Melan Magazine founder and editor in chief, Joy Joses, reflects on how we started the year by facing a global pandemic, but systemic racism and oppression is by far a bigger threat to Black people.
One of the core values of Melan is that we speak the language of the mature Black woman, no translation needed. It’s for this reason that we don’t feel the need to explain what living as a Black person is like to our audience. We each have our own truth. Our experiences, life choices and circumstances impact on all aspects of our lives, but one thing that unites us all is the understanding that living in the diaspora means that we are and likely always will be, subject to racist microaggressions, experiences and acts.
The last few weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster. I watched Amy Cooper show expert understanding of how to weaponize the police to do her bidding against a Black man, saw Ahmaud Aubrey gunned down in cold blood and against my better judgement, watched the horrific video which showed 46 year old George Floyd stripped of all basic human rights as a police officer ignored his pleading and knelt on his neck until he could no longer breathe.
Back in the UK, we read with shock about railway worker Belinda Mujinga, who died from coronavirus days after being spat on in an unprovoked attack by someone who claimed to have COVID-19. All of this against the irredeemable fact that the many underlying health conditions and trauma that so many Black people struggle through daily makes us an easy target for the coronavirus which is taking us out disproportionately.
Personally, my family lost our dear cousin. Not to coronavirus, he had underlying health issues, but we as a family can’t help but consider whether his rapid decline and subsequent death was a casualty of the stretched health system that wasn’t set up with him in mind, or due to the no visitor policy caused by the pandemic, being alone with no one to advocate for him as he lay in hospital.
However, through all of this, we move forward.
Of all of this, I feel a huge impotence and helplessness. I also feel fear. I fear for the Black men in my life, my husband, my brother. I am raising Black sons. All of the codes I teach them, about being respectful to authority, not to be rude and antagonistic, know their rights; what good did any of that do for the victims mentioned above?
However, through all of this, we move forward. We must do what we can to effect real change as we go about our daily business. Every call out, refusal to accept unacceptable behaviour or activism helps to lay the groundwork to ensure future generations will not be stifled and have more opportunities and the mindset to reach out and grab them.
The work has started long ago. We already create the platforms that hold transgressions to account and school the system on what needs to change. We speak up unequivocally when we need to and celebrate those who have reached the pinnacle of their career in spite of everything that’s stacked against them.
By our actions the change will come. Parents; let’s focus on creating generational wealth and economic empowerment for ourselves and our children.
By our actions the change will come. Parents; let’s focus on creating generational wealth and economic empowerment for ourselves and our children. At Melan, we are about showcasing Black talent across all industries and celebrating emerging entrepreneurs, those who have taken the steps to create quality businesses for the needs and wants of the community and wider. Having economic power will have an impact. We saw it happen through the Fenty Effect, while we don’t all have the influence of Rihanna, we can certainly all do better when it comes to supporting Black-Owned Businesses (BOBs). As a platform, we are not advocating boycotting anything that’s not Black, but rather, to give BOBs a chance and support them, buy from them and celebrate them a lot more than we have done in the past.
At Melan, we do what we can through our content, but often see brands (our own BOB too) overlook us in favour of mainstream platforms little realising that they may get better value with us, a platform that is truly rooting for them in a way that others simply cannot. Let’s work better together.
We started the year off facing a physical virus threat, but the instances of open conflict in the last few months must be viewed as a wake-up call. More dangerous than COVID-19 is the unseen systemic racism and bias faced by Black people, and it can no longer be ignored.