George Floyd. An African American man murdered at the hands of an unapologetic, caucasian police officer on 25th May 2020. Accused of using a forged bank cheque, George died within minutes of a police officer kneeling on his neck, despite George saying he could not breathe.
Understandably so, the pure outrage, hurt, anger and pain George’s death has posed serious allegations of the violation of his fundamental human rights. His death makes one question why movements such as the #BlackLivesMatter cause such an uproar amongst other communities, with them saying #AllLivesMatter.
America is often considered the land where dreams are made of and people think of the American Dream. For ethnic minorities, African Americans and indigenous people, might it not be an everyday struggle to just survive? Why is racism happening universally, coined as “institutional racism” as if its the norm; yet we are not making progress in combatting such dire breaches of human rights?
What makes matters even more heartbreaking is President Trump’s two cents to the protests that took place after George’s death:
With the President himself labelling protestors as “thugs”, advocating and glorifying violence if looting starts; it does not leave much hope for today’s generation and our future generations. What with Twitter even confirming that Trump is glorifying violence, it is wholly worrisome that violence, racism and racial slur is on the rise.
Black Lives Matter:
Not long before George’s unfounded murder, 26 year old Breonna Taylor, a US emergency medical technician was shot to her death, at least eight times, by caucasian police officers on 13th March 2020. The police state that they were executing a search warrant as part of a drugs investigation, however no drugs were found in her apartment. What therefore was the need for Breonna’s death and more so, how can a shooting with no cause ever be justified? A lawsuit has been lodged by Breonna’s family against the police.
These of course are two cases of a never ending, compiled list of deaths of black individuals at the hands of white police officers. The increase in awareness has been supported by the Black Lives Matter movement and charities globally. Amnesty International – Hawaii Chapter, on 8th May 2019 wrote: “This is why black lives matter, and why we need to continue to advocate for criminal justice and police excessive use of force reform, and accountability in the United States. Note: The video cam from the police officer stopping, and arresting Sandra Bland is brutal and hard to watch.“
The video to Sandra Bland’s unscrupulous interrogation by white police officers can be found at: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/07/us/sandra-bland-video-brian-encinia.html?fbclid=IwAR2QMLrDPFXeNOUZK0zu22rHVRjVe0DwXu4JHePPWllEY9EZA8qc1VbjHPs
The purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement is to eradicate white supremacy and to promote inclusion of all black lives and communities. It was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murder. Injustice to black individuals has been an ongoing issue, which has been evidenced in Netflix’s series, “When They See Us”, which follows the unwarranted arrest of 1989’s “Central Park Five” and the false imprisonment of innocent young black and hispanic boys.
Backlash to introduce an #AllLivesMatter movement arose, however I feel that the latter does not encapsulate the struggle black and ethnic individuals face to secure their fundamental human rights. White supremacy, sadly, does still exist and we should find ways to combat racial and hate crime to protect our future generations.
“Whether they are descendants of the victims of slavery brought to North America and Europe against their will, or more recent migrants, people of African descent are frequently denied rights and experience exclusion, humiliation and impoverishment as a result of racial discrimination,” said Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner. At the meeting held in Geneva on 23rd and 24th November 2017, the High Commissioner also said that “people of African descent continue to endure pervasive discrimination in law as well as in practice, extending from neighbourhoods and schools to workplaces, political representation and justice”.
This meeting was three years ago. Since then, the racial climate seems to be escalating in a derogatory demeanour.
My two cents:
As a young woman of Sri Lankan heritage, I fall into the category of being labelled as an ethnic minority, or “BAME” individual. I see racism struggles amongst my peers and I want to be a part of a change in community where we all make a conscious effort to shift from racism to inclusiveness without boundaries. Human rights cannot be afforded or protected if we do not start making changes to ourselves. We have to promote protection of fundamental human rights and then only perhaps if we all do our bit, segregative movements will fade into the distance.
This article is written with information correct as at 29th May 2020