6 months into 2020

Thinking back to when I wrote my post ‘2 weeks into 2020’, I humorously thought that we had already seen the thick of it for the year, but I frustratingly have to say that I was wrong. So wrong. In the past six months, events have arrived that nobody was prepared for. Arguably some people should have been prepared – world leaders who had the advantage of being advised before the rest of the world. But who am I to say?

For most people, the events of these past few months has been watched from the “safety” of one’s home. I use the word safety in quotation marks, as I recognise that not everyones’ home environment can be regarded as safe. However, the majority of the world were put into lockdown; some with their families, some with their friends or flatmates, and some on their own. Whether you have had positive experiences in quarantine or not, lockdown has given many of us the opportunity to slow our lives down, reflect on our current situations and maybe even pick up a book?

Unfortunately though, this is not the case for everyone. Since the pause button on the world was hit, small and large businesses have declared bankruptcy, families have struggled to meet their household monthly payments, and healthcare workers have worked around the clock saving as many lives as possible. It has been a devastating time, and although things are starting to look up, we cannot be so certain.

With so much to discuss, I will touch on a few issues briefly, with the intention of doing further research/posts on them soon. Unless you are Patrick Star, who literally lives under a rock – I highly doubt that this is the first time you’ve read/heard about these issues. I have chosen to bring them to attention as a reminder for people to keep learning and to continue to help others where possible.

Coronavirus

To begin, the giant elephant in the room needs to be addressed – coronavirus (COVID 19). But where to even begin? The world has seen a devastating number of deaths, and my condolences are deeply given to those who have been affected. At the beginning of April, the world saw thousands of lives taken by the virus on a daily basis, and although the death rates have slowed in some parts of the world, the virus is still very much with us. As a TikTok video reminded me recently, everyone’s last “normal” day was ironically Friday 13th March 2020, and it takes a while to remember what i was doing on that particular day. Actually, looking back on the whole of March to June, I would find it hard to tell you what I did during those months either. But why does it feel like so much has happened worldwide whilst for most individuals, nothing has happened at all?

If you are from the UK, you will most likely remember lockdown in chunks of three weeks, where Boris would give an update on the country’s situation and response. The updates were never very positive or well-delivered, and I had actually started to tune out of all the corona talk until Dominic Cummings took a short 270-mile drive to Durham. I don’t really want to give this man too much of my time, but I just want to point out the obvious privilege he holds and continues to hold. The man who orchestrated the ‘Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’ campaign, did exactly the opposite – and pretty much got away with it. Demonstrating power and privilege at its absolute worst.

As the UK nears the death toll of 50,000, much of the public are left wondering what went so drastically wrong? A country which prides itself with a “strong” government, I am sure that many would agree that the government is not as strong as it would hope to appear. I am no expert at all, but questions that I have asked myself are:

  1. Why is the risk of dying with a Covid-19 related death more than twice as likely for Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities?
  2. Why has the UK had the most Covid-19 related deaths in Europe, when France and Germany have roughly the same numbers in population?
  3. Why was Matt Hancock, the Secretary for Health and Social Care absent from the debate regarding a pay rise for health and social care workers on 25 June?

Two out of three of these questions are by no means easy to discuss, particularly because all statistics and studies are still fairly new. But to address the first question:

It just shows health inequality and deprivation. When you have bus drivers dying, or people taking buses, they were all from BAME communities, they had no choice. Frontline services where you have BAME staff whether it’s NHS, cleaners on the underground or transport workers, it’s BAME communities that have been hit hard.

I would like to draw attention to Belly Mujinga, a 47-year-old black woman, mother and wife, who died of Covid-19 on 5th May. Ms Mujinga was a railway worker and was reportedly spat on by a man in London Victoria Station, who claimed to have Covid-19. The British Transport Police decided not to further investigate the case, due to lack of sufficient evidence. However, from what I can see, a black woman died at the expense of an assumed hate crime. Hate crimes should never be taken lightly, and during a pandemic when a black woman put her life at risk as an essential worker – this case should be further investigated without question. An 11-year-old child is now without her mother. For more information about Belly Mujinga’s death and the petition to sign to help support her family, please click here.

