My mind feels like it has been in a rabbit hole for weeks now.
My eyes are wide open looking for any landmarks. Yet the land is covered by a mist like on a horror movie. I only seem to be able to navigate by just going deeper and deeper. I just have to hope that there is truth at the bottom of this.
This process of discovery all started for me a few weeks ago, when a white police officer murdered a black man by kneeling on his neck during an arrest. So, here I am, a middle-class white person, coming to the realisation that I have always had a blind spot on this issue.
I have been going through my life thinking that racism doesn’t happen in the UK. That is is an American problem. Sure, we have a few idiots over here. But it is not a big problem in the UK, right?
Wrong. Completely wrong. All you have to do is spend five minutes on Twitter to realise how much racism still exists – even when people try to cover it or mask it. I am disgusted, to say the least.
I suspect that many British people don’t associate slavery with the UK the same way that we associate it with the US because we did not have big plantanations here. This means there aren’t so many physical cues to remind us of this history. But the British did own plantations – we just held them offshore on the Carrbiean. The British were also the biggest slave traders for the US. So, the next time you say out loud that you are proud to be British, think about what exactly it is that gives you pride? I’m ashamed that this is the history of my ancestors.
We go through our lives saying that racism isn’t a big problem here because we don’t see it. But would we see it if we are white? It is time to look at ourselves as individuals. I know I am not racist. However, if I am honest, what have I done to better the situation in my industry and society? Well, the problem is I have done nothing. I’ve supported Black Lives Matter whenever their cause was covered in the news and I’ve supported the cause on social media. But this is nothing at all. I am ashamed of that too.
So I am looking now at what I can do. Perhaps we can start by asking some tough questions to our dance industry. If we all push for it, maybe we can achieve change.
But we, as white people, need to own this problem. Learning more about this issue has shown me that this is not a black person’s problem. This is a white person’s problem; we caused it. We have to do the work to understand our privilege, our conditioned mindsets and the systems and structures which support racism. You see, black people are not the problem. They are the ones suffering. This is why we have to say, together, Black Lives Matter. If you are tempted to retort that ‘all lives matter’, try to this of it this way. When I say, save the whales, it doesn’t mean sod all the other marine creatures. It just means this is what we need to talk about right now.
So let’s start with some tough questions for the dance inustry – my industry. I have informally polled 15 dance teachers, all of whom are examiners and adjudicators. They are highly qualified and highly respected in the Ballroom & Latin world. So here were the questions I tried:
- How many black examiners are you aware of within the three largest dance associations? All answered the same – they cannot think of any!
- How many black Adjudicators are there in the three largest dance associations? All answered the same – they cannot think of any!
- Why do you think that is? All answered, “that’s a good question. I have never thought about it before!
Now, what does that say about us as a society? Doesn’t that point to the fact that we, as white people, need to be thinking about these things. Now the above doesn’t mean that there categorically are no black examaniers or adjudictors but it means, at the very least, that they are rare.
I have a reputation for being a bit of a trouble maker. Well, now I have a cause for which it is worth causing trouble. The tough questions need to keep coming. I refuse to be a part of the oppression towards blacks and ethnic minorities by not thinking about these things and not asking challenging the status quo.
I hope that one day in my lifetime, we might see something close to equality. But the rabbit hole goes deep and I fear it might be a while until white people sort their sh!t out.
Rubies, Head Coach