Dr. Dawg

All lives matter

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Philando Castile.jpg

…a pity some matter more than others. Which is why Black Lives Matter needs to remind us: Black bodies are alive too.

Needs to remind us. Good God. Really? Yes, really.

So Black Lives Matter, Toronto chapter, stopped a Pride parade for half an hour. The social media roof fell in. Even some people I respect called that protest within a protest (if Pride has even a vestige of protest left these days) “tone deaf,” or uncalled-for, or thankless, or impolite. Those people (and I use the phrase advisedly) were disruptive. They were spitting on the rug of their hosts. They were getting in the way. They were buzzkill. They were harshing everybody’s mellow.

They didn’t know their place.

Some didn’t merely knee-jerk. There’s John Ibbitson, of all people. I don’t like everything in his piece, but he thought about the meaning of the BLM_TO protest. He was conflicted about it. And, to his credit, he admitted it.

But pundits as a rule don’t like to be of two minds. They prefer to speak ex cathedra. So the other whi’ folks lined up. They opened their yaps and Mr. Charlie spoke. Who did those uppity protesters think they were? It was hot on that day, dammit. People were trying to celebrate. Never mind that the first Pride parade was a riot. Never mind that the first few parades after that were still risky for the folks that marched in them. Eventually Pride became respectable. Corporate floats and all. And police floats too.

I liked those floats when I first saw them in Ottawa. Local “morality squad” cops had been busting bathhouses. Found-ins were named in the newspapers. But things changed, if not overnight, in a very short time. Those floats were a vindication, almost an apology.

But that was then. As any smart-alec will tell you, Pride “evolved.” It’s safe enough now for the Prime Minister of Canada to join in.

Safe. Just like our streets for “non-white” GLBT folks? Well, no. Black and Asian queers and transpeople suffer police harassment and brutality all the time, in Toronto as elsewhere. The more corporate floats, booths and kiosks there are at Pride, the less space for people, ordinary LGBT people, to occupy. Their voices of pain are drowned out. There’s betrayal all around them, as the police (not LGBT police per se, but the police as an institution) join the parade. Like having management floats, as one activist said, on a Labour Day parade. Hell, bosses work too. Right?

Damn, I’m angry as I write this. BLM_TO, standing up for marginalized people, being re-marginalized by a cyber-mob, including “progressives.” Their demands all eminently reasonable: more space for them, please, in the annual Pride event. Recognition. Intersectionality, which appears to have too many syllables for some folks to grasp. If people of colour don’t want police floats, I’d rather deepen solidarity with them than worry about a few hurt fee-fees in the cop shop. That’s a strategic question. Do progressives want to march with a few cops on Pride day, or with people of colour every day, whose lives are marked by police victimization?

Why the hell should I even have to ask that question?

And then the news explodes: two more Black men murdered by cops in the US in as many days. One cop caught on video executing his victim, Alton Sterling, at point-blank range. More shots are pumped into his unresisting body by the death squad in blue. The body cameras that cops are supposed to wear somehow “fell off.” Philando Castile, in another city, is murdered by another cop who pulled him over for a broken tail-light (apparently a capital offence in the US if you’re Black), demanded he produce his ID, and shot him as he tried to comply. This in front of Castile’s partner and her 4-year-old child.

Anyone with the wit to keep more than one thing in their heads at a time could put two and two together. Black people don’t live the same lives that we white folks do. They may never live those lives in the comfort that we do. Many of them are angry about it, for some reason. Many of them think cops may be part of the problem. But the uncarded scratch their pallid brows and wonder what’s gotten into those people. BLM_TO made some people uncomfortable on Pride day, and they’re getting the treatment, and none of the people administering the media lash are talking about racism. Hey, Pride isn’t even about racism—right?

Meanwhile Black bodies are bullied, tortured and killed, and not a word is spoken in their defence by the oh-so-superior white cognoscenti. Those journalists, their smug faces almost winking in complicity, the very ones who whined in their sundry media columns about a 30-minute interruption of a Pride march, fell utterly silent.

Odd, that. Don’t all lives matter after all?

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on July 7, 2016 9:00 PM.

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