8 Women around the world discuss BLM Protests & Racism

“Black Lives Matter can’t be an utopia, it must be a fact.”


While I found myself trying to explain gender equality and the lack of it to someone who does not live personally this issue on its own skin I ran into a comment of a black woman, and in that moment I realized that all that rage I was feeling from being misunderstood trying to talk about such a huge clear privilege in our society must have felt double to that woman and many others, who besides the obvious gender issue in our society, must constantly live trough the huge issue we face with racism.

In time we thought about how we could use our platform Mulieris using and transforming our privilege by creating a space where we could gather and discuss what it means to be a woman of color in our country. So, on December 2019 we gathered a group of black women with various backgrounds to discuss how to talk about this topic together, clearly and respectfully.

What came out from our meeting was an exchange of experiences and sensations, many

of which as a white person or white passing I never had to go through. It was an acknowledging of our privilege and a commitment to change things together.

That day we started working on an editorial for our printed magazine, that will continue in

the future online as well, focusing on different stories from each of those girls we managed to meet (no spoilers on the editorial that’s gonna come out soon).

All of this brought us to make this article about BLM protests and racism in the world the first article we post in our online platform, as a promise and first step to the commitment we made that day.

We shared our platform with 8 women around the world taking parts to BLM protests by asking them how these are affecting their specific cities and themselves:


Sara

Bologna, Italy

“I’m tired, i can’t go on like this, I’m Tired” screams a girl on the microphone.

It’s June 6th 2020 and even Bologna protests in the name of the BLM movement and against each form of racism.

As a photographer and member of the Mulieris Team I decided to document closely what’s happening.

People share their stories, and there are so many, there’s some who have been in Italy for a short time and read their speeches on their phones trying to use the right words, some who, on the other hand, were born in Italy and have been living here for a long time.

All gathered together to be each other’s strength in order to share the pain of the friends they lost at sea, the ones gone while working, fighting non-regularized jobs, residence permits that keep getting delayed, the pain of growing up in a country they often don’t identify with and where they don’t get enough if not any recognition.

What does it feel like to experience racism on my own skin? What does it mean to grow up with a skin color that’s not white?

I don’t know and I’ll never know. I never felt “tired” of being white because I never carried the weight of the “wrong” color. Some people still claim we don’t carry a privilege, isn’t this enough of a privilege to you?!

This must be a moment of reflection towards every form of power and abuse of it.

I’d like to remember some of the people who have been victim of the police’s brutality in Italy as well: Carlo Giuliani, Federico Aldrovandi, Stefano Cucchi and many others.

I hope all the lives that have been taken away which nowadays don’t have a name or a face are not gone without making noise.

Rhiannon

Sydney, Australia

The Black Lives Matter protests in the US have sparked action within Australia and prompted an inward look into our own battle with systemic racism and police brutality with in the country, particularly toward *First Nations People. The mistreatment, racism and abuse of First Nations People in Australia is no new issue, it has been a pervasive injustice since the colonization of the country but the political unrest in the US has encouraged our own people to speak louder, be anti-racist and protest for change within society and Government.

Rallies to stop all black deaths in custody and vigils for George Floyd were held throughout Australia in major cities but the largest was held in Sydney, Saturday, June 6th, after a ban on the rally was overturned by The Supreme Court of New South Wales just 12 minutes before it was due to begin. About 20,000 people gathered for the protest organized by the Indigenous Social Justice Association, Anticolonial Asian Alliance and USYD Autonomous Collective Against Racism, which remained peaceful until police used pepper spray on a group of protestors in Central Station allegedly used to disperse the crowd. Accusations have been made that police were pushing protestors into the station but due to social distancing regulations Sydney Transport Staff allegedly attempted to limit the number of people in the station.

Social media has been inundated with content covering: police brutality, indigenous deaths in custody, racism, and information on how to use white privilege and be actively anti-racist.

* First Nations People refer to Australia’s indigenous population. Traditional owners of the

land.


Sylphia

Toronto, Canada

I live in Toronto, Canada. Canadians for as long as I can remember have had this “at least

we’re not America” mentality. That while, yes, racism exists here, it’s not systemic problem, not the way it is there. But for people of colour, our existence is enough to know that this isn’t true. My personal experiences and that of my poc friends are enough to tell me that racism is rooted here too, and often white Canadians turn a blind eye to it. That’s not even mentioning the way our country treats it’s indigenous people. Even with overwhelming evidence, people of colour had a hard time thinking “racism” without being accused of exaggerating. I feel like these last two weeks have been the tipping point. Along with George Floyd, Toronto has its own experience with police brutality on the same day, the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, who was allegedly pushed from her balcony by Toronto police after a welfare check gone wrong. I feel like at that point we had reached a point where enough is enough.

We have since had 4 protests in various locations across the city. They have addressed police brutality in both Canada and the United States. The police in Toronto have ,so far, remained peaceful, although they are suspected of planting bricks around the city. These last two weeks I believe have been a wake up call to Canada. We are not angels. We are not a “better America”. We have our own ugly history with racism and we need to confront it. My community has mostly been raising awareness both about events in the States and my city. We are currently working towards defunding Toronto Police and including historic racism in Canada as well as more history of different cultures into our curriculums. And as we are trying to change these things, we have discovered an ugly truth about the people in charge our country, which is that they are too complacent in the current system, which of course benefits them. However, I believe with time and hard work, real change later can be made.

Not just here but around the world and it’s about time. We all need to do better.


Kimberly

Milan, Italy

June 7th will always be a memorable date for me. I felt the solidarity of hundreds of people committed to a single cause, Black Lives Matters and all other forms of racism. Taking part to this manifestation made me realize that, despite the bad, the ignorance and the fear towards “diverse”, there’s also hope, and that hope is on/in the people.

