I write with due diligence, intending to convey a message, one that is meaningful, rid of jargon and semantics .
And, although it may be perceived as an antiquated art form, my mother often emphasised the importance of words to my siblings and I. Giving us an understanding of the emotion evoked from written sentiments of ones thoughts, feelings and intent.
I’d like to share my own in the light of the murder of George Floyd and those who are disproportionately disadvantaged because of their ethnicity.
2020 may just be the worst year in recent history. The past few months have affected everyone left, right and centre. You’ve seen this on the news, in person and perhaps some of you may have experienced tragedy first hand. And, although COVID-19 is an unprecedented tragedy, illness unfortunately claims lives on a daily basis no matter how hard we try to fight it.
It seems to me, however, that racism is a grave illness. A sickness of immeasurable circumstance. A sickness that even the greatest advances in human progression cannot rid itself of. It seems to reoccur, embedding it’s flawed increments into deep routed ignorance, manifesting a marred lifeline, watered by unsolicited fear, fed by seeds of division, served, perpetuated and spread by hearts hardened through ‘learned’ heretical hatred. Racism.
This is a reality and it’s terrifying. Surreal almost.
I haven’t watched the video. I can’t. The still image is scathed into my mind. I am hard pressed and inconceivably affected by the murder of George Floyd and countless others . I think about it everyday. Somehow feeling completely disconnected from reality as if I’m in the twilight zone. ‘How could this happen ?’
The truth is, this one incident highlights generations of institutionalised oppression. I can’t help but feel that what we are witnessing today is the legacy of slavery. 1619, was the birth of the American Slave Trade, where chattel slavery was used to perpetuate Aristotle’s ‘natural slavery’ theory which was revered and held to the highest esteem by most in society both legally and culturally.
Slaves were traded and branded on their cheeks, backs and other areas, similar to cattle. They were ultimately viewed as property. Although the North benefited from this, eventually they viewed slavery as contradictory to the American dream yet the South saw it as a necessary evil. These conflicts as well as other factors led to the civil war. Slavery is coerced labour that relies on intimidation, brutalisation and dehumanisation. Rebellion often resulted in harsher forms of torture, brutality and murder.
Is slavery over? It may have been abolished in 1865 but in the words of Mandela, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Is this the case for all in America ? Around the world ? If not, then there is a problem.
These thoughts brought me to the murder of George Floyd.
Both George Floyd and Eric Garner told their murderers that they could not breathe.
Asphyxiation is a slow, laboured, painful way to die. A prolonged lapse of oxygen transportation to the brain initially causes light headedness due to cerebral hypoxia, followed by a build of carbon dioxide and lactic acid which, is incredibly painful to experience for even a short amount of time. Your body at this point has gone from aerobic respiration to anaerobic, an unnatural state of psychological affairs that your body should not be subjected to for an extended period of time unwilling . Continued starvation of oxygen to cells, tissues and organs is eventually lead to ischemia and multiple organ failure.
George Floyd was in this state for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Begging for his life, begging for his deceased mother, begging for water, begging for air, begging for his life. 8 minutes and 46 seconds. He knew he was dying.
How long can you hold your breath for? How long can you hold your breath before you use your liberty to take breath, a deep breath. You can go for a walk or even a run, clear your head, snack on skittles, go for a drive without second thought.
Pondering these privileges over the past few weeks has brought an array of emotions to the surface.
These murders are egregious, refutable and abhorrent acts of feigned humanity committed by a contrived minority of humanity that perpetuate this type of hate, this type of discrimination and this behaviour.
Let me emphasise, it has taken me weeks to deal with all of this. It’s more than a hashtag, a change of profile picture or a post. To all of my subscribers, readers, friends, loved ones, acquaintances, colleagues etc, my point is this:
This is a matter that involves all of us, not as individuals of different ethnicities, cultures or creed but simply as people. We have all experienced discrimination, whether it’s racism, class, age, sex, disability, financial, gender or sexual orientation. The key to dealing with this is not turning a blind eye but finding a way to change the standard.
This could be as simple as correcting an individuals preconceived notions, going out to protest, educating yourself about racism by listening to a podcast, checking on your friends or simply asking someone ‘what can I do to help?’
Don’t be pressured by social media movements but instead, think about how you can genuinely tackle this issue and move forward. Do something, even if it’s changing the way you think about these issues. It starts with you.
This has been a long time coming. Regardless of how you’re doing it, keep fighting the good fight, however you see fit.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
And to all those who refuse to acknowledge the issue, refuse to accept the reality and prefer to ignore their inconceivable ignorance or worse, revel in the shadows of racism, for the first time in history, the genesis of a new, uplifted, united generation can, with confidence say: you are outnumbered.