I’m reading about the 60’s. In America. Kennedy got killed last week. Ken Follett’s ‘Edge of Eternity’.
Yesterday, by the time Martin Luther King was standing on that balcony, smiling, I knew he was about to be killed.
And then I watched the news. Was it really 50 years ago that American people fought for equal rights? A man went into a sacred place and killed nine people; with some kind of gun, killed them for being Black. In 2015.
Let’s get straight to the point:
racism and gun culture kept alive because it makes economic sense to some.
This is the US, with a Black American president. I don’t know if back in the 60’s many negroes, as African Americans were called then, thought it would take 50 years to have a couple in the White House that happens to have black skin.
A couple that will soon be able to talk openly and more loudly about race; and guns issues.
I mean properly talk from the heart. Many have talked before, white people can talk passionately about racial equality too. Many have acted before, not just talked, been killed for their beliefs like Andrew Goodman, a white American who went to Mississippi in the 60’s and never came back because the Ku Klux Klan got in the way. It still exists the KKK you know. According to the BBC there are 19 white supremacists groups just in South Carolina.
I can’t help but wonder if we can quite fully understand what it’s like to have people thinking that we are less than them, as in, not quite human, only good enough for proper dirty jobs, and then some, because for some white people, even that’s not quite enough, for them black people are not worthy of being alive.
“Problem is” said my son the other day “some people think they are better than others, and it gives them the right in their head to do stuff like kicking a woman in the stomach”. Or think white supremacy. Or see for ourselves how this killer was arrested standing up, handcuffed and led by a policeman, whilst the kid who had a hand gun was shot by a stressed out policeman. Dead.
This is a country where guns are the norm, the right to protect body and home is so ingrained, so repeated, so filmed, so accepted by so many, you get powerful people who want to keep things going as they are forever more. For some reason.
Thing is, my Goddaughter’s father is Black. He’s not African American, he’s English, or British, or even European. Whatever. His mother is a retired nurse who came over from Grenada. Proper hard working, a carer incarnate.
Her granddaughter traveled to the States recently. “I can’t breathe” said Eric Garner to the policeman. “That could have been my Dad” said my Goddaughter. Looking me in the eye, angry, helpless, worried, not understanding how this behaviour, this way of thinking still happens in 2015. That policeman is trained, drilled, stressed, his culture is macho. Who wants peace and love when you can push gadgets and weapons?
You don’t understand this kind of behaviour when you’re young. Some old fools like me still don’t.
That’s the thing. It’s not just shocking. There’s no two ways about it, some people are being treated differently in 2015 for the colour of their skin, or their religion whilst little kids don’t give two hoots about colour, beliefs, or how big the other kid’s house is. Not a flying monkey about differences. They’ll notice, they’ll comment, and move on.
Answer. Next game.
I can’t wait for Barack Obama to be an ex-president. Maybe I’ve been more attentive since Ferguson, maybe I do think this could be my Goddaughter being pinned down by a policeman for going to a pool party, but it seems that the closer to the end of his presidency he gets, the more Obama talks about racism, and guns.
Once he is no longer a head of state, I hope he will start really talking. He’s hinting, he’s opening the discussions best he can, stuck as he is between Congress and the American people, split as both of them are.
It was the same in the 60’s. Love and peace, whilst a senseless war was killing thousands on the other side of the world. Never on the doorstep the wars, just the senseless killing of innocents. There were protests on the streets in the 60’s, there was silence about wars and racial hatred elsewhere. There were screwballs who happened to be perfect shots snippers.
So what has changed?
Communication has changed. Hiding of facts and behaviour has become a damn side more difficult. “Love is stronger than hate” said Chris Singleton whose mother was killed in that church on Thursday, less than 24 hours before he spoke in the middle of a stadium. Inspiring indeed.
The top of the mountain is getting nearer. Free at last?