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Do Black Lives Matter?

By Florence Wayas, Service Learning Coordinator / CAS Coordinator / DP Chemistry Teacher

Do all lives actually matter? The disproportionate number of ‘black’ people that are killed at the hands of law enforcement in some countries would argue that they don’t. That black lives do not matter.  However, the killing of George Floyd in front of the world has been a catalyst that has sparked the demand for change across the globe. Even here in South Korea we have seen peaceful protests and marches. This activism represents a demand for us to find our humanity. A demand for society to reexamine the way that it has been socially constructed, so that the world we live in is fair - for everyone. Because Black Lives Matter too.

It is easy to ignore such tragedies that are happening across the world when they do not directly affect us. But racial injustice and discrimination is a universal problem, whether a person is targeted because of the colour and shade of their skin, or the shape of their eyes. We, as human beings, have a duty to point out and stamp out such injustice when we see it. 

At Branksome Hall Asia, we consider duty to be one of our Service Pillars, which form the foundation of Service character. The Oxford English dictionary defines the word ‘duty’ as having a ‘moral or legal obligation’, a responsibility. At Branksome Hall Asia, the moral responsibility to do our part in creating and shaping a better world is not always comfortable or convenient. Sometimes it challenges and confronts us. But we are resolute in the notion that our students are the future. They will build the better world that we all want to live in. So, it is wonderful to see so many of our students and staff engaging in social activism, raising awareness of issues such as this.

In South Korea, it has been wonderful to see so many people stand up to demand justice. People such as BTS and their loyal fanbase, who together raised $2 million dollars for Black Lives Matter. For, if we do not stand up for what is right, who will?

At times such as this , we are reminded of the poignant words written by Martin Miemöller many years ago:

“First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me”.

At Branksome Hall Asia, our students are true IB learners, kind and compassionate, knowledgeable and principled. To them it is very clear. We are all deserving of love. We are all deserving of peace. We are all deserving of justice. It is wonderful to work in a school that is truly inclusive and fosters this true spirit of Service in our students.