To those that believe the UK isn’t racist, those offended by violent protesters, and those that still care about Madeline McCann.

In addition to stories of police brutality in America, I have also followed the shocking censorship (or rather silence) of the Western media in response to massacres, shootings in schools/hospitals and genocides that occur on a daily basis in the Middle East, that are not to be found broadcasted anywhere in the media in the UK. This is something I feel so strongly about and desperately wish was trending as much as Black Lives Matter is.

Just 3 weeks ago there was a horrific and inhumane shooting in a maternity hospital in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, where all nurses, mothers and newborns were brutally shot and murdered. In this shooting, gunmen entered and attacked a hospital of pregnant women, women in labour, women who had just given birth, their newborn babies and the nurses caring for them. There are petrifying images that can be found online of the floors and walls of the maternity unit covered in the blood of murdered newborn babies and mothers. But such a barbaric cruel shooting, targeting mothers and children, and innocent blood shed was not the only horrifying occurrence to come from the attack.

On the day it happened, a google search of the incident only showed 3-4 articles reporting the massacre and these were only Middle Eastern newspapers, whilst the BBC news headlines were broadcasting street parties in the UK for VE Day. There was a complete silence from the West and absence of coverage of a story that shocked even a country that has endured decades of bloodshed and tens of thousands of civilian deaths. As someone who was reading the few articles that were published online, it was shocking and sickening to say the least.

The attack happened around 12th May and the first article reporting it on BBC news was on 17th May. Had this been an attack on a maternity hospital in the West where white mothers and newborns were killed, I can say with certainty it would have made the headlines within seconds, just like story of the Notre Dame fire did. What shocks me to my absolute core and sickens me to the pit of my stomach, is that a google search of the Notre Dame fire right now shows the latest article on it was no longer than 1 day ago, despite it happening in April and describing the burning of a building, not humans. This Afghan massacre shooting nurses, mothers and babies was 3 weeks ago, and the article are ALL dated back to then:

This makes clear that the destruction of a piece of architecture in the West holds more value and worth than the murder and mutilation of 24+ women and infants in the Middle East. I still struggle to believe that, in 2020, this is the world we live in; a world in which a cry in the West in loud enough to drown the bloodshed and horrors of lost lives in an entire nation in the East. Kate McCann’s face has been painted across every newspaper front page yesterday and today and has been for 13 years, but where are the faces of the destroyed mothers who survived the vile attack, that did not even have the chance to hold their newborns before they were murdered at the hands of gunmen? Let alone the decades of faces of tens and thousands of mothers in war torn countries that fear for their children’s safety daily. Why is white middle-class Kate McCann’s misery so much more significant than those each and every one of those individual mothers, who go unnamed and unidentified.

Mothers from such countries as Afghanistan and Syria often send their children to the UK as refugees or immigrants in search of safety and a better life, as the mother of Shukri Abdi did. Shukri Abdi was a 12-year-old girl who was a refugee, she was black and she was Muslim. She had not made friends like the other children in her class, and experienced nothing but cruel and racist treatment from the moment she arrived in this country, OUR country. In 2019, her fellow classmates persuaded her to go with them after school and took her to a nearby river. They dared her to go in, knowing full well she couldn’t swim. They threatened to kill her if she didn’t. Then the group of girls began to drag her in by her scarf and laughed as she struggled and drowned that day in the River Irwell in Greater Manchester, where her body was found. Greater Manchester Police said it was treating what happened as a “tragic incident” and did not believe there were any suspicious circumstances, dismissing the case immediately, for no other evident reason but the fact that she was a black refugee child, and not white middle class. (The petition for justice for Shukri Abdi can be found here – please do take the time to sign).

It is apparent for anyone to see the difference between how the case of Madeline McCann was handled (and still is today) and how the case of Shukri Abdi was handled. Once again, there are countless up-to-date articles on Madeline McCann found on google, no older than a few hours despite her being kidnapped 13 years ago in 2007, whereas news articles on Shukri Abdi are all (except one) dated from before February despite her being murdered last year in 2019:

Her family were new to the country, first arriving in the UK in 2017, optimistic and hopeful of better and safer living conditions from their hometown in Somalia. Yet they were oblivious of the evil of institutional racism to which they were about to fall victim, which would murder their innocent 12-year-old daughter. Below is a thread from a student who attended the same school as Shukri Abdi, describing the full account in detail:

Those who complain daily of the supposedly unjustified violent behaviour of the current protests and how anxious is it making them seeing neighbourhoods and buildings being destroyed, ask yourself this; if that was your daughter who drowned in the river that day, would you politely be asking the police to reconsider their decision, or rather, would you not burn the entire country down? If you had endured years and years of systematic oppression and prejudice as a result of your race and the colour of your skin, would you not show the same anger and exhaustion at your oppressive institution.

