The Protest & March in Washington, DC — June 6, 2020
On Saturday, June 6, 2020, 12 days after George Floyd was brutally murdered by a Minneapolis policeman, I went down to Lafayette Park to be one of thousands of people from the Washington, DC metro area to go down and push back against a brutal system taking the lives of black and brown people. It is a brutality occurring for more than 400 years—ever since the first human being was taken from his or her home to serve another human being without pay, without basic needs, without rights, and without dignity for these humans were taken as slaves and the takers took their humanity as well.
I went down to the protest despite the global Coronavirus pandemic that has shut down the DC area for 2.5 months and taken 110,000 American lives. A disproportionate number of people who have died from Corona have been black and brown people who are black and brown. This is because of structural and systemic racism that have marginalized entire communities and people. It is a brutality that is baked into our systems denying people essential services, justice, and rights just because of the color of their skin. Black and brown people are failing because they do not have proper health care, enough grocery stores, enough community and supportive services, proper education, or access to high paying jobs that locks millions into poverty.
Racism is a Global Pandemic that has Lasted for Centuries
It too is a global pandemic that is much older than six months. This pandemic has gripped the world for centuries, and it grew stronger and became institutionalized when Portugal and other European kingdoms began the transatlantic slave trade in the 15th century.
In America, the first slaves were brought to Jamestown in 1619. But this is a worldwide pandemic growing stronger in recent years as racists ideologies have steadily increased everywhere. The cruel, barbaric death of George Floyd by a white police officer and three other officers that was captured on camera ignited protests around the world that are pushing back on its growing strength. But there have been many sparks before this one ignited a huge global response.
This is why I braved the Corona pandemic, as did thousands of other people from the DC area, so that I could be one more body (perhaps anti-body) in an immune response to a much older pandemic that has brutalized and killed far more people. The DC protest was an organic response that swelled into marchers who almost encircled the perimeter fence Trump set up to protect himself after being rushed down to the White House bunker on a Friday night when the first wave of protests began to sweep across the country and world—protests that have been sustained and have grown into a second week and occurring everywhere—in cities, in suburbs, in towns and rural communities.
The Black Lives Matter Protests in DC
In DC, there were shouts and chants, but there was also joy permeating the DC protests expressed through music and dance and singing. The newly named Black Lives Matter Plaza was a gathering point for this powerful demonstration of joy and celebration of life. To me, this was one of the most a powerful part of this protest for it demonstrated boldly the strength, endurance, and resilience of people who have suffered for generations under the ignorance and structural racism that has been baked into every layer of the systems we live within. I bet this joy bothered Trump more than watching the marchers, but all of it was vital to be expressed and heard and understood. Another powerful part of the protests is the spontaneous ecosystem that has emerged supporting all the protestors who come with free food, free water, and medical support. This is truly inspiring.
Enough is Enough — Pushing Back on Racism
Even if you cannot participate in a protest, each and every person, especially white people, has an opportunity to expand personal knowledge about racism. Now is also a time to grow and strengthen our empathic abilities. Both are needed to push back and go past the constricting systematic racists systems and beliefs put in place by our forefathers and that we have all been taught.
Now, is the time to push steadily on every boundary, on every level, which includes responsible social media, safeguarding truth, safeguarding justice, and voting, but it also includes deep cleaning of our minds. Each of us is responsible for implicit and overt biases that exist inside our minds. They are our beliefs and opinions. Each of us must find them and dispel beliefs that do not serve us anymore. One measure of if an opinion or belief is worn out and needs to be discarded is asking yourself who does this benefit and who is left out? And are the people left out hurt by the belief?
This takes practice. It is not as easy as it appears because we have all developed blind spots that hide the truth all around us. So, to get rid of the blind spots—one needs to listen, one needs to grow their knowledge by seeking and delving into diverse sources of knowledge and perspectives that are different from what we have known and are comfortable inside. To cling onto these old beliefs is dangerous to us all because we are all connected and we need every individual to participate in our shared reality to overcome the next great challenge humanity must met together, and that is Climate Change. To disregard one human being, one human voice, we will not make it because we are all one human species, and we are all connected.
Together, we can change the world.
