By Harriet Lowbridge | Head of Advice
What can I do to help?
This is a question that you’ve probably considered every time the topic of Black History Month or discrimination comes up in the news.
Our society is facing a crisis, when ‘95% of young Black people have heard and witnessed racist language at school’ according to a study undertaken by the YMCA in 2020. The study also revealed that most black children will grow up ‘expecting to experience racism because of the colour of their skin’. This needs to change. Here are a few tips on some of the things you can do to begin making a change in yourself. Every step towards improving yourself is a step towards bringing equality into our communities.
So where to begin?
Do your homework, educating yourself is one of the best ways to become an ally. Knowledge is power and with this knowledge we can begin to understand and help prevent many of the issues that the black community face. This can be as simple as making use of the student library and if you can afford to, buy books to support black authors. Keep up to date with current issues and debates going on within your community.
Learn why Black History Month is important- Our Comment section has a great article on the importance of Black History Month. You can find articles in both Sports and Science for influential black icons, as well as some of the historical black figures that get left out of mainstream appreciation.
Engage with the black creators within your community. Your engagement with Black History Month doesn’t just have to be through purely academic sources. There are films, podcasts, art, shops, companies, and theatre productions which you can engage with. There are even book subscription boxes which can help support small businesses as well. This will also push your support further than just within one month out of the year, so you can engage and be an ally all year around.
You can promote black history with your time and discussions if you can’t support with your purchases. By keeping the discourse alive and engaging with your peers and within your community, others can then follow in your footsteps and begin their own process towards becoming an ally.
Stand up against discrimination, racism and hate crimes. If you see or hear discrimination there are multiple support groups set up to help you report it. If you don’t feel comfortable or safe to speak out directly there are websites such as True Vision available for you to use. True Vision, is ‘a police-funded web site designed to provide you with information about Hate Crime[s]’ and provides a safe space to report hate crimes without directly speaking to the police. It also provides resources to keep you informed on what constitutes as a hate crime and discrimination. Local school and universities will also have departments available for you to engage with if you need to speak out about local peers and/or tutors.
Attend rallies and protests. Try to keep an eye out for petitions that you can sign up to. Sometimes a signature or physical presence is all you need to show your support.
Stay self-aware of how you speak and engage with others. If you allow macro/microaggressions and stereotypes in your own discussions, you’re preventing our society from moving forward. Criticise how you talk about others and call your peers out when they promote racist stereotypes.
Citizen’s Advice also has a variety of information on racism and hate crime to help keep our communities informed on your rights, as well as the different forms of racism. It also provides personal and legal advice on the actions you can take if discrimination has affected your life.