We Still Can’t Breathe: Channeling Our Rage to Action

During the past two weeks, we have had hundreds of new followers on our social media accounts. As much as we would like to believe it is all related to the launch of our short documentary on our decolonial resistance efforts with comrades/siblings in Kenya, we are very aware it is also to do with what is currently occurring in the US following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police. 

So we will begin by saying we are devastated by yet another murder of a Black man. In the murder of Black people, the US continues to produce the consequences of a white supremacist system. In February we lost Ahmaud Arbery. This month we’ve also lost Tony McDade, a Black Trans man murdered by Florida police officers and Breonna Taylor, shot in her own home by police in  Kentucky. Solidarity with our Afrikan American siblings. 

The oppression and destruction of Black and Brown bodies is global. The use of state forces against the most marginalised is global. The narrative of white liberals believing that we’re somehow better than the US is false and self deceiving. Just earlier this month we saw the shocking footage of police tasering Desmond Ziggy Mombeyarara  in front of his young son. Yesterday we learned the news that Belly Mujinga’s death will not receive any further action. Sean Rigg, Sheku Bayoh, Sarah Reed, Mzee Mohammed, Christopher Alder (and many many more) have all been murdered while in police custody in the UK. This is not only a problem of individual police officers, but an institutional problem. This is also exemplified by how the force can be unaccountable . 

The new powers given to the police in the wake of the pandemic has meant that Black people are 54% more times likely to be fined during lockdown and suffer from the excessive use of force. We always knew this would be the case which is why many anti racist organisations campaigned against them. 

We are four times more likely to die of COVID-19. 

We have seen people outraged and frustrated, and moving to claim solidarity but this needs to last longer than the newscycle – our lives depend on it. We are also aware there are some who are willing and want to do something but are unsure about where to start. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Follow, join, interact with anti-racist orgs. Check out that they’re lived experience led and not of the white saviour kind. These organisations can do more harm than good. Beware of orgs that are ‘personality led’. Those thirsty for the front can get in the way of real change. If there are no current active groups near you, organise and start one (and research, learn from, connect to & build upon the history of activism in your ends). Link your org and actions with others. Collective action is the only action. 

2. If you are Black/Brown, from a migrant-background, and feeling triggered and traumatised by the images/stories out there, It’s ok to step back and refuse the emotional labour of educating others. Seek spaces that can assist your repair. Collective repair is resistance. 

3. Hold systems to account. Hold cultures to account. Racism isn’t one person. It is historical and systematic. The lack of access to healthcare, housing, education, and employment have been embedded into the fabric of a racialised capitalist society for a long time. Change harmful systems to change society. 

4. Do not expend energy on trying to convince white supremacy that we’re humans. If they didn’t know that before it’s not your job to help them with that now. 

5. Solidarity can take many forms. Continuously reflect on your positionality, pledge on what you will do and can do and do not demand answers from an already traumatised community. Hold yourself and your surroundings accountable, learn from it and do better.

RJN is a lived-experience informed & led anti-racist organisation whose work focuses predominantly on racially minoritised communities who feel the full brunt of racism and the legacies of colonialism. Can you offer dedicated time to learn, share and organise with others? Support our work with:

  1. Stop the Scan campaign: help us demand the end of police use of biometric fingerprint machines connected to the Home Office database and a firewall between the Home Office and police be installed. Join the Yorkshire Resists collective in resisting the UK governments Hostile Environment racist anti-migrant policies. 
  2. Finding resources to support our regional and international efforts including opportunities on public platforms.
  3. Join our public forums and let us know how you will use your anger to fuel your antiracist efforts, how you will channel your anger over the ongoing murder of Black people in the US and around the world.
  4. Donate to support the protesters in Minnesota and elsewhere, but also donate to support our work, and the work of other anti-racist organisations in the UK.

“When you’ve been silenced and hurting so long, all that you’re left with is a scream.”

Brazilian sister at Women in Movement Dialogue Conference in Rio De Janeiro, 2019. 

Rest In Power George Floyd

Article by Desiree Reynolds, Dr. Laura Loyola, Peninah Wangari-Jones and Dr. Remi Joseph-Salisbury

8 thoughts on “We Still Can’t Breathe: Channeling Our Rage to Action

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