Hatred, anger, and violence can destroy us: the politics of polarization is dangerous.
Rahul Gandhi (Grandson of Indira Gandhi)
It is stressful being black.
Charles Barkley (NBA legend)
What a horrible couple of weeks it has been. It began with the barbaric and brutal murder of 46 year old George Floyd, at the hands, or should I say the knee, of Derek Chauvin, formerly of the Minneapolis, Minnesota police department, aided and abetted by former officers; Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and Alexander Kueng. All four have been fired by the police department and all four have been appropriately charged in the murder of Mr. Floyd. And then something significant happened. A mass cry of “enough is enough” thundered throughout countless cities in the un-United States of America. We all saw the protests, vitriol, violence, more death, destruction and looting. Numerous protests have also occurred in cities around the world.
It was led by the shaken and diverse African American communities across the USA. Others followed. Millennials joined. Caucasians of decency, compassion and many with guilty emotions of white privilege – feelings of historic duplicity joined in as well. A most justifiable microscope has descended upon police forces of America, examining their policing practices that have been for far too long, arbitrarily differentiated by suspicion, violence and viciousness against persons of colour (POC). Not since Rodney King was brutally beaten by Los Angeles police in 1991, also caught on camera, has the African American community presented the visceral collective reaction of indiscriminate violence targeted against unarmed black men and women.
We are in that potentially calamitous period of political polarization spoken of by Rahul Gandhi. We are bereft of decency, humanity and compassion in leadership, especially in the USA, formerly the leader of the free world. And while we feel a deep sense of tragedy at yet another loss of a life, another senseless and horrific death of a black man by police, the current occupant of the White House sees this differently.
“At a news conference earlier Friday to address May unemployment figures that were released in the morning, Trump said, “Hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying, ‘This is a great thing happening for our country …This is a great day for him, it’s a great day for everybody,” the president said.” The majority think otherwise Mr. President.
This leads me to my angst, my pain, frustration and incomprehension.
A Facebook connection of mine, on the day of the George Floyd funeral, posted commentary that appalled me, that was riddled with moral equivalency and malice that made me feel ashamed, as I once felt animosity against other racial groups in that manner as well. It was as insensitive and tone deaf to the current climate permeating throughout black communities around the world and otherwise amongst decent people of all backgrounds. I posted a response to it. I read one rejoinder by a third party to me, to which I responded in a knee-jerk fashion. Then I observed my Facebook notifications increase and increase. That was two days ago. I have still not read them at this point in my blogpost – I will prior to hitting the publish key. I am not yet sure if what I find will change any of these words.
I passionately believe that racism and hatred, in all forms, is very simply a reflection and projection on oneself which most often is accompanied by a general possession of anger in that life.
As a person of white privilege, we don’t get it. We don’t see it. We don’t feel it. For many of us, seeing an immensely successful and famous person such as Charles Barkley say, “It is stressful being black”- we can’t comprehend how a man such as he could possibly utter those words. That is the problem.
We all must do our part to end the cycle of discrimination, intolerance, bigotry and racism, not just the overt form of racism that the vast majority thankfully do not promote or practice, but the subtle form, that which I believe so many don’t even realize they are perpetuating. As I previously quoted in When Walls Become Bridges, Saint Francis of Assisi said, “Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
I have learned from my children. They grew up in a different era than I did and that of my parents. My children are taking a stand and saying, “enough is enough”. So now too will I. If a connection or friend has sentiments that I feel are antithetical to any of this, that is strike one, two and three all in one pitch. Sorry.
“Dismantling the walls that we have built – walls that we build every day, whether we think about it or not – isn’t easy. It does not happen all at once. It is an effort that can only be done brick by brick. One by one. It requires less passionate reaction and more compassionate reflection, humility, and gratitude for what one already has. It requires challenging our most cherished biases, habits and presumptions. Everything we think about the world.”
Stuart Lewis – When Walls Become Bridges
P.S. I read all the comments. Not a single word has changed.