In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Roar writer Maria Malik argues that the time for apathy and inaction in the face of racially-motivated violence is long past.
The unlawful and incredibly tragic murder of George Floyd, a victim of police brutality, has provoked outrage from many as frustrations at the forces of racism reach fever-pitch, with protests and riots taking place both in the United States and internationally.
These riots and protests show the extent to which people are frustrated by the recent events of Floyd’s murder and the systemic racism that has made people like him its victims. Protestors are willing to risk their lives, potentially contracting an illness to stand up against a disease that is a far more sinister danger to society than COVID-19 – racism.
This is a time to stand up and be counted, not to be discouraged from action by quotes of nonviolence and undermined by people that say riots and activism don’t work; who would rather you turn a blind eye to the situation as they do.
In recent years, it has felt like people were almost desensitised to stories of racially-aggravated violence, as they had become commonplace. Annoyingly, however, what sympathy did exist rarely translated into action. There would often be ripples of scattered social media posts, and then everything would go back to normal till the next tragedy. This time felt different.
There was still social media coverage, but it wasn’t just from a handful of friends. It came from an overwhelmingly diverse number of people, ranging from religious and community leaders to musicians and Hollywood actors. The latter of these particularly surprised me. as celebrities – and specifically white celebrities – usually stray from issues related to race as they are considered too “political” or “controversial”, shorthand for being “bad for their image” as they are expected to not rock the boat and uphold the status quo.
The narrative has begun to change. I have seen far fewer Martin Luther King quotes posted around the Internet, usually used by people to justify inaction and disempower protesters. Let’s not pretend, as these people would have us believe, that if we adhered to acts of non-violence like MLK the systems of oppression that are in motion would eventually take mercy and dismantle themselves. After all, MLK was still assassinated despite being a peaceful activist and was hated by those who opposed his mission. Encouraging people to be non-violent is to an extent encouraging apathy so that oppressors don’t feel threatened by the resistance they face for their actions. Apathy ensures the future of these systems, diminishing any backlash against their existence.
It is our responsibility to keep the flames of the fire lit by Floyd’s death raging in our activism. Take action. Read, research, write, lobby, protest, donate, post, argue, and make sure your voice is heard.