Being a teenager in Chideock can lead to alienation if you let it. It took me until I was 16 to realise that there was a whole community I had never attempted to reach out to. I wanted to change this, so I joined the choir at the end of last year and sang in the Christmas carol service. There, I met several people who I’d lived alongside for my whole life but had never spoken to. We’d shopped at the same little shop by the traffic lights, walked the same coastal path to Golden Cap, caught the same bus to Bridport, yet we’d never so much as shared a glance. My eyes were opened to the amazing determination and generosity demonstrated by the members (and organisers) of that choir who gave up their time to give back a little to their village. What I’m trying to say here is that sometimes you overlook things.
I was always aware that racism was a thing. I always knew that it was an issue, but until the news of George Floyd’s death reached England, I began to acknowledge how much I’d overlooked the prevalence of this fact. Slowly, I attempted to educate myself. And slowly, I realised that it was never enough to just be not racist – you have to be continuously and deliberately against racism, otherwise you choose the side of the oppressor.
I started thinking about what I could do. I wanted to protest. That was the most active thing I could think of. But there’s a global pandemic (which I’d almost completely forgotten about) and I’m clinically vulnerable, so is my mother.
I’d donated to organisations in America which were fuelling the Black Lives Matter movement, but I have little money as I’m not working my usual Saturday job so it felt ineffective. I’d signed petitions, watched Netflix shows, read poetry, listened to people’s stories, but I wanted to give back.
It’s been a decade since I changed my hairstyle. That being said, the bob I had when I was 7 was a terrible idea, but it’s still been ten years so I think I’m more than ready for a change, especially since it’s well past shoulder length. America is certainly ready for a change. I thought that maybe, in propelling a personal change that I have longed for, I could help give back a bit to propel a change that needs to happen all over the world.
On the 9th of June, I’m going to shave my head. I wanted to do something permanent, so that for months, and hopefully even years to come, I will be reminded of the injustice and my privilege every time I look in the mirror. I’ve started a GoFundMe to raise money for a charity called HOPE Not Hate, which actively campaigns against extremist racist organisations, such as the EDL. If you can, please donate. I’m not getting anything from this, as all the money goes straight to HNH, I just want to be a part of a cause which I wholeheartedly believe in. It’s important for us to realise that there are still things we can do, even though it feels like we’re far away from all the violence. I promise you it’s closer than you think.
If you’d like to give a donation to Lily’s charity you can do so here: HOPE Not Hate