Last week I thought I might follow up my previous post, "Just As Every Cop Is a Criminal," with one entitled "I Went Down to the Demonstration," but a week or so later I've changed my mind. I've never been a huge Stones fan anyway. I mean, I like and respect their musical output, especially after hearing a lot of their early work via Little Steven's Underground Garage (sorry, can't find a way to link to it directly).
I did go to the demonstration, the Black Lives Matter Houston march from Discovery Green to City Hall back on 29 May. They didn't have a PA, so the speakers took turns with the one bullhorn, and the crowd couldn't safely cluster together by the Hermann Plaza steps close enough to hear the speeches. So I spent an hour or so out on the periphery by McKinney Avenue, chatting with newly minted attorney Remington Alessi. I also witnessed two groups marching in the streets, apparently without permits because the cops looked to be following them rather than escorting them. Good.
The challenge is not-so-simply this: Millions of people in Left America are talking and tweeting about George Floyd the continuing use of lethal force against People of Color by US police and self-appointed neighborhood watchpersons, and that they're mostly saying a lot of the same things about the need for wholesale systemic change in law enforcement. I absolutely agree with their prescriptions for change, and for the first time in a while I feel optimistic that this change is coming. Popular protests in dozens of US cities have started the conversation, and that conversation has reached some media outlets that reach millions. What could I possibly add to it?
I'm feeling positively ill—and at a loss for words because words aren't sufficient to express the feelings—about the recent extra-judicial killings of black folks by rogue cops and the Minneapolis PD's response to the peaceful protest after four cops killed George Floyd. Not only did those four cops deprive a man of his most basic civil rights without charge, let alone without trial, but also the entire department decided to compound the problem by using flash-bangs, tear gas, and rubber bullets to deprive thousands of their First Amendment rights.
As my grandmother liked to say, enough is enough, and too much is plenty. Just based on the last ten years of documented police misconduct, setting aside the previous 200 years, I think we can declare that police are a hazard to public health. Some Tweets I've seen are calling for immediate abolition of police; I wouldn't go that far yet: How about a moratorium on police activity though, until we can completely reform the very institution of policing.
Fortunately, when I run out of useful things to say, I can fall back on this press release from the GPUS National Black Caucus, copied and pasted below in its entirety.
I kinda waded into this one.
It bothers me a little that people I consider friends find the sign pictured above controversial. The controversy is not entirely unexpected: Even if you're down with #BlackLivesMatter, it can be hard to accept that you belong to a privileged ethnic group that oppresses other ethnic groups in your nation—i.e., maintains inequality through customs, laws, or violence. The overwhelming majority of us don't want to be called racist, or told that we benefit from racist institutions.
This is not the space to delve into the history and economics behind privilege and oppression. There are plenty of other places to read about that. I'm also not going to dive into a whirlpool of statistics about who's killing whom.
There are also plenty of places to read about why replying "All Lives Matter" offends people who support Black Lives Matter. I would like to add to that particular dogpile here, because some of my friends apparently had never taken the time to research that matter.
Of Course All Lives Matter!
It's just that certain authority figures and law enforcement officers behave as if "all lives" does not include black lives.
Friends, if you insist on saying "All Lives Matter," if you truly believe it, please understand what that word "all" means. Also, don't go adding footnotes to it, like:
* Although all lives do matter, lives of some races, religions, ages, sexual orientations, gender identities matter less than others.
Repeat after me, brothers & sisters.
Black Lives Matter
White Lives Matter
Latin Lives Matter
South Asian Lives Matter
East Asian Lives Matter
Arab Lives Matter
Aboriginal and Native American Lives Matter
Polynesian Lives Matter
Male Lives Matter
Female Lives Matter
Two-Spirit Lives Matter
Cisgender Lives Matter
Transgender Lives Matter
Intersex Lives Matter
Gay and Lesbian Lives Mater
Bisexual Lives Matter
Pansexual Lives Matter
Asexual Lives Matter
Young Lives Matter
Old Lives Matter
Middle-Aged Lives Matter
Muslim Lives Matter
Christian Lives Matter
Jewish Lives Matter
Hindu Lives Matter
Buddhist Lives Matter
Sikh Lives Matter
Druze Lives Matter
Zoroastrian Lives Matter
Falun Gong Lives Matter
Animist Lives Matter
Atheist and Agnostic Lives Matter
Secular Humanist Lives Matter
Pagan Lives Matter
Whatever-Faith-Tradition-I-May-Have-Omitted Lives Matter
All the Various Sects of These Faith Traditions? Their Lives Matter, Too
Poor Lives Matter
Dalat Lives Matter
Rich Lives Matter
Middle-Class Lives Matter
Disabled Lives Matter
Able-Bodied Lives Matter
Mentally Ill Lives Matter
Neurotypical Lives Matter
Addicted Lives Matter
Imprisoned Lives Matter
Now for the one-question quiz.
This is the point at which someone is bound to ask, "What about the unborn?" Or, "What about non-human animals? Don't their lives matter too?"
On the first question: I did all my internal wrestling over this years ago. Life is precious and should not be given cheaply. I would like to see every birth result in children their mothers want and are ready to care for. There aren't enough potential adopters for every "unwanted" child. A birth should not result in lower quality of life for the parent(s) and the child. Better not to let a human life start in that situation. Also, this world still contains farl too many men who treat women and girls as reproductive vessels. So I support reproductive choice for women, including safe and legal abortion. If you choose to add another life to the seven billion humans already on this planet, I still respect your choice.
Regarding non-human animals: Yes, their lives matter. Homo sapiens has bred and expanded its territory so rapidly that our one species is driving dozens of others into extinction every day. For myself and my descendants, I want a world with tigers and polar bears, salmon and sharks, hummingbirds and bald eagles, honey cask ants and dung beetles, octopus and live coral, etc. A world without them would be death.
The population of the world has more than doubled in my lifetime. Technology, international trade, and our various communities of nations have improved the lives of many; however, the number of people in dire misery grows ever faster, Our capacity for compassion should have doubled along with the population. Let's start working on that compassion, including compassion for ourselves when compassion fatigue sets in. Without compassion and loving kindness, no lives matter.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.