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The contextualization of racism and discrimination in the Gulf

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The latest Black Lives Matter protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd on 25 May by a Minneapolis police officer highlight the fact that we live in a time of multiple crises. Floyd’s killing was a wake-up call for humanity to put an end to racism, and has prompted global discussions about systematic and interpersonal racism as well as the perception and reality of justice and injustice.

As some protestors took it upon themselves to demand justice by resorting to violence and damaging public buildings, questions have also been asked about what kind of protests are “ethical”, and what lawful and acceptable methods are available to members of the public to express their anger and discontent. When it was said that protestors should seek their rights “peacefully”, activist Yolanda Renteria replied by saying, “It is not your choice to determine how an oppressed group protests.” When people feel that the law has failed them, they resort to breaking the law.

#BlackLivesMatter has inspired a global protest movement against racism and has opened new avenues for discussion by highlighting the need to address systemic and structural discrimination based on race and ethnicity. Racism is more than just an act of hatred; it starts with the belief that one can be superior to the “other”. The “other” is then demonised and seen as less human and hence less deserving of life and humanity. What happened in the US was not a spontaneous outburst of anger; it was the result of years of injustice and systematic and structural discrimination against Black Americans.

It is necessary for us to use the #BlackLivesMatter momentum to acknowledge and work on racism and discrimination in the Middle East, especially in the Gulf States, where there are a number of narratives about the anti-racist movement. Some support it while ignoring local racism and discrimination; others highlight the need to tackle racism based on colour without discussing the deeper issue of structural discrimination in the Gulf. Yet others have openly denied the existence of any type of racism in the Gulf and claimed that is an American problem. All three narratives miss the big picture. Those who claim that........

© Middle East Monitor