On the 6th June there was a peaceful protest held in Carlisle city centre following the death of George Floyd in the United States. The protest was in order to show support and solidarity towards the Black Lives Matter movement. Recent events have highlighted the injustice and discrimination that black people face in not only today’s society but throughout history.
The protest started with everyone kneeling in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds which is how long officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyds neck which lead to him passing away. This really made you realise how long 8 minutes is and how slowly the time passed. Throughout this time that was spent kneeling, there was a number of people that started to chant “I can’t breathe” which is the same plea that was used by George Floyd in 2020 and Eric Garner in 2014. After this a queue was formed at the front by a microphone for people who wanted to say a few words either on their personal experience with racism, their thoughts and feelings about racism in today’s society as well as how we can better ourselves as allies of the black lives matter movement.
There were many powerful speeches by people who have personal experiences with racism including NHS doctors and nurses. They described how differently they are treated in and out of their uniform mostly by subtle racist gestures. A women spoke about colourism in her family because her skin is darker than her cousins who have a white parent. The women and her siblings were constantly teased by her cousins and other family members due to this. Colourism is discrimination against individuals with a darker skin tone often by individuals of the same race or ethnic group, defined by Oxford languages.
Everyone who attended the protest was wearing face masks and the floor was marked in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Volunteers were there to keep everyone safe and could be identified by their high-vis jackets. By the microphone there was a table for people to wipe everything down and sanitize their hands to keep everything clean.
Protests across the world have helped to bring attention to many cases such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Elijah McClain who were killed by police as well as Tamla Horsford, Ahmaud Arbery and Elijah Weatherspoon whose deaths are being investigated. This uproar has led to George Floyd’s and Ahmaud Arbery’s killers being charged with their murders. It is important that we keep fighting to get justice for those who have not yet received it.
I want to share with you some statistics about British racism as it is mostly more subtle than racism in America so it is not often noticed or talked about. The sources for these statistics are shown below.
- Over 50% of British youth that are in prison belong to ethnic minorities
- 12% of police incidents using force involve black people, even though black people make up only 3.3% of the population
- Black people are detained 4x more often than white people under the Mental Health act
- In 2019, 1/5 police officers were found to have an ethnicity bias strong enough to impact their behaviour