Illustrations by Hannah Robinson
On Monday 1st June, President Trump stood outside Washington D.C.’s St John’s Church holding up a Bible; in a photo-op meant to show the strength and resilience of the president. However, every story has its flip-side, and in this case the flip-side was the more telling image of the two. To capture this image, peaceful protestors were teargassed, including the Christian leaders of the church. Worldwide, we watched a shocking split screen of a president attempting to feign power and resilience in the face of apparent upheaval, while simultaneously fuelling that upheaval by attacking the very people he was sworn in to lead. As I watched the news, mouth agape, I could think only one thing: “Well this is pretty dystopian”.
I was one of the many millions of young adult readers who tore through Suzanne Collins’ ‘The Hunger Games’, albeit slightly after the initial tidal wave of fandom between 2011 and 2013. Therefore, as I absorbed the images of police brutality, rioting and use of excessive force against protestors, my mind raced back to years prior when I’d read a book about similar things occurring in a dystopian America. By no means have we reached a place of apathy in line with that of the Hunger Games. However, the philosophy of the Hunger Games is one of rebellion. Where ordinary people can stand up to tyrannical regimes and injustice if they simply join together in resistance.
Following the horrific killing of George Floyd, thousands in America have taken to the streets to protest, in spite of the highly militarised police presence. Seeing footage of this has been difficult, often overwhelming for many. Yet, in equal measure it is also greatly compelling and encouraging to see protestors taking action to show anger at the injustice that has killed countless black people. It is harrowingly similar to the death of Rue in the original Hunger Games, which sparked a similar wave of rioting. Now many young people are moving from fictional romanisation to a real mobilisation of the revolution.
It’s easy to read about terrible fictional governments and feel angry and inspired to take action. To see real, living injustice and take action in the face of strong opposition from the state is quite the opposite. However, this is what we have been seeing for almost a month now. The Black Lives Matter movement is at its most extensive it’s ever been, with protests stretching from the streets of D.C. to my native Bristol. It is sweeping across the internet, even in spite of performative activism rearing its ugly head. Clearly, there is a hunger amongst many for genuine change, and slowly some of those in power are starting to listen.
However, this must also be implemented at a grassroots level in local communities. So, for all the minds that were captured and inspired by Suzanne Collins’ trilogy a decade ago, I hope you are more greatly inspired to continue to take action in protest against these genuine, terrible injustices and in support of the BLM movement.