By Hannah van Teylingen
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 7 of VARSITY News.
The Black Lives Matter Movement, while incredibly tragic, has signaled somewhat of a much-needed distraction from the coronavirus pandemic and a need to reform the deep-rooted racial injustices within contemporary society. In March this year an African American man, George Floyd, was killed by a police officer who stood on his neck for a total of nine minutes, for allegedly trying to use a counterfeit note. This was not the first case of police brutality, as racial discrimination has been an ongoing issue in the United States for years and despite continuing efforts from Black individuals and civil rights activists, has continued to be disregarded until the start of this year.
The entire world has now united in protest, ignited by the horrific murder of George Floyd and carried forward by the millions of silenced Black individuals that have been killed, hurt, discriminated against and ostracised since the barbaric era of slavery. The most recent Black Lives Matter Movements this month have marked some of the largest protests since the Civil Rights movement, with 50 US states and 17 other countries joining in solidarity to support the cause. In Perth, Australia, more than double the estimated number of people arrived at a Black Lives Matter event and in London protests gathered by prominent landmarks to have their voices heard.
In our very own country of South Africa, a brutal death mirrored that of Floyd’s when Collins Khosa was beaten to death on April the 10th in Alexandra by SANDF members during the lockdown period. An eruption of calls to President Cyril Ramaphosa and a small gathering of protestors marched to Parliament at the start of the month, uniting citizens towards a social cause in the same way as it did last year during the Gender Based Violence protests for Uyinene Mrwetanyana.
The Black Lives Matter Movement has caused people to look around them at the current treatment of Black individuals, to use their privilege and to educate other’s on how they too can support the cause and alleviate racial oppression. The Movement has not only shocked people into action and awareness but portrays how even in an era of a global pandemic, these broader societal injustices still exist behind the surface, in both societal and systematic forms.