I went shopping today and realized that I had not stepped out of my house since last Thursday. It was refreshing to BREATHE in some fresh air.
As I watched the murder of George Floyd and the media attention that followed, I could not help but wonder who/what really killed him. Was it the weight of Derek Chauvin’s knee? Or the silence of the three other police officers? Or the shushing of bystanders by one of the police officers? Or the indifference of those who had not felt what it is to be oppressed?
We cannot bring George Floyd back to life, but we can learn from his death. Like my mum often says, anytime you wake up is your morning. George Floyd’s death has led to a huge awakening on the issue of racism and other -isms. I am very happy to see people of all races and ages speak out, not fearing any backlash. I am happy that there is an increased awareness that because something does not affect you, it does not mean that the problem is non-existent. I am happy to see more open-mindedness to understand what it is to be in another person’s shoes.
But when this story dies down, will we go back to a normal, where it is okay to be indifferent when an issue does not affect us? Or will we speak out knowing that there is power in our voices to create reforms? Will we go back to shushing others when we do not agree with their cause or will we open our hearts to learn or at the very least let them express their feelings?
Not every death is physical and through Inter-Nationals, I will continue to speak out against the death of the dreams and careers of many skilled immigrants in Norway – a problem that cuts across immigrants of every race and colour.
I will continue to speak out against the false narrative that immigrants are highly represented in unemployment and underemployment statistics because they are uneducated or cannot speak Norwegian. I will continue to encourage my Norwegians friends to create awareness because the prosperity of immigrants is not mutually exclusive to that of Norwegians. I will continue to highlight thriving immigrants because we owe it to other immigrants and young immigrant children to know that their dreams are valid and that they are allowed to aspire. Some demonstrations need to happen on the street, but some need to happen in the boardrooms and management meetings. I will continue to engage with business leaders until cultural diversity is more than just a CSR checkbox.
We do not have to care about the same issues or about every cause, but whenever you are tempted to ignore any ill, remember that your indifference or silence can be just as deadly as the weight of Derek Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s neck.
Ejiro Iluore (Founder, Inter-Nationals)