If you watch TV news you may have seen that there are crowds protesting in cities in the US, and also now in other countries, including the UK. What’s it about?
Not long ago George Floyd, a black man in Minnesota, USA, was brutally murdered by a police officer. Someone filmed it, and it went around on social media. The policeman has been sacked and is going to be tried for murder.
It has happened many times that police in the USA have killed black people – African-Americans, and that when a black person is murdered by a white person, the courts often give light punishments, or say the white person wasn’t guilty. These are extreme examples of racism – treating people unfairly because of their race or skin colour. There are racist attitudes among people in many places. If a whole organisation (like the police or the courts) regularly acts in a racist way, that’s called ‘institutional’ racism.
Institutional racism in the police, courts or other organisations has led to many African American citizens being regularly unfairly treated, and in extreme cases has caused their deaths. Seven years ago when something like this happened, someone started a movement called ‘Black Lives Matter’, to draw attention to these terrible injustices.
Now, after the murder of George Floyd, the movement has started up again. People all over the world are protesting and signing petitions about what happened to George Floyd. They hope that if they make a big noise about it, the government of the USA will be forced to make changes, so that all people will be treated fairly by the police and courts.
As children we may not be able to take part in these actions but here are some things we can do:
1. Learn what is happening
It’s important to know what’s going on, and to imagine what it feels like for the people directly affected. Realise that the police officers we think care about all lives are not always the good guys and that a lot of discrimination exists within the legal system.
2. Think about racism in our own community
Take the time to learn about it and have conversations with family members. Are there privileges that some of us benefit from because of our race? Are there prejudices within our culture towards people of other races? Do the police here treat people differently because of their race?
3. Tell other people
It’s through social media that the Black Lives Matters movement has spread. If you are on any social media, whether you have 10 followers or 100, you can tell other people.
4. Tell adults about the petitions
There are several petitions going around on social media asking for justice for George Floyd. When lots of people have signed, they will be sent to the US government. To sign a petition to a government you have to be old enough to vote – but children can check if the adults in our families know about the petitions, and ask them to sign them.
We all have a voice, so we should use it! As Martin Luther King Jr said ‘To ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it.’