Dispelling Racism - The Choice Is Yours

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

    Growing up in Central London up until the age of eleven, I went to a school with children from over 75 different nationalities. 
I was wholly fortunate to be brought up within a family and community where race was introduced to me no differently to being told that some people have blue eyes and others have green, I studied Martin Luther King's speech aged seven and wrote extensive school projects about Mary Seacole, part of my 11+ entrance exam was to plan a campaign to abolish racism within young football clubs.
Nearly 50 years into laws against public racial discrimination within the UK being put into practice, this should be a natural and obvious common place, in the same way I was given extensive knowledge on white political leaders and white iconic figures through history.

Moving out of London in my early teens left me faced with an absurd amount of discovery into how ignorant and futile other people of my age were towards those who differed in colour and heritage to them. 
It seemed as utterly ludicrous to me then as it does now and whilst some might ignorantly claim the innocent naivety of youth upon those I encountered, you most certainly can't do that with what we're facing now.

Earlier today the news in Ferguson broke out that the white police offer that shot a young innocent black male dead was not to be charged.
Whilst I, like everyone else bar the two people involved, have no real understanding of what actually occurred, it's the lack of knowledge surrounding the case that is both insulting to the loss of a life and the misrepresentation of racial violence. 
Michael Brown's death is not a social anomaly and doesn't out lie statistically. 

It's received an incredible call for justice, citizens of war torn countries and international protestors took a moment out of their own issues to send messages of support and solidarity across all forms of press and social media. 
Where as for the most part, white people have been noticeably more reluctant to make a statement. 
This is obviously hugely generalised, I am by no means suggesting that whites have been silent, but it only took me a few moments to scan my Twitter and Facebook feeds to notice that over 85% of the posts put out weren't by my white counterparts. 
I truly believe this is because a large majority are scared.

I tend to write most of my blog posts in twenty minutes and press publish as soon as I've thrown my eyes over it half heartedly for spelling mistakes, but this one has had me push for extreme care and concern over all of my vocabulary and phrasing in fear of saying something remotely offensive even though I know in its genuine core and indeed my own, I'm not capable of doing so because my intentions are by no means to do so nor would I really know how to.
But the thought has still left my fingertips wavering over each key a little terrified.

This is the issue. 
A lot of people are worried they might offend others with their phrasing, they struggle to see the opening for meaningful conversation upon the issue because they themselves have not been directly involved with racial offence. 
Nor do they see an opportunity to speak out and for it to make a positive impact or any impact whatsoever. 
The majority probably also struggle to see their role in the fight of racism because they themselves aren't racist, they worry that addressing race in the first place might even make the situation worse and more uncomfortable. 
These fears are real and I understand them, but by accepting and not pushing through them, essentially results in the justification of white silence and inaction making the oppression and death of black people a serious real world issue. 

We need to start taking an active role as white people to fight and dispel racism as it's something that is destroying our communities and our brothers and sisters. 
Whilst it wasn't you or I who personally created it, we have a huge part in undoing racism because our heritage did and a large portion of our people support and maintain a serially racist system that benefits white people to the extreme detriment of those of colour. 

We should be using words that speak the truth about the disempowerment, oppression, disinvestment and racism that are rampant in our communities. 
Janee Woods recently wrote - 

'Black people are dying and it’s not your personal fault that black people are dying because you’re  white but if you don’t make a purposeful choice to become a white ally and actively work to dismantle the racist system running America for the benefit of white people then it becomes your shame because you are white and black lives matter. And if you live your whole life and then die without making a purposeful choice to become a white ally then American racism becomes your legacy.   
The choice is yours.' 


  1. Being from the St. Louis area, I agree with you on this whole heartedly. My heart hurts for my city and for the injustice that was served. The only thing I can hope for is that we all, together, keep the conversation going. Make it known that we want to bridge the divide our world still faces. Thanks, Charly.

  2. That quote by Janee Woods is SPOT ON. It's so true and what you've written is true too. It's important that white people are a part of the discussion on race and don't choose to just ignore it because it does not directly affect them and I hope that this discussion continues until it's resolved, however long that will take.

