Posting a black square on Instagram just didn't feel right at the time. I didn't want to do what everyone else was doing, tick a box and move on with life.
I've been on a social media break for the last three months. COVID-19, worrying about family back in South Africa, home schooling and running a business left me exhausted and overwhelmed so I figured one less thing vying for my attention would be a good thing.
But when the Black Lives Matter movement began to gain momentum following the murder of George Floyd, it became clear that there was another pandemic going on that has been right under our noses for hundred of years.
"I can't breath" is a culture of oppression. And there is no 'taking a break' from the magnitude and importance of the Black Lives Matter movement
Just to be totally clear, I consider myself anti-racist, and I'm still in active learning mode. I'm only beginning to understand the role that I play as a white woman and ally, and am committed to taking long-term action and doing the work.
This is not just a topic to Google, read a few articles about and file under 'personal development'.
It requires a lifetime of work, and its an internal job first.
So that's where I've started.
Reading books and articles, listening to podcasts, watching talks and documentaries, learning and unlearning.
Growing up in post-Apartheid South Africa, I thought I understood racism and was uncomfortable with my own white privilege. One of the reasons I wanted to move to a progressive city like London was to raise our son in what I felt was a more inclusive and multiracial society.
Many of our big life choices have revolved around him growing up without the same level of white privilege bestowed upon white people back home.
I really enjoy doing the school run and the international feel of his community school... 48 languages are spoken by the parents and children. And when I get home I work with clients, most of whom are women, many of whom come from different backgrounds to me.
So my little work-life bubble didn't feel too homogeneous. Until I started looking more carefully.
Who's in my circle of influence? Who am I learning from? Who are these businesses that I support supporting? Do they have PoC in their memberships and programmes, on their panels and on their podcasts? Are they inclusive in their marketing and create a sense of belonging?
And if not, WHY?
I realised that I've been getting things wrong, and that it's not good enough.
My perspective began to change and my mindset shifted from thinking, "I don't know enough, I don't want to say the wrong thing" to thinking, "It's not about me, it's about what I can do"
How can I show up better for my own clients? How can I educate them about algorithmic bias, how to be more inclusive in their marketing and create a sense of belonging on their own website? (And this isn't about finding a stock photo of a black person and sticking it on their website).
There is a part for everyone to play, and you get to choose how you show up, and what kind of person you want to be.
Just a few ideas to get your thinking about what you can do:
March in the streets
Share resources with friends
Address racism when you witness it
Ask questions when you see a lack of diversity
Research local politics and use your citizenship to advocate for change
Get involved in the local community
Buy from and support black owned businesses
Help to educate those around you about racism
Hold companies accountable for not being inclusive
It's never too late. Keep the conversation going.
Diving into the world of anti-racism for the first time can be confronting. It may feel challenging to understand your place and where to begin with educating yourself. Luckily, there are endless resources online to help you learn about anti-racism work, dismantle the unconscious biases that exist within yourself, and take action to create a more just society. This document is a compilation of resources and educators that have and continue to help me - Tiffany Bowden.
I truly believe that this ongoing work is a journey of empathy and care for humanity, individually and collectively. We must engage if we want to do intentional anti-racism work in our families, our classrooms, our conversations, our meetings, our community, our country, and our world - Tasha K.
Technology should serve all of us. Not just the privileged few. Join the Algorithmic Justice League in the movement towards equitable and accountable AI.