Yesterday, I attended the Black Lives Matter protest organised in Hyde Park. As with any event in which thousands of people congregate, many things caught my eye. However, two aspects stood out:
- It was a young movement
- There were no tangible demands
It was refreshing to see young people gathering with a common grievance and clamouring for change. The crowd was mostly compromised of teenagers and early twenty-somethings. The energy was palpable, the air was thick with a cocktail of anger and frustration. Sounds of the helicopters hovering above were drowned out by the various cries chanted with consistent vigour.
This protest had mostly been organised on social-media and away from the traditional authorities of political opposition. This may explain why most participants were overwhelmingly below the age of 30. Many of the audible chants were influenced by the uprisings in the U.S.A, following the murder of George Floyd by the local police force. The backtrack of the protest varied from “I can’t breathe”, “Say his name”, to “No Justice No Peace”. Many of those who were chanting also carried placards with various exclamations of varying wittiness.
A few of these people seemed to be treating this as a photo-op, posing with their masks and raising their placards high to the sky. Overall, there was a sense of kinship amongst the ages and races. The despair could be heard in many of the voices that filled the chants. When the protest was led out of Hyde Park to fill the streets of London, there was a vigour in the footsteps of the individuals. Traffic was held to a standstill and the demands for justice and the end to racism bounced off the bricks of south London’s homes.
Despite the enthusiastic endeavour and the semi- impromptus nature of the protest, I couldn’t help but notice the gap left by a lack of strategic coherence. Though the protests were clustered under the auspices of racism, the end result was more of a cacophony of disparaging demands. Some wanted justice for individual wrongdoings whilst others wanted an end to racism. Progress must come through the upholding of justice, and institutional racism must be dismantled to ensure that future generations can never be discriminated against for simply be enveloped in skin with more melanin than another.
However, tangible results come from tangible demands, which ultimately stem from a tangible strategy. It is in this lack of strategy that my number one concern resides…