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George Floyd Protests: More To Do Than Risk COVID In A Protest

Updated on June 4, 2020
Christina St-Jean profile image

I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, and LGBT advocacy.

Protests During COVID-19

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There's More You Can Do Beyond Protests

My 11-year-old, who has done some research into the recent goings-on in the United States and what white privilege actually is, recently asked why she and her older sister, who is 15-and-a-half, and I could not go to a peaceful protest/walk being organized for one evening this week. I don't have an issue with an individual's right to protest at all; to me, that's a fundamental right that everyone should exercise when they deem appropriate to do so.

If protests were always guaranteed to be peaceful, there wouldn't be an issue. If we weren't in the midst of a global pandemic, there wouldn't be an issue. However, the United States is currently experiencing significant chaos as a result of protests going sideways and mass destruction and people getting injured, sometimes critically. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people getting in fairly close quarters throughout these protests, sometimes without masks and definitely not with any sort of social distancing down in the States, where the numbers of COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

I realize that people need to do something in the wake of such blatant racism in the aftermath of George Floyd's death, but perhaps other modes of protest should be considered. I understand that the best way to show there are a great number of people willing to stand up against racism is for people to gather in large numbers and to speak as one voice, but by the same token, we are currently in a world where the very last thing we should do is gather in great numbers.

It's important to stand together as one and to do something to fight the injustices in the world. We need to unite our voices and ensure that we put an end to the blatant - and not so blatant - racism that occurs in the world. We need to stand together and ensure that black lives do matter, so that no one else has to witness the injustices that continue against people of color.

There's no reason that this violence should continue at all. This is the 21st century, not the Middle Ages. We should all be treated exactly the same way, and yet the fact that African American individuals are still living under a microscope is indisputable. There are still people being pulled over for driving a nice car when they don't "look" like they should be. People being hit with racial slurs just for simply being who they are, or being looked at with an air of suspicion simply because they are in a neighborhood they don't seem to "fit" in.

It's wrong. Plain and simple, it's wrong, and we need to stand up and speak out against it.

However, there are too many variables in the air when it comes to staging a widespread protest during a pandemic. Should we not stand up for black lives at all? That's not what I'm saying. It's important to stand up and speak out against the injustices that we've seen for years. We have to fight for those who have been struggling to be heard and supported for centuries. Many of us are in positions where we are heard. We need to support those who have been fighting to be heard and fighting to survive in a world which, simply put, has been grossly unjust to them, if for no other reason than it's the absolute right thing to do.

But protesting in large groups - where at least in Ontario, Canada, if you've assembled in groups larger than 5 you face significant fines - in the midst of the pandemic where millions have suffered and nearly 400,000 have died worldwide is not the best idea. I get that you want to protest while the anger and fervor is at it's highest point, but there are significant health risks associated right now with assembling in a huge mass.

So, how can we stand up and say what's been happening is so painfully wrong that we must change - that we need to say #BlackLivesMatter as more than just an occasional catchphrase? While protesting is important and can engender positive change quickly, right now, there are more human lives at risk.

Your voice can still be heard if you're not going out to the protests. Contact your political representatives. Write a blog. Post videos. Educate people about why black lives matter, and why the excessive violence must end.

We have to stand together to support those who are suffering, so that everyone can understand that black lives do matter.

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