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.
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”