‘Engagement must be on a deep and thoughtful level, not on a superficial one.’ In this piece, Zesha explores the power of knowledge as a force for truly long-term change.
Racism is a brutal monster, tearing apart the very fabric of our society. It is unfortunately tangled and twisted into every cornerstone of our world- it seeps into our schools, our workplaces, our books and even our thoughts.
Therefore, it goes without saying that racism is not a political issue, but a social one. It is not an issue where your position depends on whether you’re a liberal or a democrat, rather it is a matter where everyone needs to take responsibility for others in society.
One of the best ways to fight this toxic discrimination is through social education and knowledge. Being equipped with words and facts gives us more strength to stand up and support our brothers and sisters in need. Being mobilised via social education enables us to confidently be anti-racists on a wide range of platforms. Effective, positive differences in our world start within ourselves- each of us must be instruments of change. However, whilst posting on social media and supporting anti-racism movements such as #BlackLivesMatter are vital steps in this fight, in our current climate, social education is not just important but crucial. For all of us, this is an opportunity to educate ourselves: let’s take it.
Impressively, many people have taken the time to educate themselves on racism in recent days. According to The Guardian, anti-racist books written by the likes of Reni-Eddo Lodge, Ibram X Kendi and Robin DiAngelo have seen a surge in sales in the UK and the US since the killing of George Floyd. Not only that, but Eddo-Lodge’s podcast, ‘About Race’ reached the top of the charts two years after the final episode was published.
It goes to show just how important education and self-awareness about these issues are. To fight back the gross inequalities deep-rooted in every institution of society, we must all actively improve ourselves. This should be by reading books and articles, listening to podcasts and interviews. It should be by actively throwing out the unconscious bias, the prejudices and stereotypes we have towards people who are different. It is clear that the recent events have given all of us an opportunity to learn, reflect and live life conscious of others.
However, according to Ijeoma Oluo, author of the New York Times bestseller ‘So You Want to Talk About Race’, it isn’t enough to just read her book and think ‘oh- now I understand racism.’ Her book was intended as an introduction, the beginning of ‘your research on the way to step one’. She encouraged her followers on Twitter to read ‘revolutionary books’ by the likes of Assata Shakur and Audre Lorde. For all of us, this proves how important it is to truly engage with social and historic education about race. Reading one article about the effects of racism on the black community is a good start, but nowhere near enough. Engagement must be on a deep and thoughtful level, not on a superficial one.
Historically, we have seen how social change can be an impactful catalyst for change. Issues ranging from race and multiculturalism to public health and women’s rights have made one thing clear: having a solid awareness of the facts, figures and stories will help us change our society for the better. Yes, we still have a very long way to go, but mobilising social education is one step further to equality and equity.
By being equipped with the words and the facts, we can fight racism, not whenever, but always. For all of us, it is important to play a key role in defending the rights of others. We need to be a beacon for light, a force for good and a voice for those who don’t have one. Yes, racism is as vicious as any beast, poisoning and striking mercilessly. Yet remember, being united in the face of fear and hate can bring down any devil- society can only survive if we link arms with each other to fight down that which divides us.
We can fight using words and knowledge, protests and power- as long as we are willing to actively play a part.