Un-United in the USA

A protester bringing awareness to race issues in a Black Lives Matter event

George Floyd, a black man, was killed in cold blood by a cop in Minnesota. There are allegations that he refused to listen to the cops and that he was inebriated, and this is disputed. But whatever the minute details, did he deserve this? A white cop pushed an unarmed George Floyd to the ground and held him down by his neck with his knee till he could not breathe anymore. George told the policeman that he was choking but he didn’t give up till he died! It is hard to not link this to the racism that is strongly prevalent even today in USA.

Across the world, there is oppression, and nations⁠— developed, third world, or otherwise⁠— wipe it under the rug. How can any of us call ourselves developed or developing nations, where basic human rights are flouted publicly?

Isn’t human rights the first thing we should get right? The bedrock upon which we build progress?

It is a strange dichotomy that in the USA, a country that prides itself as being on the forefront of human rights and has created timeless characters like Spider-Man and Batman as heroes for justice, still experiences, with seeming regularity, such horrible crimes.

It reminds me of Nero and the Roman rule where the slaves are fed to the lions, while the public jeers and cheers in that bloody sight of the fight of man and beast.

In India we are exposed to USA with their films, their current leader and his callous remarks and the memes surrounding him. We see America as one of the biggest influences on world culture, and a land of opportunity. And this they are!

But.. we don’t look into the atrocities that are still rampant there. We live in a bubble of doctored stories or willing ignorance. We see the screen personas, happy stories and tales of silicon valley unicorns and gullible young minds believe that this is all there is to progress. But the marginalization of black people, racism, crime against LGBTQ+ folk, and the high levels of unemployment and mental health issues are never discussed. In the same way elements of Indian culture and history that we refuse to face have produced all our problems, something in American culture has produced a callousness towards oppression and resurgence of racism and white supremacy.

I feel my blood curdle every time I read any of these stories from anywhere in the world. I wonder as a common man when your hope lies in vain in the very system you voted for, and does not include you, where do you seek justice? How horrible and inhuman it must feel for a person to be identified by their skin and victimized in an unequal wrathful system.

These are countries with the best institutions and are considered the world’s super powers, but this makes me hang my head in shame towards this basic lack of human rights. If your colour is your fear and the prejudice that comes along with it is palpable in the society you inhabit, to me this reeks of an undeveloped nation.

We in India read of George Floyd and he’s so far away that we don’t make the connection. But if we try, we can indeed relate to him and his family. We must ask ourselves: can we still nurture the dream of the Big Apple little realizing how alien we are in a system that does not belong to us? Can we still nurture a dream of the Indian renaissance, when each group only wants to care about their own problems and not how they might have caused them for others?

Bengal is still bleeding and COVID-19 cases in India are still rising. These are truly dark times we are living in. The masked human beings, sanitizers, empty streets and locust swarms everywhere is a sight straight from a dystopian film.

When George’s girlfriend Courteney Ross was asked about how the community should react to this horrifying event, she is reported to have said: “You can’t fight fire with fire. Everything just burns, and I’ve seen it all day – people hate, they’re hating, they’re hating, they’re mad. And he would not want that.”

By every account we’ve heard till now, George was an incredible, kind man.

I am praying that in these dire times of calamity, we finally realize how much inequality still remains. And that we can do something about it if we put our minds to it.

Rest in Peace, George Floyd and my condolences for your family. I wish he was given a fair trial.

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