Many statements have been made and progressive actions proposed and taken. These have strengthened #BlackLivesMatter movements across the world and in some instances, resulted in small wins. However, the importance of consistency and truly believing in and investing in #BlackLivesMatter should move beyond these. Particularly for those institutions and movements involved in social justice, democratization and human rights work; significant inroads are yet to be accelerated. There are significant gaps in bringing life to these statements because the many people that occupy decision making spaces, even where the leader is Black or of colour, remain white. They are reflected in apathy, silence, policing tone, justifying non-racialism through affiliation or proximity, policies that remain exclusionary and mis pronouns. #BlackLivesMatter is intersectional, rooted in the acknowledgement and affirmation of all aspects of existence, history, and ancestry. The starting point to truly effecting change, allyship and redressing the past should be anchored in the following principles:
- Safeguard and protect the agency of those speaking out and protesting, without policing language, presentation, or content. This requires not having an opinion and amplifying the voices most affected and impacted.
- Respecting the demands of Black protesters, activists and contributors; this includes reducing/defunding law enforcement in the same manner as done with public health, social services and education systems. Alternative community and participatory policing are available options.
- Respecting and affirming variant contexts, lived experience and healing of Black people globally.
- Questioning and critiquing media, civil society, M&E, development and governance reports or knowledge outputs on the audience targeted and who’s voices are affirmed versus reflected/commodified.
- All Black Lives, including differently abled, transgender, queer, young, displaced, foreign and indigenous, Matter. Unequivocally.
- Unlearning and relearning without expecting Black people close to you to teach, correct or give you. Proximity to your supremacy (whiteness) in its many variants, whether language, relationships, marriage, economic standing, skin colour or otherwise does not qualify for you to take up space.