By Oba, 18, Hertfordshire, UK
The murder of George Floyd shone a light on an issue already all too familiar to me - racism. This instance of police brutality was, in my eyes, both starkly similar to and, strangely, quite different from the deaths of unarmed black men and women in the United States and around the world, prior to. In the days following Floyd’s death, disgust and dismay gave way to global protests, the sheer size and intensity of which were, for the most part, unfamiliar. From this stemmed an opportunity for purposeful conversations between my peers and I about how to take an active rather than passive stance against racism and open discussions with my family about how racism affects people day to day.
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, I began to think about what more I could do in my own community to tackle racism and systemic inequality. Soon after Floyd’s passing, a friend approached me and suggested that I, together with group of students, write an open letter to our headmaster in a bid to highlight racism at our school and to urge the school, staff and students alike, to do more in tackling the issue. The letter was well received by the school’s senior leadership team and following a series of Zoom meetings, the school has published a 35 point ‘anti- racism’ action plan. I believe that this is a very important first step, which I hope will lead to tangible improvements in the experiences of Black and other ethnic minority pupils at the school going forward.
I have been encouraged by the global reaction following the murder of George Floyd. Although there has, in the past, been outrage after similarly unjust killings, much of the fury and aguish has been concentrated within the Black community. It is for this reason, among others, that the condemnation from people of all races, across the globe, has so been refreshing to see. However, though strong statements and the general raising of awareness are important in themselves, I hope that they ultimately take root as something more concrete. George Floyd’s murder cannot just be another in a frighteningly long list. We need to see systematic change across all levels of society.