31st May 2020
I don’t feel angry today. I don’t feel unsure either. I am going to do it. I am going to call out my profession on Twitter for the deafening silence on George Floyd and the apathy that is emanating.
I open my Twitter and start writing. I am not planning what I am going to say, I am just going to go with the memories that flash and what I feel to write about racism in this country as I understand it. It seems to be somewhat chronological- that’s fine. I’ll go with that. Now time to take it to the present day and hit the message home. I know for a fact my grammar and punctuation use are erroneous in many places but hopefully people will overlook this. Mostly.
13/ And now I am in a profession where, as a black woman, I am even more of a minority and I feel like an outsider. Where every time I meet a client, I wonder and will always wonder if they’re questioning how I got where I am, my ability, or don’t want me around or to work with me.
14/ When they look at me skeptically, as I have seen some do, I don’t know if it’s just because I’m young (and look younger) or it’s what I fear that it is. My white contemporaries never, ever have to consider or worry about this.
15/ This is a snapshot, not even close to detailing all the instances of racism, violent and otherwise that I’ve experienced throughout my entire life and all the things I have to think about just existing as a black person. And clearly... I’ve had it lightly compared to others.
16/ If you think racism isn’t really a ‘thing’ in the UK and other places anymore, it is. If you think quietly being ‘not racist’ is enough, it’s not. If you think what happened to GEORGE FLOYD is an isolated incident, it’s not.
17/ If you feel uncomfortable or defensive about any of this, look inwards at why. And if you think your silence isn’t complicity. Well, you know what my response is.
Finished… now I need a ‘mic drop’ gif. Scrolling…scrolling… Obama. He doesn’t look too smug. Perfect.
I do not expect this will get much attention, but I don’t mind. I have spoken truth- my truth- and am not interested in attention on this occasion. They need to be paying attention to what is going on around them. As far as I’m concerned, I need that feeling of doing what you believe to be right and I have it now. I feel better; it felt cathartic. I put my phone down.
I have an advice to complete on maintenance pending suit and it’s been hanging over my head. I feel sick with anxiety every time I think about it and I just want it done. The person it is for told me they won’t be able to read it any time soon so there’s no rush, but even so, for me… I want it over.
I leave my phone in my bedroom, it’s a distraction I don’t need. I go to my living room and sweat over this advice. I am spell checking but my concentration has gone for the day. I use WhatsApp on my laptop to ask the person if it’s alright if I proof-read and send it in the morning. They repeat that there’s no rush so, okay. Relieved. It’s done! I mean, mostly, the worst bit is over with.
I go back to my bedroom and pick up my phone and wow, it’s hot. There’s a lot of blue on my lock-screen. What exactly is going on?! I open twitter and… OH MY GOSH. HUNDREDS of notifications. I scroll quickly and I am seeing so many tweets. Okay, okay, pick one and read it in full. Let me get a flavour of what’s being said. Thank you for sharing. You’re an inspiration. So eloquently written.
My tweets! They have gotten so much attention and it’s almost all positive. The tweets and messages keep coming. I am trying to reply to everyone, but the responses are coming faster than I can type. I am smiling so much- I have really moved people! Me! I call my mum, call my sister. I text my best friend. Even more tweets and messages flood in so I call my mum again. Call my best friend. Call my sister.
They are so proud and supportive. My mum sometimes worries about me having a big mouth when people are expecting someone in my position to be quiet, being so junior in this profession, but she doesn’t say anything like that all. She knows I did what I think is right and aside from weak moments, that’s what I’ll always do and there’s nothing that can stop me really, so she is proud I am staying true to my authentic self.
The notifications are winding down now and I’m tired so I’m going to try and go to sleep, but I’m still smiling.
1st June 2020
It’s 6am and the sun has the nerve to be high in the sky and pouring light into my bedroom window. I pull my phone out from under my pillow and… really? My tweets are still getting so much attention. I had thought that they were winding down, but Monday morning has propelled their reach even further.
