The year 2020 has been a tough year for a lot of people. This is due mostly to the effects of the deadly coronavirus, which have forced most governments to implement lockdowns and social distancing measures. Covid-19 has not only been a difficult health crisis, it has also been a hard-hitting economic problem. However, it has even been tougher for members of racial minorities, not because the virus is able to discriminate, but due to the fact that long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put them at greater risks. As if that was not enough, black people have also had to worry about the continuous unjustified killings at the hands of the police; that gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement in 2013.

The list of black people dying at the hands of the police due to their fear, hatred, and discrimination just keeps growing. We have not learned from life lesson stories of the past. It seems to be a continuous cycle of unjustified killings, followed by protests in the streets, and calls for policy change, until there is the next killing. However, there was something dissimilar about the protests following George Floyd’s final 8 minutes and 46 seconds. More white people participated in these protests. Prior to this murder, white people had always participated in the struggle for black freedom, but it was different this time: the protests encompassed hundreds of cities in the U.S.; after a month of unparalleled daily and nighty protests, it is still ongoing; it is estimated that about 15-26 million Americans participated; and the demonstrations spread to other regions of the globe.

White people did not just take part in these protests, they actually played a more active role when compared to previous protests. Some led protests with Black Lives Matter signs and T-shirts. There were white women who acted as human shields to protect black people from police violence. White superstar athletes signed petitions. Others threw objects at the police. US democrats wore scarves made from Ghanaian designs called Kente. What has made these protests more surprising is the fact that it happened at a time when most people were supposed to spend as much time as possible at home to curb the spread of the coronavirus. But, could this have been one of the reasons these protests were different? Why did more white people seem to care this time?

Floyd’s killing occurred during the coronavirus lockdown when most people were expected to be at home. This meant fewer distractions than before – no school, sporting activities, family outings, vacations or other activities that would otherwise divert people’s attention. More people had the time and ability to focus on this unfortunate event. There was also a lot of frustration and an immense amount of pent-up energy and anger from different sources that needed to be released.

Another factor that significantly affected the vigour of these protests was Trump’s response to racism since he got into the White House. From his “shithole countries” remarks to threatening to send the National Guard to restore control while calling protesters “thugs”. He also criticized NFL players who took a knee during the national anthem saying, “…You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.” Trump also tweeted, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” after a Minneapolis police station was set ablaze; a comment that was certainly not helpful in such a heated situation.

One could also argue that his government’s handling of the pandemic also contributed to the massive protests. As earlier mentioned, most people were already affected by the pandemic. Some people either got sick or they knew someone who got sick, and others were affected economically. This was already enough to cause anger and anxiety.

The protests themselves also opened the eyes of many white people. While “managing” the protests and the protesters; perhaps for the first time, many white people witnessed the brutality that some police officers used against protesters (many of them white people).

Whatever might be the factors that pushed more white people to join the Black Lives Matter movement, it feels refreshing to see such an important number of people fighting for a common cause. We need to start learning from past life lesson stories. Black people shouldn’t have to face this battle alone; black people were not the cause of racism, discrimination, or institutionalized inequities. More white people should support the movement in order to finally create a lasting change. We all hope this will be the beginning of the end of this long vicious cycle of racial injustice.

Categories: Storytelling

25 Comments

Amara Kone · July 18, 2020 at 9:35 pm

Being a Nigerian living in the U.S., I watch the Blacks Lives Matter riots very closely. My parents told me stories of what happened to black Africans during Apartheid in South Africa. What the police are doing to some of the peaceful protesters are very similar to what happened during Apartheid. I read the Amnesty International article – it’s astonishing how history continually repeats itself.

    duppydomTEAM · July 19, 2020 at 7:55 pm

    Amara, thank you very much for your comments. There are definitely similarities between Apartheid and the racial injustice/inequality and police violence against black people that have been occurring in the United States. For those who are interested, here is some information about Apartheid. You made an excellent point that truly demonstrates the irony of the police handling of the Blacks Lives Matter protesters. The protesters were also protesting against police violence and “police forces across the USA committed widespread and egregious human rights violations against people protesting.” 😱😱

      Adaego M. Azi · July 22, 2020 at 7:11 pm

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    Adaego M. Azi · July 22, 2020 at 7:11 pm

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Lisa Steffler · July 18, 2020 at 11:15 pm

I think my family saw the George Floyd video by ourselves, but we also watched it as a family. My children had a lot of questions. A 13 and 15-year-old understand racism, but they don’t fully understand why it leads to a death like this, or so many deaths of black men and women at the hands of the police. I really like the fact that schools also discuss these issues. I am proud to say that my children are much more advanced about social issues than I was at their age. Thank you duppydom. This is an important topic to discuss. God bless.

    duppydomTEAM · July 19, 2020 at 7:52 pm

    Thank you, Lisa, for your comments. The George Floyd video has been seen in most households across the world. Parents of all races and ethnic backgrounds should be discussing the video with their children (if it is age appropriate). And whether parents believe that racial injustice/inequality and police violence exist in the United States, these conversations should be had with children 🗣; at some point, children become young adults and will make up their own minds

      Adaego M. Azi · July 22, 2020 at 7:12 pm

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Nadine Wu · July 19, 2020 at 1:30 am

duppydom – I went to the silent Black Lives Matter march in Seattle in June. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen in my life or taken part in. My friends and I locked arms as we marched and at some point, all of us were crying. I am not black, but I am a minority, so I understand racism – and even though my friends are white, so do they. When I got home, I called my parents – I don’t think I will ever be the same.

    duppydomTEAM · July 19, 2020 at 7:51 pm

    Nadine – we appreciate your insightful comments. Approximately 60, 000 protesters attended the silent march on June 12, 2020. “The goal of marchers was to make a powerful statement without saying a word – walking in silence to speak out about racism and police.” Becoming emotional during the march is understandable 😢 When we see the mass of humanity around us, it moves us, and we realize that a march/a protest/a movement is much bigger than we are. And yes, you will never be the same. You will be telling your children about your participation in the silent march in 2020.

