Sunday 20 August 2017

Thought Picnic: Personal questions in the aftermath of Charlottesville

Where learning history matters
There are events in the world today that may not directly affect one, but cannot be ignored as they bring to the fore some critical issues of identity and identification in the context of residence, heritage, knowledge, history and an uncertain future.
In terms of history and knowledge, there is an understanding and appreciation of the trading of humanity as cargo for slave labour and the resulting burden of deprivation and civil rights struggle that reflects the plight of the underprivileged across the globe in terms of racial prejudice, gender inequality, wealth gaps, the voiceless minors, the sexuality minorities, the religiously oppressed and those for all sorts of reasons seemingly condemned to be the lesser of our diverse humanity.
A new angle of white privilege
The Charlottesville situation has become an instructive exemplifier of a broken society, that after so many protests and agitation in the last decade of law enforcement brutality in the senseless killing of young black people in America, it has taken the killing of a Caucasian lady in Heather D. Heyer by another Caucasian man in James Alex Fields Jr. to bring the issue of race and class into a turbulent national American if not global discussion. [Wikipedia]
African-Americans have hit the streets with Black Lives Matter, but the reality of Charlottesville shows that bizarrely and practically for anything to happen in America and possibly elsewhere in the western world, White Lives Matter in context and event first for engagement to become universal. This represents the epitome of White privilege.
A Nero on the fiddle
By consequence, it also revealed President Trump’s incapacity to reflect and consider his position as leader of a nation he intends to make great again to find the words and actions necessary to unite the whole country in all its diversity towards the purpose of greatness. Rather, he stood in the dividing line between the conflicting issues and spiritedly widened the gulf irresponsibly like Emperor Nero long before him who fiddled whilst Rome burnt down around him. [This is more metaphor of relevance than an allusion to historical fact.]
Where a man who such power should have found a way to walk in the worn shoes of the many whose soles bleed from treading the rugged roads as they flee the ravenous beasts of terrible American history roam to devour any that seek a semblance of freedom, like a cloven hoofed mule he laid a trail of dung from the beasts to people in flight exposing all to peril in senseless and unguarded verbosity.
We were once again intimated with the unfortunate observation that never in contemporary times has any man been given such great responsibility to only use the office he occupies with no inkling of duty or purpose, his breath-taking irresponsibility which has received deserved opprobrium might only well stiffen his unteachable mule-like imperviousness to reasonable discourse.
The questions that arise
However, the broader issue extends to how as a minority of many degrees this affects my status, my identity and sense of safety in a Brexit-convulsed United Kingdom. For instance, where have elements of privilege I have enjoyed by circumstance, upbringing and good fortune created both a profile and a shield against suffering what others like me do suffer?
What has given me the sense of highly-developed self-esteem that allows me to tackle racialised scenarios with the purpose to educate rather than take offence?
Why have I now begun to realise that I have in many cases endured and absorbed slight, abuse, belittlement, humiliation and denigration from people who in other circumstances besides the ones that brought us together in seemingly egalitarian settings where were it not for that, they would never have found the means to venture into my purview, but for the privilege of nature rather than upbringing?
Embracing my heritage and my humanity
Yes, I am presented with many questions I must find new answers to in the journey of self-discovery, yet, at the same time, I must not be absorbed by this quest as to lose my privileged sense of well-being, however, I hope it allows me to walk a long hard mile in the shoes of many who have never found opportunity, privilege, fortune or right as I have found to thrive everywhere I have lived.
I cannot deny who I am and the rich heritage that makes up my person, my personality and my outlook, but I have to embrace and contextualise how my own experience should engage better in either an individual or in a broader way redound to others who I may be blessed to bestow a greater sense of self-esteem and self-respect in our wonderfully amazing humanity.
There are lessons to learn from what happened in the aftermath of Charlottesville, whether that opportunity would be taken is to be left to history, I hope many are taking the better lessons to heart.

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