Eli Gardner shares what Black Lives Matter (2020) means to her and her family, and to Kids Matter…
“Silence is violence” was the slogan on one of the cardboard placard held aloft by one of my fellow protesters on Sunday’s march from the American Embassy to Parliament Square. Thousands of people of all ages and ethnicities, walking peacefully together chanting slogans in protest against the brutal, unlawful killing of George Floyd.
Of all the statements and slogans like “No Justice, no Peace” held by my 14 year old son or “The UK is not innocent” which are undoubtedly true, this one: “Silence is Violence” is the one that struck a deep and personal chord.
I come from a multi-national, dual religion and arguably dual race background. My mother is Israeli, born in Palestine to German Jews which makes me and all 3 of my children Jewish.
We were not raised in the Jewish faith and when I was 21 I made a commitment to be a Christian. My father was a lapsed Anglican, born and raised in Australia who moved us as a family from the UK, where my parents married, to live in Rome, Italy where I spend my whole childhood after his death when I was little until coming to the UK for university where I have remained, having married an American.
The school I attended was an International school with 65 nationalities and one of the gifts from my unusual background is a genuine acceptance and appreciation of people from anywhere in the world and of whatever ethnicity or religion or nationality. Or so I thought.
What this week has painfully revealed to me, is how my bland “I am genuinely colour blind” or “I am definitely not racist” is a weak and ineffectual stance and doesn’t go anywhere near far enough. When finding myself confronted by blatant racism in conversations or in the public forum, I would have no doubt vigorously denied that I agreed but in reality I don’t SAY OR DO ANYTHING. Even on the smallest scale, I have not joined a protest against the blatant racism shown again and again in both the UK and the US or raised my voice in anyway before now. I have felt sorrow but not seen it as anything really to do with ME. I was telling my 22 year old daughter who has been distraught this past week that I genuinely didn’t see it as my fight to fight, that I would not be needed or even welcomed.
I don’t know why people like me have suddenly woken up and realised it has EVERYTHING TO DO WITH ME. It is indeed ‘peverse’ as Elizabeth James said, to expect Black people to bring about equality when they are the very ones who are being oppressed. This is something WE, as white people need to engage with and DO BETTER.
At Kids Matter, we are proud that we reach parents facing disadvantages from every race represented in the UK, but we have so far failed to have our organisation reflect the racial makeup of our parents and THIS MUST CHANGE. I resolve to do better. I resolve to have uncomfortable conversations, to have moments of embarrassment as I blunder and get things wrong and I resolve to not take part anymore in the silence that is violence.
If you’d like to find out more about Kids Matter or would like to get involved, as a volunteer or by financially supporting our programme, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And for more on our IMPACT, click here.