What does Black Lives Matter mean to you?
Black Lives Matter to me means that MY life matters. That I have as much a right as the next person to breathe the oxygen in the air, to have my voice heard and to make a difference. It means that I can stand in a space and be seen and form part of the moment. It means my father, my grandmother, my grandfather and my ancestor’s struggle to survive and the position of black people in today’s society is not in vain.
To explain Black Lives matters to those that respond with All Lives Matter, I heard this simple, effective example of imagining all racial backgrounds at a dinner table dining together; everyone receives their dinner except the black person at the table. Everyone tucks in and enjoys their meal while the black individual is still waiting, hungry and restless – until the black individual says: ‘Hey, I’d like to eat too, where’s my dinner?’ Everyone looks at each other and back at the black individual and reply with ‘But we all deserve to eat…’ and go back to eating their meals – while the black person is still left waiting with no meal. BlackLivesMatter
Why do you think it is important for us to be protesting here in London?
I believe it to be crucial. I see it as the first piece to fall and create the domino effect of the Black Lives Matter movement outside the US and I’m glad to see it’s moved to Berlin and I hope it progresses through Europe and eventually into a global movement. It’s important as black people to come together and discuss these issues; we may not experience the same amount of deaths and police brutality in comparison to the US because of our gun laws, but we still need to stand with our brothers and sisters and above all, stand in solidarity.
Why did you go to the Black Lives Matter London marches?
I went because for the first time in my young adult life I have felt actively part of something. I have felt united to others regardless of my complexion, there was nothing separating us on that march, we all marched together in solidarity, and for the first time ever I saw all backgrounds united together shouting holding hands and speaking out together. It was Inspirational.
How would you describe the atmosphere?
The atmosphere was motivational, the initial idea in my mind when I read the descriptions on social media of these peaceful marches were to grieve in solidarity for the deaths of the two men murdered in 48hours.
But it turned into a protest and joint outrage of these deaths, we claimed our spaces and our rights as we marched the streets; we made sure we were being heard, we were having intense conversations, there were young children with their mothers chanting, people would stop and stare, or joined with their fists held high. Bus drivers would honk their horns in solidarity and cars would stop to let us pass. It was a symbolic movement, there was no resistance from police officers and the reception was one of respect from the crowd. It was an overall inspiring and eventful experience and even though the events that brought us all together were extremely painful and traumatising , no tears fell during that march, we all laughed and chanted and held hands and spread our sense of unity and love and appreciation of our lives and of one another and of our heritage. It was beautiful.
What do you think needs to happen next?
I strongly believe that we need to take the next step from the marches to boycott as many US commercial companies as we can in the UK. As Black Lives Matter is also a political movement I believe most of our power to change and challenge social structures, our power resides in our pockets and in where we spend our money. We need to support our local black businesses and we need to gather more and form part of community circles to continue our conversations and strategically organise ourselves and be actively engaged. We don’t want more black people in America to feel like they are ‘one gun shot away from becoming a hashtag’. We must not let this die down, we are at breaking point and something has to give.