Black Lives Matter: Accounts you need to follow and learn from

As thousands show their support of Black Lives Matter, many of us are asking: how can we be better allies? We share the influencers, authors, and public speakers who are helping us learn

The world is on fire right now. 2020 has been the very epitome of ‘may you live in interesting times’. While lockdown and the coronavirus pandemic may be at the forefront of our minds, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people across the world aren’t the only tragedies to strike this year.

Footage of George Floyd being killed in police custody began to be shared on social media on 25 May. Marches, protests, riots, and looting has followed in the US. #BlackLivesMatter protests took place in countries across the world, with hundreds gathering in London to show their support.

It’s easy to take a step back, and to watch with the privileged eyes of an observer. ‘We don’t have a racism problem like they do in the US’, ‘Our police/system isn’t like that’, But the thing is, we do.

We also have a responsibility to stand up and say when we see something wrong.

We have a system that has its flaws, that has seen black people die in police custody. In 2018, it was revealed the police custody deaths in the UK had hit the highest they had in the past decade. The US may be a loud, visible example of systematic racism, but its prominence and frequent media attention doesn’t lessen the impact of racism faced by individuals and communities around the world – including here in the UK.

Anti-racism isn’t about being quiet and comfortable. We need to challenge ourselves, our behaviours, and the behaviour of those we see around us. We need to educate ourselves – on our own privilege, and on the issues we may not even know others are facing. We need to speak up. We need to learn to be better allies.

When we remain silent, we risk sending the message that we do not see what is wrong with what is happening. When we fail to speak up, we put our own comfort before what we know is right.

If like me, you want to be a better ally, but you just don’t know where to start, we’ve put together some of the voices, influencers, authors, movements, and resources to help you get started.

A kind reminder: Please do not contact any of the influencers or individuals recommended below via direct or private message to ask questions. Many anti-racist educators are flooded with direct questions. It is not their job to take their time and emotional labour to teach us. We can all listen, learn, and do our own research. If you are able to, please also consider paying educators for their work. Many will have links to Patreons, Paypal accounts etc. on social media, or sell books/courses on the subject.

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Right now, Black people’s DMs (especially those of us who are anti-racist educators and authors) are being flooded by long essays from people who have white privilege asking us to personally walk them through understanding white supremacy, what they can do, and what things mean, as well as correcting us or asking us to explain ourselves. Our DMs are inundated with request after request for free emotional and educational labour, as if we are the human versions of Google.com. Which isn’t okay ever. But is even more egregrious right now when the Black community is in so much pain. So I’m going to keep repeating this: Stay Out Of Our DMs Stay Out Of Our DMs Stay Out Of Our DMs ••• We are tired. We are scared. We are grieving. We are pissed off. And we do not owe you anything. For educators and authors such as myself, we already have links in our bios that are chock-full of resources for you to get on with the work. We already have hundreds if not thousands of posts where we have taught for free. We already have podcasts and interviews and books and classes where we explain things again and again and again. We are not your personal dial-up service. Take your well-meaning, well-intentioned selves to the resources we’ve already created and do the work there. And then take yourselves to the actual Google.com and spend time and energy searching for the answers you seek. ••• Do not underestimate or undervalue us or the work we do just because we are on this platform. And do not continue to add to our exhaustion and racial trauma by coming into our DMs and asking us for our time, energy, and wisdom. White supremacy kills Black people this way too. Slowly, over time, by wearing us down.

A post shared by LAYLA THEE ANCESTRESS (@laylafsaad) on May 30, 2020 at 7:20am PDT


Influencers for change

Rachel E Cargle

Academic, writer, and lecturer Rachel encourages critical thinking and guides conversations through her social media platforms. Her academic work and activism centre around provisioning the resources and tools needed to explore the intersection of race and womanhood.

Teaching students about the racist histories of different American systems, she has featured in publications ranging from The Washington Post to Harpers Bazaar, as well as making an appearance on the TEDx stage.

