The paroxysm of anger that has erupted across the US in the wake of the murder of George Floyd has been called by some observers “a tipping point”. A multicultural younger generation is showing that it is genuinely concerned about social injustice, racial inequality, and the climate crisis.
The astonishing scenes on the streets of America have echoed around the world including in the UK, Canada, and Australia. But is it a tipping point? We have been through this before, at least since the violent riots that wracked Los Angeles almost 30 years ago in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating—captured on video. If there’s a single technology that has to some degree protected the Black community in America and Canada against racial injustice at the hands of the police, one could argue it’s the video camera and the smart phone. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a video is worth a million.
The widespread protests against police violence have almost overshadowed the sombre news about the Covid-19 pandemic. Around the world, over 400,000 people have died—more than a quarter of them in the US. The death toll in America is certain to rise—ironically because the protest marches bring thousands of people into close proximity at a time when the contagion in the US has barely abated.
But behind the nightly news programmes showing protesters on the streets in cities around the world, and warnings from public health professionals about the continuing pandemic, there is another simmering crisis. This one is slow-burning, but much more dangerous.
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