Black Lives Matter Protest

Why Aren’t We Listening?

I still remember the quote as if it was yesterday.

There I was, standing amongst a 40,000-strong rally at the tail end of the Marriage Equality Postal Survey. We were all engaged with the speaker who stood atop a makeshift stage, prepping us for the upcoming march.

And then he said this:

“We transcend race. We transcend gender. We transcend families. We transcend the world.”

At that moment I realised that the LGBTQI community was not a separate entity to society; we were spread within it.

But now, after marching in a Black Lives Matter protest as an ally, that memorable quote shares a brutal lesson:

Black People Are Still Segregated

Unlike the gays, black people don’t transcend every part of society. They have their own families and their own communities. So black people need to shout louder if they’re gonna reach equality.

Perhaps that’s why nothing has changed in America – and indeed every other colonised country, including my home country of Australia. There is still a divide between white and black people. And this is the product of years of racial inequality that permeates the not-too-distant past.

Segregation in the US may seem like it’s over, but it’s not. In an article published by History in May 2019, the editors state that “segregation persists in the 21st century.”

“The term ‘apartheid schools’ describes still-existing, largely segregated schools, where whites make up 0 to 10 per cent of the student body,” History writes. “The phenomenon reflects residential segregation in cities and communities across the country, which is not created by overtly racial laws, but by local ordinances that target minorities disproportionately.”

This segregation is creating a divide in nearly every colonised country. White people aren’t getting the unadulterated experience of true black culture. And this is thanks to the silent assimilation that comes from segregation.

Too many black people are discarding their culture and history to fit in with white society. And this is unfathomable.

Nobody should ever have to give up their own roots to fit in anywhere.

So when black people march and shout their message, us white people need to listen better. Or else we’ll end up like those mindless people who think all lives matter.

If all lives matter in America, then why are black people incarcerated at higher rates? Why are they still racially profiled by the police? Why is the net worth of a typical white family “nearly ten times greater than that of a Black family“?

The fact is, not all lives matter at the moment. And that’s why black lives matter.

The Best Way Forward

Before the Marriage Equality Postal Vote went ahead in Australia, Ireland had already won the race. This was mostly thanks to LGBT activist Tiernan Brady, who led a grassroots campaign across the nation of Ireland. People doorknocked in each county, having open and warm discussions with fellow strangers about gay marriage.

“Their conversations changed hearts, minds and votes,” Tiernan said. “They made space for people to ask questions – they explained why this mattered so much…

“As they walked streets, lanes and dirt tracks, knocking on door after door, they changed our country’s perception of the people in our midst.”

If there is ever going to be proper change, we all need to have a conversation about the ongoing inequality between black and white people.

The black community needs to keep talking. They need to nudge their way into every corner of society and open people’s minds.

And the rest of us need to listen. 

Because if we don’t, we’ll have another Minneapolis.

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