For 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the hundreds of people gathered at the 228 Peace Memorial Park in Taipei stayed silent.
On June 13, a peaceful rally was held in Taiwan to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The moment gained renewed attention over the summer after the murder of George Floyd by white police officer Derek Chauvin, who had pressed his knee on to Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
Floyd’s murder quickly sparked protests in the United States against systemic racism and police brutality. The national protests went global and anti-racism demonstrations erupted around the world.
The Black Lives Matter rally in Taipei was organized by the Black Lives Solidarity Global Initiative and began at 2 p.m.. Speakers at the rally spoke of the systemic racism against the black community.
At one point during the rally, participants were asked to take a knee to protest racism against black people. Participants were also asked to stay silent for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to show support towards Floyd, and to read the names of African Americans who were victims of police brutality in the United States.
For many participants, attending the rally was extremely empowering. “I was pleasantly surprised that an event such as that was being held in Taipei. I was very impressed,” Director of Upper School Academic and Personal Counseling Mr. Ryan Haynes, who attended the rally, said. “What was interesting was that the morning of the rally, I was in a Webinar in regards to the Black experience in Taipei. There were about fifty to sixty people on that call, and what was really neat was that I ended up meeting them in person at the rally later that afternoon.”
Many members of the TAS community were also present at the Black Lives Matter rally. “It was great to see TAS so represented,” Mr. Haynes said. “There were lots of people from TAS there, so that was really cool to see.”
However, although a number of TAS participants attended the rally, the TAS community must continue recognizing its own privileges and prejudices. Heather P. (‘21), who attended the rally, believes that in order for changes to occur, education should be prioritized. She suggests that TAS diversify the selection of books that are taught in classrooms.
“I think that the summer reading book [Just Mercy], was a really great pick for the school to talk about. I know that a lot of kids from my English class really liked reading about it,” she said. “[However], if I think off the top of my head, in 1984 and the Shakespeare books, all the main characters are white. They are all great books, but I think we could diversify the cultures of the books that we read.”
Similarly, Mr. Haynes also believes that education is important. “If you want to see change, you [have] to be willing to put yourself out there and get involved,” he said. “Educate yourself to what the issues are and be willing to engage others.”