'Now we’ve acknowledged racism, we must all stamp out injustice'

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  • Words by Chidozie Obasi, journalist and editor of @fuuuckingyoung.

    We’re living in unprecedented times. There have been, sadly, far too many protest chants and mourns of late, to strike against police brutality. If breath ceases, life dims.

    ‘Please. Stop. I can’t breathe…’ sobbed George Floyd painfully, the 46-year-old black man murdered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, over the last few weeks. The death caused major backlash amidst the African-American community, which hasn’t failed to fight against the injustice since then.

    The atrocity of the event catalysed an all-round revolution, marking a new era for racial integrity. Now we’ve acknowledged the factor that decimated black people in America and far beyond, I question myself: what are the actions that society is obliged to tackle, in order to thump the trend of racial injustice by making its relevance a mainstay in times to come?

    The unyielding solution reads: think, read, repeat. So simple, so tough. Social media has dominated society for the last ten years, and its reign has only garnered more clout in Covid-19’s lockdown.

    At a time where you can hope that the majority of the population is self-isolating at home, social media has weaponised our habits and become our main pot of call. Tuesday 2nd June was by all means no different: the entire media landfill blacked-out (literally) in light of the racial oppressions.

    That was partly enlightening, because it increased a spirit of togetherness in the gesture. At the same time, it felt somewhat manipulative, because it denied the chance of having conversations. Platforms like Instagram have become a powder keg of attention-seekers (pardon the pun) talking to their phones whilst creating content in the comfort of their own ignorance.

    ‘We don’t want a revolution, but we demand an evolution,’ says Italian-Nigerian, London-based stylist and freelance director Barbara Uchechukwu Ayozie. Could it be that an evolution in consciousness is all we need to finally obtain change?

    The point is: the only way we can perpetuate this global issue is by opting to take time and disengage from the ideals of ‘saying it wrong.’ Rather, in order for the current situation not to become a weekly trend, it’s important to pick-up valuable and historical resources, when sharing online, adding clear references to the discussion.

    Only by tackling the situation through a deeper stance will we make the conversation permanent and not transient. Through media sharing, Instagram shows instant gratification through likes and comments.

    Though it’s a place to find entertainment and appreciate creativity, Instagram has also become a place where racism has come to thrive. As a black man, I am no stranger to witnessing derogatory content about my race, provenance and culture.

    I spent the majority of my teenage years experiencing racial cruelty on my own skin.  ‘Chido, you’re just an absolute n*gga who will never be accomplished in life!,’ a white kid loudly exhorted when I was in year 8, whilst living in a small town near Venice.

    That brutality? I faced it. However, the cruelty and ignorance of people has escalated to posting racially driven content for entertainment purposes. How dismaying. In a world where we’re experiencing the calamities of racism, we mustn’t disregard history.

    Hence, as suggested above, educating oneself is the key to thumping the trend of injustice. People are competing for the lucrative side of it, including the factor of collective acknowledgement (which leads to performative actions, a.k.a tokenism).

    The popularity of sharing on social media has sky-rocketed, and the ruling of such phenomenon has ultimately shaped racism into a fallacy. But what we must remember, as we are finally prepared to listen, is that bias can only be defeated with the power of thought. Without it, the damage is irrevocable.

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