Follow Rachel on Rachel Cargle or on Instagram @rachel.cargle.

Grace F Victory

Blogger, YouTuber, mental health advocate, columnist and podcast host Grace is an award-winning creator. Talking about the problems that all young people face, her work has covered everything from plus size fashion to therapy, sex to diet culture, trauma to self awareness and spirituality.

Together with Simone Powderly, their podcast, The Sister Space Podcast, is a remembrance of power and a safe space to be. Looking at important, relevant, and often difficult topics, the focus is on healing, and how open conversation can help us to get there.

Read more from and about Grace on Grace F Victory or follow her on Instagram @gracefvictory. Follow Simone on Instagram @simonepowderly

Trevor Noah

Comedian, talk show host and New York Times bestselling author Trevor Noah is perhaps best known for his debut book, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood as well as more recently, for his role as the host of the award-winning The Daily Show.

Born in South Africa to a black South African mother and white European father, Trevor’s book shares a collection of personal stories about growing up in South Africa as apartheid came to an end. Known for his social and political commentary, Trevor is a captivating and heartfelt speaker who blends comedy with impactful, thought-provoking stories and news to engage audiences worldwide.

Follow Trevor at Trevornoah, on Youtube or Instagram @thedailyshow.

Reni Eddo-Lodge

Award-winning journalist, author, and podcaster Reni is perhaps best known for her critically acclaimed debut non-fiction book, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. Exploring her frustration with the way race and racism in Britain were being led by those not affected by it, her book explores issues ranging from whitewashed feminism to the link between class and race, eradicating black history to white privilege.

As Reni says in Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, “When I talk about white privilege, I don’t mean that white people have it easy, that they’ve never struggled, or that they’ve never lived in poverty. But white privilege is the fact that if you’re white, your race will almost certainly positively impact your life’s trajectory in some way. And you probably won’t even notice it.”

Uncomfortable but essential reading, her work is an eye-opening reflection on experiences of racism in Britain. Reni’s podcast, About Race looks to take the conversation a step further. Featuring key voices in anti-racist activism, you can listen to the podcast for free now.

Follow Reni on Twitter, or at Reni Eddo-Lodge.

Mireille Cassandra Harper

Writer, assistant editor, publicist, and contributor to @girlsletstalk__ – a place for womxn to learn, educate, inspire, and connect – has created a 10 step guide for those who actively want to support and by an ally.

Challenging readers to create a long-term strategy, stop supporting organisations (including media platforms) that promote or fund hate, check in with black loved ones, and understand what optical allyship really is, Mireille is passionate about diversity and inclusion.

Campaigning and fighting for equality, Mireille uses her learned experience, skills, and compassion to offer advice to allies. You can check out her further recommended reading through these Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Follow Mireille on Twitter or Instagram @mireillecharper.

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Social media has been a bit overwhelming since I first put up this post so it has taken some time for me to post this. On Friday, I shared this content on Twitter after I felt the conversations online were like screaming into an echo chamber. I wanted to provide those who wanted to support and be an ally with practical tips to move forward and make a change in our society. I am still somewhat surprised and overwhelmed by the reception so please take patience with me at this time. — For a note on who I am to those who have followed me from Twitter, my name is Mireille. I’m an assistant editor and I do freelance writing, PR and sensitivity reading and other bits on the side. I am extremely passionate about diversity and inclusion, and everything I have shared is not new knowledge to me. From as far back as I can remember I’ve been campaigning, fighting for equality and supporting and working with black owned organisations. I have worked in the diversity and inclusion space for around four years and I have been equipped with knowledge, skills etc through that work as well as through wider, intensive reading and being raised by a Jamaican mother who has a degree in Women’s Studies. I felt as a mixed race person who was emotionally capable despite the current situation that I could use my learned experience, skills and compassion to offer this advice to allies and anyone else who was seeking advice but didn’t know where to turn. This is now on my stories as a highlight so please feel free to share from there or here. — A small reminder that this took emotional labour and POC, especially black people are not here to teach you everything. When I said ask how you can support, I meant on a personal level as a friend etc. I hope this toolkit provides you with the starter info you need but there are genuinely people more experienced than me who warrant your listening to – please go and follow @nowhitesaviors, @laylafsaad, @rachel.cargle, @ckyourprivilege, @iamrachelricketts, @thegreatunlearn, @renieddolodge, @ibramxk + a few more: @akalamusic, @katycatalyst + @roiannenedd who all have books or resources from many more years of experience. _ Peace, love and light 🙏🏼❤️🌟

