Tuesday, June 9, 2020

6/1/20: George Floyd, Protests, Looting (Corporate & Otherwise)

"Please Don't Kill My Daddy" photo by Xena Goldman

June 1, 2020

FLOYD, PROTESTS, LOOTING (Corporate & Otherwise)


I've been trying to figure out what the hell I have to contribute to the fierce public dialog going on now. I read all the papers I could, even donning gloves to read today's NY Times and SF Chronicle. Until now, I've always waiting 24 hours so they were cleared of virus.

In the end, it was:

  • My conversation with my niece Rose
  • The link she sent me to Obama's column (Please read this. He is at his his rational, compassionate best)
  • Reading the articles in SF's online progressive paper, 48 HILLS
  • And my sudden memory of the time I wanted to throw a rock through a window --

-- that helped me figure out what I wanted to say.

First, the good news:
Maimi Police
Miami Police
Wasn't it wise and courageous of Colin Kaepernick to sacrifice his football career for the cause of creating this simple gesture? Really, a humble, unthreatening gesture that was used before him solely for proposing marriage. Now anyone can take a knee to show grief for black people murdered by police and solidarity with those who protest the violence.

I have a vision of thousands and thousands of people taking a knee, silently, blocking streets and highways. Maybe all over the country at the same moment. It would be like the five minutes of silence they have in Holland every May 4, the anniversary of the Nazi invasion, to mourn that tragedy. The whole country silent and still for five minutes, ended by the ringing of bells throughout the land.

We could mourn as a nation, once a year, mourn the terrible tragedy of the enslavement of African-Americans and all the brutality since. I think that would be a good idea. Anyone who has studied history knows that it is all so much worse than one could imagine. And it still goes on today. Officer Chauvin must have known his knee on George Floyd's throat was being witnessed, recorded. But he must also have been certain that he would never be held to account for the murder. And why WOULDN'T he believe that?

The entire nation kneeling on one knee at the same moment for five minutes. Admittedly, they'd be mostly YOUNG people kneeling. I've noticed that, as I've aged, the very first sign of physical decline was difficulty with changing levels. I would need, not only kneepads, but someone to help me get down without toppling and probably two people to help me with getting up. But with the appropriate assistance, I could join the masses. I would do that.

It's just so awful that the same gesture was used for protest and for murder. Hard for me to get my head around that. But maybe that's okay, that when we mourn, we are reminded of the crime. No, it's not okay.

Of course many young people of all races are joining the protests. I understand their anger, their frustration at the injustice of George Floyd's death -- and the injustice of so much more. The deterioration of our democracy, the huge economic inequality that cramps their future, the climate crisis they've inherited from the generations before, we who partied too well with fossil fuels...

At this moment, their future is in tatters, and the present doesn't look so hot either. I wish I could say that no one in the richest country in the world needs to loot a store for food or diapers, because everyone has enough money for necessities. But I know that's not the case right now.

Davey Cook writing in 48 HILLS wonders why, when people in other countries who are not black protest against injustice, even spiraling into violence, the media lauds them as heroes. In fact, the Hong Kong protesters were named TIME Magazine's 2019 Person of the Year!
Do I feel differently when I look at a photo of Asian people fighting the police than when I look at a photo of black people fighting the police?

Yes. I think I do. For all my politics and compassion and reading of black history and WITNESSING black oppression ...... I am more afraid of black people, at least black men. I'm not happy to admit this.

Cook also reminds us that, in terms of looting, the people who ran off with merchandise and set stores afire
don't hold a candle to the big corporations that just got a bailout of
from a subservient Congress. Now that's some SERIOUS looting!

Still my timid, middle-class soul recoils at seeing a window purposely broken. In 1992, after the police were acquitted of beating Rodney King in Southern California, I went to a protest in Civic Center in San Francisco. It was not a large group. This was a very early protest. People started marching to Market Street. I was in the back of the crowd. And suddenly I saw that all the cars I passed had their windows broken. I was SO finished with protesting injustice. I wanted to get out of there, away from the terrible people who broke car windows. I knew rationally that the windows were trivial compared to what we were protesting. But deep down, I couldn't handle it.

Then, when I was living in Amsterdam, I had a terrible argument with a close friend who called me "a Jewish princess." This is antisemitic misogynist code for a selfish lazy woman, which Jewish women are supposedly apt to be.
It didn't matter that I had done nothing selfish or lazy. He apparently wanted to hurt me and he could use those words to do it. He was sick with HIV/AIDS at the time. After a very intense and horrible discussion, I left, never to see or speak to him again. The fact that he had seen me as a Jewish Princess rather than a human being was unforgivable.

After that, when I would pass his house, I would look up at his window and have an almost overwhelming desire to throw a rock through it. I thought, "Oh! So this is what it's like to want to break a window!" Yes, I felt that would have been the perfect expression of the anger and hurt I felt, to shatter the glass of his window. Of course I never did it. I was afraid to get caught.

The fact that he had not seen me as a human being.... I dealt with a lot of antisemitism when I lived in Amsterdam, and I realized that it was equivalent to what black people have to deal with in the U.S. all the time -- the (very big) difference being that only the people who knew me knew I was Jewish. I didn't walk out the front door knowing I would be seen as a Jew.

One of the reasons I decided to move back to the U.S. was to escape being seen as a Jew rather than a human being, even by my close friends. But of course black people would have to leave their own country to escape it. So it's just part of their lives.

Kinda makes you want to throw a rock through a window, doesn't it?

Well, Bloggelinis, I would like to end with two links:


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