“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”
George Orwell, 1984
The book was published on 8th of June 1949.
Today is the 11th of June 2020.
The world is going through a pandemic—Covid-19.
People are dying. And yet, amidst an existential crisis, human beings still have time to hate and to kill for hate. Each passing moment, the world that we knew is dying from a virus that confounds scientists and researchers alike. And yet we are trending #blacklivesmatter because hate is larger than the possibility of a world that may not survive this pandemic.
A group of black men brought their sons out for a father-and-son protest in America today. That they had to do this in a First World country is shameful enough. That they were all wearing masks because of the pandemic brought the social media to a questioning moment:
Is this actually happening? Has mankind deteriorated to a level from where there may not be a point of redemption? Will the coloniser always reign supreme? Will the white man always be the one holding the gun with his right foot on the back of a black slave he hunted down?
George Floyd was not the first African American to die because of his colour and he will not be the last unless these upended times rewrite their destinies.
When the rage has subsided and people have been subdued, what will the world look like? History tells us there will be a void where each one of us will stand and look at their own individual selves and from there build anew the meaning for existence.
For every minority group across the globe, George Floyd represents yet another chance to recreate the structure of hierarchy. He is symbolic of those of us who have always been condemned for being different. Right now, the status quo of a narcissistic world order is threatened by its own people. Its fear has allowed law enforcement agencies to take on a frenzied role to restore that status quo, forgetting that their prime duty is to protect the vulnerable and the marginalised. That in itself is a dichotomy, for a world that has progressed on so many fronts; yet deep inside this façade of progress and liberalism dwells the dark, innate need to subjugate.
If the hashtag #blacklivesmatter is trending it is because over and over again one needs to give a reason for being. For just being.
These are volatile times. The oppressor will do everything to keep the oppressed subdued and this hegemony has tested its victims over and over again. Its failure lies in the spirit of freedom, which is the inherent right of every human being.
Will the spirit be broken?
Nadiya Abbas has an MPhil in English Literature and teaches as a visiting lecturer. She says, "Diaspora literature fascinates me, especially where the displaced individual attempts to find himself by writing through that experience, in the present placement. I am also interested in transliteration of poetry as a means to internalise the essential meaning." She writes for RIC Journal (ricjournal.com) on a regular basis.