Tessy Ojo, CEO of The Diana Award, has shared her thoughts with HELLO! about why we are finally seeing a change in how we respond to racial injustice. With the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, Tessy explains why it's so important to have conversations on race in every household, and how her charity, which was established in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, seeks to constantly empower young people to be the change they want to see. Read her piece below…
Prince William and Tessy share a laugh at The Diana Award in 2015
"This is not new to any of us, but the difference with George Floyd is that it was filmed. We have always been told this person was doing something wrong and it's always portrayed like they were deserving of it. But with George Floyd, you saw it unfold without a shadow of doubt. He was begging for his life. I think the protests were going to happen sooner or later but I do feel that we are in a pandemic and there is heightened fear and anxiety. But then people saw this level of injustice and had just had enough.
"I think for a very long time, as a world, we are very uncomfortable talking about race and accepting that there is racism. If you are from the black community, you know it is there and you live with it; there are conversations that you have in black households that my white friends would never have with their children, like teaching your children how to prepare for stop and search because they are more likely to be stopped and searched.
"I hope now we are in the moment where finally we as humans can see this level of disparity between both races. Suddenly we are awakening to it and I think that's massive. It's a huge moment, because the first step to anything is being aware and once we accept there's something wrong, we can start the process of trying to fix it. Everyone across the world needs to make changes. The conversation needs to happen in all of our households - when you have children, talk about what you can do, how can you expand your friendship groups or make those little steps that allow you to be more diverse in your thinking?
"For us at the Diana Award, we know how much young people are key for change. We need to constantly empower young people to be vocal and to see that they can make change happen. We also need to build the capacity of young people to do something that gives them the opportunity to create change and to be heard. It's important that we have our voices heard, it's important that people have their right to protest. I think protest in a peaceful way is always the answer, you need people to listen to what you have to say. Dialogue is so important; let's get all parties together at the table and let's talk and educate ourselves.
"At the Diana Award, we are passionate about mentoring to ensure we are building equity for every young person, particularly young people who are left behind for various reasons. Mentoring is key if we are looking at supporting people.
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