One Year On From George Floyd’s Death, The World Continues To Become A More Conscious Place
One year ago today, the world came to a standstill after the tragic killing of George Floyd by ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Since then, there’s been a bold wave of responses actively working towards tackling racism and embracing diversity in all corners of society.
From calling on white people to be actively anti-racist to supporting Black community organisations, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement re-emerged after Floyd’s murder, but was this time received on a much more global scale and with longer-lasting effects.
Before May 25, 2020, the BLM movement tended to be received inconsistently. A Black person’s life would be tragically taken by a white authority figure, and while the case may attract attention, after a few weeks or months, it seemed that on a global level the recognition of the movement would somewhat fade.
Founded by three African American women – Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi – BLM started in 2013 calling for protection for Black lives from police and other authorities. It was sparked by the acquittal of George Zimmerman after his fatal shooting of African American teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012. It shouldn’t have taken George’s death for the world to globally respond in the way that it has, as there were many cases of police brutality before this point. Yet it has.
The deadly pressure that Chauvin applied to Floyd’s neck was filmed for nine minutes and deeply moved people from across the globe to take action. Since then, the BLM movement has been a more consistent topic spoken about on a global scale than it was before Floyd’s death.
Over the past year, people on all levels of life have more seriously examined how they could work towards being anti-racist and inclusive of diversity in their lives. Examples of this include recruitment bodies actively calling for more Black people and other ethnic minorities to apply for job roles, and implementing quotas in workplaces to work towards diversity.
Chauvin was found guilty on three counts on his trial on April 20, 2021. This decision was well received by the world and was momentous as it was the first time that a Minnesota police officer had been convicted of murdering a Black person. The hope is for this verdict to serve as an example for police officers to be more aware of their actions, and to be held to account when they are in the wrong.
Following Floyd’s death, several US cities have taken action against police departments. For example, on June 7, 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City pledged to move more funding from the city’s police department toward youth and social services.
This is just one example of focus being shifted more towards supporting the Black community. Lawmakers also signed a bill to revoke the 50-A Legislation. This dated measure protected police officers from being held accountable and allowed officers’ records to remain private.
In the UK, in Bristol on June 7, 2020, a group of BLM protesters toppled a statue of a 17th-century slave trader statue, Edward Colston, and threw it into the river. Following this, London formally removed a statue of slave-trader Robert Milligan outside the Museum of London Docklands. This shows the solidarity in dismantling the legacy of racism.
On June 27, 2020, Black Pound Day was launched in the UK, encouraging all people to invest in Black-owned businesses. The day now takes place on the first Saturday of each month.
However, even though there has been more conscious effort towards racial equality in this past year, there is still a long way to go. Sadly, there have been numerous incidents since Floyd’s death that demonstrate the systemic racism in the country. This highlights just how much more work needs to be done.
And it’s not just in the US, either. Racism is a global issue and is so evidently present here in the UK too. On March 31, 2021, however, the UK Government released a report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which concluded that institutional racism does not exist.
This alarming conclusion raised more than a few eyebrows considering statistics cited by The Guardian that clearly show Black women are four times more likely to die in childbirth, and Black people are nine times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police. This is why there is a sense of distrust towards police and authorities by the Black community, and reports like the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities only further contributes to this distrust.
It clearly shows there is still so much more to be done. This is why we all need to be committed to dismantling racism, and that means actively supporting Black people. If you’re white, that means using your privilege to challenge racism and that can look like hiring more people in your business, to challenging family members with discriminatory views towards ethnic minority groups. There are many opportunities for you to show up as an ally.
Knowledge is power, and so educating yourself about racism is key to this. However, don’t bombard Black people with questions expecting us to have the answer, when there are several resources out there waiting to be consumed by you. Talking about race as a minority can be tiring, so be sensitive to this. Rennie Edo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race is a popular source to help better understand racism.
Also, former Pastor Ben Lindsey’s book We Need To Talk About Race dives into tackling race issues in white-majority churches. It gives practical steps for what everyone – Black or not – can do to help move towards diversity, and these tips can also be applied to any white-majority space or institution, as it first and foremost takes the stance of love and wanting to help tackle racism.
Let’s all continue normalising dismantling racism to truly move towards a more racially equal world.
Words by Maxine Harrison
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk
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