I want to do more than post a “black square”.
Category : Uncategorized
Like many of you reading this, I posted a simple black square on instagram yesterday, 2nd June 2020, but in doing so I admit to feeling a little bit uncomfortable. Since yesterday I’ve been thinking about wanting to do more than just post that square.
Like all of you, I have been horrified by the recent events and by the death of George Floyd and I feel that I want to show some solidarity with the millions of people affected by oppression and injustice all over the world.
But, I’m asking myself what on earth can I do and what gives me the right to think I am qualified to write anything on this subject?
I am a privileged white woman, living in rural Scotland and working in the equestrian industry (more of that later). I have no personal experience of oppression and I am confident that I will never be judged negatively by, those in “authority”, on the colour of my skin. I am totally unqualified to write about this BUT I feel like I want to and therefore that’s what I’m doing.
I have just spent a few minutes scrolling through my Instagram feed and there is NOT ONE SINGLE photograph of a person with coloured skin…..NOT ONE.
I then chose two small equestrian clothing brands, two large ones and two equestrian photography businesses and scrolled through their websites looking for faces of people with dark coloured skin – NOT ONE! I’ll say that again – NOT ONE!! NB this wasn’t a “scientific” survey just a quick look for the purposes of this post.
I don’t for one minute believe that young people with dark coloured skin have no interest in horses, horse riding and all the fun that goes along with equestrian sport so why are they apparently completely absent? I don’t know the answer and I am not really qualified to speculate but I suspect that it is to do with equality, opportunity and, to some extent, an unconscious racism.
I also don’t believe that the owners of the businesses I looked at are consciously and deliberately aiming purely at white people but I do think it’s time for all of us working in the equestrian industry to ask ourselves some challenging questions.
So what can I do and what can we all do? I don’t know what we can do on a large scale but I would like to suggest a couple of things we might do on a personal level. Again, I stress, that I don’t consider myself to really be qualified to write on this subject but I am speaking from my heart here.
The first thing which comes to my mind is the well known phrase adopted by Friends of the Earth in the 1970’s, and obviously related to the environmental movement, “Think globally and act locally” and in this context the local action comes down to the behaviour of individuals.
What I can choose to do is to challenge myself daily to become aware of those situations where I might judge another person on their appearance and make unconscious assumptions based on that judgement. I like to think that I don’t judge people on their appearance, after all I am a trained therapist working with all sorts of different people, but I think I probably do, unconsciously, and I intend to work hard to be aware of this and make changes where needed. If I start with the people I am meeting locally then that can only have a positive effect.
If EVERY person reading this chooses to challenge themselves in the same way then maybe, just maybe, together we can start a ripple of change?
The second thing I can do locally is to challenge other’s throwaway remarks which might reflect prejudice against people based on their background, colour and appearance. I don’t want to antagonise my friends and acquaintances but if I challenge people kindly then perhaps I can raise awareness and I think YOU could probably do that too.
The final thing I can do is to investigate ways that I can support genuine movements which campaign against oppression and in favour of real justice for all. And this is something which YOU can do as well.
Some reading this may question why I have written on this subject and that’s OK. It just felt like the right thing for me to do today.
Thank you for reading this.