Dear Black Influencers,
It is good that you often speak out whenever there’s an issue against your Blackness. I applaud the passion you all unanimously speak out with. All of that are good but, I want to remind you all today that those reactions are not good enough. Reacting to situations is never going to yield any desired result that when you proactively create a process of norm.
I have observed very carefully and closely especially since the news broke yesterday of Anne Marie Morris MP’s racial slur of using the N word. I have seen every and any Black influencer jumping on the bandwagon to condemn her and ask for her resignation. Which is fine. After her resignation what next? You all shrink back into your various boxes of ‘feel good, I’m above them’.
Let me remind you this before I go too far Black, you always will be Black until we collectively as a people break the chain of the stereotype. It reminds me of when Oprah Winfrey went into a shop in Switzerland and was treated with disdain. Or do I mention of how Samuel Etoo was disrespected when he wanted to buy a watch in London? Let me tell you Black influencers, It doesn’t matter how much you earn or achieve as an individual, until we make being seen successful a norm and a lifestyle for Blacks then you are still in the same category as any other Black and you will be treated as a Ni**a.
If you do not use your success and influence to hold as many black people up as possible, do not come to cry wolf, wolf because you are just as evil as those racists.
So many times, you influencers believe you’ve crossed the threshold of being looked down on and therefore distance yourself from organisations and platforms standing celebrating and recognising black excellence. Until when you will get the racist burns will you remember you have a people who can be your backbone.
Black MPs, celebrities and other influencers are the only group who will never be proud to be seen in the midst of their people. Every other race go all the way to endorse and help champion causes, support organisations that are doing there best to help and bring value to their community and race at large.
I applaud Chi Onwurah MP for the article in the guardian, endorsing and supporting the initiative to bring Black Beauty to the fore as part of normalising blackness.
I so often hear diversity in the workplace, equal opportunity and all that. But the more I hear of that the more it seems Black people have been shoved to the side. We have passionate influencers speaking out for White women, speaking out for LBGT, speaking out for disabled people meanwhile in the mix, the mostly affected in all the discrimination are left to feign for themselves. Simply because those of our people who we have supported up there to speak for us simply become too comfortable and ashamed to be seen as ‘those people’.
This is our 5 years running this magazine and 4 years since Divas of Colour came to the fore, it has been more difficult to get the so called black influencer to associate with the initiatives. I have specifically written to Diane Abbott MP and Chuka Umunna MP severally and they will not even acknowledge our letters. I can visualise them say leave those low people out. I ask, if you feel so ashamed to be associated or feel too into ourselves to build up platforms that will engage our people positively and build our community economically, create more thought leaders and influencers, why then do we think Blackness will ever be respected or valued?
If you Black influencers are serious about fighting racism, discrimination against black people, poverty within our communities, and or fighting youth crimes or displacement, then you must be seen passionately supporting and endorsing positive projects that bring to the fore black excellence, celebrate black creativity, talent and people. You must be seen holding in your hands and pulling up organisations building economy and rendering services to the community. Black media specifically need your support, your endorsement, your mentorship, your contributions, your contacts to grow, to become mainstream, to influence opinions, challenge narratives and be respected.
If you can’t do any of these, then please stop using situations that you have directly and indirectly created to make yourselves look relevant. It is hypocrisy. You cannot only fight racism by reacting to situations alone. You cannot be a voice for Black people by only acting when there’s negative story. You need to start fighting by building a strong, stable and growing community with more and more role models for our young people to look up to . You alone can’t do it, but you can help champion, build and grow organisations that will be help more people than you can ever reach on your own. I will recommend you to take a leaf from your American counterparts where Black celebrities work with communities, organisations and individuals to create more influencers who make impact. Then when you speak during an incident, it will have more weight, your leadership will be felt even more, your influence will be more relevant to the youth in the street. Your words will be more valuable and yield more results.
Let us start doing now and not reacting. We need your presence, we need your impact. We need actions not reactions.
Enough is enough.
First written for and published on C. Hub Magazine