Shutting down London city airport, UK black lives matter struck another blow for citizens who think they can turn their back on inequality in 2016.
Black Lives Matter UK has campaigned on many facets of how racial inequality today still affects the lives of those born into our prejudice society, most renowned for bringing police violence into the public eye. However, breaking onto city airport’s runway and diverting many flights, Black Lives Matter point out that it is more than just the policemen who have something to answer for, whilst jet-setters exercise privilege, someone else will bear the burden of pollution.
Today’s protest highlights the differentiation is not only reflected through societal markers, police violence, employment or educational statistics- the damage is deeper, the poison is in the air. Literally. Communities that suffer the worst pollution are racialized, black people are 28% more likely to suffer air pollution than their white counterparts. The cleanliness of the air should not correlate with the colour of one’s skin. No one is born with a right to a cleaner neighbourhood than the next child; yet the average salary of a city airport user is £92000, whilst at least 40% of the predominantly black residents in Newham, live under the airport’s smoke cloud and struggle by on less than £20000.
The runway has become a symbol of global inequality compounded by climate change, whilst thousands of refugees are dying in the Mediterranean to escape war, the global elite fly overhead. This is an issue of binaries: whilst the average Brit continues to consume 10.92 tonnes of carbon per year, (and rising,) south pacific islands disappear inch by inch beneath the ebb of the ocean. Mountain- top communities are starved away from their cultural homes and traditional pastures due to radical changes in the climate… all the while in London we keep building and developing, not seeing these things as connected.
Expanding airports, at a time when other people’s lives are irreconcilably damaged or cut short due to climate change is senseless. We owe a lot to individuals who put their bodies on the line to highlight global problems. Today these people are the voices of others who cannot speak for themselves. Yet into the future it is not the responsibility of the brave few to show that Black Lives Matter. It is all of ours.