It is undeniable that racism and discrimination exists in the world. The unfortunate reality is that systemic racism is engrained in the colonial history of many societies, including the United States of America. If such ideologies are to be eradicated, society as a whole must peacefully unite and actively promote change.
In an effort to stimulate this necessary revolution, thousands of people have been marching together across cities all over America and around the world. This important movement that has been flooding the streets is rooted in a commitment to putting an end to anti-black violence and racism as a whole. Ironically, even as the pandemic continues, people seem to have recognized that racism, too, is a deadly virus that infects and erodes our societies, and the courage to combat hate is evidently proving greater than the fear of Covid-19.
However, while this movement should provide a vital opportunity to discuss race openly, candidly, and unapologetically, it is being derailed by some who hypocritically choose to commit violent acts, resulting in destruction of personal property and further loss of innocent lives. As a result, instead of focusing on essential rights, fair treatment, and the dissemination of critical information aimed at raising awareness and stimulating change, the platform has been stolen by the manifestation of terrorist attacks and vandalism.
To clarify, the racial frustration and indignation that is being witnessed during protests is understandable. Such is the result of generations of oppression, inequity, and miscarriage of justice, tragically epitomized in George Floyd’s words, “I can’t breathe”. But, lighting the country aflame will not achieve the peace and equality that is long overdue.
It must be known, that the absence of justice cannot be corrected with the introduction of destruction. The Rule of Law cannot be achieved through illegal activity, such as defacement, theft, and infliction of bodily harm. Such rioting will only reinforce the racist prejudices this movement seeks to eradicate, as they do not correct systemic racism or promote equally enforced legal accountability of public servants.
Furthermore, even though there are evidently existent problems within the police force, the police cannot be treated as a band-aid or scapegoat for underlying societal problems. Racism is a complex social issue that goes much deeper than the state. If the police are broken, it is because we, as a society, are broken. If racism is institutionalized, it is because we, are all part of those institutions that oppress people in everyday life. Therefore, these volatile situations, occurring throughout the past weeks, will only worsen if police departments are disbanded; as the implementation of justice can not be achieved through illegal activity occurring unrestrained, but rather through the ability to achieve order and conduct arrests through the police itself.
In addition, the false narrative told by inaccurate news titles is also causing an erosion of public faith in the justice system. The misperception that the media has been promoting regarding “defunding the police” has been taken completely out of context, and will also only lead to increased crime rates, as many individuals will attempt to capitalize on what they will now believe to be decreased law enforcement.
To emphasize, “defunding” should not mean preventing the police from continuing to receive funds as a whole, but instead, to partially reallocate some of those resources to social workers, psychologists, and other appropriate personnel in needed situations where police are not required. Such reformation, rather than disbandment, would then allow police departments to focus their attention towards circumstances relevant to their training. Yet, while the residual funds resulting from this redirected focus can be re-allocated to community building and education, so too could have been millions of dollars that now will be wasted repairing communities burned down during these riots.
After all, it should be clear that the important purpose of this movement, is to achieve peace and justice for every global citizen, but such can only be accomplished through collaborative, integrated, and peaceful protests, that influence future actions. The real test following this pledge should be to see if changes ultimately occur in the daily interactions we are all apart of, and in the economic and social spheres that can enable marginalized people to succeed,
by improving healthcare, education, job opportunities and more. For allies, peaceful protesting should mean showing substantive interracial solidarity, by stepping forward to defend the lives of the mistreated. It should mean engaging in productive acts, such as writing to politicians, supporting organizations that fund resources for marginalized communities, and becoming educated on the history of racism.
In conclusion, inflaming conflicts with destructive behaviour will only create further destruction within justice, as darkness cannot drive out darkness. The progressive goals of this movement can be accomplished, but solidarity is key.
Together we stand, divided we fall. What has and will always make America great is the will of the people to fight for justice. But in order to continue bringing light to the hardships of the oppressed, we must listen to their voices, and peacefully promote a safe future for all, as only by seeking political and social changes, will justice prevail.
In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.”
E. Paris Cicinyte / International Affairs Consultant