One of the truths of this pandemic is that it has not been equalising, it has not affected everyone the same. The advice to wash your hands and stay away from other people is the same for everyone, but beyond that, this has never been an equal experience. I have had an easy time of it, I have a very good income, I am healthy and I am educated. And I am white.
The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has brought the UK’s attention to the institutional injustices faced by black people in the USA. I have no experience of being black obviously, but I have been reading and listening to so many black people in our country speaking out about their experiences of being seen as less than human, of being killed, bullied, victimised and so on and sickenly so on. Because of their race.
I know that there is a feeling that no one should protest because of a pandemic. But this pandemic is not fair. And more importantly life is not fair for black people. And it should be. The time to protest is now; to expect people to be quiet because of the risks of the pandemic heaps pain onto pain. George Floyd was murdered during a pandemic, no one has stopped being racist during a pandemic, so being anti-racist cannot stop either.
I have not chosen to attend any protests myself, a battle which me and my conscious will have to have. But I will argue for the right of anyone to demand to be seen as a human being with the same rights and respect as another. I am filled with admiration for those who have taken to the streets.
I am not confident in writing about race. I have never and never will experience racism directed at me. But not writing about something that is filling my thoughts would be wrong. We desperately need the title, the slogan, the demand of Black Lives Matter, which to my ear is so obvious it saddens me and fills me with fear about our society as it is now. We need to be reminded by a simple phrase declaring the truth that a black person is a human being and deserves to breathe and flourish and black lives matter hugely.