The footage showing the traumatic death of George Floyd has sparked a fury within our hearts but, it has also sparked a global conversation that needed to happen.
Whilst these discussions with family, friends and others across social media have been difficult, they have fulfilled a purpose in confronting an ignorance towards racial injustices. So, instead of treating racism as a matter of the past, we all need to take responsibility and educate ourselves.
Whilst in majority, social media has played a positive role in explaining the necessity of the Black Lives Matter movement, it has also provided a platform for those who have not done research beyond their own prejudice.
Therefore, to encourage awareness, these ignorances need to be responded to.
Comment one: ‘George Floyd was a criminal, why care so much about his death?’
Yes, George Floyd had a criminal record; however, this man had done his time and was rebuilding his life. His brutal death will always be unjustified.
Nevertheless, these crimes have been emphasised by some to argue that Floyd’s death, in comparison to others, did not deserve the coverage it received. These people are missing the point: for once, extreme police brutality has been captured in an indisputable video.
The case has a leverage that other cases have not had as the viral footage has made the incident unavoidable and undeniable to all.
The whole world witnessed the inhumane and corrupt behaviour of these U.S. cops and their faces, along with Floyd’s, remains imprinted in our minds.
When a police officer behaves like a criminal, there is no safety and no justice. George Floyd’s death must be remembered and used as a marker of change
His face represents many black people who have died due to police brutality; his cries mirror the pain of those who were never heard crying; and his daughter, now fatherless, joins multiple families who have had to lose loved ones due to the brutality of fully trained cops.
The worst thing about watching Floyd’s death is that it so easily could have been prevented. There was no resistance or violence, making the methods used by the officers completely unnecessary.
This exposes the root issue because, when a police officer behaves like a criminal, there is no safety and no justice. George Floyd’s death must be remembered and used as a marker of change.
Comment two: ‘White privilege does not exist, especially not in the U.K’.
There is a defensiveness surrounding the term ‘white privilege’ and it must stop.
The term itself does not mean that, as a white person, your life is easy, but it does mean that it has not been made difficult because of your skin colour. Repeat that until you understand it!
The existence of white privilege is supposed to feel uncomfortable because it is something that shouldn’t remain in the 21st century but, it does.
How can we achieve equality without admitting to and understanding the issues preventing it? White privilege has become so embedded within society that people cannot even recognise it.
White privilege is growing up surrounded by toys and cartoon characters that look like you.
It’s having plasters that match your skin colour.
It’s learning an air-brushed version of history that hero worships your ancestors.
It’s being able to shop without being followed.
It’s having access to products for your hair and skin type in everyday shops.
It’s someone of your race committing a crime without it representing the entirety of your ethnic group.
It’s not having to educate your children on police brutality because you fear for them.
By denying the existence of white privilege you are undermining the presence of racial inequalities and in turn, hindering the process of change
Due to systemic racism, chances of employment, housing and justice are also in favour of white people.
In the U.K., unemployment is 6.6.% more likely for ethnic minorities; black workers with degrees earn 23.1% less, on average, than white workers with degrees; only 6% of black school leavers attend Russell Group universities and 26.8% of black people live in overcrowded accommodation due to poverty.
By denying the existence of white privilege, you are undermining the presence of racial inequalities and, in turn, hindering the process of change.
Comment three: ‘Taking down these statues is destroying British history!’
When protesters toppled the statue of Edward Colston, a 17th century slave trader, a great controversy began. However, how can we justify a monument that celebrates a life which inflicted mass suffering?
Despite this, there are statues worldwide that commemorate the lives of extremely racist individuals and whilst some are being removed, such as Robert Milligan (London, England) and John Castleman (Kentucky, USA), others are still being disputed over.
The biggest related dispute within the U.K. seems to be surrounding the statue of Winston Churchill. In school, we are taught about his great achievements in winning the war for us all and whilst true, these history lessons have missed out some vital elements.
Instead, our cities and towns should be filled with commemorations that reflect the values of contemporary society. That would be making history, not destroying it
In 1943 Churchill engineered the Bengal famine, causing 4 million to die, and said: “‘I hate Indians. They are beastly people with a beastly religion”.
Churchill justified the removal of land from Australian Aborigines and Native Americans by asserting that white people were “a stronger race, a higher grade race”.
In 1952, to preserve the fertile highlands of Kenya for white colonial settlers, he put 150, 000 Kenyans into concentration camps where they were brutally tortured and raped.
Therefore, whilst the use of statues is a good way to commemorate historic figures’ lives, we must become aware that the lack of accompanying context, alongside the celebratory nature of statues, deliberately conceals the darker, yet vital, aspects of the historic narratives.
To combat airbrushed history and ignorance, these statues should be placed in museums where we can educate everyone on all sides of history, even if this exposes the negative aspects of depicted heroes.
Instead, our cities and towns should be filled with commemorations that reflect the values of contemporary society. That would be making history, not destroying it.
My hopes in addressing these ignorances is to help provide a deeper awareness. Change is on its way but it will take persistence and dedication to end a racial inequality that has lived for centuries. So, keep researching and keep standing up for what is right.
Lets prove what humanity can do in numbers.
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