Some of the Images from the Black Lives Matter Protests in DC
This is an artistic tribute of my experience at the protests on Saturday, June 6, 2020.
Music in Video
Mt. Wolf – Life Size Ghosts (Catching Flies Remix) by Catching Flies – The Stars-EP album. I discovered Life Size Ghosts through Apple Music. “Catching Flies is an English musician, DJ and record producer from London, England. His sound has been described as sitting on the “smooth, mellow side of electronic music” somewhere “between Flying Lotus and Bonobo” and “contains shades of everything from hip hop to house, from soul to jazz.” – From Wiki
Brown Power by Zeshan B – Melismatic album. I discovered Zeshan through an interview on Weekend Edition with Lulu Garcia-Navarro: Zeshan B On ‘Melismatic’ And Creating Music That Champions Brown Power
Smile by Jon Batiste – Hollywood Africans album. I discovered Jon Batiste in a rebroadcast of Live From Here with Jon Batiste the guest host. It is a wonderful show you can listen to by clicking the link.
Green Hill Zone by Jon Batiste – Hollywood Africans album
IDK (fet. Bjay McFly) by Bebe O’Hare – Made, Vol. 3 album. I discovered Bebe O’Hare through Apple Music. She is a Chicago native who has captivated fans and garnered respect as a rapper, singer and songwriter. Follow her on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram.
Flyin’ Home by Hannibal Leq – Flyin’ Home album. I discovered Hannibla Leq through Apple Music. You can follow him on Facebook.
What a Wonderful World by Jon Batiste – Hollywood Africans album.
How I Am Examining My Beliefs & Biasis
In a time like this, it is my instinct to preach, which I come by naturally as my father was a pastor. But I will choose instead to turn this preaching on myself and focus on self-knowledge and self-development. These are some of ways I am working on myself to dispel my worn out, dysfunctional beliefs.
“Racism in America is Like Dust in the Air”
I heard Kareem Abdul-Jabbar interviewed on CNN about an Op-Ed he wrote in the Los Angeles Times. In this essay, he says “racism in America is like dust in the air. It’s invisible until you let the sun in. Then, you see it everywhere.” He says other really important things in this Op-Ed, and I have been thinking about this and the dust. It seems to me as a white person growing up in America, we are exposed to all this dust and it settles inside our minds and over time it turns into shapes and objects (these would be our beliefs and opinions). But, if we went inside and did a solid housecleaning and we cleaned and dusted all these shapes and objects that have accumulated inside our minds, they would just disappear because they are made of dust. They are fragmented beliefs and opinions of the systems we have grown up in… systems that punish everyone when they step outside of expected norms and values… the problem is Western Civilization’s norms and values have brutality baked into them and this is hurting everyone, most especially black and brown people. These beliefs need to be cleaned out and thrown away. And, I am following Kareem on Twitter now. My social media needs a better diet! His article is titled: Op-Ed: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Don’t understand the protests? What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge.
A Leader Cries Because A Leader Embraces All of Their Humanity
Anderson Cooper spoke with Professor Cornel West after the beautiful funeral of George Floyd who was laid to rest today in Texas. Cornel West was speaking so eloquently and passionately about what this moment meant. I was tearing up when I realize Anderson was too. This interview is worth watching. It embodies truth, justice, dignity, resilience, and joy.
Consequences of Racism
I heard Clint Smith on the TED Radio Hour. Clint Smith is a writer, poet, teacher, and Emerson Fellow at New America. He is so smart. His TedTalks are powerful antidotes to the dust and infection of racism. He has done two talks. One is one “The Danger of Silence” and the other is “How to Raise a Black Son in America.” Collectively, they have been viewed more than seven million times. For the TED Radio Hour episode, he discussed “The Consequences of Racism.”
What is Next?
MPR News: The death of George Floyd, a black man killed while being forcefully detained by a Minneapolis Police officer, has sparked peaceful demonstrations and destructive riots between protesters and police in the Twin Cities and across the country. MPR News host Angela Davis had a discussion with cultural trauma experts Resmaa Menakem, Justin Terrell, and Brittany Lewis about the most recent high-profile incident to become an example of historic racial injustice.
