By Nandini Malini Daby
“I have a dream that my children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Those famous words of Martin Luther King Jr rang true for the world to hear back in August 1963. Sadly, Mr King’s dreams are not recognised in the great nation of United States of America, where racist police brutality has once again reared its cruel and ugly head.
‘Black Lives Matter’: Thousands of people, including UK nationals of Mauritian descent, gathered last Saturday and Sunday
(6 & 7 June 2020) outside Parliament Square in the protest march to the US embassy
The killing of George Floyd on 25 May 2020 in Minneapolis has sparked worldwide condemnation and protests. Mr Floyd, a young black man in his 40s, was heard saying “I can’t breathe” 16 times over the course of 5 minutes while police officer, Derek Chauvin, defiantly continued to press his knee down on Mr Floyd’s neck. The expression on Chauvin’s face was easy to read. There was a recognisable smug and self-satisfied, superior and authoritarian expression whilst onlookers attempted to stop Floyd’s death through both pleas and tolerance. The expression worn by Chauvin whilst he continued his inept action showed the four-hundred year old story of US as being one of the biggest perpetrators of crime against humanity.
Racism and being black is a loaded smoking gun in the US. And Derek Chauvin pulled the trigger, this time against the world.
It is exceptionally offensive to witness this type of racism in 2020. There is a tired recurrence pattern trend to this bullying type of behaviour, stemming from the traditional southern states of the US whose affluence was built on slave trade. US police and local judicial practices are one extreme example. Their current incompetent President is the other. Limited intelligence or lack of compassion can no longer be excusable or dismissive.
The recorded amount of violence, deaths and barbaric treatment against black men and women in the US can no longer be ignored. There are, I am sure, plenty of unrecorded incidents that have fallen by the wayside too. The mentality that black lives are worth less than white lives is therefore a protest worth fighting for.
‘Black Lives Matter’ rallied worldwide support, including London. Thousands of people gathered last Saturday and Sunday (6 & 7 June 2020) outside Parliament Square to march to the US embassy. Amongst them were young UK nationals of Mauritian descent, born in the UK and raised as British nationals. These courageous young people joined the ranks of the marchers and braved the day fighting for the cause.
Their home is the UK. Their parents are from Mauritius, and their ties with Mauritius are limited to the occasional holiday visit to Mauritius or being familiar with family, cultural food and customs of Mauritius.
Other than that, these ‘forgotten generation’ young Mauritians are British. They have been raised in British schools, embrace British culture, values and society. Their accent is English. They speak Queen’s English, have British and non-British friends and are totally absorbed in the British way of life.
So why was the ‘Black lives Matter’ march and the murder of George Floyd particularly personal to them?
The UK nationals of Mauritian descent all have one thing in common. They are still looked upon as being ‘foreign’ or ‘different’. Based on the colour of their skin, their names and ethnic background, they are coerced into the UK system’s bias towards political correctness.
According to Tia Daby who marched three years ago for the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, police brutality is unacceptable and the world must change for the better to make it safer for non-whites to travel freely without being looked upon with suspicion.
Also, Tia pointed out in completing recent medical forms, she was forever asked to tick-box her ethnicity which she eventually resigned herself to “Asian other” which was far from the truth as her grandparents are from Mauritius, both her parents are born in the UK and the generations of her descendants which left Asia for Mauritius did so 100 years or more ago. However, ticking the box would enable the medical services to label and identify her roots which she felt held no relevance to her day-to-day life.
Tia spent four months studying in Miami and a further four months working in the US. She was therefore able to see the inequalities blacks faced, especially in the poorer states.
According to another protester, racism has no place in society, US, UK or anywhere and it is time to take a stance and join the world to declare this openly. She states: “I marched in solidarity with my black friends, colleagues and the wider black community to take a stand against the systemic and micro-racism which cannot and will not be tolerated anymore. This is a fundamental human rights issue – all lives cannot matter until black lives matter.
And finally, Yasmine Ashcroft stated growing up as a person of colour meant she was available to reflect on ways we are all complicit to the black community. She stated: “It was a show of black solidarity within the black community and oppression for hundreds of years. Witnessing so many of us coming together was incredibly peaceful and powerful and what turned out to be one of the largest civil rights movements in history.”
By the admission of all who took part, the march was peaceful, organised and full of life. There was a common shared goal which blacks, whites, old, young, men and women took part in and that was to live in a world where racism and discrimination cannot continue.
Demonstrating examples of racism and trying to improve the system is a long and arduous process. Changing the way the world thinks is near enough impossible. But it is reassuring to know we have so many brave people in our world who are not afraid to stand up to the ugly truths surrounding this issue.
We began this article with the words of Martin Luther King’s dream which is yet to be realised, but we will end this article with those of Nelson Mandela: “A winner is a dreamer who never gave up.”
* Published in print edition on 12 June 2020