BlackLivesMatter protesters are not wild beasts that need to be controlled

According to leaked audio, Trump addressed Governors on a video teleconference with law enforcement and national security officials and called them “weak” and that they needed, “to get much tougher” as they were making themselves “look like fools”.

He also went on to say,

“’You have to dominate, if you don’t dominate you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you……You’ve got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again,’ Trump said during the call. ‘We’re doing it in Washington, D.C. We´re going to do something that people haven’t seen before.’

The world watched in horror and shock as George Floyd was murdered on 25th May 2020 by white police officers in Minneapolis. Thanks to social media and technology, we all bore witness due to the filmed video of George begging for his life saying, “I can’t breathe” and pleading for his mother before he later died in hospital.

In response, the video has gone viral on social media and millions have taken to the streets in protest across the US and thousands have also taken to the streets in the UK in solidarity of this institutional racism and police brutality.

At a time when Americans of every ethnicity were angry, frustrated and screaming for justice by taking to the streets in their millions, instead of condoning the murder, brutality and recognising the pain and daily prejudice faced by millions of African Americans, Trump instead took this opportunity (probably from the safety of his bunker as he cowered from protestors outside) for protestors to be, “Jailed for 10 years” to “ensure you never see this stuff again”.

Oh but we have seen this before President Trump. The language when dealing with African Americans, as if they are wild beasts that need to be dominated, controlled, tamed, punished, tracked down… not to maintain order, not to protect people’s businesses and homes but in order to restore your supremacy and honour, so you don’t like look a “jerk” or a “fool”.

This is language and bravado every person of colour is well aware of and it’s the language and posturing associated with slavery, as runaway slaves were tracked down with blood hounds as they run away. Young African American men or ‘bucks’ as they were known, were ‘dominated’ and broken down by institutionalised rapes during their years of slavery, suffered beatings, amputations and were used in breeding programs with their children then being sold as slaves.

For the President to try and attack the very core of democracy and use such racially loaded language beggars belief. It can only reinforce the anger, frustration and pain which is fanning the flames as America burns in protest and civil unrest.

This sense of protest bashing can also be felt in the many conversations I have had with people over my social media. People have claimed that the reasons the streets of America are on fire are not because of civil unrest but have dismissed the protests and riots as ‘Corona Lockdown Fever’. An economically motivated attempt to loot, steal and let off steam after being cooped up for months.

I don’t support violence and I stand will the millions of peaceful protestors who are putting their bodies, voices and money on the line to help change the invisible double standard, prejudice and racism we all knowingly live with.

However, I do connect and empathise with Tamika Mallory, Nat. Co-Chair of Women’s March when she said, “America has looted black people. America looted the Native Americans when they first came here, looting us what you do. We learned violence from you. If you want us to do better, then dammit, you do better”.

The protest bashers want to bathe themselves in a sea of righteousness over the violence and looting. It seems ironic that the same people who are condemning the protests are the same people who happily wave flags and watch fireworks on the 4th of July, a national holiday to celebrate civil unrest, insurrection and violence against the British Empire. How many business burnt in that struggle? Three hundred and forty-two chests of precious tea was dumped into the harbour in Boston in a economic protest over Britain’s “no taxation without representation”. That civil unrest led to the birth of a new nation. But when the same unrest and action is taken over black lives and racism, it’s dismissed as ‘animalistic and opportunistic’. Yet again the double standards are eye-watering.

There is also filmed evidence to suggest much of the violence has been started and instigated by white, far right wing groups who want to smear the image of the protests.

I think it’s easier to condemn looters and the violence and keep the gaze away from the eye of the storm; which is racism and shows how African Americans are treated as second class citizens in their own country. A people who are being brutalised and murdered in the so-called ‘land of the free’.

In owning this fact, the next steps are to recognise people’s involvement in this institutional racism and how they have benefited from a corrupt system, which is like playing a game with a loaded dice in your favour.

Racism isn’t a black problem. It’s not my problem to fix. If I’m someone being affected by a disease, don’t ask me to also find the cure. I’m happy to play my role in helping, but it’s not my problem. Peaceful protesting, having open conversations without fear of getting something wrong, calling out racism and confronting painful truths and checking your own privilege, donating and reading and educating yourself are all great places to start.

I do think Corona has played a part in why we have seen so many mixed groups of protestors marching, campaigning and posting on social media. The world has changed as everyone has had a small taste of what it feels like to be black. In the UK, the nation has been left furious, confused and in shock as Dominic Cummings took to the Rose Garden of 10 Downing Street to convince us all he wasn’t in the wrong and that in fact the sky is polka dot coloured and we must all be mad to believe otherwise. This gas lighting, frustration and patronising gave the wider UK public a small taste of what privilege and double standards without any accountability feels like.

Lockdown has shown people that invisible boundaries can in fact surround you, even when you are told you are free. People have felt the fear and anxiety of an invisible threat, which can kill you indiscriminately. Like racism, like that police officer’s knee on George Floyd’s neck, Covid- 19 will kill you regardless of your education, money, platform, power and personality.

Our PM, Boris Johnson, the most powerful political figure in our country, was brought to his knees and the very brink of death by this invisible threat. You can only truly understand a problem, once you have felt it. It’s a shame in his case that it doesn’t seem to have changed him, as he couldn’t see the double standards and anger at Dominic Cummings “60 mile eye sight test drive” and other lockdown tomfoolery that has left the British public wanting him to resign or at least offer an apology. Instead the PM has said he acted with “integrity” as he followed his “instincts”. Some people’s “instincts” mean more than others, it would seem.

I think people are beginning to understand that perceived ‘slights’ are in fact racist, micro aggressions (or death by a thousand cuts to your self esteem) and the frequency of harassment and murder towards African Americans, who are the looted and stolen descendants of African mothers, fathers, children, leaders, thinkers and healers will only stop if we all come together and make a stand.

I was proud to see peaceful protesters across the UK yesterday in support of the movement in the U.S. Things might be less brutal in the UK, but we are far from perfect and there are real issues around race to tackle and solve on our shores as well. Domination, punishment and control as cited by President Trump is not the way to heal racism. We must all come together and make a stand.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.