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Black Lives Matter in Marlow

Giana Soomal, Year 10, writes about a rally she recently attended.

On Saturday 6th and 13th June, my friends and I had the opportunity to openly stand up against racism with other members of the Marlow community. We took the chance to have a small insight into what it is like to live as a black person in today’s society. Both rallies took place in Higginson Park; both gatherings were extremely well organised to ensure that we could all stand in solidarity, but not compromise our health because of it. The organisers had marked out 2-meter spots – only one person was permitted to stand on each spot; importantly, the wearing of face masks was strongly advised. I felt very safe as everyone attending abided by the rules. I remain impressed with how much time and effort was invested, by the organisers, to ensure the well-being of everyone present.  


Both protests consisted of amazingly articulate and sincerely spoken speakers, who stood up and courageously, in front of a park full of strangers, opened up about their experiences with racism. Every single one was so passionate. We felt the raw emotion of their experiences: how they had been unjustly treated at school; had cruel nicknames hurled at them by peers; endured multiple stop and searches from the police; had people walk on the other side of the road to avoid them; watched people clench tightly to their purse; and these were just touching the tip of the iceberg. All who listened, including my friends and I, were moved to tears as we heard the voices of the speakers’ quaver with emotion. After, as we took a knee silently for 9 minutes, we all had a chance to reflect on ourselves and on our wider community. 


One of the things that resonated the most, with my friends and me, was how close to home these experiences occurred. It is so easy to read or see the news reports from America, London and other big cities and believe that racism happens somewhere else: that racism doesn’t affect us, our friends and our families, because we happen to live in a small town where everyone is friendly and knows each other. However, every single speaker I listened to lived close by or had attended a school in our area, and that was how they were treated. Even though this sudden surge of awareness and protest was ignited by George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, the Black Lives Matter movement is a far bigger cause: it must not just be here for the spring and summer then swiftly forgotten about by winter; the message that Black Lives Matter must remain uppermost in people’s minds in every suburban town and in every metropolitan city.


As soon as we all open our eyes and realise how prevalent racism is in every community, no matter how picturesque and welcoming it appears to be, the issue will be faced and tackled. Only once we start to listen to those who have had first-hand experience with it will we see positive change. Burying our heads in the sand is not helping anyone, it is only adding to the pain.


I can highly recommend, to everyone reading this, attending a Black Lives Matter gathering near you, because even though the media likes to push the pretence that every protest leads to violence, I promise you that they don’t. The rally in Higginson Park was the most thought-provoking, constructive and inspiring gathering I have ever been part of.  


By Giana Soomal 

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