Black Lives STILL Matter
By Habibah Miah
In the six weeks following the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, we saw the world erupt into conversations centred around race, privilege, police brutality and white fragility. These conversations have been going on for years with noticeable flare ups around the time of Trayvon Martin’s murder; Sandra Bland, Philandro Castille, Ahmaud Aurbery; the list just goes on. The cycle would continue with performative activism on social media, the increase of book sales of those addressing race relations and perhaps a moment of silence dedicated to those who we have lost. These things are important but all too often does this momentum die down and we remain in a state of inertia: where the issue of black lives being lost for the simplicity of the colour of their skin is no longer a headline and for the most part, the perpetrators remain unscathed.
This time it was a little different, with global protests filling the streets accompanied by the refusal of anything but justice for George Floyd- and the fight continues for Breonna Taylor, Shukri Abdi and Elijah McClain, to name a few. A fraction of the protests had turned violent with riots and looting and this was met with particular disdain- countless were quick to label protestors and the black community as a whole as violent and problematic. Many said nothing will come of violent protesting and that peaceful demonstrations were the way to go. However, when Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the US National Anthem at an NFL game in 2016 to protest black oppression, the scripts were flipped on him too, proving the fight for racial justice would always be villainised.
The world is finally waking up to racial disparity and injustice and it is better late than never. It is important to acknowledge that there are those who have been fighting this fight a lot longer than you and where you do not understand something, it is your duty to research and learn for yourselves; it is not the responsibility of the black people around you to educate you on why the system repeatedly falls short of supporting black lives. It is also imperative that those with white privilege understand that they possess it, how it inexplicably benefits their everyday lives and how they can use it to amplify the voices of ethnic minorities to uplift their causes.
The change has to start with you, as an individual. We all have a responsibility to not stand idly by whilst racism and oppression rips through the black community- to be silent is to be complicit. How are you making a positive difference? If you are an employer, look at your hiring history- do you tend to lean towards candidates that look like you? Or meet euro-centric ideas of what ‘professionals’ look like? Do you treat your staff fairly and with equity? If you are an employee, do you treat your black colleagues without prejudice? Do you respond to your black superiors the same way you do to your white ones? If you are in a position of authority, for example as a board member or a teacher, how do you demonstrate equality and implement support and equity to black and brown employees and communities? Do you actively stand up to racism and have suitable disciplinary measures in place to tackle those who engage in these behaviours?
By supporting black owned businesses and artists, and donating where you can, you are actively helping to achieve equality rather than contributing to a capitalist system thriving off the backs of black oppression. It is up to us to keep the candle burning by having the hard discussions with friends and families, signing petitions, reading, learning, listening to our black brothers and sisters and actively implementing anti-racism into our lives.
Black Lives Matter is not a trend or a headline, it is a humanitarian crisis.