For the past week, the world has pretty much blown up in the light of George Floyd’s cold-blooded murder by police officers in the United States. Protests sparked across all of the states and it quickly spread around the globe. Social media has been flooded with a variety of pro and anti BLM (Black Lives Matter) movements and arduous debates about racism and white privilege. While I understand all sides of the debate, I strongly only support one : Black Lives Matter. And here are my reasons.

The White Man’s Burden

I am white. I was born and raised in Romania and for the first 19 years of my life I did not even fully understand fully understand what racism meant, let alone white privilege. However, once I moved to the UK when I was 19 that’s when I started to get a feeling of what discrimination felt like. As my first couple of years living in the UK were spent at the university, I was on one side, protected by the environment in the sense that I was only surrounded by mostly agreeable and polite students and I did not engage so much with the local community. On the other side, I was protected by my ignorance, and my deficiency in the English language and culture. In other terms, I did not understand when someone was being racist to me. Equally , I did not understand when I was being racist towards other people either.

However, as the years I got to understand racism on my own skin. Jokes I used to once find funny stopped being funny and turned into insults. Once work restrictions were lifted for Romanians in the UK, that’s when I noticed racism in the newspapers and the social media. But also a change of the locals’ attitude towards me when I was asked where I was from and replied Romania.

That’s when I realised my accent and my origin made me stand out, and not in a good way. I am not an expat in the UK, I am an immigrant at its best and a foreigner at its worst. I am one of the reasons more than half of the country voted for Brexit, voted to “send me back home.” I struggled to get a good job in this country, was discriminated against in social or professional environments. That’s why a lot the friends I’ve made int he past 10 years have been either fellow immigrants or British minorities. (blacks, asians, gipsies) Because I could relate to them a lot better and understood how discrimination affected them in a similar manner. (sometimes better sometimes worse)

I used to go out with a Nigerian Friend and anytime we would chat with girls, if we told them the truth, that we were Romanian and Nigerian (the worst combo ever lol) they would they would go away. However, if we lied and said Spain, Portugal, Germany, or pretty much any other Western developed country, they stayed. On one of my first dates with an English girl. She thought I was a drug dealer because I had money to take her out on dates. It was like she could not conceive the fact that a Romanian in the UK can have a decent job – and that he must have been definitely involved in something illegal to have money.

Last year I was asked by one of my workmates when I was going to go back to Romania, because I “had to” go back to my country eventually. Another, who did not know I was Romanian, complained in a meeting that all Romanians are profiteers. Many taxi drivers I get into conversations with are surprised when I tell them I am Romanian. “But you don’t sound Romanian;” “But you speak good English;” And it’s happened many times that people here, partly because of the more polite culture, and partly because they feared me retaliating (I don’t have the friendliest look on when I’m angry) abstained from racially slurring me. But I could definitely see it in their attitudes and body language.

These are things that I can’t really discuss, laugh or cry about with many of my white friends in the same way I would with ones that don’t clarify in that category , because they just simply don’t get it. And that’s because although, I am white, I don’t always cash in the white privilege because I am not high enough the hierarchy ladder. At the very top you have the Western White Privilege which I rarely (if ever – maybe only fi I lie) have access to.

We Romanians (alongside other Eastern Europeans of course) don’t have the same status as the French, Italians, Germans, Spanish, etc, who are “economic migrants.”We are the dirty foreigners, benefit claimers, thieves and job stealers.

Nevertheless I still see and understand the privilege I have. I don’t only have a (semi) white privilege but also an educated and monetary privilege. I have a good education, a good job, and a family that can support me in times of need. And these privileges give me an immense advantage against anyone else who lacks access to the opportunities I’ve been offered thus far.

White Privilege Exists – Just because you don’t see it it doesn’t mean it’s not there

 Racism has always been around. Now it’s being filmed for all to see.

Most people I see getting angry at the BLM movement seem to be angry they’re being told they’re privileged. Others, seem to be angry because they feel left out. “Only Black Lives Matter? What about the White Ones? All Lives Matter!”

First of all, the movement is called “Black Lives Matter” not “Only Black Lives Matter.” Secondly, everybody knows white lives matter. No-one needs to be told White Lives Matter. It’s already a granted given privilege.I think angry anti BLM voices either 1. highlight the ignorance of people on racism and discrimination issues or 2. reveal a pretext to be racist under the guise of ‘you feeling your race left out of the campaign’

It’s also true that some people have been taking advantage of the movement, and have resorted to vandalism and violence. I don’t believe this is the right way of acting but I also don’t believe the Black Lives Matter Movement should be tainted by these individuals either. The violent protesters should be punished in accordance with the law.

The data, statistics and anecdotal social media videos can’t be clearer. White people in the United States are nowhere as likely to die or be unlawfully aggressed and arrested by the police, unlike their black counterparts. Racism is deeply institutionalised in the United States of America more than anywhere else it seems, and not a lot of progress can be seen.

“All Lives Matter” movement is not a better alternative. The white folks are fine and have been so for a long time. And so has racism. Its very existence and persistence nowadays is a good enough reason why Black Lives Matters is here to stay -to call out institutional racism; to demand justice for the innocent victims fallen to racism; to educate and inspire change.