Policing Wasn’t Always This Way
Policing Is An ‘Avatar Of American Racism,’ Marshall Project Journalist Says: Lartey is a staff writer for The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that covers the U.S. criminal justice system. Lartey notes that America’s model of policing is a relatively recent phenomenon: “Policing wasn’t always this way. It wasn’t always this big. It wasn’t always this bureaucratic,” he says. “Modern policing — the policing that you and I and listeners recognize today — is really a product of the 20th century.” He says that Floyd’s death — and the deaths of other black people in police custody — highlight the need to change a broken system.
‘I Want to Touch the World’
The Daily remembers George Perry Floyd Jr. who nearly 30 years ago told a high school classmate that he would “touch the world” someday. Manny Fernandez, who is The New York Times’s bureau chief in Houston, went to the funeral in Houston of an outsize man who dreamed equally big and whose killing has galvanized a movement against racism across the globe.
Intense and informative, This American Life present 4 compelling acts about this moment in time. It is introduced this way: “An exhaustingly familiar story. Maybe it’ll have a different ending this time, but maybe not. We hear what different people said and did one weekend in reaction to the killing of George Floyd.”
This is another This American Life that tells about the other pandemic that is taking so many good people, trusted people, people who are making a difference in the world away from us. This pandemic is also striking black and brown people at a higher rate. This story tells about one precious life lost: “Some of the first Covid-19 patients to arrive at Henry Ford Hospital were police and others who’d attended a community breakfast in early March called Police and Pancakes. Aaron K. Foley has this story of this breakfast and of one man — Marlowe Stoudamire — who ended up at Henry Ford.” (20 minutes)
TEDRadio Hour: As protests for racial justice continue, many are asking how racism became so embedded in our lives. This hour, TED’s Whitney Pennington Rodgers guides us through talks that offer part of the answer.
Moral Decision Making
The Hidden Brain is always illuminating, and this weekend I listened to Justifying The Means: What It Means To Treat All Suffering Equally.
It is all about “when we are asked to make a moral choice, many of us imagine it involves listening to our hearts. To that, philosopher Peter Singer says, “nonsense.” Singer believes there are no moral absolutes, and that logic and calculation are better guides to moral behavior than feelings and intuitions. This week, we talk with Singer about why this approach is so hard to put into practice and look at the hard-moral choices presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
And, I still need to listen to this one:
Playing Favorites: When Kindness Toward Some Means Callousness Toward Others.
If we do a favor for someone we know, we think we’ve done a good deed. What we don’t tend to ask is: Who have we harmed by treating this person with more kindness than we show toward others? This week, in the second of our two-part series on moral decision-making, we consider how actions that come from a place of love can lead to a more unjust world.
Social Networks — Just How Unbiased Are They?
Radiolab re-aired a show about Facebook titled: Post No Evil. It is about our social networks and how they police their platform, or more aptly, how they do not police their platforms due to implicit (or not so implicit) biases. Brief highlight: Breastfeeding, beheadings and bombings, Facebook has rules to handle them all. Today, we explore those rules and ask what they tell us about the future of free speech.
This is a riveting podcast. I have only heard the first one, but I am hooked. This is such an important topic in the Age When Everyone Is An Expert and Has An Opinion (or do they?). This series gets down into the trenches of how the social media platforms manipulate us. Highlight: “What is the internet doing to us? The Times tech columnist Kevin Roose discovers what happens when our lives move online.”
About a month before George Floyd was brutal murder by a Minneapolis police officer, I had listened to the NPR broadcast of the podcast White Lies. It is about the Rev. James Reeb who was murdered in Selma, Alabama. Three men were tried and acquitted, but no one was ever held to account. Fifty years later, two journalists from Alabama return to the city where it happened, expose the lies that kept the murder from being solved and uncover a story about guilt and memory that says as much about America today as it does about the past.I listened riveted to each episode that unravels the web of lies white people told and continue to tell about their role in perpetuating racism. One thing that really resonated with me is that even white people who cross the lines that have been baked into our systemic systems of racism are victims of brutality, like Rev. Reeb. Anyone in our modern Westernized capitalistic systems that does not obey and serve the corporate masters is subject to inhumane and cruel retaliation that can become particularly savage when white people cross the invisible lines of standing up against racism and fighting for justice and equality for all people. Rev. Reeb was white and killed for supporting the protests in Selma and the killers were protected from the law for more than 50 years by the White Lies. And, it is still happening today. Take for example a man you admits to being a leader of a Ku Klux Klan in Virginia uses his car to hit peaceful protestors: Man who allegedly ran over protesters is an admitted leader of the Ku Klux Klan, Virginia officials say.
