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#BlackLivesMatter: Eight Minutes, 46 Seconds Is How Long It Took To Annihilate Humanity

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Yes, it took less than 10 minutes. It was less than the time needed to watch a movie, it was even shorter than the time taken to complete a full meal. It was a tiny, puny period of eight minutes and 46 seconds — I repeat, eight minutes and 46 seconds — for the world to witness yet another shameful outburst of the racist psychology that landed the world’s largest economy right in the middle of civil unrest and raging protests.

It had been an ordinary morning for the world. The light of the sun had dawned, yet again, over the pandemic-strewn world that was wallowing in pity at the worsening economic recession, compounded by escalating border tensions, the rising Coronavirus death toll, and fear of losing one’s bread, when the merciless murder of African-American George Floyd obliterated the present scenario to bring to light the long-suppressed strife between the two races in America that was thought to have been buried decades ago.

Being knelt down to the ground by a white officer, panting for breath, Floyd chortled “I can’t breathe” as the passers-by glanced in awe at the brute humanity being annihilated once again in public for the mere, alleged, crime of using a $20 counterfeit money. As the ensuing civil unrest gathered momentum with the tagline #BlackLivesMatter, one pertinent question that sinks into bewildered minds is whether one’s melanin count or skin colour is still the predominant parameter for their success.

George Floyd
As the ensuing civil unrest gathered momentum with the tagline #BlackLivesMatter, one pertinent question that sinks into bewildered minds is whether one’s melanin count or skin color is still the predominant parameter for their success.

When such social and racial conflagrations are sweeping across the world, especially on the same land where civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. had dreamed of a country where “his black children are not judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character,” I would personally like to raise up a question.

Has the age of nuclear missiles and the vaccine-hungry world ever accepted black people as equal in dignity and rights? Has the ongoing US-China political rivalry succeeded in veiling orthodox sentiments behind black identities?

Is the present rage against racial violence just a reciprocation of the present incident, or is it a sudden fizz of subjugation that the aliened masses have been tasting for decades?

It’s high time to ponder over, reflect on and rectify our preformed notions and restructure the hypocritical existing world order that relies only on pen and paper, and not on the mute miseries of the dark-skinned, the heart-rending appeals and the bone-chilling cries of “I can’t breathe,”  as if petrified by the asphyxiating discrimination practised even in present times.

The issue is not to be confronted only on the premises of the White House, but actually demands a reform of our stereotyped mindset. This mindset is not just of racial apathy, but of associating the dark with the doomed. Be it shaming a girl for her dark complexion, commenting on their choice of attire, or witnessing the brutal demise of Floyd, there is a dire necessity to look beyond the melanin count and focus on constructive aspects so that our society can move on to becoming the beacon light for human civilization.

Centuries of struggle, decades of relentless strife, and years of efforts have finally moulded us into this 21st century, the age where imagination turns into dreams and dreams metamorphose into realities. The unwavering and indefatigable souls of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and others seem to echo in this age, in which intolerance is resurfacing, in order to create a utopia of our dreams where annihilated humanity would rise again like a phoenix to reconquer the world.

Let’s take the last words of Floyd “I can’t breathe” as a wake-up call for the domineering classes to break away from the shackles of suffocating racial inequities. Let pure human love and mutual tolerance be the sole regulating ideal, the virtue that transcends all barriers of caste, class, color and religion, and builds a world on empathy and understanding.

Concluding with a Shakesperean tone from his play The Merchant Of Venice: “… fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases as we are, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer” as we are, it’s high time we recognise blacks as one who share the same heart beat, who shed the same blood when pricked, and who can blossom into the same enriched mind when nurtured with patience. The raging violence in the US is a testimony to the call for the basic right to live and let others live without being held back by the vicious cycle of racism. As Maya Angelou had rightly remarked:

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again”

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  1. Shivam Gupta

    A very relevant topic and effective arguments! Keep it up!

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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