“I can’t breathe”, “I can’t breathe”, “I can’t breathe”, “I can’t breathe”, “I can’t breathe”, “I can’t breathe”, “I can’t breathe”, “I can’t breathe”, “I can’t breathe”, “I can’t breathe”, “I can’t breathe”.
11 times. 11 times Eric Garner cried that he couldn’t breathe before he was killed by a New York police Officer in 2014.
“I can’t breathe”.. “Mumma”… “Please”…
These were the words uttered by George Floyd as he begged for his life which was taken away after 8 excruciating minutes of torture, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer.
These are just two examples of black men murdered by the police in America. By now I’m sure we have all viewed various distressing video images of black people being pulled over by police, not resisting and ultimately murdered by white police officers.
The scariest thing about this? The number of incidents that aren’t filmed or documented. The number of black people who have been murdered or sent to jail because of the colour of their skin. News articles often report these incidents without using the terms ‘murder’ or ‘killing’. They instead often look for a way out, claiming that they died as a result of ‘underlying health conditions’ – despite the fact that an officer knelt on a man’s neck for 8 fucking minutes.
The ‘MAGA’ parade utilise the term ‘All Lives Matter’ in opposition to, not in support of, the Black Lives Matter movement. They do this in an attempt to undermine the truth that black people in America are constantly treated as second class citizens. There is no denying it. They are targeted by the police force in America because of the colour of their skin. All Lives Matter, is designed to ignore the ongoing systemic oppression faced by the African American community for centuries. It hides the privilege disparity faced by many marginalised groups.
It’s Happening Here Too
However by focusing on events in America, many over here are choosing to ignore the blatant racism that is rife within the UK and Ireland. “Thank God I don’t live over there” and “I’m so glad we’re not like them” are examples of statements I’ve seen in the past few days on Twitter.
Mark Duggan. Rashan Charles. Darren Cumberbatch. Adrian McDonald. Nunu Cardoso. Olaseni Lewis. Daniel Adewole. Trevor Smith. Sarah Reed. Kevin Clarke. Leon Briggs. Anthony Graninger. Kingsley Burrell. Jacob Michael. Mzee Mohammed Daley. Derek Bennett. Azelle Rodney. Sean Rigg. Edson Da Costa. Jermaine Baker. Sheku Bayoh. Jean Charles de Menezes. Julian Cole. Stephen Lawrence.
These are the names of just some of those murdered at the hand of the British police force or involved in racist incidents in the UK that resulted in their deaths. The story behind each is as tragic as the next. Men and women, targeted for the colour of their skin and left to die. Mark Duggan’s picture was posted online by the British media. His photo was cropped to make him seem more threatening – the original photo shows him at his daughter’s memorial.
So let’s take a look at racism in the UK and why it is allowed to flourish.
The country is literally run by a man who referred to non-white people as ‘piccaninnies’ with ‘watermelon smiles’. He has compared Muslims to ‘letterboxes’ and ‘bank robbers’. He has stated that the problem with Africa is that ‘Britain doesn’t run it anymore’. He has hired people who support eugenics and compulsory contraception. Let’s not even get into his history of homophobia because I would need to write another article on all of that. Despite this and his history of incompetence, people still vote for him. Why? Because they either don’t know or they don’t care.
The likes of Nigel Farage and Katie Hopkins are too often given platforms to promote their disgusting views. Farage used his ‘Breaking Point’ poster, which depicts Syrian refugees coming to the UK, as a reason to leave the EU. The UK is not under the EU’s Common Asylum Policy, therefore under EU law, Syrian refugees actually have no right to enter the UK. So essentially what Farage did was put Syrian refugees on a poster to try and scare the British public and claim that these ‘brown people’ should be feared. This is racism. I could go on about Katie Hopkins and Tommy Robinson, who somehow manage to get a platform, but if at this stage you agree with any of them, you are a racist and part of the problem.
The acceptance of these views at government level then allows this to flow into our education system.
In schools, clear racism is often labelled as ‘ethnic banter’. It’s nothing serious, they say. It encompasses the whole school and becomes normalised. Micro-aggressions are prevalent and any time this status-quo is challenged, it’s laughed off.
Looking back, racism was rampant in my school, yet it became so normal. It became a joke. People used the N word without any consequences. The worst thing is that you can’t really blame anyone as it was so accepted. If the highest powers in the country can get away with it, so can anyone else. As this ‘ethnic banter’ evolves, it becomes more and more dangerous. ‘Light hearted’ and ‘jokey’ comments become even more aggressive and a genuine hatred starts to evolve.
It wasn’t just the student’s either – it was the teachers too. Off the cuff racist comments were commonplace amongst many teachers. If there was a group of too many black people hanging out together, it would be dispersed to prevent a ‘gang’ forming. If the same thing happened amongst white people, they would describe it as a ‘mob’. Why is a large gathering of black men viewed as a gang and a large gathering of white men viewed as a mob? Institutional racism.
Let’s take a look at how hairstyles are treated in schools too. Black hairstyles were viewed as ‘extreme’ hairstyles, whereas white students were constantly allowed to get away with their own styles. Black students were often sent home for displaying their natural hair, whereas many white children got away with using hair products and having extreme lengths. Again – this became normal and accepted. My own hair was far longer than the required short back and sides – not once was I ever asked to cut it.
Our education system is also clearly flawed when we take a look at the national curriculum. Children in the UK aren’t taught enough about Britain’s imperialistic past. They’re not taught about how Britain went around the globe, murdering, slaughtering and raping innocent people. They’re not taught about how the British museum is full of stolen artefacts. They’re not taught about how Winston Churchill was a racist and starved millions of Indians to death. But do you know who is taught all of this? Children of immigrants – and most of it is self taught.
When presented with this information, white people in the UK immediately seem go on the defensive and claim it didn’t happen, or start focusing on how ‘Churchill won us the war’. No he didn’t, the Soviet Union won the war. There’s another fact for you to look up. It’s about time that white British children educated themselves as much as children of immigrants do, so that they don’t have to have their own history taught to them. It shouldn’t be down to these people to teach them their own history, it should be implemented in the British curriculum.
As I write this, I get angrier and angrier about all of the topics I could speak about. I want to talk about the disproportionate ‘stop and searches’ that happen amongst black and white people on the street. I want to talk about how the government has cut youth centres in underprivileged areas leading to many taking to the streets instead. I want to talk about how crime is being systematically allowed to take place in underfunded areas. I want to talk about how illegal drugs are worth 16 billion pounds to the UK economy – with the profits of this going towards rich people in suits and ties. I want to talk about white people pretending that white privilege doesn’t exist.
But YOU should know these facts already. If you don’t, you’re either unaware of your white privilege or you don’t care – which makes you complicit in what is happening around the world. Black people are being systematically killed and discriminated against and it is happening right now. Things that you may view as small add up and have led us to where we are now. The riots happening in America are a culmination of centuries of racism which is thriving today.
It’s time to accept that racism is happening over here too. In Britain and in Ireland. It’s time to stand up to it. If you hear a family member making a racist comment, call them out on it. If you see a black person being harassed by a police officer, film it or help them. Protest. It isn’t a case of ‘it doesn’t affect me so I shouldn’t care’. If you think this way, you are complicit and you are part of the problem.
Fuck those in power allowing this to happen.
Fuck the All Lives Matter movement.
Black Lives Matter.