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A New Beginning… But Does It Mean Change?

By February 8, 2021Uncategorized

The world is celebrating the departure of ‘whatshisname’ (I’m tired of hearing his name, aren’t you?) after a dramatic exit which saw public tantrums, repeated allegations of election fraud and finally a public incitement to violence which led to white supremacists and ‘patriots’ storming the Capitol building under his encouragement to ‘fight like hell’, resulting in five dead.

Trumps emotionally charged and unprecedented departure is just the final scene in a bad movie, preceded by a bizarre presidency by most people’s standards.

Since his inauguration, his controversial ‘wall’ designed to ‘keep out Mexicans’ has grown to over 400 miles of border wall. No president in more than 120 years had overseen as many federal executions as Trump including the first woman to be executed in nearly 70 years.

In the final week of his presidency, the US death toll from coronavirus passed 400,000 – which is not far off the number of Americans killed in the Second World War. Since the beginning of the COVID:19 pandemic, Trump recklessly and repeatedly downplayed the threat, mocked the use of masks, rallied against lockdowns and challenged scientific experts calling it a ‘Chinese virus’.

Finally, the nightmare is over and as much as I’m thrilled as always to see a change, I can’t help but feel America and the world has a long way to go before we see real change.

With President Biden’s arrival comes the first ever Black and Asian American woman to be vice-president; he has already lifted the Trump administration’s so-called “Muslim ban” that barred people from a number of mostly Muslim-majority countries, and even those with Muslim names, from going to the United States.

In his victory speech, the president-elect said of Black voters: “You’ve always had my back, and I’ll have yours.” Let’s hope that’s the case. My main concern lies with the 74,222,958 American citizens who voted for Trump, or 46.8 percent of 159 million Americans who voted.

Trump continuously sparked controversy, most memorably after the murder of George Floyd, he refused to stand against it saying there was “hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides”. Critics saw his comments as being sympathetic to white supremacists and as a refusal to condemn racism. The reality is Trump did so knowing that he had a significant proportion of the country on his side.

The group Trump addressed in a presidential debate when he said: ‘Proud Boys, stand back and stand by’ is a far-right, neo-fascist, and male-only political organization that promotes and engages in political violence in the United States and Canada. They are massively supported and have been operating for years with Trump only giving them an excuse to come out into the open. There is so much work to be done in changing the mindsets of Americans before any serious change can begin especially for its deep divide of marginalised groups.

As someone who has spent significant time in America with most of my family living in America, I genuinely care about its future. There are deep systemic issues effecting African Americans disproportionately that require a real intervention, not just lip service, and as the world waves in a new American President, I pray that real intervention is what we’ll see.

However, I have to remind myself that the battle begins at home.

In the U.K, it’s important to remember that as much as we tend to feel an affinity with our American friends, we also have our own set of problems that cannot be addressed by a change in the American political system for us thousands of miles away under a completely different government and operating with completely different types of racism and oppression. 

It is the start of 2021, and already a young man named Mohamud Hassan, who was of Somali heritage, died after leaving police custody. He was arrested at his Cardiff home on suspicion of breach of the peace but released without charge the next morning. Hours later, he was dead with his family saying he had claimed he was assaulted in custody before his death. This happened on our own doorstep and the outcry has been fairly quiet. Why?

Intersectionality is a major issue that we are barely seeing a shift in. Why?

I’ve encountered verbal and physical hostility, racism, prejudice, injustice, and discrimination all right here in Britain. Just a year ago, we witnessed the disgraceful treatment of members of the Windrush generation who, after decades of living and working in Britain, were wrongly classified as illegal immigrants. Some were taken to detention centres; many were deported. Others lost homes and jobs, leaving them destitute and in debt. This told me plenty about how my parents, grandparents and others who came to Britain and continued positively to build the U.K as we know, were and are viewed by our right-wing government.

According to a recent study carried out by Clearview Research, Black people in the UK do not believe their human rights are equally protected compared to white people and that Black women are less likely to believe their human rights are protected. Black women are more likely to feel like their health is not equally protected by the NHS, according to the study, which also found 78 per cent women are more likely than men (47 per cent) to not believe that their health is equally protected by the NHS compared to white people. At a time when issues relating to racism, race and intersectionality are taking place across the globe, this is a travesty.

So, as I toast to the end of whatshisname’s disastrous presidency, I also pause to remember there is a long way to go. As much as I love to see change for the better in every corner of the world, for now I will be continuing to fight for the realities we are facing in modern Britain first.