When George Floyd cried out for mama
This is not going to be a comfortable discussion, but it has to be done. When George Floyd cried out ‘mama’, something happened.
You will notice that here at Joy and Joe, we are yet to put out a public statement about George Floyd's inhumane treatment and murder.
Everyone responds to trauma differently and for me, I have been shocked beyond words can even describe. Those who know me personally know that I have been traumatised and crying since I set my eyes on that viral video.
So, for those new to Joy and Joe, my name is Bisi Osundeko, a proud black woman, black mother to Joy and Joseph, founder of Joy and Joe baby slings alongside my husband, Dr Mayor. My husband and I are proud immigrants from Nigeria, Africa.
George’s passing shocked the world, angered the black community in ways that words can hardly describe. It is true that his death also summoned all mothers worldwide but for me, this is something very personal. George’s last words and death traumatised me from deep within because it reminded me of series of racism that I have experienced since emigrating from Africa.
Majority of people here the UK are tolerant and kind to each other, but racism is still very much alive in our society sadly. Let’s not ignore the signs.
Please don’t think that racism is simply about physically hurting black people like what those dangerous ex-officers did to George but racism can be very subtle and easy to ignore. Those microaggressions and jokes about black people are also forms of racism. Like snowflakes, they can have a devastating effect on the mental health of their recipients, the black community over time.
As a black woman, and owner of a black-owned business, I have certainly had to work excruciatingly hard. Not just because my two children are disabled but because I constantly worry that I might lose customers over my ethnicity or identity. My husband has been a witness to my tears and heartache over the years on this.
Racism is the feeling that you get when even your hard-work and expertise is never acknowledged or honoured because of the colour of your skin that you have no control over.
Some of you know that I miscarried my son about two years ago, part of the problem then was that the nurse who spoke to me over the phone when I needed help claimed that she wasn’t convinced that I was truly in labour, she also said that she didn’t understand my accent! Please get enlightened, black mothers are more likely to die at childbirth compared to their white counterparts due to these inequalities that exist in society.
However, I don’t want this to simply be about my feelings because it is so hurtful to have your vulnerabilities out in the open. As a brand, we wholeheartedly condemn the killing of George Floyd and we will never tolerate any form of racism, hate crime or abuse.
I suggest that you seek out ways of enlightening yourself, family and children about race matters. Take it upon yourself to learn about the historical oppression of black people and be committed to ensuring that you are part of the solution.
At your various places of work or communities, if you ever notice a person of colour being racially profiled, abused or ridiculed, please do not ever look away.
George died because the other officers were accomplices by simply allowing one of their own to take a human life that he cannot create by recklessly sitting on his neck.
I’m also a councillor so I could go on specifying certain things that you can do to see that racism is stamped out of our society for good once and for all, but I want you to make an effort on your own to be part of the solution.
Don’t be colour-blind by saying 'all lives matter'. It’s like saying all houses matter when only one house is clearly on fire. Research the subject 'white privilege' and take it upon yourself to understand your own privilege and how it affects others even in situations when you might not know that your privilege is at play.
As babywearing parents, we are nurturers. I hope that part of nurturing the future will include these important discussions in our homes. Changing your profile photo to black, using the black lives matter hashtags and posting online is fantastic but I ask you, who are you offline? Are you an ally even when nobody is watching?
On a particular day when a group of white children attacked me as I walked to the post office (carrying customer orders) , I cried and cried for the whole day, not just because of the action of these children but because of the onlookers who did absolutely nothing. I also wondered about their parents and the sort of discussions that they have about race in their individual homes.
When another little boy called me a monkey, his mum just looked away embarrassed but what I hoped was for this mum to seize that opportunity to educate her son about diversity, tolerance and respect for others. Don’t let your child grow up thinking that black people truly lived on trees. I have had adults asking me if wild animals roam the streets of Africa.
More recently, I have been called a monkey yet again online and this time, full grown adults have shared these posts. You can see why the enlightenment has to start from you, our nurturers of the future. When your beautiful little one is wrapped up in whatever sling of your choice, whether or not they understand, start talking to them about race issues, no matter how uncomfortable it may sound.
Start somewhere, using the hashtag online is not enough. Action is required now.
I will not make recommendations of books that you should consider getting, so take out the time when you can to research on books that can help you, family or your child understand race issues better. There are also some fantastic videos on YouTube.
This is a resistance; the black community is seriously hurt by these recent events.
As the riots are happening in the USA, whilst we are definitely NOT in support of looting, stealing and violence, we must not be distracted from the crux of the matter, racism. How did we get here in 2020?
Why are we going around in circles when it comes to dealing with racism? Why does the oppression of black people still exist? Now isn’t the time for white people to lecture black people on how you think they should act or how you think they ought to respond to George Floyd, it is a time for you to listen.
George called out to mama; he has summoned all mothers and fathers. As babywearing mothers, fathers and nurturers of our future, are you listening to George's call for mama and the need for racism to be stopped once and for all?
By Bisi Osundeko (Joy and Joe Founder and Director)
Hello, my name is Bisi, babywearing consultant (SoB CIC), mother to two cheeky & very special kids (Joy and Joseph). Our 3rd baby has been christened Joy&Joe baby wrap slings! and we loveeee babywearing :)