Updated: Jan 18, 2021
After the disturbing viral footage of the tragic murder of George Floyd on 25th May 2020 at the hands of four police officers, there has been an overwhelming response from people calling out for justice and an even wider response from people demanding an end to police brutality against Black people.
There are a lot of people that feel extremely uncomfortable about the discussion of racism on social media right now. I'm going to be frank and say to those people , yes you may not be able to see the light hearted posts you're used to, or the usual brushing under the carpet of issues of injustice, but the real issue here is you can't just scroll by and pretend it doesn't exist this time.
What you should really understand is that moment of discomfort that you are able to switch off from by logging out, is nothing compared to the pain caused by structural racism affecting people of colour every single day. Even on days where we might not be thinking about race, someone else's actions can remind us of the negative connotations. Yes everyone has their problems in life, some more than others, but for people of black heritage and non-black people of colour, our race is who we are and we are proud, but it has been turned into the very foundation of our struggle for the longest time alongside general issues everyone else faces already.
For the people that do not know my ethnic background, I am mixed race, half black Caribbean, half white. I have been in many situations where I've been privy to some questionable views on race due to the fact the people in my company at the time assumed I only identify with one side of my heritage more than the other (that's if they even knew where I'm from in the first place). Many may look at me and think "well how does it affect you, you're only half black?". Not only is that an ignorant assumption in general but please believe I have experienced my fair share of unpleasant racially motivated encounters. If you have mixed race or black family or friends PLEASE BELIEVE they are feeling this too. Speak with them(after asking first if they don't mind discussing it) about how issues like this can effect them and what you can do differently. Furthermore, research and educate yourselves. Do not assume that if you sit in silence it will go away. Your silence still makes you as complicit as the next person when faced with defending blatant injustice that you can stand up to.
Your discomfort may be due to the fact that you don't have a racist bone in your body and you don't like the thought of discussing these things among many other painful issues. Or perhaps you feel a pang of guilt because you know you are a part of the problem and you've been complacent in various situations. Either way, before you condemn, shame or roll your eyes at yet another post about these horrific incidents taking place all over the world , think about the outrage, shock and pain you felt with 9/11 or the London bombings to name a couple. How many of you put up a French flag filter on Facebook in 2015 as a symbol of solidarity for the attacks without a second thought? You felt that outrage because those peoples lives were taken for no reason and they could just have easily of been you or your family.
George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Mark Duggun, Sean Rigg are all just some of many isolated incidences whereby people have lost their lives due to nothing more than the color of their skin at the hands of people that are supposed to be protecting and serving us. If you can't feel the outrage for that then maybe you need to ask yourself why. These are ongoing incidents with blatant disregard for human life backed by a system that doesn't see a need to hold murderers accountable if the victims are brown or black. This is also evident in the lacklustre response from the powers that be in finding justice for the death of the Grenfell Tower residents to this very day. That sadly is a story for another day.
"People have reached a point now where enough is enough"
Despite continuing to follow the rules and keep in line when no justice is found, our black people's voices have been left unheard for way too long. The highlighted injustice that circulates social media, showing moments captured by people too scared to intervene, has been left unseen for way too long. People have reached a point now where enough is enough. Not only are people protests and vigils in USA and UK but also as far as New Zealand and Germany. No-one. Black,White, Asian, or any other race can stay silent anymore.
Whether it's because you as a non-black person feel uncomfortable discussing a topic you've been taught not to mention (so as not to offend someone), or you are the recipient of racial bias and have learned to just "get on with it" so you don't come across angry or intimidating or playing the "race card". This response cannot be our normal anymore. Our voices must be heard. We all have to learn to do better in order for there to be change. The ignorant and biased need to be educated whether it is by having the patience to teach each other or by teaching ourselves if we feel we do not know enough. There is no growth in the comfort zone.
How Can People Help?
Donate to Funds Supporting Grieving families of victims such as George Floyd via Go Fund Me https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd
Sign the petitions : https://www.justiceforbigfloyd.com/#petition
Bring up the topic with family members, friends work colleagues regardless of their race.
Reflect on your own biases and look into instances where you may be subconsciously causing offence.
Research and educate yourself on the history of specific racial prejudices.