Is racism a much bigger issue than Coronavirus?

9 HORRIFIC MINUTES!! For 9 minutes Derek Chauvin, pinned down George Floyd, kneeling on his neck as the 46 year old black man’s woeful pleas ‘I cant breathe’ fell on deaf ears with three other officers watching Floyd’s distraught soul depart with no remorse. The horrendous murder in Minneapolis befuddled citizens across the globe, resenting this ghastly incident. Thus began a myriad of events in America that unleashed pandemonium in these already tumultuous times. worldwide. Americans took to the streets protesting vehemently, waving banners and billboards with fury, demanding justice against this heinous crime of police brutality. As police forces and the national guard have tried to trample the voices of the protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets, there seems to be no backing down among them. Their protest gained unprecedented momentum especially on internet with netizens going berserk, trending hashtags, people extending legal aid and financial donations, celebrities observing a moment of ‘Blackout’ on their social media pages.

This inferno of justice prevails worldwide with a recent crusade of shoving and dumping sculptures and statues of the tyrant, bigoted slave traders, colonial rulers, Confederate generals who have been glorified and idolized despite their brutal schemes and pro-slavery regimes. Powerful images of hordes of protesters jostling the statue of Edward Colston, a fraudulent philanthropist involved in slave trade into the Bristol harbor, United Kingdom. Along with the stone effigy of Leopold II in Brussels, Belgium being vandalized and disfigured and many revered imposters.

Alongside this anarchy there is the alarm death toll statistics due to COVID-19 which as of June 9th has crossed 1 lakh and 2.4 million confirmed cases in USA, 41 thousand deaths in UK followed by 3 lakh confirmed cases. Their respective urging citizens to abide by social distancing norms however, the palpable angst and fear that is prevalent worldwide. Furious protesters especially in America not deterred to crusade against these heinous crimes. It definitely made us question if racism was a much bigger issue than the current COVID-19 fear!

The first ‘Black Lives matter’ protest was initiated when a judgement on the shooting of Trayvon Martin was passed in favor of George Zimmerman and was let off the hook, scot free. This movement was nationally utopian and gained much acquiescence worldwide. It had shocked the conscience of millions. However, what changes the current scenario is the social media prowess for today’s situation. With millions of users glued to their phones, the protests in USA were brought into the public attention. This time there was no ambiguity in the injustice rendered against the innocent man, with recordings of the gruesome murder being circulated on the internet definitely awakened people. From guards manhandling protesters to George Floyd’s sad, poignant funeral service everything is present on the internet. People responded to the plight of these victims even through generous donations, promoting businesses run by the Black community or even providing them food services.

Also with a worldwide lockdown issued and unemployment, people have actually been able to take some time off their rigid routines and pay heed to these hate crimes. Simultaneously unearthing many such stories, like Breonna Taylor, a medical professional in Louisville who was struck at least eight times by the police on account of a ‘no knock warrant’ issued due to an alleged drug trafficking report. The spiking unemployment rate has definitely played especially in case of the African- American population. Also the appalling statistics of 2019 have quite contributed to this unrest. African Americans made up less than 14% of the population but accounted for more than 23% of the just over 1,000 fatal shootings by the police. The government paying no attention to the problems faced by the African Americans in terms of employment, housing, education this disdain definitely drove people to revolt against these current apartheid like times. So let’s question our anemic beliefs again, ‘Can we breathe now?’

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