Okay, I need to just read a couple and then go back to sleep as I’ve only had 3 hours and I really do despise spending my whole day tired. I don’t. I read tweets and messages and write replies until 8.30 am and then it’s time to start my working day.
I am reading my papers and taking notes, but I am a bit nervous because a lot of white people have contacted me but not many black people. Do they think I’m performative… pandering? Maybe they’re just so familiar with the topic of Black Lives Matter and #racism in the country that it didn’t grab their attention. I hope that’s what it is and that I’m not educating white people at the expense of alienating black people.
I am trying to concentrate but I am bothered, to be honest. I check my phone and I have a few Instagram messages now. My friend (black) says that I made her feel emboldened by sharing my experiences- she is emotional, but in a good way. I am reading the other tweets I’ve received, and more black people have said that my words resonated with them. I am so relieved. Maybe it shouldn’t matter, but it matters to me.
2nd June 2020
I feel really overwhelmed today and the anxiety is really setting in. People are saying I am an inspiration and a role model. I’m not. Some are saying I that am beautiful and strong, but I am not those things either and I feel like a fraud. I feel really sad.
I am also nervous about all the attention my tweets are getting. Some of the people I referred to that called me a ‘horse’ at university will have seen the tweets now. They’ll say to each other that it wasn’t racist and will discuss me and say awful things about me. I think they’ll mock me and laugh at me. It’s nothing to do with me and I can’t control it at all, but I just want to hide.
I check my phone for the first time, scroll through the messages and… surely not? I have been asked to appear on BBC News. I call my mum straight away- no answer. I call my sister- no answer. I am sorry, but how can people not be answering their phones when *this* has just happened?
I speak to them both eventually and they’re as shocked as me. We all agree though, that I have to do it.
How did a few tweets turn into this?!
3rd June 2020
I really cannot believe that this is actually happening today. My heart is pounding, and I just really don’t want to do it. I know it’s just because it’s out of my comfort zone, but still, it’s not a nice feeling. I feel like I have made a massive mistake and I am surprised that I had the audacity to agree to go on live television and discuss something so important. I cannot face breakfast. I am reading the same lines of this bundle again and again but it’s not sinking in because I can’t concentrate. I AM APPEARING LIVE ON TELEVISION LATER… WHAT?!!
I get a message asking if I want to shadow an online hearing… YES PLEASE! I am able to concentrate on the hearing and it reminds me why I love this job. I care. I care about the things that happen to these people’s lives and for a few blissful hours, I am able to actually think about something else except my anxiety.
The hearing is finished so I check my phone… an unknown number asks if I want to be on BBC Radio in the morning with Vanessa Feltz. More people want to hear from me?! I call my mum because I don’t want to do it. Vanessa Feltz is a fierce woman who will challenge me a lot and I am not an expert on race relations in this country. Akala is an expert. I am just a student. My mum says to do it, but of course she is going to say that- she thinks I am invincible.
Okay, deep breath, I call. The assistant is lovely! Is she an assistant? Maybe she has a different job title, but I am not sure. She is nice though. I explain to her I care about this topic- Black Lives Matter, the protests, racism and obviously what happened to George Floyd, but I am NOT an expert or career activist. She knows. She wants me on there anyway. I agree.
My working day is done and now it’s time… three hours are now left, give or take, and I am going to be sick. I have put on my lucky dress- this dress got me a few important interviews. Done my make-up. As for my hair… I don’t really have time, so the television viewers are just going to have to accept whatever hair I give them. I sit down with my sister on Skype and practice speaking and answering potential questions. I sing “LALALALA” and say I am warming up my vocal cords and she laughs. Now it’s time for her to go and I want to cry.
