I have lined up on the next few weeks blog posts about how my disability affects me in the coronavirus shutdown and another about how stress affects my autism.
But for now it is not about me. Today I want to talk about how Black Lives Matter.
An apology to black people
I am sorry. I have only spoken about your struggles in general terms such as God accepting all people, black or white. But watching the marches and protests this week, I realise I was wrong.
I have failed to do enough. It is not enough that I have been in a rock band with three black members because I said nothing. Walking down the street with black friends is not enough because I said nothing. Simply telling people who said racist things that I disagreed was not enough without saying why. Being passively anti-racist allows racism to flourish. I am sorry for my part in that.
I have watched the videos of a police car being driven into protesting people. Of baton charges of the press line, including a BBC cameraman and an Australian journalist. I have seen footage of Boston Police vandalising their own patrol car in order to blame the demonstrators. I have seen a man pushed to the ground by police, and when one or two of then try to help other cops pull them away. The police walk on leaving the man lying on the ground. How can there be justice when the people whose job it is to uphold the law.
Other scenes from the USA was the anti-Black Lives Matter protesters who lined a road the protest was going down wearing assault weapons. I applaud the dignity of the protesters in calmly walking past. Then there were two incidents of white men I have seen smashing windows, one with a hammer one with a skateboard, trying to blame the protesters. Things like this make me ashamed to be white. However seeing the mostly good behaviour of the protesters makes me proud to be human.
For the blind and partially sighted here are some of the captions on banners being carried in the picture above. It is too long for alt text.
Enough is enough!!! Black Lives Matter
Love support & uplift black lives
In the age of information ignorance is a choice
Racism is a pandemic
Silence is violence
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere — MLK Jr
The Black Lives Matter slogan has been criticised by some because they say all lives matter. Of course, they do, but no one is suggesting that white lives don’t matter. The problem is that racism is endemic in places, such as police forces where black lives do not matter, and not just in the USA. The Lammy Report in the UK showed: Despite making up just 14% of the population, over 40% of young people in custody are from BAME backgrounds. The BAME proportion of youth prisoners has risen from 25% to 41% in the decade 2006-2016. (BAME = Black, Asian and minority Ethnic, for those outside the UK). In Britain you are more likely to be stopped while driving if you are black. Even newly retired Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, when he was Bishop of Stepney in London he was stopped and searched for being black and driving into London at Night (The interview was on BBC local TV programme Look North on Monday 8th June 2020).
Systemic racism is widespread. This was brought home in the Black Lives Matter protests in Australia where the Australian Aboriginal Flag was carried.
The people who say All Lives Matter are wrong. All lives should matter, but all lives will not matter until black lives matter. Until black people are lifted up to matter as much as white people matter there will be no justice. Where law enforcement agencies treat differently there will always be injustice. That is why I, a white man, am saying Black Lives Matter. Because there will never be justice until they do.
The Lammy Report: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/643001/lammy-review-final-report.pdf
The Lammy Report, Headed by Labour MP David Lammy, is a cross-party report commissioned on 31st January 2016 by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and Secretary of State for Justice Micheal Gove. Gove gets a special mention by Lammy for his help with the report.