Being the change: student sets up Merseyside BLM Alliance to tackle racism through social media
Being the change: student sets up Merseyside BLM Alliance to tackle racism via social media
The Facebook group: Merseyside BLM Alliance is growing larger every day thanks to the huge efforts of the team behind it. Chantelle Lunt, a Criminology and Sociology student at LJMU, founded the group while her start-up business was closed due to lockdown. We caught up with her and one of the admins for the Merseyside BLM Alliance, Florence Ardron-Gray, to find out more about how the group is making a difference.
“The group was formed with the goal to address the issue of racism in Merseyside by forming an alliance between all marginalised groups. We embrace intersectionality due to the fact that many groups have stood as allies for the Black Lives Matter movement, but also that black people may also belong to other discriminated groups (i.e. LGBTQ+, disabled, women, etc.). We believe that it is now, more than ever, important to strengthen and unite our whole community”, explains Florence.
Since its inception, Merseyside BLM Alliance has already gathered a large membership base, drawing on its ability to relate to topical discussions surrounding Black Lives Matter, as Florence suggests:
“Many people are frustrated due to the lack of change in the world, country and local area of Merseyside. This Facebook group allows all members to discuss and learn together about why we have issues such as systemic racism, as well as discovering how they can contribute towards the change they want to see. It's very easy to believe in something but not always as easy to find a way to channel your activism. This page allows people to begin to make a united change for a common ideal.”
The aim of Merseyside BLM Alliance is to create a space where people can safely channel their passion for fighting racial injustices.
“Fundamentally the group is about fighting racism in all the forms that manifest in our communities – both overtly and covertly. But we also want to give people an education resource to have a full understanding of how racism is prominent in areas and topics they may not have been aware of.
“Our page focuses on a wide range of topics – everything from local events to news articles. We also work hard to promote local black-owned businesses. Having many different discussions within the group allows people to be exposed to topics they may not have thought about or have questioned, as well as allowing black people in Merseyside to have a platform to discuss their personal experiences of racism.”
The Facebook group has been welcomed by many, with its hundreds of members expressing a desire to join in the conversation and educate themselves further. Florence spoke of why she thinks it’s important for LJMU students to be a part of this conversation:
“We've received a lot of comments and messages from people praising the group for allowing these discussions to take place and for providing a place for people to be heard. We really believe that LJMU students would specifically benefit as it can be a source of information for young people to better understand the place they live and how to help with the issues that they care about, as well as finding people who are like them and having meaningful discussions.
“While many people are against racial injustice, they may not know how to channel those beliefs or how to be anti-racist. We’re proud of the fact that this page is a great resource of information about how people can get involved in actively fighting racism in and around Liverpool and Merseyside. The group also encourages the acknowledgment of racism in areas that you may not always notice it if it does not affect you. A key example of this is learning exactly how to recognise racism within a university setting or in daily life.”
Chantelle, who set up the group only weeks ago, tells us how her educational and enterprise experiences have helped to shape her view on the fight for equality:
“I’m in my final year of a Criminology and Sociology degree here at LJMU. I’ve loved every second of studying and have learned so much about social structures and race. This knowledge is what motivated me to take positive action for racial equality. I also run a business The Little Green Juice Box which is a mobile juice and smoothie bar. Due to Covid-19 and our household shielding, we chose to temporarily close the business during the lockdown. While we’ve been closed for trading we have donated all of our time, knowledge and resources to the fight for racial equality – hence the birth of BLM Alliance Facebook group.
“It’s very important to me that I use my business knowledge and connections to support and promote black businesses and identify non-black owned businesses that are supportive of inclusivity when it comes to marginalised communities. They all deserve to be celebrated. As for my own business, we’re in the final stages of ensuring that the business is safe once again before we resume trading. I’m excited to get back out there with our slow pressed juices and fresh smoothies!”
And as for the future of the Merseyside BLM Alliance group? Florence says:
“Since the group is still very new, we are still finding our feet and seeing where this will take us – but all of our team and members are very aspirational and we’re hoping for big changes. Hopefully, our group continues to be successful and useful to many people. We truly do hope to be the change we want to see in the world. Although it may be early days, we have so far managed to accumulate over 1,000 members in just the first week, which clearly shows the people of Merseyside care deeply about fighting racism and believe in what we are trying to achieve. We encourage people to check out the page and see if they can learn or contribute from it.”