The ubiquitous-ness of racism
Needless to say the killing of 49 innocent people at an Orlando night club is a real human tragedy, regardless of whether anyone agrees with the life choices of those who were killed. And, for sure, they did not have to die for innocently going out for a night on the town to dance and meet with friends and wind down from a week of work.
The thing that caught my attention, however, is the reaction of the LBGT community into believing that this kind of animosity and hatred would have been extinguished in the mere 45-50 years that they have been able to be openly LBGT and more recently to marry.
One after the other, folks commented on the fact that they thought that they had come so far to be faced with this kind of hostility in 2016.
Well I have news for them. It is now approximately 151 years since African slavery has officially ended in North America (in 1865), and yet on a daily basis we are constantly faced with discrimination based on the skin colour.
We have all seen the video of a NYPD police officer taking the life of Eric Garner, and yet there is no consequence for the white officer. And we are sure that the results would be the same in the recent police killing of Alton Sterling in Louisiana, because Black lives do not matter.
In 2008, I “doubted the Irie” that America was ready to elect a Black President and I came to eat my words. For whatever reason (either folks voted for Obama or against George Bush), Americans not only elected him as their President in 2004 but again in 2008.
And during those eight years there are folks who tried everything in their power to deny anything that Obama had accomplished or sought to accomplish; Obamacare, rebuilding the economy after George Bush, creating jobs, ending the war in Afghanistan, and taking out Osama bin Laden. They even questioned whether he was indeed an American.
Then there is a guy like Donald Trump openly spewing racism and wanting to make America hate again.
With international tragedies the racial bias is clear with the white media. I am still unclear as to how New York became Ground Zero with 9/11 but, needless to say, the reporting was (and is on each anniversary) overwhelming. Same with the tragedy at Columbine, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, and Orlando.
On the other hand there is not the similar human concern for atrocities in Bangladesh, Mogadishu, Iraq or places with non-white populations and considered insignificant. For sure, we get a short piece on the six o’clock news but certainly not the 24/7 coverage granted to others.
Closer to home we have had more than our fair share of disregard by the powers-that-be. There is the Sir George Williams incident as well as the questionable murders committed by police; Anthony Griffin, Marcellus Francois, Presley Leslie and Fredy Villanueva. And many Black folks still cannot walk around in a store without being suspected of being thieves.
In the last week or so alone, we have had police manhandle a blind Black man in Mandela Park to the ground for no other reason than playing a Discman too loud and giving talk to the police. And 11 Black men driving modified cars in Laval were handcuffed and detained for more than six hours after a false report of a guy waving a gun. Of course, the only white guy in the group was not handcuffed or detained and later wrote on his Facebook page that “I was more than relieved to be white”.
And there is the P.K. Subban trade to Nashville. What is important to note is that the criticism against Subban had less to do with his hockey skills and more about him being ‘loud, flamboyant, cocky, having a big personality, and not a culture fit for the Canadiens’ – all code words used to put down a Black man. I guess that he was too big for the team.
The truth of the matter is that I believe that the LBGT movement would accomplish a whole lot more in 151 years than we have been able to do. And, for sure, we might make a few more gains in the next 151 years but racism will not disappear anytime soon, if ever. I believe that it is embedded in the human DNA.
I had the opportunity to visit South Africa some 20 years after Apartheid officially ended and if someone did not tell you that it would not be evident. Surely, some tin shacks have been replaced by concrete and Blacks no longer have to carry a pass book, but the institutional racist structure that promotes separateness is still there.
The evidence would certainly seem to validate the notion that the more things change is the more they remain the same.