COVID-19 DIARIES. DAY 74- THIS IS AMERICA

Photo by Mike Von on Unsplash

Watchet, Somerset, UK, 4th June 2020. 20:30

Like most people, I watched in horror the images of George Floyd being murdered in broad daylight in front of witnesses by an American cop. This is sadly something that often happens in America, but this time it was caught on camera and it has ignited the fragile tinderbox of America’s racial relationships.

This has come on top of over 100,000 deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic which has disproportionally affected Black and Asian minority groups. It is hardly surprising that the reaction has been an angry one, can we blame them?

Imagine for a moment that a police officer stood on your neck for Eight Minutes and Forty Six Seconds, slowly choking you to death whilst you plead for your life. Eight Minutes and Forty Six Seconds. Now imagine that this was done to your child, or your father, for Eight Minutes and Forty Six Seconds. I invite you to try to hold your breath for as long as you can and time yourself, I bet you cannot do more than a minute. I think you will then realise how long Eight Minutes and Forty Six Seconds feels like.

Imagine the powerlessness you would feel. Now take that up a gear: imagine that you lived your whole life with the possibility that something like that could happen to you or your loved ones at any time, just because of the colour of your skin. Sounds terrifying, doesn’t it? Feels really unjust, doesn’t it? Having to live like that is a form of terrorism. A society which condones and enables such oppression is a terrorist society.

I am not for a minute condoning the rioting and the looting, but I think I understand the rage and the powerlessness. Feelings are running really high and we humans often act out on our feelings and we do things which are unreasonable, even out of order. Who hasn’t done that at some point in their life? As Jesus once said: He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.

What has also been terrifying and infuriating is Donald Trump’s response to the whole thing. On Monday night, I listened to his hateful speech in which he threatened to deploy the US Military against its own people. I then watched live the stunt he pulled off when he walked out of the White House, surrounded by riot and military police, to stand outside a church with an upside down Bible for a photo opportunity. I am not a Christian but I felt anger for his shameless use of people’s faith and beliefs as a means to distort reality and further his racist agenda. It reminded me of how Adolf Hitler used the Reichstag fire to impose a dictatorship on the German people.

I think that America stands at a crossroads right at this very moment. This could turn into a moment of healing for the whole nation or it could turn into a really nasty civil conflict. I hope it’s the former.

I have been speaking to quite a few people who said they have been encouraged by how children view this situation. It is true that the next generation seems to be more accepting of difference and diversity. My kids see homosexuality and gender fluidity as normal and they don’t criticise or discriminate against it. This is a huge shift from what I experienced as a kid, when being gay was a guarantee for bullying and much worse.

People have said that they think that the next generation will be more tolerant and I am glad that this will be the case. But I also feel that this is a bit like kicking the can down the road. We cannot wait for our children to sort out the mess that we have inherited and perhaps made worse. It’s the same with global warming, we cannot wait for the next generation to sort our shit out.

We have to take responsibility for what we are doing, right here, right now. This means standing up to the bullies and the fascists. It means calling out racism and injustice where it happens and in the moment it happens. It means doing it in the street when we observe it, on social media, in the shops and in institutions.

Let’s make this pandemic and the tragic death of George Floyd, and others before him, be the wake up call we need to make this world a better place for everyone.

Good night all

OneLove OneHeart

Tonight’s choice of music is by Childish Gambino: This Is America

World-wide confirmed cases: 6,588,761

World-wide deaths: 388,416

World-wide recovered: 2,844,550

UK confirmed cases: 283,079

UK deaths: 39,987

UK recovered: 1,219

Source: https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd