The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.Alvin Toffler
Like so many people at the moment, I feel like I’ve cycled through the entire gamut of human emotion while witnessing recent events around the world. There is a lot to process right now.
Although there continues to be issues relating to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement has taken centre stage. Perhaps rightly so, as the issues it raises have been around a lot longer.
Because I think it’s important to be vocal about this issue, I want to share how recent events have impacted my own activism and personal ethics.
Though I have always been firmly against discrimination and racism, I have certainly fallen into the comfortable position of being quietly not racist, as opposed to being openly anti-racist. Contributing to this are the intellectual holes within my understanding of British history. We are a nation built upon Imperialism, Colonialism and Slavery.
Some people may suggest there is limited value in delving into our dark past as long as we are working for positive change in the present but I feel it’s important to better my education in order to understand the scale of the work required.
The blood of those past sins is still there deep within the foundations of a society that I am part of and ultimately benefit from.
To that end I have expanded my personal reading list to help further my understanding. As well as numerous articles highlighting Black and minority voices in regard to racial issues, I am also reading ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ by Reni Eddo-Lodge.
This is uncomfortable reading but as someone who is an advocate for positive change in the world I view it as an important part of the work.
I found this Twitter thread by British Journalist Elle Osili-Wood hugely informative. For me, there was particular value in the simple statement:
“If you support change but don’t know what to say — say that.”
I also really liked this statement by Alastair Humphreys on his own journey and self-reflection.
As part of the fell and mountain running community I share a love of the outdoors and this is one area in particular which is sorely lacking in racial diversity. For all the well-meaning inclusivity and acceptance, there is still dialogue to be shared and work to be done.
As Al says: we must “actively welcome a more diverse society into the outdoor world.”
This is something I hope to work on myself and, like many aspects of my art and work, it’s all a work-in-progress and I’m prone to making mistakes as I go. But I will not let this deter me from working harder for a better, more diverse, more thoughtful world and I would sincerely encourage others to never stop learning and re-learning about how to do better.
Please feel free to share your own thoughts and suggestions with me. Thanks for reading.