To be a feminist, you must be anti-racist. Liberation for only some, is not liberation.

The events of the past few weeks following the murder of George Floyd by four Minneapolis police officers have sparked an unprecedented global uprising against racism and collective demand to defund the police and fund our communities.

White people are beginning to wake up to what Black people have known their whole lives. That White people benefit from a system that actively harms Black lives and positions White lives as more important. It is systemic, it is created, it is reproduced in our institutions and in every corner of society.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the question of when we will ‘return to normal life’ has permeated public discourse. But now comes the realisation, there is no normal to go back to. Because the way society operates, is not normal. It says that the lives of some are less valuable than others. And this ‘it’ we refer to is the heteronormative, White supremacist, capitalist patriarchy that reproduces the insidious belief in White supremacy.

We see this in the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the Black community, with data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in early May suggesting that black people in England and Wales at that time were around four times more likely than white people to die from Covid-19[1].

Racism manifests itself in health services, in education, in prisons, in our workplaces.

But this is a US problem, right?

In the UK, Black women are 5 times more likely to die in childbirth. Black men are 4.8 times more likely to be stopped by the police and Black people account for 8% of deaths in custody[2] (despite being 3% of the population). Belly Mujinga. Windrush. Grenfell. Stephen Lawrence. Shukri Abdi. Joy Gardner. Sheku Bayoh. Sean Rigg. Mark Duggan.

Racism is state and colonial violence and we must understand that it is happening now and has been happening for centuries.

We must ask ourselves deep questions about Whiteness. We must address that we are indoctrinated into it and a White supremacist, patriarchal delusion. We are all complicit and it is not enough to be outraged.

Our education system reinforces White supremacy and anti-Blackness. WRC supports the calls for British history education to be fundamentally transformed. British colonial history must be taught in schools. There are so many resources available for us to educate ourselves, you can start with these generously shared resources from Annette Joseph.

We have seen the statues of slave-owners removed from the streets of the UK by protestors. This has educated many who weren’t aware of these celebratory monuments to Britain’s inhumane and violent history and to the men that led the slave trade being memorialised in our streets. The use of language by our current Government, referring to protesters who removed the Colston statue in Bristol as ‘thugs’ feeds into the racist, white supremacist rhetoric that incites violence toward those seeking justice and WRC condemns their response.

Many of us in the charity sector believe we stand against racism, but are we actively anti-racist? Our commitment to social justice for Black lives must translate into our practice. This week #CharitySoWhite have been shining a spotlight on the experiences of Black charity workers. We urge our colleagues to listen and learn from their work, as we will continue to do.

Black women and Black feminist thought and action have always been leading the revolution. Bell Hooks, Audre Lorde, Angela Davis, Sylvia Wynter, Olive Morris, Gail Lewis, Christina Sharpe, to name a few.

Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality, to highlight how multiple oppressions interact.

Moya Bailey went on to define the intersection between racism and sexism that Black women experience as Misogynoir. 33 years ago, Diane Abbott became the first Black woman to be elected to UK parliament. During the 2017 UK general election, Diane Abbott was the subject of almost half of all abusive tweets about female MPs on Twitter, receiving ten times more abuse than any other MP (Amnesty International poll).

A recent report by Imkaan illustrates that Black and minoritised women are facing dual pandemics. They report that violence against women and girls (VAWG) has increased but ‘for Black and minoritised women and girls, racialised discrimination and the disproportionate impact of structural inequalities also become exacerbated’. Whilst no-one is immune to COVID-19, ‘structural inequality reproduces disproportionately across diverse communities and exacerbates existing racialised inequalities.’[3] Black and minoritised women face multiple barriers to safe reporting and this occurs in ‘the context of the continuation of the hostile environment targeting Black and minoritised women, migrant communities, women with NRPF and other insecure immigration status’.

Imkaan highlight that, ‘there has been an increase in referrals from mainstream organisations and BME organisations are supporting women who present with complex, intersectional issues and needs’. The existing inequalities, for example digital inequalities are exacerbated. With there being between 40-60% of women in some services having no safe access to phones, no credit, and no access to the internet, reaching these women and giving them the help they desperately need is extremely challenging.

Too often, white women’s organisations have shown no solidarity with specialist Black and minoritised women’s organisations by competing for their services and their specialist work.

We call on White women’s organisations to make some deep reflections and commit to true solidarity in order to end their own institutionally racist behaviour.

At the same time as George Floyd’s murderers are being held accountable, Breonna Taylor’s murderers haven’t been arrested. Breonna Taylor was an award winning EMT and on March 13th, Louisville police broke down her apartment door and shot her 8 times. Her murder was been deemed a clerical error. You can donate to the Justice for Breonna Taylor fund here.

So, how do we transform the events of the past few weeks into real social change?

White people may be feeling some kind of guilt or shame as they come to terms with their complicity in the persecution of Black lives.  Audre Lorde said “I have no creative use for guilt, yours or my own. Guilt is only another way of avoiding informed action, of buying time out of the pressing need to make clear choices, out of approaching the storm that can feed the earth as well as bend the trees.”

First, we must all accept that being a “nice”, “well intentioned” person does not make you anti-racist. To be committed to anti-racism, is a commitment to the transformation of all of society and its institutions. This work is long and requires change on a personal and societal level.

Hashtagging #BlackLivesMatter is not enough. We must walk our talk.

Educate yourself. Commit to doing this daily.

There is a wealth of generous resources from Reni Eddo Lodge’s ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race’ to Mireille Cassandra Harper’s 10 steps to Non-Optical Allyship.

From these words from the ever insightful Afua Hirsch:

… to Angela Saini’s book ‘Superior’.

Every one of the Black feminist writers and activists we have mentioned here and more.

A lot of this is accessible online and for free (but please, pay for their work and wisdom if you can).

Support organisations doing the work

There are many feminist, anti-racism and social justice organisations you can support.

We have compiled a list of grassroots women's organisations whose work is led by, for & dedicated to Black & minoritised women and girls in the UK from our sector.

If you are not in a position to donate, share their messages, their missions and their work on social media.

Do not ask Black people to educate you

It is not the responsibility of the Black community to teach you how to not be racist. They have been doing this work their whole lives and the resources are there if you look. Do your own research and acknowledge your White privilege. Understand that when we talk about White privilege, this is not saying that you have never faced challenges or discrimination in your life. It means that you have not faced these things as a direct result of your skin colour and the mechanisms within society that perpetuate racism.

Check your feminism

If you are of the view ‘but White women face oppression too’ you are missing the point. Your feminism is not intersectional. Once again, Audre Lorde says it best: “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”

Pass your learning on to others, look at your organisation, look at yourself.

At WRC, we commit to feminism and anti-racism being at the heart of everything we do.  We will continue our work toward substantive equality for women, aiming to keep Black women’s lives at the heart of our work and mission.

Audre Lorde - Sister Outsider



[3]'The Impact of the Two Pandemics: VAWG and COVID-19 on Black and Minoritised Women and Girls – Imkaan 2020