DR GABRIELLE JAMELA HOSEIN
JUST AS we showed solidarity with South African sisters and brothers under apartheid, so too we should share the anger of African Americans rioting against the US police murder of George Floyd, which followed police killing of Breonna Taylor in March.
Non-black people have a responsibility to support struggles against anti-blackness across the Americas. This responsibility is bigger than the historical disdain between Indo- and Afro-Caribbeans. It is bigger than APNU-AFC electoral fraud in Guyana and heightened racial distrust as a result. It’s bigger than UNC-PNM campaigning in TT, and the PM’s bizarre and race-baiting reference to a “recalcitrant and hostile minority” exactly 62 years to the day after it was said by Eric Williams on April 1, 1958.
Anti-blackness is the legacy of a new world order birthed by colonialism – which combined genocidal capitalism, dehumanising white supremacy, sexual violence and imperial expansion. At the centre of its cold heart is the idea that white heterosexual masculinity presents an ideal representation of man or what it means to be human, with all others from women to LBGTI people to those from across the “third” or majority world mattering less.
Entrenched through slavery, and not yet dismantled, blackness biologically represented the ultimate non-human. Once defined as property, black bodies remain the least valued of all. This is the reality in the US where state violence against black communities enforces such continued coloniality. #BlackLivesMatter and #IndigenousLivesMatter movements highlight the legacy that some bodies and lives, and their decimation, still matter least.
In Canada, on May 27, police killed Regis Korchinski Paquet, a 29-year-old Afro-Indigenous woman. Thousands have been marching in Toronto against police violence, and its intersection with anti-black and anti-indigenous racism.
In TT, there has been an increase in police killings since 2018, predominantly of poor Afro-Trinidadians. Here, too, black lives are disposable and we pay attention, only briefly, when communities burn tyres to protest these murders and witnesses dispute police reports of self-defence.
As Dylan Kerrigan writes, “There is no consideration of the context of social problems, the background to the problem, or the historical evolution of the issues…poor black victims are simply ‘bad people.’” When we pay attention, it is less to the injustice than to the threat to a social order in which some lives are, nevertheless, always under greater threat.
We saw such US reporting shift attention to the looting over the past week which simply distracts from and belittles legitimate rage. Young activist Tamika Mallory put it well. America has long been looting black lives, and the violence of looting in this week’s protests has been learned from the example of impunity over hundreds of years, beginning with the looting of indigenous land.
Jamaicans for Justice have been protesting the May 27 murder of Susan Bogle, a 44-year-old mentally challenged black woman in August Town, St Andrew, who was killed inside her home by Jamaican soldiers. For the year, there have been investigations into 361 incidents involving Jamaican police and at least 18 incidents involving Jamaican soldiers.
Violent protests by communities result from a broken social contract that leaves no investment in obeying power or rules. That said, the US government has a dirty history of undermining Black Power, peace and environmental movements, including by instigating violence, and no doubt this is happening today.
Excessive state repression, which we are watching with horror on TV, is historically rooted in vicious repression of plantation rebellion just as much as it is reflects the current militarisation of policing. All that military hardware, developed for armies at war, has to be sold. For the last two decades, it’s been sold to police and used against citizens demanding justice. Even GG wanted to send military tanks up into Laventille.
The 175th anniversary of Indian arrival to TT requires that we honour our participation in the legitimate, and if necessary violent, resistance against injustice which has long defined the hemisphere.
Interestingly, this is also the 50th anniversary of Black Power in TT, and commemorations included debate on whether the movement included Indians or mattered to them. It’s clear there was no mythical mixing of the Ganges and the Nile, but that was then. Indian-African solidarity is now ours to define and live just as coloniality remains a contemporary reality for us to collectively end.
How ironic that we were bothering with sanctions against Venezuela when all can see tyranny in America’s glass house and the time for US regime change.
Diary of a mothering worker