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Lockdown and BLM

Ife, 17 photo Ife, 17 · 10 Nov, 2020

Ife thinks back over the challenges of the first lockdown, and how the struggles of BLM movement came to define the experience for her.

Hi, my name is Ife and I'm just here to talk a little bit about my experience these past few months. Living through lockdown and anything else.

So I'm 17, I just turned 17 in July. So right now I'm doing my last, like final year of secondary school, I'm in year 13. So over lockdown, I was in year 12, schooling from home. And to be honest for me, that was really, really difficult. Just not being in the classroom, not having the same teacher support, because we just got like sent the work we had to do, and we kinda just had to teach ourselves. And teaching yourself A levels is really difficult. So it was really, really strange to kind of wake up and not feel like you have much of a purpose during that day.

But for me, I probably would say that, that wasn't actually as hard as just the way race issues sparked up, over lockdown shall I say. Most people know about how George Floyd's tragic death was a catalyst for many people to speak up and be like, enough is enough, this has been going on for so long. Why can't you see this, why isn't anyone joining us? Why aren't you like joining in with this fight? Because this is wrong and there's a pattern, a trend, and it shouldn't be the case.

So it was really difficult to see that kind of thing on social media, because that's where I got a lot of my information from, and I think a lot of my friends did as well. And like the video of his death was very graphic, like I couldn't watch the video, I couldn't finish it. And for me, what was really difficult, was actually speaking to people around me. Like close friends, family, church members etcetera, because they would, like you know, try and be empathetic and everything.

And a lot of them were saying like, I never knew this was such a big issue, like I never knew this was so difficult.

And for me, I was just like, that personally, is not a good enough reason. Because, how?

And admittedly, I have an advantage in recognising certain issues, I can recognise micro-aggression very quickly. I can recognise overt and covert racism because I'm a black woman, I've experienced it, I've experienced it my entire life and that has never changed really.

But even to some things, someone said to me, like now they finally understood why black students or any group of black people in a PWI, a predominantly white institution, may congregate together. And I was just like, that is terrible to me, because you are a grown adult. You've lived for so long and you never once knew that. You could've asked somebody at any point in your life and they could've told you.

If you'd have asked me, seven months ago, I would've said, because you need that community, you need that familiarity, that everything is so different. People treat you so differently, you feel like you're other, and you just need a space where you can just be yourself without any expectations. Nobody's holding you to any stereotypes, they're not expecting you to be a certain way, act in a certain manner or change yourself, because of their like incorrect perception of who you should be or what being black makes you. That - of course, but maybe I'm too harsh in thinking that it should be that obvious.

But I think a lot of these things that people could've understood by just having a conversation with someone.

With that being said, it is obviously great now, that these conversations are being had, that people are you know, willing to learn, understand and they wanna do better. They understand that before like it wasn't great, like it wasn't good enough kind of thing. So I just have to have faith that it will all actually amount to something, and that the outcome will be positive and different people suffering wasn't for nothing, you know.

The most prominent thing that has actually helped me, is just knowing that I can put my faith in God. I can actually take this weight off of my shoulders and pass it to God, and be able to be like, I don't need to carry this burden alone, I don't need to be the only one screaming for change to happen, because I know that there's someone else with more power, who like has my back. Who's on the side of justice and doesn't want his people to suffer. So that has really been great.

There's other little stuff, other self care tips that people talk about, and like talking to my friends has helped like. My close friends have really been good, but mainly talking to God.

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