Black Lives Matter: What can I do to make a difference?

31 Jul 2020
By Shukri M., Contact Centre Lead at Unite Students at

Most of us will have seen or experienced the Black Lives Matter movement and understood its significance by now.

George Floyds’ death in America was a catalyst that sparked a global outpour of anger, sadness and grief. Since then, protests have taken place around the world, including the UK, condemning the horrors, brutality and injustice black people continue to face.

Thousands have marched to raise the issue of policing and race, becoming a voice for those that we can no longer hear: Sheku Bayoh, Rayshard Brooks, Mikey Powell, Shukri Abdi, Breonna Taylor and, unfortunately, many more.

These people are more than just names and Black Lives Matter is more than just a hashtag or a slogan, especially for those that have been at the receiving end of racism and injustice. The conversation around Black Lives Matter may have recently resurfaced, but it’s a dialogue that needs to continue until equality is achieved.

To be in support of Black Lives Matter is to be in support of equality and anti-racism. We may still feel anguish and anger, but we can turn these emotions into action and positive change. It’s important that we’re able to look at our own behaviours and actions in order to challenge institutional racism. Which leads to the question, ‘what can I do to make a difference?’

Engage

Start conversations with your friends, colleagues and family about what Black Lives Matter means to you. Speak about moments when you have faced injustice or racism, or share the experiences of someone who has and listen. Such conversations can be an eye opener for everyone involved. They can have a positive impact.

Participate

Protesting is a good way to show solidarity and raise public awareness of the injustice that continues today. Demonstrations can also accelerate much-needed changes to policy. 

Although current government advice suggests large-scale protests shouldn’t take place because of coronavirus, many have still gone ahead. If you’re going to one, try to stay two metres away from other people and wear a face covering.

You can also sign petitions online in support of those that didn’t get the justice they deserved.

Educate

Expand your understanding through reading articles, books or even listening to podcasts on topics that impact and matter to black people.

It’s okay to call out racist views. It might seem uncomfortable or awkward at times, especially when opinions are misguided. But if you do it with tact and clear communication you can change people’s minds for the better.

Most importantly look after your mental health and be self-aware of your emotional capacity and wellbeing. Here are some tips and links which can provide support:

  • Ensure that you take some time off social media, as it can become all too consuming.
  • Go for a walk, run or participate in some form of exercise - it can help you to get some clarity.
  • Reach out to Stop Hate UK (call 0800 138 1625; text 07717 989 025; email talk@stophateuk.org) if you’ve experienced a hate crime.
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  • Explore the support and development opportunities on offer from Black Minds Matter.
  • You can speak to your university who can help by providing access to supportive platforms such as counselling and a safe space to discuss topics that matter to you.
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We should all be striving for a better and just society. It may not always seem like it, but your voice, experiences and actions matter, so let’s talk!

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Hi, I'm Shukri and I am a Contact Centre Lead at Unite Students. I've worked in a variety of mental health services in the past and I'm naturally interested in wellbeing, especially when it comes to our students.