The inequality in health services is something that promptly needs to be addressed. There is a “need to see national policy changes on a range of issues – including investment in public health, housing, and welfare – that are essential for building a healthier and fairer London.” And not just in London, but around the country too. (Source: click here)

For the second question, I do not have an answer. And as for the third question, I leave that to Matt Hancock to answer. But what seems to be a running theme through these questions and the first question too, is Boris Johnson and the Tory party are to blame. The government were advised by WHO at the same time as other European countries. They were made aware that they should enforce stricter border control with incoming and outgoing flights. They were made aware that the NHS will be under increasing pressure to make sure all victims of the virus will have the life-saving support they need and that healthcare workers have the correct PPE. They were told to begin testing as soon as possible and to get the country into a strict lockdown. All was enforced too late. This is the same government that will have control over the Brexit situation in the next few months.

(Attempting to keep my outage to a minimum)

It shouldn’t have to take a global pandemic to realise my gratitude for the NHS, but it particularly does when comparing the service to other leading countries, such as the United States. I could not be more thankful for the privilege of having such a brilliant healthcare service. During lockdown, every Thursday at 8 pm my family would go outside to clap for the carers. As a national weekly ritual, this undoubtably helped in moral support. But i couldn’t help think how little our mediocre claps helped them physically. So I take the time here to reflect on the hard work and long agonising hours that the NHS staff and volunteers have had to tackle, and I would like to extend my appreciation to all healthcare workers around the world too. I personally believe that NHS workers have done more to help the country and individual lives than any politician has done thus far.

To make a donation (whatever amount you can give) to the NHS staff and volunteers, please click here.

For those who were stuck at home, the silver lining that was afforded was the opportunity to immerse ourselves in issues and topics that otherwise would not have been given as much time. I think for white, middle and upper-class people, this was really a time where people came face to face with the privileges they hold (myself included). Such as having a garden, a big enough house to spend time alone, and protection from being murdered for no reason by the police. Having this time to reflect, educate and learn has been advantageous and vital for the ongoing movement we have seen over the past few weeks.

The Black Lives Matter Movement

At the end of May, I briefly touched upon the murder of George Floyd in my latest post. George’s murder sparked a catalyst for Black Lives Matter protests all around the world. Protests in America especially have been ongoing for roughly four weeks now, and during this time the world has watched further black lives at risk and taken by the police.

In my post ‘2 weeks into 2020’, I said the following, which is quite telling for the current online environment:

“I think social media is heavily criticised and for good reasons, but I think there is something so profound about connecting a world together and educating others, who wouldn’t necessarily be connected otherwise. Taking the time to educate yourself on issues, can be as simple as scrolling through your timeline and reading what others have to say. You don’t have to necessarily agree with other users opinions, but you begin to build an understanding, which can enable you to form a dialogue when educating others.”

PoP Blog

Since the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain and unfortunately so many more, we have seen social media explode with petitions, links, donations and educational posts. Social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter have become a place of learning, giving space to real voices, pain and frustration. I have learnt so much more in the past few weeks than I ever did at senior school and university, and I am sure I am not alone. And although frustrating, at least people are starting to want to learn and change their way of thinking. Which is a positive. But nothing about this movement is a quick fix. Systemic racism is a deeply rooted issue, ingrained into every strain of society. Breaking down a system of systems will take a lot of work, and that work starts with the individual. I can only hope this is the new beginning of serious change.

Although just a quick fyi: Breonna Taylor’s murderers are still walking free. Unemployed, but free. Please click here to take further action in calling for the arrests of John Mattingly, Brett Hankison, Myles Cosgrove. It has nearly been four months since her death.

