Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Thought Picnic: Black Lives Should Matter Always


Are we that quick to be noticed?
Sitting at home and catching up with the news has caused me no end in distress as a black man in the UK and observing the world at large.
In these Coronavirus pandemic times, first, I read of the indication that Black, Asian and ethnic minority [BAME] people are 54% more likely to be fined for the contravention of Coronavirus laws than whites, considering we hardly make up to 15% of England and Wales population. [Guardian: BAME People Fined] [GOV.UK: Ethnic Population Distribution]
Law enforcement would contend that the distribution of fines is proportional, I would beg to differ. One can only wonder what proportionality means to them in the face of the numbers, yet, one must endeavour to keep an open mind. Whether it is over-enthusiasm or an unfortunate predilection to attract to and intimidate the BAME by the police, something does have to shift, because it does not augur well for community relations.
This is not to forget that BAME are also disproportionately affected by the Coronavirus with poorer outcomes that the government has instituted an enquiry to determine why. It is as if there is no respite in going about our business or being afflicted. The little triumphs in the overturning of some of the convictions and fines are almost worthy of celebration when they should never have happened, in the first place.
Flushing out no guns
I have once had an encounter, where on visiting a public toilet there was a SWAT raid, apparently, the coincidental presence of 4 black men in a large facility that could have 10 standing at the urinals and 4 water closet cubicles. Someone had called the police to report that one of us was in possession of a gun.
The ordeal in the early 1990s was as unsettling as it could be, we were bundled out, searched, questioned and had our details taken down. They found nothing and offered no apology. Despite their elaborate and extraordinary intervention is what amounted to a ruse, I could not obtain a record from the police at that place or after two visits to the police station as to how I was roughed up.
They basically got away ultra vires exercising untrammelled authority without accountability or consequence, we, being left hard done by. I have probably only had one encounter with the police out of maybe 5 in the UK and the Netherlands, where it has been courteous and satisfactory. Thankfully, the only thing harmed has been my pride and a knock on my self-esteem.
Being Black in America
Crossing the pond, when I first saw a video of a woman choking her dog by the collar, it was without the sound on. It was bad enough. My Twitter timeline was lit up with outrage and indignation about being ‘Black in America’. When I then returned to watch the video with the sound on, it was a woman who had been called out to put her dog on a leash as she was required to do taking umbrage to being spoken to by a black man. [BBC News: White woman called police on black man in dog row]
She then called the police on the African American feigning being violently attacked, the good fortune of it all was it being caught on video along with the police not attending the event at the time might just have let the man live another day, safe in America. What kind of providence allowed for both their surnames to be Cooper? Quite uncanny.
Black Lives Must Matter Always
As if this was not bad enough, a black man was apprehended under the influence and found sitting on the bonnet of his car. To a man inebriated, one would expect some consideration as to their incapacity and irrationality. When he was asked to step away from his car, he resisted. He was overpowered and handcuffed only for one of the policemen to kneel on his neck whilst he was in medical distress and he died. [BBC News: FBI to investigate death of black man in Minnesota after arrest]
It is like being Black in America puts you high in the list of threatened and endangered species, from those who cannot countenance the presence of black in any space to the point to a sighting of a black person is tantamount to violation of every law of humanity, a threat to existence and the need to exterminate their person. Touching on the topic of police brutality and use of excessive force leading to the violent deaths of black people, that is a plaque on America for which a remedy is yet to be found.
Things ought not to be this way, it is why movements as Black Lives Matter exist because there is a discussion we all must have about our common and diverse humanity regardless of race, the need for consideration, courtesy, respect, humility, fairness, and justice is paramount.

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