If you haven’t seen the harrowing video of the last minutes of his life, you will know his name by now. George Floyd, a 46-year-old security guard from Texas, was killed on Monday after a Minneapolis police officer named Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for at least seven minutes while arresting him for allegedly using a counterfeit bill at a local deli.
‘I can’t breathe,’ Floyd is heard sobbing in the video, pleading with the officer and saying ’I’m about to die… don’t kill me.’ Taunting him, the officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for four minutes are he appeared unresponsive, only lifting it when emergency medical services arrived and put him on a stretcher. Paramedics performed chest compressions on what the Minneapolis Fire Department noted was a ‘unresponsive, pulseless male’.
The recordings of his murder have rightly enraged protesters around the world, on social media and in real life, with police responding with rubber bullets and teargas to disperse growing crowds around Minneapolis. The four officers present at the arrest have been fired, but justice has not yet been served. Floyd’s family have called for them to be tried for murder.
People are angry, and rightly so, but for white people, it’s not enough to turn Floyd’s name into another trending hashtag and tweet about how wrong this all is. There is more work to be done – and it's time we had a conversation about it.
Address your privilege
You may think you have a grip on what white privilege is – that is, the societal benefits that come with having white skin – but if you don’t think it infiltrates every aspect of how you live your life and that doesn’t make you angry, you don’t have a strong enough grip.
It’s not just that white people are more represented in the media or less likely to face police brutality or more likely to get a job they want, it’s never having to think about how the colour of your skin makes people treat you differently. It’s feeling protected rather than afraid of police.
If you can know all of that and not be angry, upset or frustrated, that in itself is privilege. If you can read everything about George Floyd and not attempt to do something about it, that is privilege.
And in turn, addressing our privilege means addressing our internalised racism and thus the fact that because we were all raised in a racist society, racism exists in all of us. Florence Given said it well in her Instagram post. ‘Racism isn't “out there” in “those” white people; its inside all of us. Yes, me. Yes, you. In the more covert, insidious ways that it shows up in our everyday normalised behaviour.’
Talk to your friends and family about race
Doing something about it doesn’t just mean tweeting or signing a petition – which are also valid forms of protest – it means taking what you know about racism into your everyday life and everyday conversations. Just by having more conversations about racism with your white friends, you could be unknowingly educating someone and igniting more fire behind the fight against it. Having uncomfortable conversations with your problematic friends or colleagues may not be easy, but it’s the least we can do. And if you want to understand more about how to do this, there are endless resources available to help facilitate those conversations.
Whether it’s through reading books, paying for courses or following the gracious people that continue to educate the world on racism, there are tons of resources available to understand the way racism infiltrates every fibre of our society and your own responsibility within that system.
It’s not the job of your black friend or colleague to educate you on why something is problematic, to expect someone to perform the emotional labour of rehashing their own daily trauma and troubles for your personal education. Yes, some of your friends may be happy to have these conversations, but they also come with an emotional burden that you should address beforehand. But ultimately, it’s your job to do the work, read the books and pay the people who are offering those services already.
People you can follow on social media who offer such services include Rachel Rickets (@iamrachelricketts), Layla F. Saad (@laylafsaad), Rachel Cargle (@rachel.carge), Sassy Latte (@sassy_latte) and Sharyn Holmes (@sharynaholmes).
Or, you can read these books.
Books White People Need To Read - Grazia
Girl, Woman, Other
Winner of the 2019 Booker Prize, Girl Woman Other follows a cast of twelve black British women on their personal journeys through this country and the last hundred years.
Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World
'A blistering expose of how entrenched white privilege is in modern society, Layla Saad's Me and White Supremacy blog dug deep into the - often unconscious – racial prejudice which many white people took completely for granted,' writes Waterstones. 'Packed with practical exercises and enlightening socio-political context, the book of the blog offers numerous ways of transforming the discourse surrounding institutionalised racism.
Loud Black Girls
An important and timely anthology of black British writing, edited and curated by the authors of the highly acclaimed, ground-breaking Slay In Your Lane. Slay in Your Lane Presents: Loud Black Girls features essays from the diverse voices of over twenty established and emerging black British writers. Pre-order it now for it's September release.
Slay In Your Lane
Illustrated with stories from best friends Elizabeth Uviebinené and Yomi Adegoke's own lives, and using interviews with dozens of the most successful black women in Britain, Slay In Your Lane is essential reading for a generation of black women inspired to find success in every area of their lives. It started a vital conversation upon it's release and is a must-read.
Slay In Your Lane: The Journal
With Slay in Your Lane Elizabeth Uviebinené and Yomi Adegoke started a national conversation. Now they want you to join them in making changes.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race
'A charged and necessary wake-up call to pervasive, institutionalised racism, Renni Eddo-Lodge's searing polemic reconstitutes the frame of the argument around race, removing it from the hands of those with little experience of its resonances,' writes Waterstones. 'From ambient and lazy cultural stereotyping to open hostility, Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race is a clarion call of understanding.'
Taking Up Space
As a minority in a predominantly white institution, taking up space is an act of resistance. Cambridge grads Chelsea and Ore experienced this first-hand, and wrote Taking Up Space as a guide and a manifesto for change.
