From our apartment last night we could see police helicopters circling overhead and hear flash-bang grenades being used to clear protesters from the streets. Being safe while others struggle every day against injustice and violence is the ultimate demonstration of privilege, and my voice is not important at this time, and I have a lot to learn. With privilege comes a responsibility to amplify the voices of others, so here is an updated list of people and their articles to which we should all pay heed:
We can also help by donating to these causes seeking to address racial inequality:
Finally, I’m a foreigner in the US without representation in government. However, moral responsibility is a global challenge, so I also wrote to my UK MP, Bim Afolami; if anyone is interested in reading this, I’ve posted it below. If I receive any reply, I will post it.
“Dear Mr Afolami,
I am writing as one of your constituents who currently lives and works in Washington DC, to draw your attention to the crisis unfolding here and ask that you consider advocating for action from the United Kingdom.
As a research scientist at NASA, I have been highly fortunate to experience many of the best opportunities the United States has to offer, which I have found to be a measure of personal justification for the close relationship between the UK and the US. However, it is also from this position of privilege that the scenes of violence and unrest seen in the streets of both Washington and other cities have seemed so stark. Just last night I could hear the police deploying flash-bang grenades against peaceful protesters to make space for a presidential photo-op, and for hours last night helicopters circled overhead hunting those still trying to make their voices heard.
I will freely admit that my own privilege as a white male has blinded me to the depth of fury felt by the black community here, and I am trying in my own life to remedy this. To see BIPOC who in desperation use protest as a last resort to address injustice in this country while police and military are deployed against them in overwhelming force is a visual reminder of the society-wide equivalent of the knee on the neck that killed George Floyd a week ago. That the Trump administration uses violence associated with active conflicts as the primary response to civil protest speaks to the moral weakness of this government.
In these unusual times I look to the United Kingdom for moral leadership, and I hope you will consider advocating for action from Her Majesty’s Government. In particular, I believe the UK should condemn the administration’s swift leap to violence without considering the impacts on peaceful protest or listening to the concerns of the protesters. In addition, I support calls for the UK to freeze export license for tear gas and plastic bullets from the UK to the US while it is being used for repression of civil protest, and I hope you will do the same.
In closing, I hope you share my concern about the rapid rise of authoritarianism and militarism in the United States, and you will use your position in Her Majesty’s Government to advocate for a de-escalation of militarisation of civilian life in America. I thank you for your work and hope this finds you and yours well in these challenging times.