There is something about a time of crisis that brings out our true selves, and sometimes who we see in that time of crisis may not be someone we want to view in the mirror when the chaos has passed. COVID-19 has given us much to think about regarding race. From anti-asian racism to racism against Africans in China to a startling indifference by some leaders to the fact that the Coronavirus disproportionately affects certain racial groups, the pandemic has laid bare society in its shameful yet its shameless state.
Racism has been rearing its ugly head for centuries. As indicated above, the media publicises it, so why did it have to take videos of the tortuous murder of George Floyd to make the world take notice? To make antiracism books fly off the shelves? To cause enough global protests to rival those of Greta Thunberg’s for climate change? Yes, there was a domino effect, as Trevor Noah eloquently stated in his examination of recent events, but injustice has been happening every day for years, and people of colour have not been quiet about it, so why must it take something so bold and so egregious to make people wake up and say, “Hey! Something is wrong here.”
While it is heartening to see an increased interest in antiracism, the hope is that antiracism is not just suddenly fashionable only to be out of style next season. That there is not a burst of antiracism which will lose its spark and everything dies down. That it will no longer be “business as usual.” Witnessing decades of outrage when incidents occur … it is like a wave, antiracism is popular for a moment, building and rising to its ultimate crest then it breaks to wash ashore … and life continues.
Let us break this cycle through empathy, life-long learning, truly listening to each other and being brave enough to see racism and call it by its name. It is time for people of colour to be truly seen so that we can work together to find real solutions. We will try to remain in the hope that people realise that antiracism is not a fad, and that they will not go silent while they wait for another wave to come.