By *Jomo Sanga Thomas
(“Plain Talk”, June 5, 2020)
“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen.” — V.I. Lenin
The world is small and is getting smaller. The widespread availability of television and smartphones allows for the instantaneous relay of information from any corner of the earth.
The global “plan-demic”, white supremacist and racial police terror in the United States, particularly the murder of Ahmaud Arberry in Georgia, the assassination of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the video of a white woman in New York weaponising racial hatred about black men, guarantee that 2020 will go down in the history books as one of the most eventful on record.
The year started with the declaration of a global “plan-demic” that has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people worldwide and infected over six million. The major centres of the world locked their borders to travel and locked their citizens inside their homes for months. The vast majority of workers across the earth were thrown out of work; some came perilously to starvation as their tiny savings dried up.
The “plan-demic” is clearly a massive experiment in mind control. It was an experiment in assessing the many ways in which fear could be utilised to corral the citizens of the earth in doing whatever the state wanted them to do. Had there been a suggestion in February or March that people take an untested vaccine to protect against some deadly illness, most would have lined up in droves to take it with incalculable risk to themselves. Those of us expressing scepticism about the dangers of ingesting unproven medicine that contains mercury, one of the deadliest substances known to man and human remains would have been jeered off to jail or worse.
The “plan-demi” showed that climate change and global warming could be controlled if the leaders of the world were serious, if only they could commit to placing people before profits. Cities across the United States, China, Europe and India that were choking with smog and where people found it difficult to breathe, regained their pristine beauty. Masks to protect the lungs from bad air were replaced with masks to protect us from death through disease.
Hitherto, people who clamoured for a living wage or universal health care or more funding for education and other social projects were disdainfully asked where the money will come from. The “plan-demic”, as was the case with the world financial crash of 2008 before it, demonstrates that there is an abundance of money to be had whenever world leaders wanted to fund a project that was more about their own enrichment and clever manipulation than about environmental and humanitarian survival.
On top of these “plan-demic” truths came the ruthless murder of Ahmaud Arberry in Georgia by two racist white men and the police assassination of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The deaths, coming so close to each other, proved to be too much for people to bear. There was Arberry running down the middle of a street and senselessly gunned down. There was the white racist police officer posing with his knee pressing on Floyd’s neck, with his partners either standing around or pinning him to the ground.
There was Floyd beseeching the officers to release their suffocating hold, telling them he could not breathe, invoking the name of his dead mother, urinating on himself as the last breath ebbed from his body.
And the United States exploded in righteous indignation yet again. In scenes that reminded of the turbulence of the 1960s, particularly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, the cities erupted with protest. People were angry and it showed.
In these protests there are those who engage in righteous indignation to reflect the horror of their experience as if to say, “I am tired and fed up and can’t take this anymore.” Then there are agent provocateurs who want to sully the good name and efforts of those who are protesting to place a spotlight on evildoers. And then there are the opportunists, those looking to exploit the protest to burn and loot and try to make off with some personal gain.
Add to this topic, mix the Central Park encounter between the black bird watcher and a white racist “dog lover”. Told to place her dog on its leash by the black man, the racist woman decided to weaponise the hatred of black man so present in U.S. society. She brazenly told the black man that she was going to call the police and tell them that a black man was threatening her and her dog. As she worked herself into the white woman fearing black man performance, she started to choke the dog.
Two things of note come from the killing of Floyd and Central Park dog act. In both cases, people, especially white people and state officials, placed the sanctity of property or the animal’s safety over the life of the Black man whose life had either been snuffed out or threatened with either police violence and or death.
Black life has been so cheapened, and the occurrences of brutality and death so prevalent, that people seem to be numbed to the horror.
These events in the United States is a clear indication that white supremacy is still alive and well in the United States. But there is also evidence that an awakening is occurring. A good slice of the demonstrators is white, and that’s a good sign. However, increasing white outrage over terroristic actions of the state or white supremacist citizens is not enough.
White people can no longer be just opposed to racist actions. They must be anti-racist in their daily lives. They cannot continue to comfortably enjoy the benefits of a racist system and occasionally step onto the picket line to demonstrate disgust against the brutalisation and dehumanisation of black bodies.
They must interrogate and challenge the system that exploits and oppresses people of African descent. No matter what happens, people of African descent must realise that their redemption and salvation lie in their own hands. Others may join, but unless they lead the fight back, little or no change will come.
The plan-demic and the explosive racial tensions in the United States have allowed people to see some new truths. We can only hope that these developments bring on a new awakening and consciousness that will result in a complete reorganisaation of society where citizens take pride of place over profits.
*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
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