Today I did a day of work.
After work my lovely fiancé and I took a short drive to stand outside a potential wedding venue and peer through the windows.
Then I came home and changed the world.
Not in a major way at all, I should add. All I did was I got my laptop out, and I wrote a letter (directed to Liz Truss MP, currently serving as Secretary of State for International Trade) and I sent it to my local MP, Rachel Reeves. Yesterday, I had approached my local councillors to ask if they would countersign a letter to Liz Truss, asking for confirmation that US export licenses for riot equipment and various crowd suppressants were being revoked, given the systematic misuse of these items by the US government.
My local councillors supported my views, and suggested a more powerful statement would be a letter from Rachel, on behalf of our whole constituency. Today I didn’t hear an update on the progress of drafting this letter and sharing with Rachel for her to send, so tonight I drafted it and sent it to her myself.
I have no idea if she’ll even see the letter, or if it will be drastically redrafted by her office before it is passed on to Liz Truss. I hope it isn’t, because a big part of my job is drafting communications and I think it’s quite a good letter (though I accept there’s always room for improvement).
So when I say I’ve changed the world, I don’t really know to what extent – it might barely have an effect.
But these actions are so important, because even if it feels potentially ineffective and insignificant, it’s better than nothing. I will never be famous for the impact I have on the world around me, there will be no statues of me, I will not be immortalised for my good deeds. But together, with lots of small actions, we will change the world.
We are living through a revolution, and as white people there are a lot of us who need to learn a lot, quickly, to keep up. I am learning day by day what it means to be an effective ally, including not demanding that my black friends and colleagues teach me, but being ready to listen, hear and learn what they have to say. I am looking for new sources of information, and challenging myself to identify behaviours which aren’t helpful to the wider racial justice movement. I am so lucky to have grown up with a diverse family who travelled and exposed me to a huge range of cultures, nationalities and heritages. I hope my family and friends who are people of colour feel served and supported by me as an ally.
My letter* may go nowhere, but I am choosing not to be silent on this issue.
Black lives matter.
*I haven’t often written to my MP, and initially I struggled to find the right words. While it’s important that if you contact your representatives you do so in your own voice, feel free to get in touch if you’d like to see my letter or use my wording, or if you’d like help drafting any formal communications to your representatives.