These are the segments from White Lies:
Introducing White Lies
The Murder Of The Rev. James Reeb
The Sphinx Of Washington Street
Learn Not To Hear It
A Dangerous Kind Of Self-Delusion
“All Our Voices Make A Difference”
This is one of the compelling messages that NASCAR drivers put out in a video against racism and inequality. I have to admit I have held a negative bias against NASCAR, but these men are changing my mind. They are showing us how to change inside out! I saw the interview on CNN and could feel Bubba Wallace’s candor and commitment not to just virtue signal but act. He was speaking on behalf of all the drivers who collaborated to make this video. This is huge because this hits right in the center of Trump’s base, which until this moment has been unmovable. That video was taken down, but this one is just as powerful.
“Bubba Wallace says NASCAR Confederate flag ban is about inclusion at races, not getting rid of it everywhere.”
“Wallace, the only African American driver in NASCAR’s top series, said he and his colleagues understand that for many, the flag is about heritage hot hate, and they aren’t trying to tell anyone what to do in their personal life, but he wants all fans at the track to feel included.” — both quotes and full article can be read on the Fox News Channel
But the cruel, dispicable backlash has begun as NASCAR announces a noose was found in black driver Bubba Wallace’s garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama over the weekend. Learn more in Justin Wise’s article in The Hill published June 22, 2020.
Native Americans Need Justice Too
Let us not forget the oppression of Native Americans. After 525 years, it’s time to actually listen to Native Americans. This is an older article dating back to 2016, but our brothers and sisters from our Native communities have been fighting hard for clean water, equal rights, and justice. In my previous post, I told how I met Sioux Z Dezbah at the 2017 Women’s March and how she had been shot in an eye from a rubber bullet and almost lost her vision.
Excerpt from this article: “It would mean that after 525 years, someone had actually paid attention to the good sense that Native Americans have been offering almost from the start. It’s not that American Indians are ecological saints—no human beings are. But as the first people who saw what Europeans did to a continent when given essentially free rein, they were the appalled witnesses to everything from the slaughter of the buffalo to the destruction of the great Pacific salmon runs.”
Special note about Bill McKibben. He is a Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at my daughter’s school, Middlebury College, and he a founder of 350.org as well as a member of Grist’s board of directors. I just participated in a Zoom talk with Bill McKibben a week ago.
Black Lives Matter — 1965
James Baldwin’s “Black Lives Matter” Speech (1965)
He is speaking about our inner guidance systems of reality: Our beliefs, opinions, assumptions. He elegantly speaks about the importance of one’s state of mind and how easily it can be blinded by cultural, system-wide biases and built in brutalities. It is well worth listening to. With COVID, we have time to slow down. Ask yourself two questions in this moment: Where are you putting your time and attention now? How is this growing your reality?
I continue to add to this list under Resilience Resources, which can be found on this site under the category listed below. To explore more on how to combat racism, please see these resources.
EQUALITY FOR ALL PEOPLES BEGINS BY BRINGING EVERYONE TO THE WORLD TABLE: While one human being any where in the world remains oppressed, so do we all.
Mapping Black Lives Matter Protests Around The World
This map is too darn cool not to include here. Just heard this aired on Here & Now:
More protests are planned Monday in American cities to support Black Lives Matter. They’ve been happening every day for weeks after the police killing of George Floyd.
To help give some perspective on the scope of the demonstrations, one man created an online map that shows the many cities worldwide standing up for racial justice.
Here & Now’s Tonya Mosley speaks with Alex Smith, a geographic information system analyst in Tucson, Arizona. — This segment aired on June 22, 2020.
