Black Lives Matter

I was sitting this afternoon, writing a post.  It went like this:

I don’t feel comfortable writing here about knitting without acknowledging that there is something hugely important going on.  The world has been shocked and appalled by the murder of George Floyd and many have been galvanised into action, even at a time when pandemic makes this protest doubly dangerous.  George’s face is now known all over the world, and his death is sparking protest and internal debate.  But George is just one of millions who have been affected by racist and violent policing, by inequalities in health and housing and education, and more generally by being black in a racist world. Systemic bias and racism affect every aspect of life.  Black lives matter.

As someone who lives outside of America, I know that these images of a highly militarised police force attacking citizens involved in mostly peaceful protest have been shocking.  In Europe, where fascism has shaped the collective memory, these images are especially chilling. These are not the images of a free and democratic country. These are images of authoritarian regimes, of fascism, and of war.

The power and determination of the protesters gives me hope that maybe this time we will get things right.  But it should not have taken people risking their lives by protesting during a global pandemic, one which unequivocally effects black and poor people worse than it does any other group, for white people to decide that things needed to change. Real radical reform needs to happen and it is overdue by more than three centuries. We created the system, we can dismantle it.

And, then, just as I had gotten that far, I heard Trump say this:

 “Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying, ‘This is a great thing that’s happening for our country.’ This is a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This a great, great day in terms of equality.”

My blood is boiling over, I am so mad.  Trump is so tone deaf, and so utterly venal, that I am more appalled than I thought possible. And it’s not just Trump – he speaks for a large contingency of Americans, and is supported and enabled by Republicans in the Senate and House.  When the President of the United States uses hateful rhetoric, he legitimises it.  

For all of us, we must open our eyes and really see. It isn’t that we did not know there were injustices – we just looked the other way and assumed that it would get fixed. It didn’t. It is time to move out of our comfort zones. We must listen to and amplify voices of colour and acknowledge their experiences as truth. We must educate ourselves and confront bias, including our own. And we must step up.