I stare at my laptop screen and wait. My heart is BEATING out of my chest, I cannot BELIEVE that I forgot to take a beta blocker. I am terrified and I am shaking, I can’t believe this is really happening. What if I completely embarrass myself and all my friends and family have to try and pretend that I did well? Oh no.
Skype call from BBC studios! They say they are just testing and ask me to shift my position on the camera as I am a little low. I shift but am scared because I now don’t know what angle I am at and I don’t want to look ugly. I can hear the show in the background and every, single second brings me closer to the guillotine. Then I hear, “standby”. Oh my ****. This is really happening. I am just looking at a black screen, but I can hear all the voices.
And I am on, and I am speaking and trying to talk slowly even though my voice is shaking. It is not as bad as I thought it’d be. These aren’t the questions I prepared for but they’re alright. I am little annoyed at my sister as I specifically asked her if my background was tidy and it could have been so much better, but I am doing okay. Then it’s over and I am told I can hang up.
I run from the spare bedroom into my living room and pace around, the adrenaline is still pumping. I did it! It’s over and it wasn’t even that bad! I call my mum and I just hear screaming as my family were all watching it together. Lots and lots of reassurances that I sounded good. Apparently, I was eloquent, articulate and my answers were not too long. What a relief. I ask if I looked ugly and am assured that I looked pretty. I know I won’t agree but at least they think so. The messages start coming in and it’s just overwhelming. I am going to order a take-away and relax now.
I order a take-away, but I don’t relax, I am too hyped!
13th June 2020
I can’t sleep at night, at the moment. I haven’t slept properly since George Floyd died. I think it’s a mixture of things. It is of course the upset and the anxiety that what happened to him has caused me and the things which it has led to me reliving but it’s not all of it. Part of it is the unrest and anticipation at the moment in this country and around the world- the protests but also the invisible battle that is taking place alongside the battle with COVID-19, and the disruptive presence this still has.
On a smaller level, it’s also the alteration of my usual schedule since a lot of communications and some opportunities have risen as a result of my Twitter ‘outburst’. I am spending a lot more time on things I have never done before and naturally for me, there is an anxiety around this which makes it harder to relax, rest and sleep… apparently.
Witnessing the momentum of the Black Lives Matter protests over the past couple of weeks or so has been crazy. Angela Davis said she has never experienced anything like what we’re currently seeing and that is huge. The statues being taken down both legally and… illegally! Okay, look, I am a legal professional, so I am never going to endorse criminal damage- not openly anyway. However, come on, the statue of a slaver being torn down by The People and thrown from the docks to a chorus of cheers is both poetic and FUNNY. It is.
14th June 2020
If I am being truthful, I was disappointed when I heard that the #BLM protested scheduled for yesterday was going to be cancelled. The racist ‘anti-protesters’ AKA just racists, were so smug and I kind of wanted them to be shown they can’t push people around or make them stop protesting.
I am now SO GLAD it was cancelled. The racist pub men really showed the country and anyone else looking in exactly what they’re about and exactly why they came… to get drunk, fight the police, showcase their ignorance and parade their racism. Try as they might, there’s no way for the media to manipulate the narrative with even a shred of credibility. If BLM protesters had been in the same vicinity en masse and clashed with the large numbers of racists that were out, this would have been all too easy to do. The tabloid newspapers have nothing to run with it. Ha.
On a more personal level, I was going to gloss over how badly I felt today. I didn’t want to look back and read this potentially, in years to come and be triggered as to how awful today was for me. However, I also didn’t want to look back and read this and think: you are big, fat liar. You had a s**t day that day- I remember.
It’s just been one of those days where you feel sad about the past, confidence is a bit low, you’re worried, there’s nothing you’re really looking forward to.
I spoke to my friend who told me a story she said that she’s never told anyone and honestly, I wasn’t expecting to feel better at all, but I did. I started to feel hope and up-beat-ness. I feel focused on my goals and dreams. Bring it on, life I’m ready. (Please be kind though, I am not daring you to give me hell.)