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OP-ED: Is racism only an American problem?

  • Published at 05:28 pm July 26th, 2020
black lives matter
Photo: REUTERS

It is a much more global issue than most realize

Racist behaviour usually results in racial discrimination, with its clear negative consequences, varying from simple neglect to more specific forms of isolation and harassment. 

The worldwide protest after the murder of African American man George Floyd in Minnesota, USA on May 25 caused a stir among not only civil rights protectors, policy-makers, and social scientists, but also many ordinary people. 

The protests across the US, and some parts of Europe, demonstrate the disturbance and fear that black people feel due to persistent racism. 

Overlooking coronavirus security guidance, from London to Auckland, Copenhagen to Madrid, and Toronto to Berlin, protestors gathered in thousands to express solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement against police ruthlessness in America.

Black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be fatally shot by the police according to an analysis by The Washington Post. In an analysis by The Guardian, it was observed that black people were also twice as likely to be killed by police while unarmed.

We shouldn’t delude ourselves into considering this to solely be an American issue. Anti-black racism is unavoidable for the whole world.

On May 18, 2015, an article published on Le Monde described how, in Clichy-sous-Bois, France, two police officers were cleared of charges in their involvement in the deaths of Zyed Benna (17) and Bouna (15), who died in 2005, after they were chased by the police officers, hid in an electricity substation, and were hit by tens of thousands of volts of electricity. 

Also, in 2005, Oury Jalloh, a Sierra Leonean refugee searcher, died in a fire in a police cell in Dessau, Germany. In 2011, fights occurred in London after Mark Duggan, a black man, was shot and executed by the police. 

It might be simple for several Europeans to dismiss the occurrences in the US and state that such behaviour doesn’t occur here -- however, many non-white Europeans don’t have that luxury. 

For them, racism is still alive in Europe, even though police brutality may not show up excessively in the news. That is a reason George Floyd’s murder has triggered broad protests; the people of Europe also stand against this issue.

Western social order’s view of being dark doesn’t vary altogether. Their thoughts are generally run by colonialism and slavery. In 2017, dark individuals were recognized in Germany’s National Action Plan Against Racism as one of the five gatherings of individuals more in danger of encountering racism. 

Germany isn’t the only one in Europe. The absence of awareness and public knowledge about racism on the continent is striking. What’s more, it is hard to get away from exactly how racial discrimination impacts ethnic minorities on the continent because such information isn’t gathered, except in the UK.

The ongoing fights in the US give neither the time nor the place for Europeans to state that the situation here is better -- simply look at Greece and how it’s been managing refugees. Ethnic minorities, particularly those of African origin, regularly suffer at the hands of the authorities and society. 

In the continuous fight in the US over the murdering of Floyd, China is getting an opportunity to blame America to show that its talk about maintaining human rights is empty. The present abuse against racism demonstrates that many Western nations jumped into the human rights campaign without freeing their closets first of imperial skeletons. 

If we see South Asia, the custom here is for young women eligible for marriage to use turmeric on their face and hands; it’s an ancient tradition letting women’s skin glow when seated at the ceremony, or to apply whitening creams to be fair and beautiful.

Just because there aren’t deaths doesn’t imply that racism isn’t an issue in our country also. There’s no race to the bottom with regards to any type of foul play. The day when the interest for skin brightening creams falls can our country be redefined to be non-racist. 

Being silently “not racist” is not sufficient. The beneficiaries of this system must educate themselves as to how and to call it out with the same intensity as minorities have been doing for it to be demolished.  

Every country, every community, and every person needs to find the tactics to work for them. The sustainable, global, wealthy world of the future cannot only be for some; it is the duty of every individual to make sure that the world is for all. 

Md Fahmedul Islam Dewan is a student of law.