The Power of Protest: What Real Life Changes Have Been Made?
On May 25th, the world was stunned by the graphic viral video of George Floyds murder, his cries echoing throughout the consciousness of everyone who was brave enough to watch it. I couldn't. Not to the very end because honestly it made me cry. It made me angry. It woke the world up yet again to the injustices that black people face simply due to the colour of their skin and raised the question "Why don't black lives matter?". Since then, we have come together, protested, rioted, educated, questioned and exposed the ugly truth that is white supremacy and systematic racism but has anything actually changed?
This fight has not just began in the eyes of black people, this began from the day we were born into such an unjust and ugly system. What is taking place now is not a social media trend, it is a civil rights movement powered by our daily experiences, our pain, our oppression. It will not be "over" quickly and at times it is hard to recognise when change has been achieved when you feel like you've been fighting all of your life... So what has changed? Why should we keep fighting? The answer is, because standing up for ourselves is working, applying pressure is working and in just two short weeks we have sewn the seeds of a better future, just check out the below and see for yourself.
Worlds Largest protest
By refusing to stay silent, we have woken up the world and seen protests taking place simultaneously around the globe from London, all 51 states of America, Hong Kong, Paris, Canada, Berlin, Australia, Spain, Belgium, Italy and more.
We changed the law
- Within 10 days of protests Minneapolis banned the use of choke holds
- Charges were brought against the officers involved in George Floyds murder with the original charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for Mr Chauvin, the one filmed kneeling on George, being upgraded to second-degree murder.
- New York State Assembly passes the 'Eric Garner Anti- Chokehold Act' by a vote of 140-3.
- Dallas adopts a "duty to intervene" rule that requires officers to stop their colleagues if they are engaging in excessive force.
- New Jerseys attorney general will update the use of force guidelines for the police for the first time in two decades.
- Los Angeles City Council reduces LAPD's 1.8 billion dollar budget.
We held big corporations accountable for performative allyship (and won!)
- Jackie Aina calls out brands such as Fashionova, Pretty Little Thing and Revolve for cherry picking black culture but remaining silent during the current climate of Black Lives Matter. After speaking with the Fashionova CEO the brand pledged $1 million to the Black Live Matter movement.
- Munroe Bergdorf has been hired as a consultant by Loreal Paris after calling out the global corporation for their hollow support of BLM. Loreal dropped Munroe as an ambassador in 2017 for calling out white supremacy during the Charlottesville protests.
- The hashtag #PullUpOrShutup inspired by Rihannas NAACP award speech was created by UOMA Beauty CEO Sharon Chuter called on brands to reveal how many black people they actually hire within their company.
- The hashtag #PublishingPaidMe was created and highlighted the huge advance disparities between white and non white writers.
We said "It's not just George Floyd" and brought attention to other victims.
- The case of Breonna Taylor, a black woman killed in her home during a "mistaken" search of her home by the police has been reopened.
- We shed light on the lack of representation trans men and women have received during this time in the case of Iyanna Dior.
- At a preliminary trial hearing in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a judge determined that all three men involved should be tried for murder.
We made some much needed architectural changes to our cities. What was once considered defacing public property has become a heroic act of defiance with protestors taking it upon themselves to remove statues honouring racist individuals such as King Leopold II statue in Belgium, confederate statues and slave auction blocks around the US and the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol England.
We got 'Gone With The Wind' Gone!
HBO announced that they will be removing the film from their catalogue after screenwriter John Ridley said the film "glorifies the antebellum south" and perpetuated "painful stereotypes of people of colour". Although this is a triumph, the title went to Amazons number 1 best seller shortly after its removal was announced which begs the question how equality can be achieved when people have such an obsession with inequality?
These are just some of the things that we have helped happen with our chants, riots, tweets, reposts and conversations. We have donated millions to aid companies and charities that support the BLM movement and have educated millions who can no longer bury their heads in the sand. WE did that and we will continue our tireless efforts to be heard and to be treated as equals by our non black counterparts. It may be painful, but through the pain comes the hope that one day we will have a generation free from inequality and racism. Lets keep fighting.
Written by Leomie Anderson