A post to accompany episode 13 of the podcast.
The number thirteen holds special significance in Sikh philosophy.
Written: 4th June, 2020 (the day I turned 31)
I woke up this morning, shortly after 8am.
I was born just before 8am on 4th June, 1989.
After a few moments in semi-slumber, I sat up in my bed and switched on the television. I went to YouTube -> Sky News live stream.
The first thing I waken to... China had, for the first time in the 31 years since the tragic event, banned any vigil for those wanting to light a candle in memory of those who lost their lives during the horrific events of 4th June, 1989.
The very same day I was born, on the other side of the world, troops opened fire on and tanks literally rolled over peaceful protesters - calling for political and economic reforms - and killing hundreds, if not thousands. The death toll remains unknown.
It is interesting to note that Hong Kong’s ban on gatherings of more than eight people due to COVID-19 was recently extended until Friday 5 June, despite the city having had a total of ten locally-transmitted cases of the virus in the past six weeks [source: Amnesty].
My sombre mood is one I have already been feeling in recent days. A couple of sparks have ignited what has slowly become protests across every state in the United States, and many cities across the world.
On 25th May, Melody Cooper shared a video of her brother's exchange with a woman walking her dog in Central Park without a leash, and against the rules.
Also on 25th May, George Floyd was arrested and killed in police custody. He was accused of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit bill. Seventeen minutes after the first squad car arrived at the scene, George Floyd was unconscious and pinned beneath three police officers, showing no signs of life [source: NY Times].
The reaction that has followed has been reminiscent of #BlackLivesMatter protests in recent years. The #BLM movement was founded in the summer of 2013, after George Zimmerman's acquittal for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Unfortunately, this is nothing new.
There are many more examples of black lives lost, unfairly and unjustly. Too many examples. It is not fair.
Whether you want to call it systemic racism, or institutionalised racism, there is a fundamental issue here. If you don't know it yet, or don't believe it yet, please open your eyes to understanding what is going on.
But, more than that, I would start with understanding the context. Systemic racism has its roots in the history that has come before. It's the sort of history you won't find in school textbooks, because the narrative we are exposed to is a narrow, biased and misrepresentative one.
Turns out, lots is missed out. Lots of stuff that is pretty darn important.
Please, do your own research and gain insight to a fuller picture.
Would you rather rely on what you have been spoon-fed, or do your own research?
You can start with Kingslee Daley’s address to the Oxford Union. Better known as Akala, Kingslee was born to a white mother and a black father. Just watch 5 minutes of this:
If you choose the latter, please see the below request from the author:
It is important for us to understand the context of these protests, as well as the many, shocking instances of police brutality. Unfortunately, the police are just one part of the system that exists today. A system which has its roots in the history that’s taken place before today.
Also, a reminder for those who are unaware...
Colin Kaepernick was an NFL player who became the first to take a knee during the national anthem, in protest of police brutality back in 2016. This was almost 4 years ago. He has been shunned by the National Football League, and has remained unsigned ever since.
I could go on and on and on.
Where do we go from here?
We need both awareness (education) + action to bring about change.
As President Obama expressed in a town hall on Wednesday, 'protests' and 'voting' are not an either/or, they are a both/and scenario.
We need protests to raise awareness (speak to our hearts), followed by tangible action steps to bring about change (using our awakened minds).
Black lives have very much been on my mind, and there are many, many other examples of injustice and inequality that exist in the world today, and all with their roots in history. Here are just a handful of examples:
There are so many examples. The list goes on, and on, and on.
And they all take root in the history which has come before, which is why EDUCATION is so important.
It's an inconvenient truth that inequality, injustice + persecution exists in the world we live in.
But it's the truth nevertheless. And one that won't change unless we do something about it.
Become educated + informed.
And then DO something, however small, to make a difference.
Read a book. Watch a video. Attend an organised protest. Take action.
But, most of all, do something - anything - that you feel in your heart is right. Make a difference, however small, in your own way.
Whether it's the injustice in Asia, in the United States, in Europe or in Africa, or anywhere else on Earth.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, if you are reading this, you have a part to play.
We all do.
I don't have the answers.
What I do know is that equality does not exist in the world I live in.
So, that means I woke up this morning to a world that is not fair, just or equal.
I hope that, together, there are enough of us who choose to educate ourselves and make change happen.
Please, go, start now. What are you waiting for?
PS. Comments have been intentionally kept off for this post.
Please channel any thoughts or feelings you have after receiving this, towards taking one small action. Read or watch one of the resources I’ve shared, or donate to a cause that is dedicated to those who are facing unfairness, inequality or oppression.
If you are in doubt, more than anything else, please start by educating + informing yourself. In the internet age we live in, with the information + resources to us, we have no excuses.
Oh, and remember, there will never ever be a correct way to protest. So think about that each time you’re watching coverage on the news, or reading about the ‘rioting’ that is taking place. With that in mind, I’ll leave you with the words of Trevor Noah…
Written: 4th June, 2020