I’m so saddened to see the state of the world we are living in. Since the start of 2020, we’ve seen America almost kickstart World War III, we’ve seen Australian bushfires that have decimated wildlife, we’ve seen floods and the evermore increasing temperature of the earth, we’ve seen social injustice, infringements on democracy that jeopardise freedoms, the merciless slaughtering of people of colour, all of which has taken place within the framework of a pandemic – and we’re only in May.
Of course, I can acknowledge that some of these issues have been far longer-standing than simply this year alone. But isn’t it fair to say that, with the world in a state of stillness thanks to COVID-19, we are finally giving them the full attention they deserve?
2020 was the start to a new decade, and for some, the start of a new life (myself included – still mourning my graduation this year!) What 2020 has also been, however, is a major wake-up call. We are being shown all the ugly, greedy parts of humanity and this awakening we are going through is far from comfortable, but so necessary.
However, change only comes from action, and as they say, power comes with knowledge. Below I have listed various petitions to sign and pieces of information that helped me, and hopefully will help other people, to become educated to the issues we are facing as a global community.
Racism and Racial Profiling Against People of Colour
A few of the cases of POC being racially profiled and becoming victims of police brutality and systemised racism, their stories listed below:
Breonna Taylor was working as a frontline worker in the COVID-19 pandemic when police used a battering ram to enter her flat on a narcotics raid in the middle of the night, as she slept. Although saying they had, Taylor’s family strongly contest the claim that police announced themselves before entering. They fired several shots, 8 of them hitting her, ultimately killing her. It was then revealed that police had entered the wrong house, and the suspect they were looking for was already being held in custody at the police station.
Ahmaud Arbery was out jogging when two white men in a pick-up truck shot him as he crossed the road. They suspected him to be the perpetrator of a burglary. It was only three months later after a video surfaced of the incident that the two men involved were arrested and charged.
Police were called to a store in Minneapolis where a complaint had been made to 911 responders about a fake banknote being used to purchase cigarettes. Upon resisting entering the police car, Floyd was tackled to the ground where Derek Chauvin knelt with his knee on Floyd’s neck for over 8 minutes. The 46-year-old was heard saying: “I can’t breathe. Please. The knee in my neck… Please. Momma. Momma. […] I can’t breathe. They’re gonna kill me.” Floyd was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
In July 2014, Eric Garner was standing on the street when police approached him and accused him of selling loose cigarettes illegally. A video emerged, showing how, as Garner was talking to one policeman, another came up behind him and held him in a chokehold and tackled him to the ground. Several officers pinned him down as Garner was continuously held in the chokehold, and was heard saying eleven times: “I can’t breathe.” He suffered an asthma attack and died.
In November 1976, Officer Toursney was responding to a report of a man with a gun in New York when he came across a group of youths. After a short conversation with them, he pulled out his gun and shot 15-year-old Randy Evans point-blank in the head. When he returned to his vehicle, as he calmly replaced the used cartridge, his partner asked him: “What did you do?” to which he responded: “I don’t know, Matty. What did I do?” He was later freed of any charges on the basis of insanity, and sent to an asylum.
Jordan Davis and three other friends pulled up at a petrol station on the evening of November 23rd, 2012. Michael Dunn and his girlfriend pulled into the adjacent parking spot. Dunn was annoyed at the volume of the music being played in the car Davis was in. An argument ensued, in which a bystander heard Dunn saying: “You aren’t going to talk to me like that.” He pulled a gun out of his glove compartment and shot through the door of the SUV, hitting Davis and later killing him. Afterwards, Dunn and his girlfriend returned to their hotel and ordered pizza.
These cases I have listed are indeed located specifically in the US, but make no mistake – although the use of guns is heavily restricted in the UK, there is still an enormous amount of racial profiling and bias that takes place. Take a look at the articles below to get informed:
If you are white and reading this, understand your privilege. We have never wondered whether being arrested will lead to our murder; we have never wondered whether jogging or asking for help after a car crash will get us shot; we have never wondered whether our trip to the corner store to get ice tea will have a suspicious white person call the police on us (Google search: The Shooting of Jonathan Ferrel/Renesha McBride/Trayvon Martin for their stories, and many others, not listed here.) Reading about these cases was a shock, since these aren’t things I’ve ever had to consider.
Knowing this, and subsequently, understanding that whiteness brings power, why not use that power to speak up against racism and ally with people of colour?
“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be antiracist” – Angela Davis
Global warming is starting to get the attention it deserves, but we still have a long way to go. With Trump pulling America out of the Paris Climate Agreement and making it the only country in the world to refuse the call to cap rising temperatures at 1.5ºC, it appears some still believe climate change to be a myth. Help the fight against it by signing these petitions:
The Hong Kong Fight for Independence
Hong Kong and China have been described as “one country, two systems.” This means that whilst technically being classified as part of China, the set-up allows for Hong Kong to govern itself, therefore allowing greater freedom for its inhabitants. It also means that two types of governing power, socialist and communist, exist under one umbrella.
However, when Hong Kong’s Security Bureau announced an amendment to a law that would allow criminals to be extradited to China for trial, riots began. The law meant that criminals would not be trialled under Hong Kong’s law system, and put them at risk of an unfair trial and maltreatment within China.
As riots continued throughout the year, they became more violent and there was widespread cases of police brutality against protestors, sparking more anger. Police used tear gas, sprayed live rounds of ammunition on crowds and beat protestors with their batons.
In May 2020, China approved the use of national security forces within Hong Kong to quell protests. This technique has often been used within China itself to silence political opponents. It has been interpreted as another attempt to gain control over Hong Kong, and to snuff out pro-democracy activists.
Have a look at some of these articles for more insight into Hong Kong’s fight for autonomy and democracy:
And sign these petitions to join the fight yourself:
Given whats happening in the world right now, I’ve found myself with a heavy heart in the last few days. It’s difficult to imagine that in this modern day, these events are still occurring and ongoing. But change never comes from doing nothing, and so I hope that this post helps you feel more educated and able to help.