It finally seems that the recent murder of yet another innocent Black man, George Floyd, by a police officer in the United States has finally pushed public opinion into new progressive territory.
Even my own younger brother, a middle-aged teddy bear of a White man whose political leanings definitely line up with most middle-of-the-road centrists in safe, mainstream Ontario, wrote recently on Facebook about how sad and sickened he was by the racist police violence we continue to see. He vowed to do everything he can to make sure his own kids understand their part in fighting anti-Black racism, and all racism. I'm proud of him.
We've seen episodes like this in our society before. Black men have been unfairly brutalized by the police for decades. But this time, mainstream/aka White public opinion may have finally connected all the dots in ways racialized communities have been doing for decades. It seems finally we are all simply sick and tired of the police brutalizing innocent Black people.
But fixing this is a tall order, as we know. If left unchecked, our existing power structures are more than happy to perpetuate injustice forever if it's profitable or makes the powerful feel stronger. That's how power works. I'm sure most police officers and their fans these days see this as just the latest backlash and expect temperatures to die down soon so they can go back to their old ways and nothing changes. We can't let that happen. The public needs to demand police forces that treat all people with dignity and respect regardless of race.
The culture of policing itself needs a complete transformation. In parts of the U.S. and Canada in recent decades, the militarization of police power has become horrifying. There seems to be no limits to the budgets they receive to buy the latest military toys and vehicles completely unnecessary to conduct reasonable law enforcement in their communities. My own limited experiences in Toronto have taught me that most male police officers under 40 are in it for the power, frequently abusing that power as they see fit. These types need to learn to be better, or be gone.
To undermine these power structures and force them toward greater public accountability, the public needs to be steadfast. We need to demand our politicians hold police to account and change for the better. That doesn't necessarily mean defunding the police. But yes, it should mean that the public doesn't rely on police to provide all emergency social services. But how did those social services get so underfunded, forcing the police to pick up the slack? Well, it's been conservative politicians of course, voted in by conservatives in the public, eager to see funding for social services, for mental health services, and other public good measures cut to the bone. So penny wise and pound foolish!
Conservative ideology is like a drug. Too much of it, and you overdose. It's like organized religion that way. Only in moderation, preferably mixed with a lot of liberal common sense, can neo-conservatism be anything better than corrosive.
Yet in the U.S., most conservatives live in Fox News-inspired bubbles, cut off from the rest of humanity. Those idiots have no idea why people are taking to the streets. And they don't really care either. Just like their president.
It's always been my impression that conservative ideology is based fundamentally on the oppression of others. Conservatism promises to make you a stronger person by crushing everyone else around you. Conservative ideology teaches its disciples that they are uniquely superior because of their choices, or their values or religion, or their lifestyles. They've chosen the good path. That gives them the right, in their minds, to punish and torture (or enjoy as others torture) everyone who has chosen differently. Most conservatives love the police as much as they love and adore the military. There's something intoxicating to them about the unfettered fire power, I guess. Yes, it's very much like a drug.
The worst example of a conservative these days is, of course, Donald Trump. He's the ultimate conservative: vain, racist, sexist, morally vacuous, only concerned with himself, his own power and wealth, and that's about it. He's very much the product of the worst that ideology has to offer.
He's also particularly unsuited for this moment. As peaceful protests against anti-Black racism have found momentum across the world, Trump’s instincts are to constantly placate his racist, hateful base and make matters worse. He can't help himself. It's all he has to offer (as he did yet again this week by marking both Pride Month and the 4th anniversary of the tragic murder of 49 people at gay Pulse Nightclub in Florida by removing health rights for LGBTQ people.) Trump's a narcissistic sociopath who needs to be removed and pushed aside as soon as possible. Thankfully, the majority of the American public seems to agree, not appreciating his mishandling of both the recent George Floyd demonstrations and the Corona-virus outbreak. Let's hope public opinion stays that way until November.
Yes, there are some conservatives out there who abhor Trump. I'm glad about that. But in truth, most conservatives are really a part of the same problem that Trump represents: a selfish indifference to the plights of others, particularly if those others don't look, or love, or pray like they do.
Systemic racism needs to be constantly challenged. Undoing the influence of racism that has carved its way into our institutions so deeply takes concerted effort. That means we, the public, need to demand that the levers of power in government, in the police, in our institutions, be opened up and shared. Hierarchical systems have failed us. They aren't and have never been based on any kind of merit. Instead, our hierarchical systems have simply been used to fortify and strengthen existing injustices and imbalances. Insiders anointing more insiders. Advancement is more based on your amoral ability to suck up to those who have power. I'm not someone who is full of shit who enjoys playing that sick game. I don't lie very well, and that makes me uniquely unsuited for "leadership teams" in most North American management structures.
At least, prior to this current enlightened episode, that is. Now most organizations are falling over themselves to publicly state their dislike of anti-Black racism, with promises to do better to fight it. The cacophony of corporate statements supporting the causes of Black Lives Matter now puts those corporations on the record. They can be held accountable for future inaction. If all of this talk leads to nowhere in those organizations, we can shame them for it.
Those white insiders who have gone all in on that amoral game I described above should know that all this talk of ending systemic racism (or any kind of systemic oppression) is a direct threat to their power. It's not just about race, of course. Sexism and misogyny have also thrived under existing power structures. Homophobia too. Imagine having to compete on your merits and not win simply because your best buddy who looks and acts just like you is doing the hiring or making the day-to-day decisions. Workplace cultures need to change.
Sadly, most conservatives are not going to be helpful in the fight to make the world a more just place. If you can't even see the problem, how can you possibly help solve it? Even if they do acknowledge the problem, many just don’t care enough to do anything about it. I decided long ago to reject conservative parties and politicians for those reasons. Sure the tax cuts may sound enticing. But all the shit that inevitably comes with conservative ideology is simply bad for humanity.
We must constantly challenge anti-Black racism. It's time to get real and make efforts at improvements in our daily lives. I fully intend to keep up that fight. I'll do it in all areas of my life where I can do so safely. Yes, I benefit every day from white privilege. I have tried deliberately to not take advantage of it. But I need to do more.
This fight will take time. But we've always known that.
There is no one path to a better world. But one thing is for certain: removing Donald Trump from the White House will help immensely with that goal.