All the way

I keep watching the coverage on CNN even though it’s long past dark there now. Stories keep emerging. Across the country, east to west, there’re protests.

It appears that the protests are peaceful by day but become violent when night comes. I’m not sure what that means or why. There are stories that come the night other groups join the protests and turn it in another direction. I’ve no doubt there’s a lot of opportunists joining in – looting continues. There are reports that many of the biggest agitators are from ‘out of state’. I think there’s more than meets the eye, but then this is a complex, seething, tumultuous mass with a life of its own.

Earlier as I watched I saw a white man in his early twenties with a bandana across his face turn to the camera and give the white supremacy sign. A moment later a passionate and articulate black man from Liberia spoke directly to the camera and eloquently describe why he was protesting. Again and again, when asked, ordinary people are clear on their purpose. It’s impressive, even inspiring. No doubt there are ratbags and opportunists and agent provocateurs among them, but the majority seem fired by the moral imperative to stand up against injustice. It’s in their hearts. It won’t go away now.

Don Lemon has been chairing CNN as I’ve been watching. He’s been outspoken against Trump in the past, and for good reason. I find his transparency refreshing. Now is not the time to be impartial. Again and again, he has asked, where is the leadership? Where is the president speaking up to de-escalate the situation? But then, that’s almost a rhetorical question. No doubt he’ll let us know shortly by tweet.

Lemon was also outspoken asking why prominent black leaders in society aren’t speaking up at such a time? Business leaders, Hollywood stars, sportsmen – don’t be silent. His message was clear – your community needs you. Don’t be afraid of repercussions. Don’t be afraid of damage to your brand. He’s right, and I applaud him for being so blunt.

The thing is, while it’s the black community who suffer from systemic oppression and racism, it’s not a black problem. It’s a human problem. Just as violence against women needs men to step up to be counted, so too does racism against blacks requires whites to step up in support. And that’s not just in America. This is a pox on society, and we’re all a part of that. We all have a responsibility.

I have to say something. These things affect me very deeply. They’re like a hit directly on my emotions. I’ve always struggled seeing iniquity, bigotry and abuse, especially when it’s the powerful upon the weak. They sound like words, platitudes, but I hold true to democratic principles all the way through. I don’t take it for granted, and I feel it in me like it’s an organic thing. And so, when I see something wicked like we saw with George Floyd, I feel it hard, and I feel it when I watch people stand up for their democratic rights.

I don’t understand how one man can look down upon another for a spurious cause of race or religion. It doesn’t make sense to me. It’s wrong that someone might be denied the same opportunity as me for his colour. He has a life no less valuable than mine, and I think that’s the basic principle of human decency. We all start out the same, and surely it’s contrary to nature to hold down others while we elevate ourselves? It’s an obscenity, but it’s happened throughout history. You think of all the people deprived, the wasted lives, the injustice, all for this evil. And it still happens.

I have it easy. Most of us reading this probably do as well. I can feel this wrong in my body, but I don’t suffer from it. I can walk down the street and be one of the privileged. I understand what that means, but it doesn’t mean I’m insulated from the reality. There’s not much I can say except, as a human being, I’m proud of those guys speaking up today and protesting. They belong to the best part of democracy. Stand tall – much of the world is with you.



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