by Dr. Kalbir Shukra
Current events are exposing the extent to which lives are affected by structural inequality. It’s clear how international elites benefit from the system while so many lives are shortened, brutalised or impoverished by it.
While we try to get by in our daily lives amid the crisis, we can all express solidarity with those resisting and fighting back. There are growing campaigns in resistance to state sponsored racism and militarised policing. As we think of what happened to George Floyd, Beronna Taylor and many others, let’s make our conversations and protests about recognising that inequalities are structural and systemic, meaning that we need to envision and create a different world, for real freedom.
As we look across the Atlantic at the war being waged by President Trump and the elite that he represents, we see their forces wage war on black communities in the USA and internationally. Rather than treating what is happening in the US as a unique aberration, our conversations can join the dots. For example, let’s remember Britain’s role in colonisation, slavery and empire – the foundations of today’s systematic racism. This means that solidarity with those in the US and elsewhere includes resistance to today’s racism in Britain.
Today, the British state continues to treat it’s black and ethnic minority communities as problems to be controlled and excluded whilst celebrating ‘tolerance’ and ‘diversity’. Deportations and deaths in police custody are an expression of structural racism. So too is the way that black people are disproportionately stopped, searched and incarcerated. On the same week that police in Minneapolis were filmed restraining and killing George Floyd, a group of police officers in Lewisham were filmed pinning a black person to the ground with disproportionate force. During the lockdown, a black man was filmed being tasered by UK police. These are among the incidents in the UK that have received attention on social media because they have been filmed. There will be many more that are not visible in this way but they are vital reminders of a history of brutal policing, racism and other forms of systematic oppression that is ongoing in the UK.
Importantly, the UK also has a long history of social movements that organised protest, resistance, campaigns and solidarity against racism and other oppressions. Let’s learn from these, stand in solidarity during times of fightback and think through the world we want to see and how we can play a part in creating it. Now is the time for all of us to take part in and grow the conversation.
Dr. Kalbir Shukra
Dept. of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies
Goldsmiths University of London