With the out-pour of horror and frustration at the murder of George Floyd has prompted some British individuals to make comparisons to the murder of Lee Rigby. Rigby was murdered in 2014 when two Islamic terrorists decided to take the life of an off duty British soldier. Both of the Islamic terrorists were apprehended and have been sentenced life in prison. After Lee Rigby's death, there was an outcry of grief and mourning by the general public. While this murder is one that will remain in the memories off the British public, is it fair to compare this murder to a black man who was murdered in America by a police officer?
The motivation for the murder of Lee Rigby came from radical and violent religious views. There has been an outcry from a small number of people that there was no protest in response to this murder compared to the murder of George Floyd. While it is arguable that Lee Rigby’s murder was motivated on the basis of his occupation as a soldier, his murder was a standalone act committed by two individuals and not on behalf of the state.
The murder of George Floyd however, was something very different his death is one in a number of many that represent a great dark secret within the American system. George Floyd's death is one that represents the oppression of the black community by the American police. This act alone, much to the horror of many, is not a standalone event but has been something that has been at the forefront of American politics for several years.
The colonialism of different parts of the world has left its mark on today's society. Although it is not understood by many of the current population of western culture it is ever apparent in the lives of those who as a result have been oppressed for hundreds of years. For over 200 years black people were traded like animals and treated as less than human. This is something that many of us fail to remember when situations like these occur. Historical events still have effects on people today although there has been progressing in the civil rights of the black community, the murder of George Floyd and many others is evidence of systematic racism that still exists in America today. Arguably Americans are still facing the same degree of racism as they did in the 1900s just at a covert level.
Systematic racism is racism carried out by the state entrenched in social values. To put it simply, white is the norm and black is the abnormal. What this means is that society is in denial about the differing life experiences of the black community compared to white people. Policies that affect those in poverty have a higher impact on the black community as a whole. The black community and other minorities face racism every day which white people do not realise because racism is a social norm.
Institutionalised racism, which is also known as systematic racism, is carried out on a countrywide basis. In the case of George Floyd the people who were supposed to be protecting him were the perpetrators of his death.
The death of Lee Rigby was not about institutionalised racism it did not highlight an issue with the police in the protection of Lee Rigby. Although it does raise other issues such as radicalisation of those who are vulnerable to fundamentalist ideas this is not an example of white oppression. There were, in fact, many rallies and minutes of silence held for Lee Rigby which of course is to be expected when such a horrific crime takes away someone who has given their life for our country. White people do not have to walk around afraid of their own government.
The African American population makes up 40 million people of the total US population. Of them, 8.9 million of that population is living in poverty. Poverty is an undeniable factor that contributes to systematic racism. The poverty that is rife within America is one that carries on through generations and means that minority communities, particularly the black community, are not given the same opportunities as the white community. These opportunities include taking part in politics and becoming part of the police force. As a result, African Americans do not have the same voice or power as white Americans.
When white experience is accepted as the normal perception, the black experience is forgotten because as long as a system works for the white population racism will remain unchallenged despite the outrageous inequality.
The oppression of the black community leads to angry populations of all ethnicities, and this is why there have been global protests after the death of George Lloyd. His death seems to has come as a shock to many as it highlights the police brutality and systematic racism in America. I am sad to say that the one group that this has not shocked is the black community who have been at the forefront of police brutality and racism.
Lee Rigby’s murder is important in its own right. The aftermath of the murder highlighted an intrinsic issue with the way we protect those who are vulnerable to radicalisation as well as those who are harmed by it. Lee Rigby’s memory should not be used as a weapon to detract from the civil rights struggle against the state on behalf of the black community. The family has stated they find the use of his murder in this way as “distressing”. We should respect Rigby’s memory the will of his family by remembering him as a father of one, soldier of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers who lost his life to radical Islam.