On May 25, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man died when Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, with two more, pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck, choking him to death in Minnesota, the USA. This incident erupted in widespread protests and riots against racism and systematic inequality across the country and around the world. George’s last words “I can’t breathe” are since chanted.
This has created ripples in India too. But the extension of this movement in India is tainted with hypocrisy. Celebrities who are today speaking out against racism have endorsed various skin-lightening products in the past. During the recent socio-political unrests in the country followed by the gruesome riots, almost none of them showed solidarity. People who stood muted when students and journalists got arrested on false charges are now voicing against police brutality in the USA. And the biggest brands in the country also did nothing to shape the narrative.
Police Brutality in India
Selective outrage and hypocrisy mostly come in one package in India. But in the past few months, and since the stringent lockdown got implemented, its severity has reached a new peak. In the name of the pandemic, police have shown us their absolute disregard for law and order in the country. Terrifyingly chilling videos fill our feeds every day, and yet, we mask ourselves with indifference mired in privilege. We saw how UP Police made migrant workers crawl on the highway, and how workers, vegetable sellers and people got beaten up in lockdown across India. Peaceful protesters are repeatedly detained even after courts granting them bail in Delhi. And in most cases, only the poor face the brunt of this abuse.
The death of George Floyd must not go in vain. It has, once again, drawn our attention to the deepest divides in society; how their magnitude and intensity affect some people more than others. So, raising voices is no more a choice, but a need. But with this, don’t also adopt different attitudes when dealt with
the same situations. There have been many George Floyds in our country where we turned a blind eye. Faizan, Rizwan, Lal Swami and many others died unjust, inhuman deaths at the hands of the state. What’s dangerous and unacceptable is we didn’t see them with the same pain. All acts of injustices require us to speak for the victim and against the abuser.
Problems are ubiquitous in all parts of the world. And it is the duty of the privileged to uplift the unprivileged. Time hasn’t slipped. If George Floyd awakens you to address and acknowledge your privilege, embrace it. If this moment sensitises you towards social biases, start fighting them from today.
Only when we walk together will we walk forward.
Therefore, don’t suppress the movement by voicing #AllLivesMatter and its variants. Every life matters and nobody is rejecting it. But at this moment, a section of people is demanding the rights they get denied due to societal prejudices. So, don’t adopt ignorance where justice doesn’t get served. Let this moment make you more empathetic. Understand the problem and its smallest consequences. So, when his six-year-old daughter tells with joy how her father changed the world, acknowledge the dichotomy present in society and pledge to uproot this inequality.
As Martin Luther King rightly said, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.