  3. Hello Charlie, I am a 19 year old black woman from Ga, USA. I agree to your blog post to some extent but first let me clear some things up. 1st Michael Brown was not innocent. According to what I have read, prior to being shot Michael Brown was caught on camera stealing from a convenience store. He even pushed the clerk on his way out the door. So yeah it wasn’t like there was an innocent black man walking down the street and a white police officer shot at him. 2nd Prior to the officer shoot Michael, he told him “ Stop, or I’ll shoot. Michael Brown then tried to grab the officer’s gun. The officer did what he had to in order to get the man off of him. Both of my parents are retired officers. My mother has even shot and killed someone because of self-defense. I don’t see this in the news? You know why? Because aside from the family not too many people cared or they probably understood the situation. Cops are humans too. They have lives. So I can understand the cops actions. My heart goes out to the Brown Family and friends but I understand. What I can’t understand is why all these people is calling it racism. The case was not racism. It was a police officer doing his job, but so many people are quick to use the race card. No one would have a batted an eye if the same situation occurred but if the officer was black and the victim was white or if they were both minorities. I don’t see people protesting about that? I don’t # trending on Twitter and Facebook? That because many black people are hypocritical. They yell “Racism” and shout “Injustice” but yet they are the same people that talk down on white or any race that is not black. Racism goes both ways. So many people I feel are behind this cause because they feel like if they don’t many people would call racist. Racism includes everyone whether they are black, white, Hispanic, Asian…etc. In order to stop it everyone needs to participate not just a few races or ethnicities. I love you blog Charlie and you are an inspiration to me.

    With Love,

    1. I would like to clear a few things up that you have wrote about in your post. 1. Mike Brown was innocent. They believed that he stolen from the store. The footage that they show makes it obivious that it is not Mike Brown in the Video. The guy in the video was wearing shorts and flip flop while Brown was not. 2. It is not to be believed that the officer and Brown had a struggle before he was shot. Brown was shot from 153 yards away. 3. The way the police department handled the entire investigation was completely wrong. They let Wilson check his own gun into evidence. Wilson also drove himself back to the department. He literally washed blood from his hands. They left Browns body in the street for 4.5 hours and when he was moved he was put in the back of an unmarked SUV. They did not take any crime scene photos and the first official interview the officer didn't record or take notes. Also, Wilsons accounts of what happened that day, along with the departments keeps changing.

      I'm not here to argue about what happened but just because main stream media is telling you something doesn't always mean that it is true. Also I should add that the prosecutor in this case didn't want to try this case. He did everything he could not to get Wilson charged.

      This case has way too many holes in it for people to think that Wilson is completely innocent. Oh, and to be someone of color you should know not to generalize an entire race because of what some people do.

    2. I'd also like to add that 16 witnesses testified that Mike Brown raised his arms and said "don't shoot" prior to being fired upon. Only 2 "witnesses" accounts match that of Darren Wilson's. The police went with the latter.

  4. Charly this is AMAZING!!! If we spread this message the world would be a much better place. Thanks for contributing to the world being as it should be:) xx Lots of love from New Zealand:)
    &btw, your writing style is so captivating, and your blog is by far one of the best I've seen. xx Love you Charly xox

  5. You do have some good points here but the matter at hand is that no one but that officer and Michael Brown really know what happened that day. Also I would like to add that Michael Brown was no innocent black youth. Prior to these events he robbed a convenience store, you can watch the footage where you see Brown shoving and physically intimidating the shop owner. What a standout guy. Although in the south where racism IS still present I do think that Blacks needs to take a proper stand for themselves not through looting and violence on the street which only furthers stereotypes some people may have of them. I would also like to point out that white men and other minorities also get killed my police here in the States but you don't see anything about that...
    People are making this a race thing when maybe it's really not, maybe the officer was really defending himself because from the look of it Brown was an aggressive person.
    This has more to do with how much power can we bestow on our police forces.

