Beautiful Black Lives

As a white family here, we are in the minority. That’s how it is. If you don’t like it, get out of the Caribbean.

I like it. I have long believed people descended from Africa are better people than people from other continents. I read this a long time ago and believed it then. It went along the lines of ‘How else would African people have been enslaved unless they were nicer and kinder people than Europeans?’

Now, I know this is a grand and naively sweeping statement. But I still believe it.

I also do not ascribe to the mentality, ‘It wasn’t my generation’s fault, so I have nothing to be sorry for.’

I am sorry. This is because racism was worked one small level above genocide for a number of centuries (not just years but centuries!) – by Europeans. What’s wrong with being sorry? Are Germans sorry for coming from a country which allowed Nazism to proliferate into almost the end of civilised humanity? The nice ones are sorry. They’re the Germans you want to hang out with. For me, being sorry makes all the difference.

Many people in the Caribbean don’t even know where they come from – except from the islands themselves. There is the most basic disconnect from your family history. Your ancestors. That just isn’t fair. It can take the fun out of a person. It might create a gap in your soul – never to be filled.

After George Floyd‘s death, another death of a black American by a white police officer, there are a lot of voices talking (or not) about how to implement change in society so that everyone can feel free. I certainly don’t feel qualified to speak about it. Except to say I think that Bryan Stevenson has the answer. The fundamental one.

Bryan Stevenson, the American human rights lawyer, founder and executive of Equal Justice Initiative, claims that slavery hasn’t ended. Not yet.

This is because slavery has less to do with actual trade, he believes, than it does with the story behind it.

Slavery was driven by a narrative. Of course – it had to be in order to justify it. The narrative said that people descended from Africa deserved to be slaves. They deserved it because they weren’t as good as white people. They weren’t as smart. Nor sophisticated. Slavery therefore suited them. This is the narrative that allowed slavery to be born and to continue.

When slavery ended in America in 1865, unfortunately this narrative did not end. It was brushed under the carpet. It persists – until today. Dirty under that carpet, no?

Bryan Stevenson maintains that until we can abolish this narrative then nothing will be learnt. Nothing will change. History needs to come out, to be examined and to be put to rest. That’s it. Until the narrative of slavery is purged, then it will continue to continue.

He also said that with due respect, it was quite easy for white people to protest. Doesn’t take much.

To be honest, it’s not that hard to protest. It’s not that hard to go someplace. And it doesn’t mean that it’s not important. It doesn’t mean that it’s not critical. But that’s not the hard thing we need from people who care about these issues. We need people to vote, we need people to engage in policy reform and political reform, we need people to not tolerate the rhetoric of fear and anger that so many of our elected officials use to sustain power. We need the cultural environments in the workplace to shift. – Bryan Stevenson, https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/bryan-stevenson-on-the-frustration-behind-the-george-floyd-protests

I discovered Bryan Stevenson through his 2012 Ted Talk. Check him out if you haven’t already: https://www.ted.com/talks/bryan_stevenson_we_need_to_talk_about_an_injustice/transcript

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