#128 the wider effect of George Floyd’s death

people protesting on a street

Photo by Josh Hild on Pexels.com

What has been happening around the world in terms of inequality and prejudice is tragic and unacceptable and has been going on for hundreds of years.

It is also a shame that it requires tragedies like the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis this year, or the death of Mark Duggan in London in 2011 for society to sit up and take notice.

Like the death of George Floyd, the death of Mark Duggan was followed by widespread rioting and looting. I remember having to leave a supermarket via the delivery entrance with my 3-year-old daughter because rioters were heading our way and the shop had closed the front doors which would later be broken.

Of course, it is right that people protest against the injustice of the situation but I wonder how many of those who stole phones out of shop windows in Clapham Common in 2011 had the tragic death of Mark Duggan on their minds as they looted. Interestingly, the bookshop next to the phone shop was untouched.

We need to be still talking about inequality when the media has lost interest in the riots and the protests and not look on minority ethnic groups with pity but celebrate the successes and work towards a world where the same opportunities are available to everyone.

The lack of social distancing at the protests and riots will result in more cases of Covid-19 and it is an unfortunate fact that those with darker skins will be disproportionally affected by the disease. This is partly due to economic and social conditions which result in poorer nutrition and a greater prevalence of underlying conditions but also to the simple fact that darker skin takes longer to absorb vitamin D which can result in a vitamin D deficiency and a poorer immune response.

The effect of this increase in cases on the medical services will only be seen in around three weeks and, at a time when distancing measures ate being relaxed, the impact will be greater.

Another unfortunate effect of the death of George Lloyd has been the way the police have responded to both the public and the press.

The New York Times has observed how the police have reacted to protests how their unnecessary use of force, with more force. Possibly even more worrying is that the status of a free press has been compromised by police action against journalists and camera operators.

This disregard for journalists is worrying in a society which already has a worryingly high level of gun ownership. In Brazil, where Jair Bolsonaro appears to ape every move made by President Trump such as threatening to leave WHO, the situation is, even more, worrying with Bolsonaro suggesting that he wants to arm people to prevent a dictatorship.  Then, in a publicity student, he drank milk in one of his broadcasts, a gesture associated with white supremacy and was seen riding around on a horse breaking the law that requires everyone to wear a mask in public places.

The situation here in Brazil continues to worsen and the Ministry of Health has responded by changing the statistics the present on a daily basis so that, at a glance, the situation does not look so bad. States and local governments are relaxing restrictions in Brazil, it is almost as if they think the confirmed cases and confirmed deaths graphs in Europe are referring to Brazil and that they have no idea that Brazil is not bending the curve.

Many shops and businesses here that are meant to be closed are actually allowed customers onto their premises, the inadequate economic support from the Government leaves people with little choice but to try and make money. The Federal Government has just transferred R$83.9m ($16.91m) from the family benefits system (Bolsa Familia) to pay for Coronavirus Propaganda. The University of Washington has warned that Covid-19 deaths in Brazil could reach 125,000 by August.




About M J Dees

M J Dees lives and works in Sao Paulo, Brazil with his wife, daughter and two cats. He has written three novels, Living with Saci, The Astonishing Anniversaries of James and David, Part One, and When The Well Runs Dry. He is currently editing the fourth and writing the fifth. You can sign up for more information on his book launches at http://eepurl.com/cTnAD5 and receive a free copy of Living With Saci.
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