The opinion of protesters as violent will come to a swift end when you put yourselves in the shoes of those who have suffered their entire lives. Once you come to realise that daughters, sons, mothers, fathers and entire families have been murdered and killed at the hands of racists acts with no justice served, you will also come to realise that throwing glass bottles at police horses is a rather trivial manifestation of their anger. You would look more towards their desperate struggle and fight for change that has been tirelessly ongoing for generations in this country, which people mistakenly believe to be culturally and racially inclusive.


A #blacklivesmatter misconception.

Whilst I believe broadcasting something I feel so strongly about online can never properly convey the meaningfulness and severity of the message, I couldn’t not write my thoughts down on this one.

Much to the misunderstanding of many people online, anti-racism isn’t a social media campaign. A large misconception is that what makes you anti-racist is posting a black square and hashtagging BLM on social media, which categorizes you as an advocate of the movement with no changes to your state of mind and the way you then continue to live your life. Being anti-racist has do with your own inherent beliefs in change for discrimination and anger towards injustice. Being anti-racist is a life long commitment. It is not reposting images because everyone else is, and not because it’s now a trend to hashtag #blacklivesmatter. It means you post the things you do, if that is your way of expressing your support, unprovoked by mass conduct and at your own accord. It means independently speaking up in situations of racial discrimination that you may encounter because you desperately believe in and want justice for inequality. It means wilfully signing the multitude of online petitions and voluntarily donating to the George Floyd memorial fund and Minnesota freedom fund pages, not because you’ve been tagged in an Instagram challenge to and post a screenshot proving it. You do not become anti-racist just by advocating so on Instagram, and even more confusingly, you certainly do not become complicit by not posting on social media.

I personally feel like a lot (not all) of social media activity is performative activism that, is amazing for raising awareness, information and education, but in terms of being actionable is simply an ineffective ‘I’ve posted therefore I’ve contributed’ attitude. I significantly struggle to see how a black square can be said to stand up for 400 years of slavery, oppression, police brutality and murder. What’s worse is that it is giving those participating a very twisted saviour complex that they’re projecting onto others through posting quotes such as ‘if you are silent you have chosen the side of the oppressor’, implying that sharing an Instagram post somehow makes that person’s support better than that of someone else’s who hasn’t posted. Not once have I felt the need to announce my support on social media, and THAT IS FINE. People who are posting things like ‘silence is complicity’, you are completely right, but silence is ignoring the petitions and abstaining from protesting and donating, not posting on social media is not silence. More importantly, posting alone does not make you an advocate of the cause, if all you have done is posted a black square, you have done the bare minimum.

I have followed the racially discriminatory stories of police brutality in America far before the past week, and whilst George Floyd’s death was sickening and hard to watch, it was not the first. However the difference this time is that white people are waking up to the brutal reality and barbarity of racism and the fact that it is more than ever prevalent today as it was generations ago. I am in no way condemning or belittling the support of these people, it is great to see social media flooded with petitions to sign and fund me pages to donate to, as well as the wealth of information and education that was nowhere to be found before. But the truth is, until now these very people who have not spoken up before in their lifetime or done so much as share a post on systematic racism have been, whether intentionally or subconsciously, ignorant and complicit to the racism around them. I can’t help but wonder; would you have spoken up at your own accord in response to racism, or are you now reposting stories and posts because #blacklivesmatter is trending?

The distressing truth is that not even half of those currently advocating anti-racism online would be doing so if George Floyd was just another name on the list of black men who have died at the hands of white supremacy. I am in no way trivialising the remarkable solidarity amongst us during this time. But the killing of Eric Garner by New York policemen and the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin epitomize this; their stories are now being dug up by white people realising the horrifying reality of those deaths, unaware of the fact people of colour have grown up with these stories. Racism has dominated our entire lives through perpetual micro-aggressions. You might have unintentionally been ignorant of the prevalence of racism until now, but that is your very privilege in action, because you have been ABLE to ignore it, whilst POC have had no choice but to see the people of their country and community be dehumanised and brutalised, time and time again. So forgive us for being angry and for not applauding your #blackouttuesday post. But whilst your white parents were protecting 9-year-old you from the horrors of these racist attacks, ethnic minority groups have grown up exposed to and being taught of these atrocities you are now discovering.

But what I also wonder, is that those that have taken it upon themselves to spend the past week posting black squares and Martin Luther King quotes, will you continue to be outraged and educate yourself in the same way you are doing now for the remainder of your privileged lives? When #blacklivesmatter is no longer trending and Instagram goes back to being apolitical and devoid of the racial activism that is currently flooding the internet and city streets, will you continue the conversation and carry on preaching what you have learnt in this time to those that are ‘tired of talking about it’? I hope from the bottom of my heart that this isn’t just a short-lived trend that people are participating in because we are at the height of the movement, but rather something they continue to believe in and want to change by donating and signing petitions, even when the hashtags subside. I hope people never lose awareness, like so many people before us have after historic revolutions like this, only for life to return back to its usual state of ignorance and complicity. And I hope people remember that this movement exists, has existed and will exist outside the social media quotes and posts, in the daily lives of POC, and that they continue to stand up for it.