Why Do So Many People Outside The U.S. Care So Much About What’s Going On Inside The U.S. Right Now?
We’ve been kind of astounded at the number of rallies and marches around the world showing solidarity for protestors in the U.S.
We also found stories like this one in the Atlantic to be fascinating: where Kpop fans remotely helped interfere with U.S. police efforts to identify protestors by flooding and thus overloading police tip pages with uploads of Korean pop star fan videos.
At the same time, we’re curious why all these people care so much. It’s not their country. It’s not their systemic problems. So this past weekend we called or chatted online with people we know all over the place and asked.
Here are some of the responses we got, edited lightly in some cases, (mainly because some of the people we talked with are not native English speakers). Most live overseas, others are Americans who have spent a great deal of time living and working in other countries:
“It’s the same reason Americans protested apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s and 1990s — the world should be beyond the point of racial injustice by now.”
“Many similar problems involving police killing and/or racism are happening in our country, and we don’t get good answers or action either”. (We heard this from people in the U.K., France, and Canada).
“I feel sorry for the U.S.: First Coronavirus, and now police attacking. Americans are always so friendly, and it’s sad to see them suffering. I want to help.”
“I’m optimistic! I feel opportunity for real change all over the world. I feel this time it can rally happen.”
“Generation after generation is more concerned about their present comfort, and has no concern or thought for the future generation.”
“We are really losing our sh*t. We’ve shown a lot of restraint so far. This is a global protest now. No one’s really considered a mass global civil unrest and what that looks like.”
“Obviously, I cannot vote in U.S. elections. But if I was allowed, I would like to this year. Protesting to get my voice heard is the closest I can express as a foreign citizen to voting against Trump.”
“America used to be young people’s dream country. I don’t know if the U.S. is the most inspiring country anymore, but it still holds the most influence and sway.”
“This is a protest about racial inequality in the U.S., but all the young people are realizing they’ve been screwed by the past and current generations, and that’s a global protest.”
“I see violence; fighting back against authority and we need sometimes to take a violent stand if we feel something is very wrong even if it’s things we can’t even articulate so well yet.”
“I understand George Floyd called for help, and for his mother. That triggered a lot of anger for me and other mothers (and fathers) in my country, and I would guess all around the world.”
If we had to sum up, we’d say:
- “America, you can do better than this. In fact, we’re rooting for you to do better than this. Because Trump is putting the world in danger, not just the U.S.” (This is our paraphrase of the sum of what we heard; not an actual quote.)
- Even if Trump and several other world leaders are stiffening borders, and emphasizing “LAW & ORDER!”, connections across borders between like minded, supportive individuals — especially young people — are strengthening.
A huge number of people around the world have some type of portable electronic device they can use to communicate for free to other people around the world. Even if they’re totally apolitical right now. Connectivity is not exclusively a tool of the privileged.
For instance, we spoke to one young online game fanatic in New Jersey who says about 80% of the people he regularly competes/communicates with are in the U.S., but about 20% are in another country. Maybe doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a reach we didn’t have, and couldn’t come close to when we were 11. And even though he says his online friends don’t talk at all about politics right now, that could obviously change when they get a bit older. And they could end up being a powerful force for change. Or not. But that decision won’t be limited by technology, or opportunity. Their time may even be a bit far off given how fast things are moving today; their role may be to further refine and improve changes that are already in motion now. It’ll be a choice for them. Unless governments get involved in a big way to block “unwanted” communication (and those oppressive governments that have already done that kind of thing have only done it semi-successfully), these kids’ participation or not won’t be limited by their ability to connect and communicate globally. These tweens will potentially have unfathomable resources stretching across global lines and slicing through many traditional political and societal edifices. It’ll just be a question of how they chose to use that power and innovation.