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We have to do better

by Emma Tattersall

Extract from Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad

I hope we all agree that the events of the last ten days have been a devastating reminder of the racism that exists in the US, the UK and all over the world.

I have been re-sharing a lot of content on this platform and in private, that I have been reading, learning from and listening to over the last ten days. The horrific murder of George Floyd has sparked a global movement of anger, grief, outrage and hope for a world where racism and inequality are not a part of the everyday.

We reviewed Why I am No Longer Talking to White People About Race on the LWL Shelf and having read the book, and worked with resources around it, I began my own journey to understand and unpick my own white privilege. First time around, I found reading the book uncomfortable and I became quickly defensive as I resisted ideas that being “colour-blind” or ignorant to the gaps in my education meant that I too was part of the problem. The book and Reni Eddo Lodge’s podcast shine a bright light on the structural racism that exists here in the U.K. and made me confront my own inaction and my huge lack of awareness of the issues so many POC face on a daily basis.

LWL is a platform, albeit a small one, but we still have a huge responsibility to ensure that the content we put out, the incredible women we feature, the books we review and the messages we dissipate do everything thing they can to make the world a better and fairer place for everyone.

I want to address the fact that we can do this better head on. And I am sorry this realisation is only coming now.

The point of this platform is to shine a light on the incredible things people are doing every day. Our focus (and priority) has always been to show a range of what that “incredible” could look like - from 89 year old retired school teachers to 18 year old climate change activists. I am so grateful to everyone who has come forward to share their story. The Launch Pad has become such a vibrant and inspirational space for me, and many others, because so many of you have submitted answers to our Launch Pad questionnaire. If you’re reading this and thinking the time may have come to share your own journey, or you know someone whose story needs to be told, then please please do get in touch or download the questionnaire using the link below.

While we will continue to shine a light on all that is great in the world, I have become acutely aware of the importance of using this space to also raise awareness of the unjust and the unfair. We need to use this platform to fight for causes and rights that, as a privileged (white, private school educated, cis gendered, heterosexual, able-bodied, neuro-typical) woman living in the UK, aren’t purely those I feel frustration at through my own lived experience. And I am not sure that I can honestly say we have been doing that so far.

This week I have been mindful of not wanting to speak out, instead focusing on listening to and learning from BAME men and women who express the obstacles, challenges and heartbreak they face each and every day. There are some incredibly helpful and informative resource lists available all over social media that we will continue to signpost to and that I have been heavily reliant on for guidance. The extract above is from Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad, which I am currently working my way through.

Taking in the powerful movement happening in the US, and here at home, I have realised that my ability to not engage with racism in everything I do is because of my whiteness and the privilege that comes with it. My failure to truly commit to supporting and driving change is because it’s not something I have had to think about every day. I have not taken enough time or put enough energy into using my voice, this platform and the space I occupy to not only amplify the experiences of others but to speak up and fight for change myself.

So that is exactly what I now need to do. My life (a wedding, a house move, a puppy, a baby) will always be a great excuse for having got in the way – but I commit here and now to not let this issue slip to the archives of the site until the next time when the work of others is the catalyst for me to speak up.

We have to ensure we share an equal number of stories from women of BAME backgrounds on the Launch Pad and the blog. We have to ensure that the books, podcasts and shows we review include those of BAME creatives in equal number. We have to ensure that any event we organise, or participate in as LWL, has a diverse speaker line up and is accessible to a wide-ranging audience. We must ensure that we have a growing team of contributors shaping the voice of LWL, who can use this space to amplify their own voices.

We will continue to speak about anti-racism on this site, but we want to also help provide resources, tools and ways for us all to work together to dismantle the systems and structures that disproportionately harm and hold back members of this network.

So please keep challenging me, please keep questioning us and please be prepared to work with us as we commit to taking action. We will make mistakes, but we will learn from them. We will do more and we will do it better.

Emma & the LWL Team

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