Updated: May 28
Discrimination and the abuse it entails is not a new issue. It is one that has persisted, not just for years, but for centuries. It is historically ingrained in political institutions and assimilated into attitudes that have been passed down through generations of ignorance. Nobody is born to inherently believe in false notions of superiority and inferiority. It should not take a murder for people to care. Why should oppression only matter to us when others are posting about it or when it feels like we are obligated to act? The Black community has faced recurrent verbal and physical abuse due to our complicity.
We live in a world that advocates for equality as a facade to conceal the greater problems that are present. Just because racism is not directly prevalent in your life, it does not mean it is non-existent in someone else’s. There are individuals you know who have stories of marginalisation that haunt them. They are not given the equal choice to feel secure within their bodies. Imagine living in fear as a consequence of lies — ones that have an impact on your opportunities and self-worth. The innocent are being robbed of the futures they will never have. Not only this, but their families are left to deal with the traumatic aftermath. Nobody has the right to decide whether somebody else is deserving of their life or not.
To actively fight against this issue, we must do more than just be bystanders. Simply posting a black square and a trending hashtag on platforms without first understanding why these prejudices exist is contradictory. If you are not seeking resources to gain awareness on the Black Lives Matter movement, it is as good as posting nothing. The end goal of this movement is to be self-aware and challenge the stigmatisation that exists, regardless of whether that is online or offline. There is a stark contrast between genuine concern and virtue signalling, as the latter only serves a superficial function. Performative allyship only results in an unhelpful cycle of re-sharing content that ceases importance after time, and this suffering is forgotten as if it never existed.
How many bodies, how much blood, and how much trauma is it going to take to acknowledge that this is our collective reality, whether we like it or not. These issues are not something that should be forgotten when they are no longer broadcasted for the wider public. With a wealth of information and resources that are so easily accessible through the internet, there are no excuses for ignorance. This movement is about staying true to the cause in the long-term, as there is no overnight solution to a multifaceted problem, especially when its origins have corrupted the public sphere on both a subconscious and conscious level.
Keep in mind that the ongoing racism of our present does not show itself through slavery or segregation in public areas as found in the past; instead, it has renewed itself in other forms. We must adjust our ideas of what racism consists of, as it continues to evolve with us. This includes disrespectful discourse, stereotypes, economic disparities, and police brutality. The Civil Rights Act in 1964 may have legally abolished public discrimination, but it did not eradicate bigotry. It did not erase the racially charged, narrow-minded stereotypes that were believed to be facts.
Transformation is first incited by a willingness to learn and erase these biases that have affected the black community for far too long. To name a handful, actions such as signing petitions, having conversations with those around you, and engaging with online resources are some small but fundamental steps that can hinder the spread of misinformed judgments. These acts of solidarity must be habituated far after the protests and outcries leave the news.
Racism is created by a stream of misinformation that cherry-picks its proclaimed 'facts.' Remember that not everything that you come across is going to be reliable, which is why we must continuously question what we see and never settle for what we first read. Allow yourself to create a space that is always open to new ideas. Contextualise where your sources are coming from and examine their reliability, asking yourself if the bigger picture is skewed by an underlying agenda. Be wary that our media can provide us with the information that we need, but can also be a catalyst for further racism. We must also reach out to others who are outside of our own echo chambers of opinion. Moving forward does not mean future apathy, but actions that will continue to make us alert of the external realities we may not directly see.
I wrote this piece as I wanted to gauge an understanding of the responsibility that we have as part of a greater movement. Being a History student, the recurrent racial injustice in America has always been a topic of interest for me, especially when linking the disturbing parallels between the past and our present day. I hope that what I’ve said allows readers to reflect on their own role and see that even small changes amass to something much bigger in the long term. Carrying my own personal experiences with racism, I also wanted to show my support and be able to do my part by gaining more knowledge about the situation in future pieces. Above all, I just wish ignorance would stop being the catalyst for other people’s traumas and life-long fears. It hurts to think that some of us want to expend our energy on upholding an idea of ‘superiority’ that doesn’t even exist in the first place.
Biography: Su Wen Liew is a History undergraduate who enjoys writing opinion pieces, intending to delve into more journalism accompanied by lifestyle blogging and creative writing. In her spare time, she loves exploring the creative possibilities of makeup and fashion, especially with styling clothes alongside jewellery. Singing is also another pursuit of hers, which she consistently exhibits on Instagram and YouTube. Using this creative medium she aspires to write pieces that resonate with people who share similar feelings and experiences to her own. Her eventual goal is to make those who read or listen to her work more included, heard and feel less alone in their headspace.
Instagram: @suwenliew / Youtube: Su Wen Liew