We need to keep talking about the Black Lives Matter movement

One year since the death of George Floyd, Girlguiding advocate Amanda Amaeshi speaks out again

Amanda Amaeshi, Girlguiding advocate
25 May 2021

This time last year, advocate Fran and I wrote about why everyone needed to talk about the Black Lives Matter movement, a movement which campaigns for an end to racism across the world. 

One year on since the death of George Floyd, whose murder as a result of police brutality sparked renewed attention on the movement last summer, I want to remind the Girlguiding community of the importance of advocating for change and speaking out against racism in all its forms, as well as share some of things Girlguiding has done over the past year to promote anti-racism.  

What Girlguiding has done to promote anti-racism 

Diversity and inclusion strategic plan 

Girlguiding has recently published a new Diversity and inclusion strategic plan which sets out the goals we can all work towards to make Girlguiding a truly welcoming and inclusive place. It addresses how Girlguiding will tackle and prevent all forms of discrimination, including racism.  

This new plan will help Girlguiding tackle and prevent racism by: 

  • introducing new race equity training, starting with senior volunteers and senior staff
  • introducing an inclusion e-learning for all volunteers
  • starting an annual ethnicity pay gap report for our staff, and acting to address any disparities,
  • strengthening our Equality and Diversity policy to ensure we take a zero-tolerance approach to all instances of exclusion and discrimination.

Girlguiding has also recruited a network of volunteer inclusion advisers with different specialisms, including a race inclusion adviser, and Girlguiding commissioners have received specific guidance to support conversations with other volunteers. 

Other actions Girlguiding has taken 

  • Black Lives Matter and active allyship was the main theme of the Adventures at Home July monthly challenge last yearSome young members and volunteers have also written blogposts for the Girlguiding website and magazine on this theme. 
  • New programme activities to further conversations about race and racism were released in October to coincide with Black History Month, accompanied by blogs and social media content throughout the month.
  • There is dedicated resources webpage for members to enhance their own knowledge and support conversations with young people around and race and racism. 

What you can do to be anti-racist 

However, and I cannot stress this enough, it is still just as important now as it was last year for us to shout loudly that Black lives matter – especially if it seems that those around you have quietened down about it. Black lives always matter, not just when it’s trending on social media. 

It is not enough to not be racist; we all must be anti-racist.  

How to continue to support the movement  

  • Resharing useful infographics online is OK, but ensure that your anti-racism work goes far beyond social media. Also, just because something is in an infographic, it doesn’t automatically make it true, so do your research and make sure what you’re sharing is accurate. Don’t share videos of racist violence, as they can be very traumatic for Black people to watch. You don’t need to share dehumanising content to show that you care.  
  • Educate yourself on past and present anti-Black racism, and Black history – remember, Black history includes more than just the transatlantic slave trade (although it is important to educate yourself on that if you haven’t already). 
  • Reflect on whether you have been creating the space to listen to Black voices in the books, podcasts, TV shows, films, and other content you consume – and if you haven’t created that space, do so. 
  • Sign relevant petitions, donate to anti-racism organisations, and support Black creators and Black-owned businesses.  
  • Contact your local MP, asking them to put pressure on the government to enact policies to tackle racism in the UK. (You can find out who your MP is here.) 
  • Listen when Black people talk about everyday racism and white privilege, and learn from them. Don’t centre your personal experiences or guilt in these conversations – this will only detract from the main purpose of the conversation. 
  • Challenge raciscomments, behaviours, and microaggressions whenever you witness them – don’t be a bystander. Encourage those around you to also support the Black Lives Matter movement and actively be anti-racist.  
  • Expect to be called out for your own actions – being an ally takes constant work and you will inevitably get things wrong. So if you are called out for having said or done something racist, don’t be defensive  appreciate that someone has taken the time to call you out. Take responsibility and apologise, and learn from your mistake and do better going forward 

Effective anti-racism work is not comfortable, and it requires you to recognise and understand your racial privilege. However, that mustn’t stop you from doing the work. As we said last year, silence is violence. Taking action is the answer. Together, we must continue to work towards creating a world where Black lives truly matter.