I know probably some of you have been wondering about my absence… There’s been a lot going on these recent days. I haven’t been in the right state of mind to write. At the same time I have been focussing more on my thesis, which took a lot of my time and energy. It has been an emotional rollercoaster these past weeks and days. But now let’s focus on the real current events going on around the world.
Haven’t you been feeling that times have been changing lately? 2020 is a year of crisis, reflection, action and movement (Black Lives Matter). The untold history about the treatment of African-Americans has been unfolding recently. The unjust system that has been going on for years in the US needs to be addressed. Even here in Belgium, the colonization period has not been given as much attention as it deserves, especially the negative side i.e. the barbaric crimes committed by King Leopold II and the Belgian government during the colonial period, hasn’t (often) been mentioned.
The video gone viral of George Floyd’s death has sparked and awakened the global movement of BLM and protests. I can proudly say that I took part in this protest together with my siblings, some family members and friends in Brussels just two weeks after the video emerged. When I watched the scene… I couldn’t contain my tears and anger… so many emotions ran through my body. Unfortunately enough I was very much aware of the police brutality and the systemic racism in the US, this is nothing new… I’ve seen countless videos of victims like Trayvon Martin (when the BLM movement even began), Tamir Rice, Eric Garner (the same situation: ‘I can’t breathe…’), Philando Castile and the list goes on… I have since posted a lot of videos and articles about treatments of black people in the US and all over the world but not as much as I am now… But Floyd’s video really motivated me to become more vocal and daring to reveal a lot of uncomfortable truth about racism, police brutality, discrimination and the oppression that most black and poc (people of color) have been facing over the years…
I myself as a mixed-race person, I barely face racism here in Belgium. But I have encountered some indirect racism at work and in school, especially in the countryside. The passive racism I faced was the attitude of some of my colleagues towards me compared to my white student colleagues. I sensed the interaction with me as completely different from the way they interact amongst themselves. Let’s be honest here, it’s not because I barely encountered active racism that still up till this day racism doesn’t happen here. I know some people who experienced racial profiling and racist slurs from their white peers.
Thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement, some changes in policies not just in the US but also in Belgium, which are long overdue have finally come about. Finally the history of colonialism under the Leopold II era is implemented in the education system for last year secundary classes. It also helped pressuring the policy for practical tests against discrimination. Even some statues of Leopold II have been taken down, but that’s not going to help the fight against racism. But it’s the beginning of change that we want to see in our institutions.
That’s why I have been informing myself daily about the untold stories of black people not only in America but also in Europe. I want to highlight these important topics to spark conversations amongst us and to bring some type of awareness. The activists that I follow keep us up to date about the history of systemic racism and the current events happening in the world. I was able to help my friend a little bit for her life art coaching so she can implement and address those issues about racism into her work.
I followed an interesting webinar yesterday about ‘Decolonize Belgium too’, a panel conversation between activists. It was an interesting conversation. Very educational with many interesting topics. I have learned a lot about their vision of structural racism and how we fight the system together.
After these global protests which have led to some action taking place around the world, let’s not be blind and forget that we still have a long way to go! Those are small victories but there’s still a lot to be done for this whole institutional racism to be dismantled… It’s an ungoing battle and I’m definitely not going to stop supporting activists and stay silent about it.
Even during the whole pandemic of COVID-19 going on in the world, it has helped us to reflect more on the real issues that blacks and poc have experienced, because of that a lot of people are more awake and finally call out this systemic racism that’s perpetrated the underprivileged and unequal treatment towards blacks and people of color.
I’m relieved to see how much my generation is getting together to fight collectively and willingly to work towards equality for all… That’s why ‘All Lives can’t Matter until Black Lives Matter’! The attention should lead to awareness and meaningful conversations.