I now recognise I can do something
Right now, I find myself in a position of power and privilege.
The power of my word, access to relevant technology and information.
Privilege of education and opportunities connected to the colour of my skin and of living in a democracy where elected representatives can be held accountable.
Blimey! It’s not been straightforward to recognise and acknowledge this.
And in no way is the trip over, I reckon I have just about got myself to a starting block.
Being a woman migrant in the UK, from an area which is most commonly recognised as Eastern Europe, Czech – I would feel demonised and stigmatised at times. By media, by responses to my accent in public spaces. I would carry a burden of stereotyping and assumptions. Yet, my unrecognised privilege has supported me to learn to be with that. It does not define me more than it needs to anymore.
The learning journey through my otherness has opened up issues and challenges as well as solutions on the way.
As it stands even now, I would not feel too far from the truth saying that some words or expression are not even part of mainstream vocabulary in the context of Central & Eastern Europe.
Colonialism. White supremacy.
The ethnically homogenous small land-locked country which had found itself at the mercy of global powers thorough history, where I am from, does not even begin to unpack these concepts and notions.
Feeling as ‘other’ in the UK somewhat drew me to other ‘others’ in my work, relationships, friendships, cooperation.
Witnessing the impact of otherness.
Solutions have begun to emerge: intersectionality, feminism, co-operation, solidarity, sending the lift to others, acknowledging, fostering spaces.
And so I have found myself here.
Recognising my own power and strength.
Attempting to make use of it.
Here is the email I have sent to my councillors.
It’s an option, not a silver bullet.
It might poke those in the representative seats, but I don’t expect one message will be enough.
So let’s keep going.
I hope this email finds you well.
I would like to ask for your support with a matter which is really important to me and believe is an issue which is relevant to all Colne Valley and Kirklees residents.
The murder of George Floyd and the current events in the US have been harrowing to witness – a murder of an innocent man; shaming of and attacks directed against protesters demanding justice and respect of human rights.
I know that this is not a new problem. But it has now re-captured our attention. When many have been talking about ‘new normal’ and possible positive new ways of how our societies might operate coming from the Covid-19 pandemic. Well, what has been happening in the US – and also worldwide – for so long and has just now shown its debilitating awful power very publicly is just not acceptable anymore.
That is why I would like to ask you to champion the support for Black people and people of colour in our ward, borough and beyond.
I have been inspired by many positive actions of both people of colour and allies who have taken action to address the issue of racism.
Amongst many Brighton and Hove City Council have led the way and issued a very powerful statement. https://new.brighton-hove.gov.uk/news/2020/brighton-hove-city-council-stands-solidarity-protesters-america
I am aware that the Kirklees Council lead has issued a statement about this too (https://www.dewsburyreporter.co.uk/news/council-leader-says-racism-has-no-place-kirklees-2875835#gsc.tab=0).
However I would like to ask for something more lasting, an intentional and ongoing commitment which is visible at the Council’s website and more importantly supported by the Council’s plan of action and support. Something that will be more permanent than a statement captured in local media. More impactful. More authentic.
I am looking forward to hearing from you,
in anticipation and with many thanks for your time and support,