The recent riots triggered by George Floyd’s tragic death has devastated an already divided America. The scenes of a modern-day civil war in one of the most powerful countries of the world has turned the world’s eyes to the nation once again. This was not an isolated incident – America has long suffered from systemic racism, embedded in the American political socioeconomic scheme that has built the foundations of the country.
But this is not only an American problem – the world has to stand for the protesters. The international community has to stand for the protection of the fundamental right of expression. But before we do this, we have to understand: why is this happening? We have to educate ourselves on the Civil Rights movement that took place more than half a century ago, but also the modern Civil Rights movement taking place right now.
How can you educate yourself?
There are so many ways to learn about the African American community and their struggle. Doing so does not only open your eyes to the continuous struggle that has devastated minorities in the nation, but it also allows you to understand perhaps your own biases. This is an uncomfortable conversation you have to have with yourself. As a white person, I have taken the last few weeks of tragic events to think about the ways I can personally be anti-racist, how do continue educating myself on the matter.
Expose yourself, educate yourself – learn about the African American struggle, and learn about its roots. This is not limited to news articles, or history books, or even non-fiction books on the corruption of the system, no – learn through the literature. Learn through poetry, short stories, fictional books. Read and see the struggle through creative word. Song of Solomon by Tonni Morrison, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes’ poetry – the most touching poem of his being “Montage of a Dream Deferred” are a few of the ways that the struggle of African-Americans has been depicted in the literature.
Read about the Civil Rights Movement in the 20th century and learn about the ways that activists stood up to racism to bring about change in their time. Read about Martin Luther King and his movement in the South. Read about Malcom X and the movement in the North. Learn about the way politics at the time also shaped the movement.
Then think. Think about what the events that happened 50-60-70 years ago, and think: has anything really changed today? Think about the Trump regime and the way the impulsive president of the nation pushed away peaceful protesters on the evening of 1 June 2020 for Trump to stand holding a Bible in the air. Think about the irony of this – the antithesis. As Trump commits the military against the protesters, he holds up the word of God – the word of God that is really standing with the peaceful protesters Trump has just violently pushed away. Watch the news, the information trending, as uncomfortable as it may feel, as frightening as the plastic bullets shooting towards the protesters may be. Think about your privilege and think about how you can use this privilege to help bring about change. And start this change. Take small forms of activism in your daily life – learn about this, stay updated, confront the people who do not understand the purpose, donate wherever you can.
What needs to happen after this?
Much has been achieved in the 3 weeks of protesting. This comes to show the important steps that protesting actions bear with them. When we all stand together, we can achieve greater things – the last 3 weeks of protesting has brought about greater change than the last 3 years on the matter. We cannot stop now. We cannot stop raising awareness, we cannot stop singing petitions, collecting donations, learning, and discussing. This is a long-term problem, and we need to bring about long-term solutions, which cannot be achieved within only 3 weeks.
The November elections will be a turning point for America. American democracy is being challenged. The people in power are attempting to stripe the people of their rights to protest, without thinking: why does violence have to break out for the world to hear the African American community’s struggle? Trump’s response to this – the willingness to respond with violence instead of change – shows that he is part of the problem and is representative of the ignorance that plagues America today. So, what will happen if he gets re-elected? And what will happen if Biden gets elected instead? The democratic candidate condemned Trump’s response and has continuously expressed his plans to bring a change on racial inequalities after he takes office. But more needs to be said: how is this change going to come about? How are policy makers going to bring about and maintain this much needed change? We need to start with acknowledging the systemic racism that has been embedded in the American system – in education, healthcare, housing, legislature, representation – every aspect of this system. Change comes with first acknowledging the problem – something which the current President is refusing to do.
We can support this movement by first learning about it and its roots, especially for those of us outside of America. It is our social responsibility to do so.
Ways you can help from any place in the world
What to watch & podcasts:
I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO
The Central Park Five
Dear White People
About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (Podcast)
We Need to Talk about the British Empire by Afua Hirsch (Podcast)
@bailfundnetwork – Twitter
@theconsciouskid – Instagram
@nationallayersguild – Instagram
@antiracismct – Twitter
@naacp_ldf – Instagram
@ibramxkendi – Instagram
@themirror – Instagram
@Ava – Instagram
What to read:
“How to be Antiracist” Ibram X Kendi
“Me and White Supremacy” by Layla Saad
“The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander
“Brit(ish)” by Afua Hirsch
“White Fragility” by Robin Diangelo
“Black Feminist Thought” by Patricia Hill Collins
Anti-racism resources: Google Doc with further resources
A simple Google search can lead to so much knowledge. So, use this as an opportunity to create long-term change by starting from within. Have this conversation with yourself and help to bring about change.