Talking about Black Lives Matter with your South Asian family
Updated: Aug 11, 2020
As the world reels from the tragic death of George Floyd, protests spread across states and countries and social media is full of posts on how to support Black Lives Matter, you may be wondering how to approach the subject with your family. The fact that you’ve clicked on this post at all shows that you’re wanting to make a change, but we know that it is not always an easy conversation to have. In fact over the past week or so, we’ve heard from many members of our community on how emotional, frustrating and exhausting those conversations can be. Although there is no foolproof way to ensure these interactions have a positive outcome, we have put together a guide to help you navigate them.
It can be easy to believe that everyone’s feeds look the same as ours and everyone is privy to the same resources we have. However when it comes to family, especially those in a different generation to ours e.g. our parents, they simply do not understand the issues well enough to have a strong opinion on them. This also makes it easy for them to form opinions based on mainstream media coverage, which often have heavy biases, or other ill-informed people.
There are so many great resources on instagram and online, so one easy way to help shift people's perspectives is by sharing those and it will hold even more weight coming from a trusted source (you!). We have heard from many people that sharing things like the illustration below in response to explaining why ‘All lives matter’ is an irresponsible approach has been a successful experience.
Challenge those around you
In a lot of South Asian households, anti-blackness is deeply entrenched and you may hear those you care about making sweeping statements like ‘Black people are X’ or reacting to recent events by saying things like ‘We understand, but there’s no need for looting.’ It can seem like the easy option to ignore these everyday comments to keep the peace in your household, yet staying silent is also very dangerous, especially during these times. In the words of Desmond Tutu “If you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressors.”
Speak with compassion
Because you may have a deep understanding of why phrases like the above are so harmful, it is easy to get frustrated and lash out when hearing them. However, taking the time to challenge these damaging statements without it turning to condescension can be the difference between someone listening and the situation escalating into a full-blown argument. Educating someone without insulting their intelligence is very powerful.
Remember it is a process and commit to keep the conversation going
Do not go into discussions with your family thinking you will undo decades worth of internalised racism in one sitting. Think about your own journey- did you know everything you do now a year ago? Even a week ago? Probably not. One day it could be explaining why people are protesting and the next day showing videos and stories from people at the protests. The main thing here is to remember that once this conversation is not in every instagram post, you must continue to challenge and educate those around you.
Look after yourself
The past week has been a heavy one, for black people in particular. But, in order for you to be able to continue your support of this movement, you must look after your own mental health. While it may seem counterintuitive to give yourself a break from social media during this time, it may be one of the best things you do. Taking a break may give you the chance to collect your thoughts and think about ways you can really make a difference. It is also important to remember that there is no one way to be an activist. If you are unable to attend a protest, but are able to donate to the cause then do what you can, and don’t be hard on yourself because of it.
Here are two really helpful resources on instagram for this:
This is just a starting point for those wanting to start conversations with their family. There are lots of other helpful resources out there that take a deeper look into this issue. Here are a couple in particular:
How To Talk to South Asian Parents about Systemic Racism and Our Privilege
You can also refer to our blog on resources to help support the Black Lives matter movement and check out our SA for BLM highlight on instagram.