IT’S been incredibly sad, over the past few days, to see the responses to people posting the “Black Lives Matter” hashtag on social media. “But ALL lives matter!” people scream back at them.

Of course all lives DO matter, but right now we have a community of people who are being oppressed, vilified and killed only because of the colour of their skin and we need to do everything we can to amplify their voices and stand up to racism.

Black Lives Matter isn’t about taking rights away from white people or anything like that – it’s about equality. It’s not a hard concept to grasp. There’s a good analogy for this to make it even more simple. Imagine two houses sitting next to each other. One is on fire and one is not. The owner of the non-burning house asks the people putting out the fire why they’re doing it. “Well, doesn’t my house matter?” they ask. “Aye, of course it does, but this one is on fire and needs our help.”

Looking across at what’s happening in the United States, it’s easy for us to say things

like, ‘That would never happen here!’ or ‘At least Scotland isn’t racist!’

But we do see it here. How many of us have had a relative or a pal make an offhand racist comment? How many times have we pulled them up for it? How many times have you heard a fellow “supporter”, regardless of what team you support, shout something racist at the football? Racism is everywhere, no

matter how much we try and ignore it.

And that’s the thing, we can’t ignore it anymore. A lot of the ignorance towards the real level of racism in this country is down to, in my opinion, a real lack of education.

I don’t remember ever being taught about real extent of Britain’s role in the slave trade. I remember being taught about the US civil rights movement but not about the UK movement.

I remember being taught about colonialism but those involved were explorers and settlers rather than stealing land and resources from indigenous people then brutally killing them.

But that doesn’t mean we have to be ignorant forever. There’s nothing stopping us from reading up or watching videos and documentaries about these

things. Through understanding the mistakes and downright atrocities of the past, we can

learn and build a better society now.

Nobody is born racist. Racist behaviour is learned, and it needs to be stamped out.

It’s important that issues of race and equality are taught in schools so that children develop their own awareness of what injustice looks like. Learning these values as young person will stand them in good stead as they take these values and their sense of right and wrong into adulthood and it benefits everyone in society as a result.

Take a look at your bookshelf and see how many books you have by black writers. I’d imagine most people’s answer would be the same as mine: not enough. A good book to start with if you want to educate yourself a bit more about racism in the UK is Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. Among other things in the book, she digs into eradicated black history and the link between race and class.

A lot of my pals are wondering “What can we do to help just now?” and feeling like they’ll be laughed at for sharing anti-racist stuff on social media or that they’ll be seen as “social justice warriors” or are worried people will think they’re doing it for the wrong reasons, like they’re only saying and sharing these things to make themselves look good.

If you feel like you don’t know what to say just now that’ll be helpful regarding the murders of black people in America, about police brutality, about George Floyd, about the protests then you don’t have to say anything. But we can and should share the words of people who do.

If you can spare a couple of quid to support the Black Lives Matter cause then please consider doing so, even a pound or two will help, a quick Google search of Black Lives Matter places to donate will bring up a big list of organisations you can support and petitions you can sign. And as well, like I said earlier, we should all be educating ourselves, challenging our own misconceptions about race, standing up to racism in all its forms wherever and whenever we see it and helping to make the world a fairer and better place for everyone.

Racism is endemic. It is a real problem that won’t go away overnight. It is a disease and people are dying from it. We need to do what we can to eradicate it.