unlawful killing of George Floyd

I do not know many Negroes who are eager to be “accepted” by white people, still less to be loved by them; they, the blacks, simply don’t wish to be beaten over the head by the whites every instant of our brief passage on this planet. White people in this country will have quite enough to do in learning how to accept and love themselves and each other, and when they have achieved this—which will not be tomorrow and may very well be never—the Negro problem will no longer exist, for it will no longer be needed. 

James Baldwin,   Letter from a Region in my Mind.  1962 

The people of the world are united in being attacked by Covid-19. How our governments are handling that challenge is a measure of the kind of people they are, what they are capable of, whether it is more greed or growth as humans.

The UK has watched their unelected government advisor flout the rules he created, and heard a blustering PM say that it doesn’t matter. And that, having obeyed the rules, could be their last straw. I am not sure what the Irish straw is, but I imagine more austerity, more unfair rents and house prices would do the trick.

People everywhere have been led, misled and lied to, convinced we must do the ‘right thing’ for the sake of society/law and order/the economy/the …. Fill in the blank. We are not taking care of our own ‘others’, our own people in direct provision, our own traveller population, our own poor.

I was born on the Great Lakes, in a small town that is now part of America’s Rust Belt. We had three plants that employed a lot of the town, and brought more workers there. The plants have been idle since the federal government made it cheaper for corporations to leave and set up in Ireland, India, China.

What is happening in America and spreading across the world is the last straw; the last domino, Don Lemon called it yesterday.

There has never been equality in the USA. There has been the heavy hand of privilege at work. The country was founded, like so many countries, on claiming land and all of its resources, for themselves.

As a 13 year old in American History class, I remember meeting the words Manifest Destiny. Finally, something poetic, I thought. The rest of the paragraph explained that this was why white settlers could move across and claim all land they found as theirs.  It was manifestly, divinely destined. What a grandiose phrase for stealing, and treating the Native Americans as if they were the outsiders.

The following year, I was lucky to have a history teacher who had been sent as a soldier to the Korean emergency and he was a truth teller. When he spoke of the Vietnam conflict (war), he taught us the country’s history of invaders, who was there ahead of us, and why Kennedy was sending in hundreds of “experts.”  

I was never black in America. I was white. I learned slowly that the Great American ideals of achievement in whatever I worked for were deeply restricted by being a woman. Busy fighting my way out of that white straight jacket, I learned the Great American Dream was tainted with prejudice against anyone who wasn’t male and white, Protestant and powerful.

The Great American Dream was a con created by Big Business in the fifties and a lot of the world bought it. I was part of the generation that learned protest, peaceful protest in large numbers, is the way to be heard. Stand with others and say, ‘No, That Is Enough.’  We don’t need more stuff, we need each other.  Covid-19 taught us that. 

This, the George Floyd moment, is a pivotal moment in the USA and in a world that is burning. This is only the beginning: what is corrupt will inevitably collapse. We need to be on the ground, paying attention to building things that matter in our own communities.

We have each other.

The shit storm happening in Minneapolis
by Dave Kavanagh

How to start this conversation?
>

Last night, reading Raymond

Antrobus, The Perseverance,

trying to understand what,

on the surface appears

scratched skin-deep

on skin that is a

His-Story

book.
>

my phone pinged the story of Omar

Jimenez— a CNN reporter, arrested

because he was
>

A black man,

in the wrong

>

Place

at the wrong

time.

>

Just

As

George Floyd was

A black man,

in the wrong

>

Place at the wrong

time

>

My skin shed its letters,

grew too tight, too old, too privileged

too white.

>

Spewed my opinion

on the shit storm

happening

in Minneapolis.

>

I felt nothing

of pain felt by people

capable of violence,

angry protest— when no

other responses are open

to them.

>

My grandfathers understood

fearful voyages, walked

Trails of Tears.

a His-Story of skin—

>

But our

His-

Story

is of the page,

imbibed through pores,

race memories of hunger, not

a belly rumbling in the voice of

a child lost

To hope.

They wrote

their own His-Story.

Became the victors,

unshackled

them-

selves,

But not

Others

Threw off a yoke.

that landed

In fields of

burned out cars,

Crosses,

late night bar brawls,

Shanty towns.

brown enclaves of

Never

Freed

Slaves.

>

My His-Story of skin, white

man, not marked

by melanin as an easy

target, journeyed in third class-chains

of memories.

Landing in

Providence,

New York,

to scratch my mark

on paper—

on Ellis Island

and walk away,

FREE

to starve,

be brutalised,

die in filth.

Scions of slavers know nothing

about

captive skin,

enslaved skin,

flayed skin.

>

I return to Antrobus,

middle aged,

privileged,

on the edge

of a civilised city, in a green country,

unable to comment on

the shit storm happening in Minneapolis. 

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