When They Call You A Terrorist
This is the first memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors, one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. It's one of those crucial reads that you'll struggle to forget about any time soon, which is a good thing, trust us. It tells the story of the movement and the people who survived the years of that prompted it.
Donate to anti-racism causes
Right now, there’s an official George Floyd memorial fund to which you can donate to help his family. There’s also an online petition here calling for the officers who killed Floyd to be charged with murder.
There are also countless other causes in the fight to end racism that you could donate to. In the UK, there’s Show Racism The Red Card, Stop Hate UK, Runnymede and in the US there’s Black Lives Matter and NIOT.
Charities To Support - Grazia
Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust
Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust works with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds aged 13 to 30 to inspire and enable them to succeed in the career of their choice
Peace and Healing for Darnella Fund
Darnella Frazier, the brave young woman who filmed the murder of George Floyd, deserves peace and healing. In addition to the trauma of watching a black man be murdered by police, she has had to deal with trolls, bullies and ignorant people harassing her online. This fund is to support the healing and the restoration of hope for Darnella Frazier —whatever that means to her.
Justice for Jacob Blake Fund
Set up by Blake's mother, this fund will cover his medical expenses, mental and grief counseling for his family and to assist them in the days to come, as they continue to seek justice for Jacob. A portion of these proceeds will also be used to benefit his six children.
Milwaukee Freedom Fund
MFF was started by Black and Brown Milwaukee organizers to support residents' right to protest for justice. Donations help support their work helping protesters and community mutual aid and start a locally controlled and operated Milwaukee Bail Out Fund that is part of the National Bail Out Network. Through this work they will build on ongoing bail abolition efforts, support immigration efforts, work towards Black and Brown Liberation and support Black and Brown young people as they build a new world.
George Floyd Memorial Fund
This fund covers his funeral and burial expenses, mental and grief counseling for the family, lodging and travel for all court proceedings and to assist the family in the days to come as they continue to seek justice for George. A portion of these funds will also go to the Estate of George Floyd for the benefit and care of his children and their educational fund.
Minnesota Freedom Fund
The MFF is working with the US National Lawyers Guild and Legal Rights Center to help bails that are set for protestors.
Prison Reform Trust
Prison Reform Trust works to make the prison system in the UK just, humane and effective.
Joint Council For The Welfare Of Immigrants
The JCWI aims to create a world in which immigration law and policy are based on sound evidence, promote the rule of law and are underpinned by respect for human rights and human dignity
Helps reduce BME youth unemployment, provide employment and training solutions for youth offenders and implement anti-gang initiatives in the community.
Charity So White
Tackles institutional racism in the charity sector.
Black Thrive works to reduce the inequality and injustices experienced by Black people in mental health services.
The Ubele Initiative
Supports the African diaspora community.
Women In Prison
Supports women affected by the criminal justice system and campaigns to end the harm of prison to women, their families and our communities.
Race On The Agenda (ROTA)
Race On The Agenda (ROTA) is a social policy research organisation focusing on issues that impact BAME communities.
Show Racism The Red Card
Provides educational workshops, training sessions, multimedia packages, and a whole host of other resources, all with the purpose of tackling racism in society.
The Equality Trust
Works to improve the quality of life in the UK by reducing economic and social inequality.
Stop Hate UK
A service for victims of racial harassment aiming to end hate crimes in the UK.
Generates intelligence to challenge race inequality in Britain through research, network building, leading debate, and policy engagement.
National Bail Out
This US charity is a Black-led and Black-centered collective of abolitionist organizers, lawyers and activists building a community-based movement to support our folks and end systems of pretrial detention and ultimately mass incarceration.
Black Lives Matter
This US organisation (for which there is a UK movement here) fights to end state-sanctioned violence, liberate Black people, and end white supremacy forever.
BEAM is a US training, movement building and grant making organization dedicated to the healing, wellness and liberation of Black and marginalized communities.
Ahmaud Arbery Memorial Fund
Ahmaud Arbery was chased and gunned down by Travis McMichael, son of retired Brunswick investigator Greg McMichael, under the father's and son's pretenses of witnessing a burglary in Satilla Shores of Glynn County. There is no evidence of the alleged burglary.
Belly Mujinga Memorial Fund
For the memorial of Belly Mujinga, the railway worker who was spat at before she died of Covid-19.
Write to your MP
You can write to your MP about any problem you have with the way our government tackles discrimination. You don’t have to wait for a racist incident to happen in your area to get angry, write to them now. Ask what the government is doing to end hate crimes, to educate people on racism, to improve diversity in parliament – where currently only one in ten of the 650 elected MPs are non-white. All of these are in England, with no black, asain or minority ethnic MPs in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Racism is not simply a problem for the US, as Tobi Oredein explained in Grazia back in 2016 after the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philano Castile. ‘America is an exaggerated version of everything that happens in the UK.
The burden of dismantling racism should not fall on the shoulders of those it continues to oppress. There is a conversation happening about white privilege now – and it's up to all of us to acknowledge it, learn from it and amplify it.