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  • Judy Ryde

Why white people should listen when black people protest

Read more....... It is well known that slavery and other exploitations of black people was a mass traumatisation of vast numbers of non-white people. This dates from when ‘England ruled the waves’ and from the very foundation of the United States of America. This has left a huge legacy which is still alive today. It has led to white people feeling, and behaving, as if they were superior, even if they close their minds and hearts to this, and black people feeling an injustice which has never properly been acknowledged or repaired. As I said in my last blog, Covid-19 has laid bare huge inequalities in our societies. In America a toxic mix of relative poverty, health inequalities and prejudice in the justice system has led a policeman feeling justifies in asphyxiating a black man with impunity. For black people, the sight of this atrocity calls up historical memories, such as images of black slaves being publicly hanged.. No wonder that anger, pain and outrage has spilled over on to the streets.

Often well-meaning white people feel helpless in the face of this great injustice. I sense through social media posts and other recent writing that more white people are becoming aware of this and wanting to act without knowing what would help. There is a temptation to ask black people what they want. This can be intensely irritating, as if the problem belongs to black people and that we, white people, are kind enough to want to help. This is our, white people’s, problem. Thoroughgoing acknowledgement and realistic and genuine reparations may go some way to show real contrition that could, possibly, lead to a society in which the whole idea of race might evaporate. It is, after all, a social construct without basis in biology. I have a chapter on reparation in my book ‘White Privilege Unmasked’ with ideas for individuals, organisations and governments.



Photograph courtesy of Shane Vincent

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