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Why I Fully Support the Black Lives Matter Movement

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Black Lives Matter is gaining more attention again recently. And I’m hoping it won’t simply be a trend that people will forget about in a few weeks. (Though it already looks that way.)

Because it’s important for non-Black people (white or not) to support the movement if it’s to be successful. Black people themselves obviously don’t forget about the importance of Black lives. But sadly, if the rest of us don’t continually work towards anti-racism change won’t come.

There has been a lot of social media support for the movement recently with hashtags such as #BlackOutTuesday. I’ve shared my thoughts on my Instagram from the perspective of a Muslim woman because I feel it’s especially important for people from other marginalized communities to speak up. Because sadly, I’ve seen some of us center our own problems at this time, and that’s completely inappropriate.

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What can non-Black people from minority ethnic backgrounds do? (Part 1) 1. We need to acknowledge our non-Black privilege. We are quick to claim proximity to Black people, and most of us support Black people’s struggles. However, we are not addressing our own privilege in comparison to Black people. While we do experience discrimination in the fields of education, employment, and housing, we are not getting murdered by police on a regular basis. This doesn’t mean our issues aren’t real, but we do need to acknowledge our own privileges if we want to be part of the solution. 2. Address anti-Blackness in our own communities. It’s important to acknowledge that anti-Blackness is not exclusive to Western cultures but exists in other communities as well. When we don’t talk about issues such as colorism, blackfacing, and other forms of discrimination in our communities we’re not better than those from the dominant group who refuse to do the same. 3. Speak out. Symbolic gestures don’t go far enough. Hashtags and photos are the equivalent of cheering for healthcare workers. While they let people know you acknowledge their struggles they don’t affect actual change. Speaking out does. So when someone makes racist comments around you say something. Yes, even if it means you have to get into an argument with your grandmother who “doesn’t know better.” (If you don’t speak out you’re also denying them the opportunity to change and become part of the solution.) – 4. Consider the immense work that Black people have done and how it has benefited us and realize that we need to give back. In Europe, in particular, those of us from marginalized communities have always been able to look to Black people, specifically in the US, to provide education and examples to us. My generation, in particular, has been heavily influenced by Black authors, Black rappers, and Black movements. They have been very helpful in shaping our own views of ourselves and the world we live in. It’s time we acknowledge this not only as a way to compare our situations but also to say that part of the struggles we have been fighting in Europe (but also in North America) have been fought for us by Black people.

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Only a few days ago, a German Muslim television program did an episode on racism on the occasion of George Floyd’s murder. But the entire 20-minute episode focused on Islamophobia with an interview with the secretary-general of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (who is not Black).

When a Muslim tv program that definitely mentions Islamophobia in other instances doesn’t use this moment to talk about anti-Black racism within Muslim communities something’s wrong. While we also experience discrimination it’s not the same as the experiences Black people face. And unfortunately, they deal with a lot of it within our communities.

We need to understand and acknowledge our own privilege. That doesn’t mean our problems aren’t real.

But right now the discussion concerns anti-Black racism. And in order to become part of the solution we also have to open our eyes and see that we are not the ones at the bottom of the social hierarchy.

During the current pandemic it might be safer for many of us to voice our support online, be it through blog posts or on social media.

But we also have to take it beyond the internet and have difficult conversations in real life.

Because guess what, it’s not Black people that need to do anything for racism to go away.

It’s non-Black people who benefit from racism in one way or another. We need to change.

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What can non-Black people from minority ethnic backgrounds do? (Part 2 – check out my last post for part 1) – 5. Seek information primarily from Black sources, and acknowledge that this is where the information comes from (referring back to point 4). When you want to learn about music you speak to someone who knows music, when you need insights into chemistry you speak to someone who has studied chemistry. Why anyone would think that it’s logical to ask non-Black people about the experiences of Black people is beyond me. To clarify, this does not mean you ask people to educate you, but there is so much information already out there that you can study. 6. Amplify Black voices. This is a mandatory step along with the previous five. You cannot become part of the solution if you don’t use your platform (however small it may be) to direct people to those who are by default more knowledgeable than you. 7. Be aware of the diversity among Black people. Listen to Black Muslim women, listen to Black disabled persons, listen to Black LGBTQI persons, etc. Read about the experiences of Black people in other parts of the world to understand that this is a global issue. Also consider people who don’t have an immense following. For information in French follow @rokhayadiallo, for German follow @vegan_rebel_, for Spanish @andriuss, Dutch @kozwartepiet, Portuguese @joacine_katar_moreira, Swedish @blacklivesmattersweden. Look for the right people to follow in your language. 8. Spend your money wisely. Not everyone may be able to donate right now due to financial insecurities caused by the pandemic. But even from an anti-capitalist standpoint we can agree that if we’re going to have to buy certain products it’s a better idea to buy them from Black-owned business that are working towards change.

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Because when we show our solidarity only against a “common enemy” but ignore racism in our own communities we are sweeping things under the rug and cannot be part of the solution. Racism in the Arab world or in South Asia is a very real problem and means that racism among NBPOC is as important to tackle as anywhere else.

Recognizing that anti-Blackness is a global problem is the only way we can fight it. As a Muslim woman, I’ve seen and heard a lot of anti-Blackness in Muslim communities (sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle).

Since Black people have no choice but to experience anti-Black racism on a regular basis, those of us who are not Black should have no choice but to work towards dismantling the racist system. We should not be allowed to ignore the issue, and we must hold each other accountable.

The Black Lives Matter movement is actually making it easy for us even though they don’t have to.

There is already so much information out there that we can use to educate ourselves and people in our communities. We don’t even have to look very far.

Black Lives Matter never meant that other lives don’t matter (whoever thinks so must ask themselves why they see it as an either-or), but it means that Black people have a right to be alive and not be threatened with being murdered for simply being Black.

I’ve always been a pretty outspoken person when it comes to values that are important to me. I have written about Orientalism in travel writing, defended my right to get political on this blog, and addressed some of the ridiculous things people say to Muslim women who don’t wear hijab. I see no reason why I shouldn’t also support #BlackLivesMatter. I also find positioning myself clearly helps me connect with like-minded individuals in the travel space, in particular, and weeds out those whose values don’t align with my own.

Taking Black Lives Matter Into the Travel Industry

You may be aware of the new initiative by the Black Travel Alliance which specifically tackles the lack of representation in the travel industry.

black lives matter black travel alliance accountability

Because police violence is only the logical conclusion of an entire system of oppression and lack of representation of Black people. Because when you don’t see Black people represented in various roles and positions in every industry you subconsciously might value their lives less than non-Black lives.

That’s why I support the Black Lives Matter movement and am trying to use the small platform I have to be vocal about it.

What are some ways we can support the Black Lives Matter movement? Do you know of any initiatives in different industries that try to make a positive impact?

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Lily | imperfect idealist
    July 2, 2020 at 7:32 pm

    I think your point about other marginalized groups focusing only on their problems is a really important one. I feel like many minority groups in the US are using the excuse “we were discriminated against but overcame it, so why can’t they?” to not engage in the BLM movement. The thing is that those struggles can’t be compared at all, and it’s totally true that there’s racism within these groups too (as a Chinese-American, I know that Chinese people can be pretty racist and ignorant of the systemic racism towards the Black community, all while being vocal about anti-Asian discrimination). Thanks for continuing the conversation and talking about important topics on your blog – encourages me to do more of that myself!

    • Reply
      Nina Ahmedow
      July 3, 2020 at 3:02 pm

      Thank you for your comment, Lily! I always appreciate your input. Let’s hope the conversation continues and goes deeper.

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