A multiethnic city like Milan, always divided by skin color, different accents and neighborhoods, that day was one single group; citizens from the same land: the world. The speeches that have been made got stuck in me and in those who were there as well, I’m quite sure all the participants felt the unity that was generated there.

On June 7th we cried, we screamed and we laughed all together and it was way more

than a simple protest.

I hope that the various events happening all over the world can make those who hardly understand in a position of awakening and comprehension.

It’s on the people to change this, we must constantly ask questions, read and never give up and most of all talk with each other.

It’s a long and hard journey...but the Black Lives Matter can’t be an utopia, it must be a fact.

Naomi

Florence, Italy

I’m Naomi T and I’m 21yrs old. I’m Eritrean even though I was born and raised in Firenze.

I learned about racism when I was 6/7yrs old in elementary school, when a random kid yelled at me “brutta scimmia negra”. I remember that the only 2 people that supported me were a Moroccan and a Pakistani girl. From that day till I was 13, I prayed to God every night before bed to wake up the next day white, like the rest of my classmates, and all the mornings I was disappointed because of my blackness.

I started straightening my hair so that I could look more like the other kids. I abandoned myself, because I guess being black in a white world, leads you to that.

At the age of 17 I started learning about my culture. It saddens me that today we got all of this attention after too many people passed away, but as I usually say in the bad there’s the good too.

This movement gave all of us the courage to talk about our daily issues that most of the people don’t know because we never talk about them since it’s something that we are “ashamed of”... and maybe that sense of being ashamed comes from the fact that all these violences that we have to face are tolerated and accepted.

But I no longer will be silent, because it’s not the right thing since the only thing we ask for is to be treated by the people and by the law, in working’s places, in every field just the exact same way as the rest.

Re-evaluate your believes and start over, you are on time!


Rakeb

Amsterdam, Netherlands

My name is Rakeb and I’m 27 years old. I live in the Netherlands, Amsterdam. My parents

came here as refugees from Eritrea to create a better future for themselves and their kids. The Netherlands has this tradition for children and it’s called Sinterklaas, celebrated on December 5th. Sinterklaas comes with many helpers, called ́Zwarte Pieten (Black Petes) ́. Back in the days, me as a kid got confronted so many times with this figure because of my skin color. Kids were telling me I look like black pete or that I didn’t have to paint my face because I’m already black.

The first of June, I went to the Black Lives Matter demonstration on the Dam. I felt so much unity and power during this protest...

One of the things that also got mentioned was to cancel ‘Black Face’. Some of our provinces already said ‘Black Pete’ isn’t welcome anymore from this year and that they see it as racism. I see this as a first step in the right way from the many steps we have ahead us.

Let’s continue to educate ourselves, learn and talk about racism.


Kelly

Paris, France

I’m Kelly, a photographer and artist born and raised in Busalla, province of Genova, Italy, by a Brazilian mother and an Italian father.

During my childhood and adolescence in Liguria I never experienced real episodes of racism, but people still talk you know, and I often felt that look you get when you are different, a look you grow up to get used to live with.

I remember how they laughed at my mother at the post office when they asked her if she was my dad’s caregiver due to her skin color and the age gap between them, or that arrogant tone they used to get when my mom spoke to me in Portuguese: <We’re in Italy mom, we must speak Italian>.

Thank god she never stopped, despite being scared to confuse me sometimes, being bilingual gave me that mind opening you need in order to learn easily even more languages, I now speak 7, 4 of which fluently.

When I grew up I moved to Padova for an artistic residence and after that I graduated and went to Milan for work, there I started being aware of racism, the real evil, verbal, explicit one, expressed without any shame, like if it wasn’t a crime.

When I rarely got the chance to discuss it I was told I was being iper sensitive and susceptible, they said they were just joking.

When I finally moved to Paris I realized the I wasn’t the one who was wrong, who was being sensitive, the problem was the system I grew up in.

Obviously colonization, deportations and racism passed through here as well, France was definitely not a perfect state but integration here’s quite different and you can tell instantly.

I still remember my aunt saying “How many black people here and how many of those

Paris’ prefecture prohibited manifestations in G.Floyd’s memory and blocked all the

accesses to the American Embassy, where the crowd was supposed to gather. This though did not stop the peaceful parades happening between the Champs Elysées, Place de La Concorde and Champ de Mars, where Essa Traoré, the leader of the BLM movement in Paris, asked to gather together in order to commemorate Adama’s brother, murdered by the police on July 19th 2016 and for which there’s still hasn’t been justice after 4 years.

What if 2020 is the year we’ve all been waiting for?

What if 2020 wasn’t just a year of bad news but a year when we can finally fight for things we care about and be woke?



Sara

New York, USA

I live in the lower east side of Manhattan and of the four protests I have been able to attend, they have all been peaceful, made up people taking to the streets for their voices to be heard and recognized. Speakers and activist are using this time to scream up and out to a large group willing and passionate to listen, learn and contribute. People are taking to all platforms to inform, involve, and educate their wider communities with things all people should know and stand up for and against. Mass action is taking hold and ugliness and evil are being exposed from all all angles. Something feels different this time.

Every single milestone in my life unfortunately could be paired with an event of inhuman evil and subsequent outcry for reform. The repetition and trauma is unacceptable beyond belief and people are tired of the deep grieving that takes place and then the slow crawl back to normalcy with little to no change happening. It will not stand. People have been softened and united by a collective fight against a massless evil with no thought or cause to the way we divide ourselves. Every single resident of New York has now been made aware of what it feels like to have a large ominous presence looming over them with the threat of death, something this city has faced before, and will survive again. People are impassioned for change and it’s about damn time, for the evil of racism has been allowed to patrol and control for far too long.



Article by Greta Langianni

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