However, for every positive in a movement like this, there are always strong negative voices that are just as loud. For example, when the BLM protesters tore down and threw the statue of Edward Colston (an MP who was involved in the Atlantic Slave Trade) into the Bristol Harbour, white angry men decided that their opinions needed to be given.

The country’s nationalists (the type found in pubs on a Monday morning) came to the streets, fists at the ready. What is very telling about this, is that these men came looking for a fight, they came in an unpeaceful manner. Which is far from the black lives matter protesters intentions. Yet the media would try to argue otherwise. I found humour in one photo in particular, where a group of men guarded the statue of George Eliot, an author who was a strong supporter of anti-slavery.

As funny as this might seem, it also shows the problem with education. These men have no idea what they are actually doing – as much as they would like to argue otherwise. The lack of education within schools produces these stubborn adults, who are unaware that they are the problem of a much bigger issue. If schools were to teach children more about the inequalities in the UK, instead of putting Churchill on a pedestal for 10 years, these adults might not be as close-minded. And less embarrassing. It is the same people who felt more sorry for the horse who got loose at one of the London protests. These people have such tunnel vision, they choose to empathise with one animal instead of millions of people who are literally just fighting for their basic human rights.

The curriculum surrounding black history and colonialism in schools is in need of some serious revisions. Many former students even wrote to their schools to express this overdue, nationwide problem in education. What we can hope, is that teachers recognise the extremely important role they have in shaping society. They educate and shape the future. Which means that not only big amendments to the curriculum needs to be made, but also teachers in government-funded schools need to be better equipped with the tools and resources to be able to make such changes.

Now I could go on, but I am aware of the generational attention span of TikTok addicts. So I will keep this short, and hopefully will write up another post that goes into further depth soon. For a really good breakdown on systemic racism, surprisingly, an ice cream company have come through with a helpful page of statistics and easy-to-read explanations. Do check it out! Ben and Jerry’s: Systemic Racism

Additionally, I have also added a resources tab on the site which I will be updating and editing frequently to ensure people can keep on educating themselves and spreading awareness to others. I hope you find this of use!

The current crisis in Yemen

What is happening in Yemen right now is currently the biggest humanitarian crisis, and yet not many news reports are bringing readers to this emergency. This is something that needs media attention every single day. Currently, this crisis is affecting roughly 24 million people, which is 80% of Yemen’s population. The country has been suffering from years of war, conflict and destruction. They were therefore not prepared at all for a pandemic. The closure of schools since the country was hit by the coronavirus means that education for children has been further disrupted. With 2 million children out of school already, since coronavirus, an additional 5 million children are now out of school. For the children of Yemen, their futures are already at stake due to lack of healthcare, clean water and food. For those who do manage to live on into adulthood, having an education behind them is even more vital to their stability. 

I understand that from afar, one might feel pretty helpless. The images you see of starving children online are tough to see when you are aware that you as an individual, cannot save them all. However, in the last month, we have seen multiple petitions, donations and campaigns that have helped and worked from all over the world. I recognise that with this specific crisis, donations are more helpful right now than petitions, and reading a book on the history of Yemen. Although, if you have the time – please do those things too. Here is a link to donate and to learn more about how you can help with this.

The next six months

I don’t know where the next 6 months will take us, but since being in lockdown, I have learnt to take one day at a time. All I can hope for is that the next few months are softer on all of us, especially those who really need some time to seek support and grieve. As I go into my final year at university, for the sake of my grades, I just really hope the majority of it is on campus, as I don’t know how well they will hold if everything continues to be online. Maybe this won’t be my final year after all. (Thought to add some struggling student humour to a what has been very heavy post). Anyway, to everyone who is reading this, keep educating yourself, keep motivated and keep your chest out and head high. I hope you have somewhat enjoyed reading this post. Stay safe and stay informed.

I also don’t even want to start thinking about Brexit.

Sources:

Coronavirus picture: RTLNieuws.

Everything else has been hyperlinked.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s