    1. Regardless of whether he was innocent or not, if you SUSPECT someone of robbing a store, you arrest them you don't shoot them 6 times. At the time Darren Wilson stopped Mike Brown he had no idea about the alleged robbing, he shot him for jay walking. Racism is an issue all around the world, not just the south of the USA. Looting and violence is obviously never a good idea, but worse damage has been done as the result of a sports team losing a game, by white people in affluent areas. In Ferguson they were protesting the loss of a human life which is obviously more important than a game. Imagine being subjecting to racism, discrimination and oppression everyday, for your entire life. Watching your friends and family being treated the same way. Knowing that this has been going on for generations. You'd probably feel a little frustrated and angry too. I could also argue that white police officers should stop shooting unarmed black men because that's not helping the stereotypes about them either. Black men are more like to be subjected to random police checks, more likely to be arrested, and spend more time behind bars than any other race. So with all due respect, this is a race issue.

  6. Hi!
    Although I commend you for being one of the few Brits who have acknowledged Ferguson, I think you've missed the point by shining a spotlight on white people and white allies. The job of an ally, a person with privilege, is to maximize the voice of the oppressed in matters that pertain to them. I'm sure you meant well, but there are plenty of black leaders in this movement that need help in getting their thoughts and words out, many of which are on twitter.
    To those saying that Mike wan't innocent, why is his humanity being put into question? A death is a death is a death. Now to the facts... the Ferguson police chief in August already stated that Darren Wilson didn't know about any encounter in the convenient store before his encounter with Mike Brown. There is surveillance footage of mike brown paying for his cigars at the store and it's also been proven and acknowledged that mike brown was in fact 150+ feet away from his murderer when he died, not 35 ft ...so what imminent danger does a unarmed 18 yr old 150 ft away pose? None. Nothing short of a failure of the US justice system.

    Big fan of your blog,
    Nothing but love from Chicago...

    1. I agree with what you've said, but it is a bit awkward being a white ally sometimes. It's important to "shut up and listen": that's what we're always told we should do to help, but I also feel like it's important for white people to speak up too. So many of my white friends don't think it's their place to get involved or say anything because it doesn't involve them, but to me it feels wrong not to be involved in making change happen, and part of doing that is spreading awareness. There are no protests where I live that I can take part in and the only way I know how to help to to talk about this issue, and I can't really see anything wrong in encouraging other white people or white allies to do the same. Being silent can sometimes feel like being compliant. I'm not trying to create hate here by the way, I'm new to the "activist" world and I'm still trying to learn my place I guess.

  7. Hi Charly, thanks for bringing this up. While it is important for white and even non-black POC to stand up for Ferguson, it shouldn't just be done to get a pat on the back as an ally. If someone is really dedicated to ending racism, then they should think carefully about what they say and do, and if they perpetuating any kind of oppression. They should actively stop people around them who say racist things. They should actively try to search for facts and see the other side, rather than resorting to biased things they have learned from newspapers and history books.
    (and this next part isn't directed at you Charly, it's mostly for those who have already commented)
    Also, to everyone above who says Mike Brown wasn't innocent: that's not accurate. And even if it was, WHO CARES? Let's say he did shoplift (which he didn't... there is plenty of evidence he paid for everything), does it mean he deserves to be killed? And yes, this is a racist issue. This isn't the first time an innocent black kid has been killed by a cop, and it certainly won't be the last if we continue to deny that racism is still alive.
    And it is extremely easy to say "violence isn't the answer" or "they shouldn't be protesting" when you're a white person, sitting at your home, knowing you'll never be targeted the same way as your black neighbours. The US was built on the roots of violence: the land was forcibly stolen from the natives using violence and genocide.
    Here is a lesson: if you want to be an ally, don't do it because you want to be congratulated for it. Do it because you want to live in a world where people are not killed for the colour of their skin. Don't do it because you want likes and retweets: do it because you believe each life is precious. And most importantly, don't use it as an opportunity to speak over black people. Use it as a time to let their voices be heard. Listen to their narrative and stop people around you who try to silence black people.

  8. You're absolutely brilliant, Charly. You might be interested in this too...


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