A post shared by Mir☀️ (@mireillecharper) on May 30, 2020 at 1:58pm PDT

Alishia McCullough

Mental health therapist, author, and self-love promoter Alishia speaks frequently about black feminism, race, body justice, and anti-diet culture. A guest on the Be Well, Sis podcast, Alishia spoke about her journey and experiences as a black therapist, as well as the racial disparities in diagnosing eating disorders in marginalised communities, and the importance of having (and enforcing) mental health boundaries.

Follow Alishia @blackandembonied.

Layla F. Saad

Writer, speaker, and host of the Good Ancestor podcast Layla speaks frequently on the topics of race, identity, personal transformation, leadership, and social change.Her bestselling debut book, Me and White Supremacy is all about recognising your privilege, combatting racism, changing the world, and becoming a good ancestor.

Originally published as an Instagram challenge encouraging people to open up to and share their racist behaviours big and small, thousands took part in the challenge which led to her expanded and updated work. Working on the idea that awareness leads to action, and action leads to change, Layla’s writing highlights to us that we should make the step from reading and learning, to do something that makes a difference.

Follow Layla at Laylafssad, on YouTube or Instagram @laylafsaad.

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To the folks with white privilege reading #MeAndWhiteSupremacy, but not putting pen to paper to do the journaling: You’re cheating. This is not a book you Read. This is a book you Do. And it is easy to tell the difference between someone who has read the book vs someone who has done the book. ••• Reading the book will give you an intellectual understanding of white supremacy and a mental understanding of racism in general. You’ll be able to call out other people’s racism, but not your own because you haven’t truly looked at yourself. Doing the book will require you to put yourself inside the framework of white supremacy, pull deep from your subconscious your racist thoughts and beliefs that lay in the shadows, recall deep memories of how white supremacy manifested in your life, and actually change how you show up because you understand your white privilege and your racism on a *visceral* level now, not just a conceptual one. ••• If you’re just going to read the book but not do the journaling, what you’re saying is – I want to be part of the solution, but I want to risk nothing. Not even examining my own complicity in this system from the safety of my own home, in the privacy of my own journal, in the comfort of my own privilege. Simply read the book if you want, but don’t kid yourself that you’re practicing anti-racist allyship. You’re still complicit, now you just have the racial justice jargon to pretend to others that you’re not.

A post shared by LAYLA THEE ANCESTRESS (@laylafsaad) on May 31, 2020 at 6:55am PDT

Dr Dwight Turner

Dr Turner is a psychotherapist and senior university lecturer. His upcoming book is set to link the intersectional theory of privilege and otherness to counselling and psychotherapy. In a recent blog for BME Voices Talk Mental Health, a platform where BME therapists share good practice and research, Dr Turner shared his personal experiences as a black man with fear, therapy, isolation, and activism.

You can read his article, Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos for free on BMEvoices.

Follow Dr Turner on Twitter.


Show your support

Join the global movement, find out more about how you can show your support, or to donate, visit BlackLivesMatter. Originally founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, the Black Lives Matter Foundation has made it their mission to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities.

To find out more about how you can be an ally, visit Guide To Allyship. An evolving, open-source guide to help readers become more thoughtful and effective allies, the guide was created to help encourage readers to take action.

As explained by the guide: “Saying you’re an ally is much easier than actually being an ally. Saying you’re an ally looks good on paper, if you’re never taken to task for doing nothing.”