The last words spoken by George Floyd in his final moments – as life was being squeezed out of him in a naked show of brutality and power – contained the essence of billions of voices of the oppressed peoples in today’s world: “I can’t breathe.”
The history of slavery, violence and exploitation of black people in American society starts and exists from the day the first person was sold for slavery in America. It is a tale of brutality, misery and generational oppression. United States – a country that wiped out its native population, the real people of Americas – is built upon the labour and blood of enslaved African people. It is a state project constructed at the cost of millions of native and black people. Racism is inherent in the structure and apparatuses of the states; their socio-economic structures are such that for centuries the American economy and the wealth of the white man have depended on the exploitation of natives and blacks in America.
The story of Black Resistance is as magnificent as it is tragic. The inheritors of a powerful heritage and rich lands were occupied, looted and sold in western markets as non-humans. But they fought legendary battles in the fight for their emancipation across the world. They brought on revolutions and produced leaders like Nelson Mandela, Frantz Fanon and Martin Luther King. They built dynamic organisations like the Black Panthers. It is through these extra-ordinary struggles that Black people were able to take their journey from slavery to electing a black president in US. But neither their oppression nor their emancipatory struggle could decisively eliminate ideas of racism drilled into public imagination.
The words spoken by George Floyd essentially represent the case of and interprets the conscious existence of billions of human beings who are oppressed and exploited in various parts of the world under imperialist, capitalist, feudal, racist, militaristic, and patriarchal clutches that have brutally barred them of realization of their humanity, oppressed them, exploited and looted them of their resources, heritage and lands.
The same is the story of national, ethnic, racial, religious, and other minorities in post-colonial societies as is the story of black people in colonially built the states. They are being subjected to the same violence, prejudice, oppression and exploitation which has further been intensified the onslaught and rise of fascist forces and exclusionary politics. The failure of neoliberal economic model is among the root cause of this fascism and exclusion. People who are unable to find opportunities to survive and thrive in today’s shrinking global economy start finding enemies in oppressed sections of society. This is what is happening with immigrants in the western world, Muslims in India and China etc.
It is true that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere but our responsibility in defying injustice is never complete unless we do not speak of it in our immediate surroundings. The persecution of religious minorities and the national oppression in peripheral areas of Pakistan is an undeniable reality. There is a history of this exploitation and oppression and it is still pervasive in its various vicious forms. The recent incident of this brutality we have seen in an incident of sheer violence on a little Baloch girl, Barmish, whose mother was killed in front of her by unknown persons. The forced conversions of little Hindu girls to marry them at very young age is also becoming a norm.
People have risen and are continuously rising; the Black Lives Matter movement has shaken the soul of America. Baloch people have risen against the brutality on Barmish and are demanding justice for the wrongs they have been subjected to for decades. Hindus are defying and rising up. Workers, students, doctors and many other sections of society which have been adversely affected in this pandemic of institutionalised indifference are coming together. The justified anger of masses is beginning to boil over. It is time for an organised struggle with united fronts based on people’s power and solidarity. We, at The Students’ Herald, stand with all oppressed peoples of the world. Long live the Struggle!