While the recent murder of George Floyd has sent shockwaves through communities around the world (and let’s be clear, it was murder), for many it’s just another day in the life of an African-American in America.
Before Floyd, it was Breonna Taylor, an emergency room technician shot dead by police in the comfort of her own home. Before Taylor it was Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old shot 16 times by a white police officer. Before him it was Michael Brown, and countless others came before him. How many black people need to be brutalized and murdered for people to notice that this is not a one-time occurrence?
It makes me sick that in this day and age, people are being persecuted and killed because of the colour of their skin. But it no longer surprises me. This is a battle we have been fighting for centuries and unfortunately – no matter how many people have bought into the delusion that we now live in a post-racial society – it is one that is unlikely to end anytime soon. However, I stand with the thousands of Americans who have taken to the streets in protest and the thousands more demonstrating in the UK this week to say that enough is enough. We cannot stay silent when yet another black life is being taken from us for little more reason than their race.
As activist Angela Davis said, ‘in a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist’; it is not good enough to post a few photos onto social media and that be that. Likewise, it is not good enough to feel disheartened by the situation yet not put your feelings into action. We need to have an open and honest conversation that carries on once the hashtags have stopped trending.
You can be anti-racist without picking up a placard and going to a protest, there are so many great ways to take part in a revolution without being radical. Donate to organisations fighting against this injustice if you are able to, and educate yourself on the issues if not. Support black-owned businesses, sign petitions and write to people in positions of power yourself, to express your outrage.
Remember that while the situation in America may seem a world away from where we are now, racism is still very much alive in the United Kingdom. We need only mention Stephen Lawrence, Mark Duggan, Grenfell, the Windrush Scandal and the media’s treatment of Meghan Markle to highlight its existence.
George Floyd wasn’t the first black person murdered as a result of systemic racism in America and unfortunately, he won’t be the last. But we are in a position to use our privilege to speak out against the systems of white supremacy, and to challenge family and friends whose antiquated views directly affect other’s lives. George Floyd’s breath was stolen from him, so we must use ours to fight against the injustice.
For more education on the subject:
• https://docs.google.com/document/d/1cq6zYlu-yFtcqu_J7pG4RpenlN-yPRINLShnnLyPfRQ/mobilebasic (a list of ways we can help from the UK)
• https://www.vogue.co.uk/arts-and-lifestyle/article/black-lives-matter-reading-list (an essential anti-racist reading list)
• https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bCgLa25fDHM (stream to donate to BLM without spending money)
• https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#petitions (sign these petitions as a UK resident)