“When the music stops and the party’s over, I will still be black,” says Amanda Mandy, a poet and speaker at the Black Lives Matter protest in Dundee on Sunday 26 July.
On a hot summer day hundreds of people – mainly young white allies – gathered on Magdalen Green in the city’s West End to sit, masked and socially distanced, in solidarity. Her voice carrying across the crowd over a sophisticated PA system, Mandy said, “There’s a lot of work to be done on every end of the spectrum, don’t get weary… we will go on until justice flows like a river.”
After she spoke Michael Tshalach Liandu, known as Mo, reminded the audience that; “racism is a white problem, perpetrated against people of colour.” A few police officers loitered on the periphery, but the crowd around the speakers was jubilant. “This is a long fight, you have to be in for the long haul,” said Liandu. “But I totally believe we can fight it, I totally believe we can end racism.”
Daisy Anne Aiken, from Stirling, read a recent blog post she’d written for the website We Can’t Breathe: UK. She recalled being told by a so-called friend that she was making them feel guilty for being white. “I don’t know why, but I apologised. I haven’t stopped thinking about that interaction recently,” said Aiken. “I’ve been thinking about all of the times I have let the white people around me behave how they wanted – unchallenged – and assuming that their behaviour is okay because of my passiveness. How many times have people excused their actions because they have one single black friend who was me? How many people have I let touch my hair because I felt uncomfortable saying no?”
She talked about reassessing her memories through a critical, conscious lens and coming to terms how helpless watching the footage of George Floyd’s death made her feel. “I am exhausted but there is strength in clarity and I know that I won’t ever go back to being small,” she said. “Going forward, I promise to never be quiet again.”
Next to speak was Zimbabwean born singer/songwriter Cynthia Gentle, who helped organise the Black Lives Matter protest at Holyrood Park in June. “Being an ally is not a one-off event,” said Gentle, speaking directly to the majority white audience. “It’s your job to educate people… it’s not an easy ride for you as allies, but it’s a less easy ride for me as a black person.”
Other speakers on the day included Courtney Ama Stoddart, Josh Kilimanjaro and Graham Campbell SNP. Attendees were encouraged to call out racism online and in person, to sign petitions, write to their MPs and MSPs, to keep turning out to protests and marches, and to donate to the crowdfunder for Sheku Bayoh – who he died after being restrained by officers in Kirkcaldy five years ago. As of writing that crowdfunder has raised £70,435. “If you think the conversation is uncomfortable, think what it’s like for us,” said Campbell, drawing parallels between Bayoh’s case and Floyd’s. “Let us connect the racism here there and the racism here,” he added, “The Scotland that we want to create has to create something different, we have to decide what.”
To read Daisy’s blog post visit – http://www.wecantbreathe.co.uk/blogs/our-voices/daisy
Words & Image: Ana Hine
Image is a drawing of Daisy Anne Aiken speaking at the protest, published here with her permission.