George Floyd’s Death: Performances Include South Asian

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Thousands of people have taken to the streets in different cities of the United States since the video of African-American George Floyd’s death at the hands of police.

People from every region and community have participated in these demonstrations. South Asian is also second to none. He says that he too has faced police brutality at some point.

BBC Hindi spoke to some South Asian people living in the United States who have participated in the demonstrations and whose lives have been affected by it.

Rahul Dubey

Rahul Dubey, who works in the healthcare innovation sector, gave space to more than 70 protesters in his house. They told:

Police and protesters were outside the house. The protesters were shouting slogans. At around 9.15 pm, the police attacked the peaceful protesters. The protesters were following their first amendment right, people in America are deeply involved with it.

There was a tsunami of people there. The police was killing people badly. I was standing at the door. I shouted, come home, come home.

I screamed for ten minutes. About a hundred people came to my house. People’s eyes were jealous. He was hitting water splashes on his eyes. Some were crying. He was very emotional. The police was laughing at us. Mirchi powder was being left inside the house.

My house is built in 1500 square feet. There is also a backyard. About twenty people were in the backyard. About thirty people were on the floor. We were all hungry, so I ordered pizza at 11 o’clock at night. But the main road was closed by the police. He stayed in my house till 6-7 am the next morning.

Six hours later, I realized my fear of the corona virus. Because there were many people in my house, I am going to quarantine myself from today.

We talked all night. Some people were also doing the video live on social media. We talked about our fears, talked about what should be done next, discussed what the security forces will do. Everyone was involved in this conversation. Black is also white, people of Spanish descent as well as Indians.

We come from areas where police brutality is common. This issue is echoed all over the world. A lot of films, dramas, stories have been made on police encounters in India.

This will be a big issue in the upcoming presidential elections. There are many people of racial diversity in America. The last time they were divided between Hillary and Sanders.

If a black person goes to jail for a crime, then the chances are very less for him. Muslims living in America have also faced surveillance since the 9/11 extremist attack.

I have read their stories. Police also commits vandalism there. This has to change over time. Nothing will happen in a day. These demonstrations have reminded Americans that they must listen to people’s voices. This will not do.

I can also be influenced by it. My colour is also different. I am also a Muslim. I am from a Muslim country. I am from Pakistan. There are many layers of doubt on me. Until the police and the judiciary are transparent, how many layers will improve?

South Asians are moving out because they are a small minority. People of Spanish descent are considerably more people of African descent than South Asians. Even though there are differences between our countries, but here in America, South Asians have a common identity.

Minahil Mehdi, Student Involved in Performance

I am a graduate student at Harvard. I grew up in Pakistan where I got a chance to work with many social justice campaigns.

When demonstrations took place here after the death of George Floyd, we felt it was our responsibility to support. We stand with those who have been exploited for centuries.

We do the same when there is injustice to anyone in Pakistan, whether they are migrants, women, Pashtuns or students.

It is also our responsibility to stand shoulder to shoulder with black people. This is a natural feeling. We have not thought about it again.

Everyone wore masks due to Kovid disease. People were keeping distance from each other and also giving each other sanitizers. We listened to them.

Power in Pakistan is dominated by capitalists and feudal lords. We listened to people so that we could understand what it means to be black in America. He told about the fear that he feels while buying everyday items. I felt connected with them. It was a great experience.

Even today there are roots of colonialism in South Asia. We also have racism here. We still have inferiority complexion in our mind. It is preferred even in marriage and job.

This is also a chance to look inside you. This question is also, when we go to our country, we will be able to raise our voice for the weak. If you are in India, are you raising your voice for Dalits.

If you are in Pakistan, are you able to raise voice for the people of Baloch? We have to stand with those who have been facing institutional violence.

Shanti Singh – works with tenants union, joined the rally

South Asians are portrayed here as an ideal minority community and this is a myth used against black people, native people and Latin people.

White people often say that look at the Indians, how well they are doing. We are all not doing well.

This is a myth here. Other South Asian people of my generation now understanding this. It is not that we are not being exploited.

It is not that we are not affected by the feeling of domination of whites. It may happen that it affects us in a small or different way. And that’s why it is even more important for us to stand with them.

I have participated in such demonstrations, but nothing has changed. This is the reason why we are now seeing more anger among people.

Ali Elahi, students participating in demonstrations

I watched the video of George Floyd’s death and the violence that happened to him. It was heartbreaking. We are from a country where we keep hearing stories of police brutality. But there too, the police, in the light of day, does not commit such a crime. This video has impressed me a lot.

We joined the protest because we want to show solidarity with minorities and people of African descent. Especially black people have been exploited in this country for centuries.

People came despite the Corona epidemic. Black people shared their experiences. The white people said that they will not see this oppression in silence.

There is a line in Urdu – ‘He who is silent is also a criminal.’

If such a video comes out in Pakistan, then strict action is taken. People are fired. Many times, the matter reaches the level of the Prime Minister. Action is slowing down here.

When a minority community is treated like this, then whether we are Hindustani, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Sri Lankan, we should stand with the victims.

Those who are committing violence, they are the mischievous elements who take advantage of this situation, who are looting as soon as they get the chance.

Waqas Ahmed, Shopkeeper

We do business of selling phones and we have many stores in Maryland. We run Tmobile and Boost Mobile stores. We have 20 stores.

People came to the Boost Mobile Store at 1.15 pm. They broke the glass windows with stone. These seven-eight people got down from a vehicle and entered the shop. All this happened for thirty seconds.

They took five to six thousand dollars worth of phones. They damaged the property. We have taken insurance. Now we are doing repairs.

Many of my friends have been affected by their business. Some less, few more. They are also scared. The corona virus had already stalled functioning.

The work had not even started properly. That man has died. But business is different, humanity is different. What happened was very wrong.

It is wrong that business is being affected as a side effect of all this. Most of the protests are peaceful but some people are taking advantage of the opportunity.

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