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  • Writer's picturethekatediaries

Blacklivesmatter, Structural inequality (and other big words…)

Updated: Jun 16, 2020


The funny thing about 2020 is that when you think the world couldn’t get anymore messed up, it rises to the challenge and thoroughly surprises you. It decides to go ahead and set itself on fire once again when you thought everything had almost already burnt to the ground (this is an unintentional metaphor, rather than a crude pun relating to our stellar start to the year with the Aussie bushfires). These last few weeks in the news cycle, eyes turned to yet another unlawful and inhumane treatment of the life, and taking of life, of a black man. This time however, it is taking currency and rising into a global movement to valorise the slogan #blacklivesmatter with more force and more commitment than ever before.

This article serves as just another bit of input to keep the conversation going, to keep the need for transformative change at the forefront of collective consciousness. Speaking from a place where my own personal privilege is very real and as such, to be used in ways to simply shine light, ask more questions, and keep the dialogue going on these important issues. To bring a kind of sensibility that outlasts the hype, and the dramatization of social media and news cycles. As such, this is no political piece and also is not the time to be making a witty or a funny post (and lets be honest, they’re never really that witty or funny anyways). But as a student of political science and a fun advocate of post-structuralism, I want to focus on the rays of hope that can be seen amidst these truly horrendous moments, troubling lived experiences, and generational oppressions. It is encouraging to find the nuance in this movement as we look at how collective understandings of structural inequality can be truly transformational for all of us engaged within its structures.

As absolutely crazy as it is that in 2020 we are still taking to the streets, to challenge the people in power, in media and in day-to-day conversations to check their privilege and their bias around racism, here we all are. This moment has enabled us the opportunity to pause and continue to self-reflect, and to assess the ways in which our own various and different types of privilege blind us to the world around. Understanding dynamics and relations of power can be so difficult when we live amidst this heady mix of inequalities.


However, through this recent movement there appears a tangible shift, as this much needed and rather overdue collective understanding of structural inequality is steadily forming. The slow education through processes of social media and overall Globalisation are enabling us to finally enter into a dialogue around the idea of greater meta-narratives of systemic inequalities. And with that, a larger agreement is starting to become visible that these prejudices, which people experience on a day-to-day basis, are not individualised experiences, happening once off and which they must take personal responsibility, or make circumstantial excuses for. But that the whole process is in fact, based upon wider and greater relations of power, which end up producing and reproducing these inequalities. To then come to a collective understanding of this power dynamic and social reality is a truly mighty space for change.

We are given insufficient tools growing up to understand such seemingly overwhelming ideas of larger structures of power, privilege and discrimination. Our channels of media, social media and education systems do little to prepare us to understand how these complex power relations end up affecting people in very real and day to day ways. How incomplete histories, societal-level psychologies and norms, and entrenched social, economic, political systems coalesce to then naturalise these relations of power.

On top of this, in a world predicated upon varying degrees and intensities of individualism it becomes even more challenging to then articulate these collective experiences of discrimination. Most of our contemporary societies grow out of a political ideology focused upon and predisposed to the individual. Worked out in this way, these individualised experiences then make it all the more difficult to comprehend its place in relation to systemic and widespread trauma and disempowerment.


But here, this week, this incredible movement has finally been able to break away from ‘one-bad-cop’ syndrome headlines. To then redirect attention towards the systematic way that racism operates. And that this collective understanding, and response, of how racism has been built into the very structures of political society is key to dismantling them.

In order to grasp this more fully and more authentically, we are called on to comprehend how these privileges and inequalities are constantly intersecting. How they are cutting across each and every part of what constitutes ones identity. To be mindful of different experiences, like for example, how a poor man of colour understands this inequality may sit differently to how a rich person of colour does. Or how a woman understands her experiences within culture may intersect also with religious identifications (i.e. as a Muslim). Or how a trans-POC understands their experiences of discrimination on varying different levels. In general, people who have experienced prejudice whether it be through ethnicity, religion, race, gender, class, sexual orientation and so on, understand and resonate with this movement on a very human level. In this case, with the difficulty in trying to make sense of, and then transform ones own experiences in these greater social structures.

BLM is a unique moment calling on all voices to speak up, and to stop the silence around systemic and institutionalised violence, to call out the pervasiveness of inequality on its many different levels. And to also have grace to understand that the different responses and perspectives on this matter, all speak from various different places within this intersectionality. As people are trying to understand their own identity within a system that seems intent on reproducing fear, and at present, appears incapable of making space for difference or for more.

We stand together today to support the black lives that have been systematically oppressed, in the hopes that this is a sign of greater things to come. That eventually, people who experience discrimination based on their sexual orientation or their gender will eventually get to experience the same collective support from all sides of the spectrum. That people who undergo exclusion based on their economic and class situation will be able to articulate and challenge the barriers that stop them from participating fully in society. Although I(maybe we) will never be able to grasp the experiences of what it means to be black, we hope to stand together, understanding that we live in a system, which at different times and in different places, creates very tangible privilege for some and intense silence, oppression and violence for others.

This movement towards greater justice, for black lives, against racism, stands in strong opposition to the continual dripping of ignorance that permeates our society. The individual experiences are no longer individual but symbolic and greater than the sum of their parts. Creating in effect a grander narrative, equipping people with tools to better understand their experiences. And also, a way for all of us to come together, to fight inequality in a way that is not a zero-sum game.



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