      Adaego M. Azi · July 22, 2020 at 7:13 pm

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    Adaego M. Azi · July 22, 2020 at 7:14 pm

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Adaego M. Azi · July 19, 2020 at 5:00 am

duppydomTEAM – I will start off by saying that I cried so much every time I saw the George Floyd video that I had to stop watching it. I cried even more when I watched his funeral service. What most Americans don’t know is that one of the officers who stood by and watched George Floyd die (Alex Kueng) is Nigerian – he has brought shame to his family all the way to Nigeria. One of the things you mentioned in the article is that the race riots have spread to other parts of the globe. It is even here in Nigeria—the Nigerian police are known for being brutally violent against their own people. Nice article.

    duppydomTEAM · July 19, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    Adaego, we appreciate your comments. You have raised a great point, thank you. The riots in the U.S. pertain to racial injustice and racial inequality, but they also pertain to police violence. Police violence is a direct result of the attitudes and culture of policing and is perpetuated against all people – your comments about Nigerian police officers make this point very clear. It is also interesting to note that worldwide demonstrations/riots followed the death of George Floyd (considered the catalyst) because police brutality exists across the world; although “the U.S. has a significantly higher rate of police violence when compared to other wealthy nations.” 👮‍♂️🖐🚔

      Adaego M. Azi · July 22, 2020 at 7:10 pm

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Bruce Peters · July 19, 2020 at 10:15 pm

Another crisis! Good topic! As a Caucasian American, that video was very hard to watch, I can only imagine how black people around the world felt. It’s beyond me how anyone who lives in the U.S. can say that racism, racial inequality, or black people brutality at the hands of the police do not exist – the data is there, all they have to do is read it. The US federal government could help squash this racial tension, by at least starting talks about reparations for slavery. I don’t know what this would look like (e.g., an apology to descendants of slaves, or maybe even money), but admitting fault and making amends would go a long way.

    duppydomTEAM · July 21, 2020 at 5:59 am

    Bruce, thank you for sharing your comments. You are definitely on point. If the United States federal government admitted fault for slavery and made amends, that would go a long way in starting to reduce racial tensions. Granted, reparations would not end long standing racial inequalities embedded in American institutions, but that would be a starting point 🗣🗣

      Adaego M. Azi · July 22, 2020 at 7:14 pm

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S. Jakes · July 20, 2020 at 12:52 am

duppydomTEAM – I agree, I think white people care more about the BlackLivesMatter movement now than before – I know I do. A lot of Canadians hear about the shootings and killings of black people in the U.S., but we really don’t hear about that in Canada. I attended one of the peaceful anti-racism rallies near my house in Vancouver. Some black people went on stage and talked about their encounters with racism and with the police – it was eye opening – white people do live in a completely different world. I was shocked to hear that even in Canada, in terms of ratio, more black people are jailed and killed by police than white people. Wow. Thanks, duppydomTEAM 👏

    duppydomTEAM · July 21, 2020 at 5:57 am

    S. Jakes – thank you. One immediate positive impact that resulted from George Floyd’s death, was that it began world-wide introspection and conversation. Perhaps for the first time, people of all different colors and backgrounds around the world started looking at racism, discrimination, and police brutality in their own back yards. And as you are alluding to, people were surprised to find out how pervasive these issues are; even in their own country 🌎🌏🌍

      Adaego M. Azi · July 22, 2020 at 7:15 pm

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    Adaego M. Azi · July 22, 2020 at 7:16 pm

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Amie Warwick · July 20, 2020 at 2:02 pm

duppydom – racism and abuse by police are horrible. My husband and I watch the Black Lives Matter demonstrations on tv all the time. We attended a rally in Montreal a few weeks ago and plan to attend more. The movement is really catching on here. We also follow the rallies in Australia. I have some friends who will be attending a rally tomorrow in Sydney and I found out yesterday that the police are trying to block the protest from happening.

    duppydomTEAM · July 21, 2020 at 5:54 am

    Amie – your comments are greatly appreciated. It’s heartening to see that the Black Lives Matter rallies are still getting media coverage in many countries 📺📰 Historically, when a black person was killed at the hands of police, there were outcries for government mandates addressing racism, systemic racism and policing tactics. But this outrage typically lasted for a few days or weeks. The fact that large rallies continue world-wide; and some local governments and police departments are using the court system to try and block rallies, speak volumes.

      Adaego M. Azi · July 22, 2020 at 7:17 pm

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    Adaego M. Azi · July 22, 2020 at 7:17 pm

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