When I first moved to the UK from Ghana with my family in my early teens, the country that welcomed me was one where multiculturalism flourished and neighbours were warm and unassuming.
Your achievements were not prefaced by the colour of your skin or your place on the totem pole of identity politics.
People from ethnic and racial minorities were not constantly looking over their shoulders and assuming that every social interaction was laced with disdain or racism. It was a Britain where confidence trumped victimhood.
Esther Krakue, a political commentator and writer
But, much to my dismay, the tone has shifted entirely, and worryingly, over the past five years.
Now I, a 24-year-old black woman of West African heritage, am expected to be mortally offended if someone dares assume that my dark skin might signal heritage not native to the British Isles.
I am expected to voice loudly my approval of white liberals who inform me of my inherent oppression as a ‘woman of colour’.
Amid the demonstrations and tumult of recent weeks, I have grown increasingly concerned about the methods and the wider far-Left political agenda of the Black Lives Matter movement here in the UK.
I have been horrified to watch this ridiculous campaign of tearing down statues and relics of British heritage escalate. It is a campaign that has yet to make any progress in tangibly helping me as a black person. And in recent weeks I have been increasingly vocal on Twitter about my concerns. But in doing so I have become targeted by a wave of vile online abuse.
Earlier this month I tweeted: ‘Are Brits still allowed to be proud of their culture and heritage or is that racist now?’ I also said I was ‘fairly sick of all the protests’. Last week, I made clear that I do not support BLM, adding: ‘Never have. Never will. I don’t need to put a black square online or tie myself to that organisation to prove that I care about black people.’
Some of the comments on social media I have received following these tweets have been truly shocking. I have been targeted by a campaign of abuse, hate and false information aimed at tarnishing the reputation of a black woman. I wake up every day to horrible messages. Most of this abuse was seemingly coming from black supporters of Black Lives Matter, including a significant amount from African-Americans, although I have also been abused by white liberals. Some of the trolls have circulated a fake image, which they falsely suggest is me. It shows a black woman on her knees posing as the seemingly subservient cartoon dog Scooby-Doo and flanked by four white women. I have had racist language used against me that is as bad as the ‘N’ word.
I have had people tell me they hope I am barren.
‘I have been horrified to watch this ridiculous campaign of tearing down statues and relics of British heritage escalate. It is a campaign that has yet to make any progress in tangibly helping me as a black person,’ says Esther
What I have received this last week online has given me a glimpse into the darkest part of the human soul – the part that can muster up the most awful hatred. This will not, however, stop me from questioning the motives of this movement.
The slogan of this campaign is indisputable. Of course black lives matter. They matter in the same way that everyone’s life, by virtue of being human, matters. Every individual, of whatever skin colour, should have the right to pursue happiness and live free from prejudice. And where racial discrimination and injustice exists in this country, it should be stamped out.
But a simple glance at the ‘Who We Are’ section on its online fundraising page demonstrates that this organisation is about much more than ‘black lives’. The group’s GoFundMe page explains that it intends to be ‘guided by a commitment to dismantle imperialism, capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy and the state structures that disproportionately harm black people in Britain and around the world’.
What on earth does ‘defending black lives’ have to do with dismantling capitalism – a system that has lifted millions of people out of absolute poverty in just this century alone? How would the tearing down of wealth creation benefit black lives? I regard myself as a conservative (but not a Tory) and cannot sign up to the destruction of capitalism. In fact, I find such views abhorrent. Does that mean there is no place for me in this anti-racism movement?
There are also growing questions surrounding this organisation’s funding. BLM UK has raised over a million pounds in recent weeks and one can only assume that is a figure that is going to increase following the public show of support from Premier League football teams.
Esther says: ‘The slogan of this campaign is indisputable. Of course black lives matter. They matter in the same way that everyone’s life, by virtue of being human, matters’
The group, however, appears determined to spend the money on a string of Marxist initiatives, which according to its GoFundMe page, includes ‘developing and delivering training, police monitoring and strategies for the abolition of police’.
But how can you defend black people, or indeed anyone for that matter, if you are endorsing an agenda that seeks to abolish the police? How will soaring crime help black communities? If we abolish the police, what do we replace it with?
The group also says it will organise in ‘the Black radical tradition’ in a bid to secure ‘Black liberation’. But what on earth is the ‘black radical tradition’ and wouldn’t resources be better dedicated to free the Sub-Saharan Africans who are still enslaved in many North African and Middle Eastern regions of the world?
As someone who studied for a degree in Bristol for four years, I was stunned by the virtue signalling that drove protesters to tear down the statue of Edward Colston. Many of those in the mob, I must add, were white individuals who are likely descendants of direct beneficiaries of the slave trade. Oh, the irony!
I would like to know from the, largely anonymous, leaders of the BLM UK campaign whether they are protesting in solidarity with the US movement or because of the actions of our own mainly unarmed police force, whose ‘policing by consent’ model is envied around the world. Are the protesters shouting ‘don’t shoot’ at British police officers aware that the batons our officers routinely carry are incapable of doubling up as a deadly firearm?
The deeply unpleasant experience of being targeted online has shown me how toxic this debate is becoming. Why are people who claim to care for black people so uptight and defensive when someone says there is an agenda that is destructive to black people that is being ushered in on the back of this movement?
We need to wake up and see that people are trying to divide this country and are using minority groups to do it. First it was statues, then it was a potential ban on Swing Low, Sweet Chariot being sung at rugby matches. When will this end? This small faction of Left-wing activists will never stop trying to tear this country apart and shaming every aspect of British heritage. It is incumbent on us all to fight this through education, a fierce defence of free speech, and to call out the hypocrisy of individuals and organisations attempting to weaponise minority groups to their political ends.
My parents taught me the value of hard work, honesty, humility and standing up for the truth. I was taught to judge individuals on the content of their character, and I will never surrender to race baiters who try to bully me into submission. I will never be silent. And neither should you.