‘I still do not understand why so many people are so intolerant and angry about the destruction of shops but not by the murder of people’. Black Lives Matter – a series of posts from History at Northampton

This week we sharing a series of personal  blog posts from staff and students reacting to the killing of George Floyd and the protests here and around the world. Today’s is from Charlotte, who has just completed her second year of study for a degree in History at the University of Northampton. 

Black Lives Matter Demonstrations In UK Continue Into The Weekend

Here are some of my thoughts on the Black Lives Matter protests.

I completely agree with them and understand whole heartedly why they are happening. The accumulation of a global pandemic and black people continuously being treated unfairly has resulted in widespread public outrage. The unlawful killing of George Floyd was the event to tip things over the edge.

By studying riots and rebellion at university I discovered that public protests have been a legitimate way for the public to express their dismay. It is all well and good that individuals can petition parliament and write on social media but it is only public disruption that really gets the government’s attention.

Once the economy is affected by looting and destruction, that is when people are suddenly outraged. I still do not understand why so many people are so intolerant and angry about the destruction of shops but not by the murder of people. The police brutality has been video recorded for the world to see time and time again so it is not as though people are reading about these events or overhearing about them but not seeing them.

I live in a village and the people in this community seemed lovely and really friendly, however, since the protests I have seen really ugly language used by people I live around. I am mixed race but very light skinned and often people don’t realise that I have black origins and so I hear a lot of the racial comments they make.

As for racism, I have experienced this from people who would not consider themselves racist. I was told at school to straighten my hair for interviews so I look more professional.

My grandmother on my dad’s side was Italian and my grandad on from the West Indies, on my mothers side they were both Scottish. I have had multiple partners say to me not to tell their friends or family that I am mixed race or to say I am Italian. I have had people look at me in shock when I tell them where my grandparents were from and say ‘but you are so well spoken’.

I have had people think I am adopted because my brother looks white, my mum is white whereas I have olive skin. I was labelled ‘quarter cast’ throughout school because my dad was ‘half cast’.  I have had assumptions made about me time and time again.

As I have olive skin I have been present when people have spoken in negative ways about black people not realising that is my heritage. I don’t consider myself part of a ‘black’ community and don’t think of myself as of colour until people make comments. I will always remember the story my dad told me of when my grandad came to Britain.

There were signs up in cafes and shops saying ‘no blacks, no dogs, no Irish’. He went into a café that said ‘blacks welcome’, he was then told to leave because he was ‘too dark’. I think there is a wider problem in society not only that black people are treated unfairly but also that some black and other ethnic minorities are treated more unfairly than others. I have seen people have prejudice towards African people but then say ‘oh I’m not racist because I have a friend who is black’.

I feel deeply anxious and overwhelmed at the state that Britain and the world at the minute. I think the government is encouraging racial disturbances by not acknowledging and supporting the protests that are occurring.

Yes there is a pandemic at the moment but if you were to listen to the government then we are doing exceptionally well at managing this. The media applauded the crowds of people out on the street for VE day. They were mildly disappointed by the huge gatherings on the beaches and I feel that the reporting on the protests have been completely misleading.

I fail to understand how someone cannot get the concept that ‘Black Lives Matter’. Why retort with ‘All Lives Matter’, nobody has said that all lives do not matter. It is the same as saying everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.

This issue does not just apply to black people but other minority groups. I have heard people saying there should be equal rights for men the moment you mention equality for women. As soon as equality for women is mentioned then people start labelling them ‘angry feminists’ as though it is a negative thing. The same thing applies for the LGBTQ+ community, if there is gay pride there should be straight pride.

I hate how divided our society is and I honestly think Brexit has just fuelled this expanding gap. Our current government seems to want to divide people rather than unite but then they are surprised that they get an uprising.

Charlotte, Second Year undergraduate at the University of Northampton

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