Just before I headed down to the DC protests, I heard Scott Simon read the first page of Invisible Man (no, it is not the one on TV now). This Invisible Man is a classic written by Ralph Ellison who had put his life on the line to fight in WWII only to return to an America that spite and despised him.
This is the Opening from: “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison
I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids - and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me, they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination - indeed, everything and anything except me.
Nor is my invisibility exactly a matter of a biochemical accident to my epidermis. That invisibility to which I refer occurs because of a peculiar disposition of the eyes of those with whom I come in contact. A matter of the construction of their inner eyes, those eyes with which they look through their physical eyes upon reality. I am not complaining, nor am I protesting either. It is sometimes advantageous to be unseen, although it is most often rather wearing on the nerves. Then too, you're constantly being bumped against by those of poor vision. Or again, you often doubt if you really exist. You wonder whether you aren't simply a phantom in other people's minds. Say, a figure in a nightmare which the sleeper tries with all his strength to destroy. It's when you feel like this that, out of resentment, you begin to bump people back. And, let me confess, you feel that way most of the time. You ache with the need to convince yourself that you do exist in the real world, that you're a part of all the sound and anguish, and you strike out with your fists, you curse and you swear to make them recognized you. And, alas, it's seldom successful.
One night I accidentally bumped into a man, and perhaps because of the near darkness he saw me and called me an insulting name. I sprang at him, seizing his coat lapels and demanded that he apologize. He was a tall blonde man, and as my face came close to his he looked insolently out of his blue eyes and cursed me, his breath hot in my face as he struggled. I pulled his chin down upon the crown of my head, butting him as I had seen the West Indians do, and I felt his flesh tear and the blood gush out, and I yelled, "Apologize! Apologize!" But he continued to curse and struggle, and I butted him again and again until he went down heavily, on his knees, profusely bleeding. I kicked him repeatedly, in a frenzy because he still uttered insults though his lips were frothy with blood. Oh yes, I kicked him! And in my outrage I got out my knife and prepared to slit his throat, right there beneath the lamplight in the deserted street, holding him in the collar with one hand, and opening the knife with my teeth - when it occurred to me that the man had not seen me, actually; that he, as far as he knew, was in the midst of a walking nightmare! And I stopped the blade, slicing the air as I pushed him away, letting him fall back to the street. I stared at him hard as the lights of a car stabbed through the darkness. He lay there, moaning on the asphalt; a man almost killed by a phantom. It unnerved me. I was both disgusted and ashamed. I was like a drunken man myself, wavering about on weakened legs. Then I was amused: Something in this man's thick head had sprung out and beaten him within an inch of his life. I began to laugh at this crazy discovery. Would he have awakened at the point of death? Would Death himself have freed him for wakeful living? But I didn't linger. I ran away into the dark, laughing so hard I feared I might rupture myself. The next day I saw his picture in the Daily News, beneath a caption stating that he had been "mugged." Poor fool, poor blind fool, I thought with sincere compassion, mugged by an invisible man!
Most of the time (although I do not choose as I once did to deny the violence of my days by ignoring it) I am not so overtly violent. I remember that I am invisible and walk softly so as not to awaken the sleeping ones. Sometimes it is best not to awaken them; there are few things in the world as dangerous as sleepwalkers. I learned in time though that it is possible to carry on a fight against them without their realizing it. For instance, I have been carrying on a fight with Monopolated Light & Power for some time now. I use their service and pay them nothing at all, and they don't know it. Oh, they suspect that power is being drained off, but they don't know where. All they know is that according to the master meter back there in their power station a hell of a lot of free current is disappearing somewhere into the jungle of Harlem. The joke, of course, is that I don't live in Harlem but in a border area. Several years ago (before I discovered the advantages of being invisible) I went through a routine process of buying service and paying their outrageous rates. But no more. I gave up all that, along with my apartment, and my old way of life: That way based upon the fallacious assumption that I, like other men, was visible. Now, aware of my invisibility, I live rent-free in a building rented strictly to whites, in a section of the basement that was shut off and forgotten during the nineteenth century, which I discovered when I was...
Racism is a killer pandemic spanning centuries…
It gets into the mind this way…