In the original video that the TikTok trend uses the audio of, user Big Mamma (boss_bigmamma) sits in her car and raises her hands, reciting the different times she’s experienced prejudice towards her because of the colour of her skin. For each one, she puts a finger down, experiencing so many different instances of racism in U.S. society that she needs a third hand.
“Put a finger down if someone has ever gotten out of an elevator to avoid you… Put a finger down if you have had fear in your heart for being stopped by the police… Put a finger down if you’ve ever been stopped by police for no reason… Any fingers left? That’s privilege.”
And suffice to say, a majority of people doing the challenge are finding they don’t need to put a finger down at all. Why? Because of their white privilege. Because systemic racism is deeply rooted in the U.S.’s legal system and police departments.
And, perhaps the clearest example of what we’re talking about here comes from dancing TikTok couple tWitch and Alison Hooker Boss. In the video below, which at 2.3m views as of writing has officially gone viral, features the couple and their son on tWitch’s lap.
tWitch puts his finger down ten times (12 if you count past the original two hands). His wife, who is Caucasian, only puts her finger down for one: “put a finger down if you’ve ever had to teach your child how to get killed by the police.”
This is why people are fighting for justice right now. And, it’s not exclusive to the U.S. In Australia, not only is the foundation of our nation’s history built on racism, colonised soil and systemic racism, but we have continued to perpetuate it in our legal and judiciary system.
Since 1991, over 400 Indigenous people have died in police custody. None of the police involved in these cases have ever been charged. Indigenous people make up only two percent of the population but consist of 27 percent of the prison population. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 12 times more likely to be in prison than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women over 20 times more likely than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Our friends at Syrup have put together a guide to where and when to protest against the injustice towards Indigenous Australians and support the Black Lives Matter this weekend. Remember that we are also in a pandemic, so stay safe, practise social distancing, stay informed and connected, support and share black voices, and donate, if possible.