On May 25th 2020, George Floyd, a 46 year old black man was killed by Officer Derek Chauvin, a 44 year old white man. Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, despite cries of “I can’t breathe” from Floyd. Floyd was the latest in a long list of victims of racially driven police brutality. As the video of this murder went viral, the world decided enough was enough. Protests began in cities all over the globe, calling for an end to racism.
Calling for an end to people having to fear that they’ll be told “you don’t belong here” whilst driving with their child in the car or that people will threaten to kill them whilst they’re in a coffee shop writing their dissertation. An end to the time where a 37 year old mother of 2 can be beaten by police until she is unconscious, laying on the floor of a cell.
But some people didn’t agree, they didn’t believe that their country was racist, that people could still be capable of this heinous behaviour. I heard a lot of cries like this from the UK. “Britain isn’t racist” came from every corner. I didn’t understand how people could make this claim when we as a country facilitated years of slave trading, even having statues of slave traders up and down the country still standing today, despite us having long ago condemned their actions. Some people argue that this is our past and we aren’t racist any more, but our own prime minister, the man we “trust” to run our country and represent us as a nation, likened women who wear burkas to “letterboxes” less than two years ago.
If you are still in denial that racism exists in the UK, all you have to do is go online. You can sadly find hoards of people who believe that the growth of the British Muslim population is an “invasion” and we are in a “silent war”. Or perhaps you would like to turn to our news outlets, who, when there was a horrific terrorist attack in Reading, couldn’t help but associate it with the “Black Lives Matter” protest from that area, despite it being a completely unrelated event that had finished hours before.
The vilification and belittling of people of colour is a part of the very foundation of our nation. We need to be better. Open a book. Educate yourself. Write to your local MP about how the curriculum being taught to our children should not be whitewashed. Just because we don’t like our history doesn’t mean we are allowed to erase it. We must confront it, accept it and learn from it, using what we learn to better ourselves and create a world for future generations which is better, where children don’t have to be taught how to survive an interaction with the very people who are supposed to protect them.
Racism is not the victims’ problem. We are all implicit in the creation of both systemic and systematic racism and only we can destroy them. “We’re all the same on the inside” or “I have black friends” or “all lives matter” is no longer good enough. Confront the micro-aggressions you see in life, be actively anti-racist, be better.