Browse all

Op-ed: Why we can’t stay silent on the murder of George Floyd

A show of support is not optional but mandatory

Op-ed: Why we can’t stay silent on the murder of George Floyd A show of support is not optional but mandatory

For the past 24 hours, we’ve all virtually bore witness to the murder of George Floyd. A 46-year-old black man, a father , a husband, a brother who was brutally killed in Minneapolis (USA) at the hands of 3 white and an asian police officer earlier this week. A few weeks before, another video went viral, the shooting of a 25 year old unarmed black man named Ahmaud Arbery who was killed by a white supremacist father and son. Two weeks before that, a black woman, Breonna Taylor was killed at her home in Texas while sleeping, by three police officers who blindly fired upon entry. Today there is a riot, a movement, not only in the streets of Minneapolis but on social media, a show of resistance and solidarity all too familiar to the original Black Lives Matter movement of 2013 and just as how many of us from different races are all fans of the culture in music, sports, fashion etc,  it’s important that we don’t disappear when this very culture is being threatened by police brutality and white supremacy. 

The community needs allies and as beneficiaries it is all our responsibilities to be there. This is the same community that has gifted us with Hip Hop, Jazz, Streetwear, popular slangs, Michael Jordan, Travis Scott, Virgil Abloh,  Beyoncé , Barack Obama, Kobe Bryant,  Kanye West and the list goes on and on. The impact of black culture has been universal in influencing every single aspect of modern day pop culture and aesthetic down to the very way in which we think and if you have somehow enjoyed, been inspired by or benefitted from any of these products of the culture, like the majority of the world has, as designers, artists, musicians, or just everyday people, then you have no right to remain silent.

Remaining silent is just as big a part of the problem and it is in no way ethical for one to enjoy the culture, but then ignore when it is being threatened. Remaining silent while benefiting is acknowledging that Barack Obama, Travis Scott and Jay Z exist while dismissing the experiences of names like Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery. It is forgetting that as black men in American society, these names held the same potential as these powerful black men which we idolize, but simply weren’t even given the opportunity to do so. It is also ignoring the journeys of these cultural idols, and refusing to acknowledge that before and even during fame they too had similar experiences of being black in America that could have easily been cut short by another racist police officer, robbing the world of another potential president, astronaut , scientist, rapper, athlete etc.  

Helping to preserve and protect the culture and its people is the best way to show one’s appreciation, especially considering we don’t know what other black geniuses or traditions we may benefit from in the future. Although it might seem like as a non black person living in Europe or outside of the USA in general, your voice will not have an impact, it’s important to be aware of the power the movement that social media has, spreading the word locally and internationally, not only raises awareness , but puts immense pressure on the level of justice being served to the perpetrators. Some could argue that social media isn’t a valid form of protest but  as a result of this wave of social media coverage, within 48 hours, all of these racists & white supremacists, some of whom are mentioned above, have lost their jobs, the leases on their houses & gym memberships which are only small prices to pay, small steps towards justice for the murders committed. 

Although blatant racism still exists, on a general and corporate level, no one likes to be associated with it. It is like a piece of dirty laundry which no one wants to touch. Which is why every tweet, share, and show of support is important in amplifying the agony of the black voices. Staying silent or remaining neutral as a result of thinking it has nothing to do with you , or that everyone else has already said what you’re thinking are just excuses that help in fuelling the fire of white supremacy. 

However, it is important that as non-black allies, one acknowledges that you cannot equate yourself in any way to the experience of being black, but that you listen to those who speak and show your support , not with the intention of being a hero or saving the world, but simply with the humble mindset of  giving a minute contribution towards the bigger picture of justice. This can be done through the sharing of a facebook status, tweet, instagram story or post or donating to families affected or the Black Lives Matter movement.