No group will ever take to the streets and burn things up for no reason. They always need a cause. And the ones happening across the US right now are no different.
Nearly everyone has heard of the name George Floyd – the man who died with a policeman’s knee jammed in his neck. Many more would have heard of Amy Cooper – the woman who threatened to call the police on a black man. And let’s not forget Ahmaud Arbery who was shot down by two white men, with police failing to convict them until a social media post went viral two months later. These are indeed the catalysts for the nationwide protests. But they are not the cause.
No, the true cause runs a lot deeper than singular moments.
According to American talk-show host Trevor Noah, these protests have arisen from a society that doesn’t honour its social agreements. The same social contracts we all agree to in order to create a just society.
“When you watch Ahmaud Arbery being shot and you hear that those men have been released (and, were it not for the video and the outrage, those people would be living their lives), what part of the contract is that in society?” Trevor asks.
“When you see George Floyd on the ground and you see a man losing his life… at the hands of someone who’s supposed to enforce the law — what part of the contract is that?
“There is no contract if law and people and power don’t uphold their end of it.”
For African Americans, their way of life is at an imbalance. That is why they’re protesting right now. They seek to disrupt the social norms in order to bring about change. I know this because my fellow queer community has done the same thing.
In fact, many of us have done the same thing.
The suffragettes took to the streets to demand equal rights with men because they were sick of being subordinate.
The LGBTQI community took to the streets to raise awareness of who they are.
The unions strike for higher pay and better working conditions.
The climate activists march for a healthier planet.
And even black people have marched for equality and freedom.
But this new wave of protests in America is not about equal rights and living conditions. It’s about improving justice for Black America.
It’s about removing the need for African American parents to have that talk with their children. The one where they have to explain how to safely interact with the law so they don’t get “accidentally” killed.
It’s about raising awareness of the social imbalance between black and white citizens. The kind of imbalance that causes people like Amy Cooper to threaten police action on a black man, knowing that she has more privilege than him.
It’s about scrapping the systematic idea of assimilation into white society and instead letting both races cohabit one country. This includes respecting each other’s differences.
But America will never get there if it fails to accept the problem. In fact, that’s the first step in any conflict resolution.
And once we accept the problem, it’s time to negotiate a new social contract. One that benefits all.