Why #blacklivesmatter protests are different from going to the beach
Large crowds at the beach. Large crowds at Black Lives Matters protests.
Ideally neither would be happening right now. We're in the middle of a deadly pandemic. There are already grave concerns about a second wave of mass infections and death - even whilst we struggle to bring an end to the first. Gathering in crowds is therefore dangerous and deadly.
The reason why large crowds are gathering at the beach is because masses of people are sick of being cooped up in their first or second homes. Most, we assume, have been observing lockdown measures for weeks and months, and can no longer resist the temptation of going to the beach on a warm, sunny day. This has not been helped by government advisors flouting lockdown rules. It is, in summary, an instinct born of factors such as boredom, frustration, personal irresponsibility - and most of all - government irresponsibility.
The reason why large crowds are gathering at Black Lives Matter protests is because they are sick of black people being killed and treated like second-class citizens because of the colour of their skin. They are not there for a good time. They are there because there is a deadly and immediate danger to black lives that is more prevalent, immediate, long-lasting and blithely ignored than COVID-19. It is anti-black racism. And people are gathering in large crowds around the world to protest against personal and institutional racism that has never gone away. It is, in summary, an instinct born of factors such as desperation, solidarity and survival.
Anyone who assumes that people at Black Lives Matter protests are ignorant of the current pandemic are wide of the mark. The current strain of coronavirus is killing people, destroying lives, affecting livelihoods and stopping people from breathing. Anti-black racism is also killing people, destroying lives, affecting livelihoods and stopping people from breathing. The difference is that we hope there will be a vaccine for COVID-19 in coming months. Anti-black racism is decades and centuries old, and it never ends.
There is also an intersect of virus and prejudice. COVID-19 is having a disproportionate effect on black lives, whilst the government chooses to suppress the specific reasons why. Reasons which are in a large part resultant of anti-black racism on a structural and state level.
So yes, there is a difference between Black Lives Matter protests and going to the beach. It is a false and unfair equivalence. Quite apart from the fact that people at the former are protecting themselves with masks, hoods and gloves, whilst people at the latter are protected by sunscreen and Speedos. It is the difference between wanting to leave your own home, and being afraid to.