The murder of George Floyd
The murder of George Floyd has resulted in a global outrage. It is alarming to see that the journey, which started in mid 19s as the civil rights movement, seems endless, here in 2020. Whilst we may have abolished black slavery in our country today, but in our minds, discrimination still exists. Prejudiced opinions about certain skin colours such as them being expendable or inferior are still present around the globe. How much longer will black people have to fight and watch their loved ones innocently lose their lives? It’s extremely unfair to make anyone feel as though they cannot fit in or they cannot be accepted because of futile stereotypes that have wrongfully become part of our culture. The anger and rage from the black community is more than justified! Anyone who sees their race get humiliated over hundreds of years will reach a point where they have had enough. Their actions of imploring for change and justice just goes to show how disappointed and unsafe they feel; ironically, by a system of justice, which is placed for their protection. Instead, many black lives have unjustly been lost by this system placed for the security of all. People have kept quiet for so long in the hope that things will change for them.
The justice system is not solely to blame for the prejudice experiences people of colour have faced. Many black people have the same things to say about how difficult the people around them make it for them to fit in or feel accepted. It is no secret to any black person, that the way they speak or how they dress makes them feel paranoid and different. Do they really have to prove their worth because their skin colour is not the same as yours?
Multiple studies show that racial discrimination is still a major issue in schools. Young children around the world face bullying in schools due to their skin colour. Not only is this damaging to their childhood experience but it also has the capacity to severely damage their cognitive processing. If from a young age, children experience inequality or a different treatment to the others around them just because of racial discrimination, of course they will grow up defining themselves by such characteristics instead of who they truly are. This unfairly takes away opportunities and hinders the development of such children.
Many black students have been excluded from school because of their hair. Just because their hair is different to the typical ‘neat’ or ‘presentable’ image we have, its extremely wrong to punish someone for the type of hair texture they naturally possess. I do understand students being told to temporary tie their hair up etc for their safety and practicality for example in lab work. However, where their safety is not at risk and it’s practical to them, then we don’t have the right to dictate the way someone presents themselves. Again, another act of white supremacy and another example of bigotry. Black people should be free to style their hair the way they feel comfortable and happy with. The idea that straight hair is more attractive has put pressure on people with hair that’s not naturally straight or is difficult to straight. Social stigmas like this neglect and reject people from society because of their appearance or cultural differences. This leaves us in disgusting situations that accumulate to ones that not just ruin lives but take lives. We have no right to dismiss the hairstyling culture of black people that roots to their ancestors. Yes it’s different, but it’s a special and beautiful part of black/African culture.
Additionally, black women have always struggled to find foundation shades to match the colour of their skin tone. Issues like this are marginalised and disparaged but the fact is that they are a genuine reflection of how racial discrimination still exists in our society. Therefore, raising awareness of similar issues, which are often overlooked, is paramount to show that such discrimination will not be tolerated and that companies must be considerate of all skin tones.
Psychological issues including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and more can have detrimental and have life-changing consequences on an individual. Individuals who are impoverished, incarcerated, abused or experience homelessness are more likely to experience mental health problems. In addition, this makes access to resources and opportunities even more difficult. Statistics show that in the USA 23% of African Americans are in poverty. In America where Black people make up 13.4% of the population, they are astonishingly 20% more likely to report serious mental health issues. In 2016 and 2018 national data showed that the suicide rates in children aged 5-11 was highest in black children. However, less than 2% of American Psychological Association members are Black. Those working in the mental health industry need to personalise their therapy on an individual basis. This would allow more specific evaluation and a better approach towards personal experiences and struggles. A study disclosed that black Americans were more likely to encounter sleep-related problems. Additionally, lack of sleep is more likely to result in deprivation from social interactions as well as greater feelings of anxiety, depression and even an increase in suicidal thoughts. Studies have continuously proved that racism is one of the main factors responsible for the increase of suicidal thoughts among the youth. We need to ensure that schools, teachers and adults are made more aware of this. This would enable them to pay close attention to such issues and report them as soon as they can so that the child can get the necessary assistance they need. As well as this, therapists dealing with children from diverse backgrounds must understand and acknowledge cultural differences in order to give the best care.
This clearly goes to shows that racial discrimination is inherent in every part of our lives. We not only need to amplify our voices against racial discrimination in the justice system or police force but also in our schools, communities, and industries. This issue is much deeper and one which we must address from a more holistic approach. Further change is needed! Black people are still being discriminated against, people wait for the worst to happen, awareness is created in the short term, then the issue is neglected once again. It's an endless cycle.
It is overwhelmingly remarkable to see the solidarity between thousands of people of all races to have come together to give justice to not just George Floyd but all those men, women and children who lost their lives because of their skin colour. Whilst creating awareness on social media and donating to charities is very supportive, especially in situations like this where it’s needed more than ever however, the fight for justice cannot end here. We must continue until we see a real, long term change. This mission to equality, liberty and harmony is still to continue, not just by putting a blank screen on your social media. But doing whatever is in your ability: amplify your voice and use your privileges to save lives. As Martin Luther King once said ‘there comes a time when silence is betrayal’.
There is a plethora of ways you can show your support and ensure your actions contribute to something that will demand change. Something as simple as self-introspection can help analyse actions and behaviours. This would allow self-realisation of where we as individuals could be unconsciously contributing to racism in our society. Living in an inherently racist society, it is very likely that we would perpetrate to acts of racism at some point in our lives. However, though self-education and introspection we can reach self-development and be in a position where we are able to recognise when we are participating in such acts. As a result, we would be able to make wiser decisions on how to implement changes and be more vocal when issues arise.
Ways you can get involved:
1) Donate to:
- GoFundME https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd
- UkBLM Fund https://uk.gofundme.com/f/ukblm-fund
2) Join protests
3) Online workshops to ‘unlearn racism’ https://racialjusticenetwork.us10.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=22e26a6ba61e8365492e9d2f9&id=207b1a7494
4) Post on your social media to make awareness
5) Read, watch or listen to information around this topic for self-development
6) Listen to the oppressed and hear their experiences. Put yourself in their shoes
7) Share what you learn
Do not generalise
As humans, we generalise a lot. This can lead to false conclusions and bad decisions. Whilst, some police officers do misuse their power in a racist manner, it does not mean all do. Similarly, just because a few individual black men have been found to commit crimes it does not mean all are criminals. Making these generalisation results in innocent people being assaulted, hurt or killed like George Floyd. During protests, many innocent police officers were insulted and hurt. As people standing up for a cause, which is extremely sensitive, we all carry responsibility with how we demand change. Abusing police officers in order to get revenge for racism is contradicting what we are fighting for. We must hold individual culprits accountable to their actions instead of judging all police officers by minority. We must appreciate police officers who have stood strongly with the black community and lucidly proved their intolerance to racism. It's the system that is racist, not individual police officers. Our fight should be against the patriarchal police institution and the system they use to enforce in our society, which lacks equity and racial equality. It's the system, which we need to protect all of us, the police cannot solely do that.
I can’t comment on other countries, but living in the UK I definitely believe that racism is present in our system and communities. Nevertheless, the progress we have made is something that shouldn’t be discredited. The non-black community have shown immense solidarity against racism and inequity showing no forgiveness for racism in this country. We must appreciate their support and also respect the freedom of speech everyone has in order to express themselves.
Whether it’s the media, entertainment industry, jobs or mix race marriages, most people in the UK are immensely open-minded and accepting. Yes, racism still exists especially in the form of systemic racism and it is damaging, therefore we need to continue making changes and so should the rest of the world. However, in the process, we must all ensure that innocent people are not hurt and that the positives are also remembered and appreciated.