Melissa C. Koh

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The First Step Towards Change

Personal

A Portrait of George Floyd by Dan Lacey

 

 

“For it isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt, Civil Rights Activist

When I first heard of the news on George Floyd, I was appalled. The world we live in has progressed so much; we’ve fought for equality in so many various aspects, yet we are still plagued by the injustice and racism that started centuries ago. 

Racism isn’t solely an American problem, it’s a global one. It’s a mindset that needs to be changed and an issue that needs to be eradicated. It’s really a shame that it’s taken the loss of countless innocent lives before we step up to make a change. But instead of dwelling on what we could’ve done, let’s focus our energy on what we could do now. Over the past few days, I’ve seen my friends and family step forward on social media to show their support and it’s heartening to see many join the fight in dismantling institutional racism. 

Santa Monica, California

 

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”

 – Nelson Mandela, Political Leader

Here in Singapore, it’s easy to think that there’s not much we can do about the situation. I, myself, was unsure on what I could do to support the people who have been marginalised and forsaken. But what I’ve come to realize is that beyond signing petitions and making donations, what we can do is arguably the most crucial step – that is to educate ourselves more on the situation, and the first step towards education is to recognise the privilege that we have. 

I am blessed with a platform where I am able to speak out about things that I’m passionate about. Today, I want to use this platform to encourage everyone to take a step towards learning with me, to speak up for the marginalised community and to say that black lives do and always matter. 

I have compiled a list of petitions and ways that we can use our voices to verbalise our fight against institutional racism. (We will continue to update this list so do bookmark this page and check back in periodically) 

  1. https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ is a go-to resource page on how to help the situation in America. It is updated daily. 
  2. 100% of ad revenue from this video will be donated to the associations that offer protester bail funds, help pay for family funerals, and advocacies in support of the Black Lives Matter movement 

Petitions

  1. Black Lives Matter – Defund the Police 
  2. #JusticeforFloyd – Demand the Officers who killed George Floyd are charged with murder
  3. Justice For George Floyd 

Black Lives Matter, Instagram

 

“The ultimate measure of a person is not where one stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where one stands in times of challenge and controversy.”

 – Martin Luther King Jr, American Activist

Illustrations by Dena Nguyen

As a mother, it is my duty to make sure that Noah grows up aware of these social issues, and that he is able to look at people beyond their skin colour. But before I can even begin to educate Noah on racism and injustice, I have a lot of listening and learning to do myself. 

To start, I want to better understand the plight of African-Americans. I have compiled a list of educational resources that I highly encourage everyone to take a look at and it includes books, articles and songs that shed light on the situation and exposes the racial discrimination in the world. 

Books and Poetry

  1. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison breaks the silence concerning racial injustice in America. It opens our eyes to the social invisibility and discrimination one faces as an African-American.
  2. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin De Angelo helps us to understand how we can take responsibility and relinquish racial supremacy
  3. I, Too by Langston Hughes is a poem that depicts the racial divide in America, as people of colour are still mistreated and seen as inferior identities. 

Songs

  1. Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday is a dark jazz tune that protests against the violence of lynching. It is hauntingly relevant in the current events surrounding racial injustice. 

Documentaries, TV shows and Ted Talks

  1. I Am Not Your Negro | Amazon Prime Video
  2. Dear White People | Netflix
  3. White People, Enough: A Look at Power and Control by Jaelyn Coates | TED x CSU
  4. Let’s get to the root of racial injustice by Megan Ming Francis | TED x Rainier

“Ideologies separate us. Dreams and anguish bring us together.” 

– Eugene Ionesco, Playwright

We may not live in America. We may not understand the extent of what African-Americans go through daily. But by remaining silent, we are enabling institutional racism to continue. We can and should make a change. It doesn’t take much from us, but for those who are wrongfully mistreated in America and across the globe, our support makes the world of a difference.

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