Two weeks ago a black man was killed by police in Minnesota, sparking anti-racism protests around the world.
In a time of pandemic, the response – thousands of people gathering, many in very close contact, for several days together – has been seen by some as controversial, even irresponsible.
Those protesting – and others supporting them – would argue that coming together at this time is the only way to express their pain, anger and grief, and to make a statement powerful enough to be heard.
If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that there is no substitute for the power of human contact. We all feel the visceral difference between physically being with our friends and family – even where we cannot touch them – and staying in touch via a phone or screen. We know how desperately we have wanted to be with loved ones in hospital, to hug and touch and hold those who are sick, to celebrate at weddings and grieve together at funerals.
At a time of considerable trauma, I would argue that the protestors are doing the only thing that makes sense – seeking out closeness with others, an instinctive and deeply human response to collective, shared pain.
I’ve tried to work through how to acknowledge the death of George Floyd on a platform dedicated to living alone. Racism has no place here, or on any of the other forums I run, which I would hope has always been clear. But it’s not enough any more for any platform to simply say ‘don’t be racist,’ or to call it out when we see it. We have to do more – we have to show, through our actions, that we are committed to active anti-racism.
I want to set out three actions today which will act as our starting point. They are just that – a starting point. And I would welcome views on how and where we can go further.
- We’ve never looked at the challenges and opportunities associated with living alone through a lens of ethnicity – as a result, I’ve no idea if the content we’re producing is relevant to everyone living alone, or if we’re covering all of the challenges and opportunities associated with living alone that we should be. We will change this, including ensuring that we cover racism-related trauma.
- We will commission content for the site from people from a wide range of backgrounds so that we are fully reflective of the community we serve.
- We explicitly commit to using racially diverse pictures across our materials (we do quite a bit of this anyway, and will make it an active policy.
These commitments start today.