A year after the murder of George Floyd, Ola Majekodunmi reflects on the impact of a tragedy that shook the world…
I cannot put into words the emotions I felt last Summer. Regardless of the colour of your skin, anyone would feel such sadness at what had happened. It shook the world, and it shook those who looked like me especially.
It was not because this was the first time such a tragedy had happened but because it had happened so many times.
Would it ever stop?
That was the question we all protested online and outside as rage, sorrow and hopelessness ran through our tired bodies.
Enough is enough. We had had it, that is what sparked the re-emergence of the movement. We cry for respect, just like Aretha Franklin put it. Why is it so hard to achieve? Why can’t we just be equals like God created us?
I wonder when man evolved did we know that we would be hating each other just because of the skin we bare? A skin we did not choose, but one we happened to be in. The same skin you all lay in the sun desperate to bare but laugh at us full of melanin.
Make it make sense.
I eventually realised none of this is meant to make sense because racism or discrimination does not make sense. Loathing someone for something that is out of their control, what is the point of that?
I felt so consumed during this time, everything felt like it was piling up on me. We were already hopelessly living through an unprecedented time. I just kept thinking ‘how this all could be happening at once?’ Having to keep working, smile and act like I was okay when I really was not.
A Black man had died in such a traumatising way and we watched that clip over and over. All he wanted was to breathe, but instead he got a knee on his neck. “GET YOUR KNEE OFF OUR NECK” Black people around the globe chanted.
For so long we felt like we as a global community could not breathe, that we were not worth our lives. We needed to mourn, to reflect and to scream. “They won’t get away with this” is what whispered through my head repeatedly.
All the media requests came swimming in asking me to write, talk about the impact another Black death had on me. I was tired. I did not have it in me to speak again on a topic I so badly wish I could avoid. I wish people could have seen and understood this instead of bombarding me with messages. Some messages were warm, empathising with me and wishing me well. How a man I did not know had such an effect on me. Like all of us he just wanted to be listened to and left alone. He did not ask for any of this, he was unarmed. Helpless and struggling to hold on.
That clip…I watched the whole thing once and could not watch it again. I felt my stomach churn when I heard his wailing. My eyes teary, wondering how a fellow human being could do such a thing to another, still kneeling on his lifeless body. I wondered if humankind was innately evil. How some people get satisfaction from hurting others or dancing in other people’s misery I will never understand, especially when it is the colour of your skin that matters.
Allyship. The word we routinely heard last year. “White people need to be in allyship with people of colour” started sounding like a broken record, making me wonder if half the people shouting this online and at protests really believed what came out in their tweets and mouths. You all sure love Black culture but lose your voices when black lives are at stake. Black square boxes on Instagram will not solve a thing, John and you better check your privilege, Karen, next time you meet the law. It was so trendy back then to fight for justice, no wonder #BlackLivesMatter stopped trending after you got the clout you were looking for, using black pain to gain momentum online. I never thought activism would be so on brand.
Woefully Black death at the hands of authority will not just go away. It is systemic racism, and you cannot just wish it away. We were shaking and we still are shaking. R.I.P George Floyd, I hope you can rest easy now.