As I sit on my couch and watch the morning news, I am filled with a complex concoction of emotions. Following the murder of George Floyd, people are looting stores, burning cars and police headquarters, shouting “I can’t breathe” in unison. My heart is beating fast and my eyes are tearing up. As tears start to stream down my face, I am in awe of these strong and fearless humans. I take to twitter and begin the endless scrolling, reading the heartfelt and passionate words that my fellow humans have written. Journalists and photographers are in the thick of it bringing us information as accurate as possible in what appears to be a minefield of controversies.
“Black lives matter” is trending across all my social media platforms. It is shocking that for decades we have been fighting the war to end racism, and yet, here we are, still, again. Every year the fires of racism are fanned a little brighter, but this year is different. Amongst the health concerns of coronavirus, economic downturn, and unemployment, it is no wonder that the people have had enough. Not to mention, a failed leadership.
From the moment Donald Trump was elected, the world watched on with curiosity and confusion. How did we go from Obama to Trump? As we watched pressers after pressers it became clearer and clearer that whilst he was not the “ideal president”, he was not about to go anywhere. We began to liken him to a reality TV star, joking about his tendency to go off-topic, and so on. However, we were not ready for the same man to add insult to injury at a time when his own people are hurting and grieving. He quoted, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts“. At that moment, any pretence of an equal America, of a unifying leader, was shattered.
Ironically, in the same year during the civil rights era that a white police chief said the above statement in an attempt to eradicate protestors, Martin Luther King Jr said this:
“And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? … It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”
This was in 1967. Fifty-three years ago.
Before you attempt to shame and discredit the protestors, do not forget that if it wasn’t for our ancestors who stood up for our rights, we may not have had our freedoms either. In no way am I condoning rioting and looting, but, at every moment that a politician, a celebrity, a chief, or a common man, points fingers at the “looting” and the “rioting” and claims that this should be done peacefully, question WHY the sound of smashing windows and fireworks and the sight of burning cars is gaining more attention and urging more action than the voices and the cries of the peaceful people.
From patriarchy to politics, we are told to keep our voices low but if that is meant to be the right way, the proper way, why aren’t we heard?
Why is it that fifty years on, we are still here? Why?