it would be, solidarity. Even if there was no police brutality happening here in London (which there is), I believe that it is important to demonstrate unity and love. As well as being physically present in showing respect to those who have lost their lives to police brutality and the families who have lost a child, a brother, a sister, a father or a mother to this injustice. It is not a case of us and them, this is about my own life also. My life matters. I may not be in America but am I a black person, and I feel aggrieved by what is going on.

“Well I’m not in America”, “it’s not happening on my doorstep so why should I be concerned?”, “you haven’t lost anyone so what are you fighting for?” “the police don’t carry guns here, so what are you marching for?” such mindsets show a complete lack of humility that I cannot agree with. You don’t have to be at the centre of something in order to feel outraged by it. If it is wrong, and you see that it is wrong, that should be enough to say/do something about it.

Why did you go to the Black Lives Matter London marches?

For the same reasons in the answer to the question above. I wanted to be present and not passive.

How would you describe the atmosphere?

It was empowering. It was beautiful to see such togetherness. It was even overwhelming at times. It was motivating. To see us all come out to stand for what is right, to join forces and to see people use their voices to uplift those who have become weary or maybe needed that encouragement in order to take it away and use it to make a difference in their own communities.

What do you think needs to happen next?

So many things, so much has happened already and yet this is only the beginning. Firstly, Black Lives Matter is a political movement and so political awareness is essential, it is something we need to continue encourage and push in our day to day conversations as well as in educational institutions. Ensuring that everyone knows how to address issues to do with race, how to have political discussions and how to take political action is important.
To summarise (rather vaguely for the time being), strategic and well-informed action. More economic action. More action in educational institutions. More action in business. More action in the arts. More ownership. Taking unity even further than the protests and seeing it through in financially supporting black businesses, for example. I believe that what needs to happen next is already happening, it just needs to progress and expand.