Am I next?

The current social unrest and the racial tension in the US and the demonstrations here in the UK have really affected me.  It has set off emotions that I usually keep under control. I feel anger at the scenes I am witnessing I am feeling pain as I feel for those hurt by these tragedies and their grief.

I witness the fragility of life graphically shown on our television screens. Just another incident reported. The death of George Floyd filmed for millions to see, the whole world to see. It has sparked outrage and rightly so. The result of centuries of unresolved racial tension and violence.

The death of George Floyd is not an isolated incidence. It has become the focus, yet there are so many more people that have died and remain a statistic.

My daughter is black. Through her personal circumstances she was raised in a middle class white family (with all the mind-blowing associated with that and the questioning how do I belong) with many advantages and an education that has allowed her to build a successful career obtaining a senior position in a US company. Yet she has been told to her face you only have your job “because you are a woman and black”. It is irrelevant that her results are better than her peers year in, year out. Speaking to her yesterday she said how she was feeling discombobulated and vulnerable with the current unrest.

I listened to General Brown, Commander of the Pacific Air Force on Twitter saying what he is thinking about the events surrounding the death of George Floyd and what he thinks about life as an African America. It is strong and powerful. It is time for the inclusion of diversity to treat all human beings equally, to reverse and end discrimination.

Forty years ago I was reading Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice, I was a student at the time of Martin Luther King’s assassination yet we still have institutionalised and systematic racism.

This morning I felt vulnerable. I felt scared. On the News pages on social media, rightly focusing on the recent social unrest surrounding George Floyd, there was a news story, again graphically shown in film, of the man in his seventies peacefully demonstrating being knocked down by the police in Buffalo almost certainly sustaining a serious head injury, his life if not taken changed indelibly in a moment. Next to that there are the news stories of the Trans people murdered just for being trans, for being different. The transwoman shot in the US for using a single sex woman’s bathroom at MacDonalds. The rolling back of Trans rights in Hungary specifically and in Eastern Europe generally.  The rolling back and undermining of Trans rights in the US. The stalling of progress on Trans rights in the UK.

This all empowers the bigoted and mindless to feel it is open season to  harass, perpetrate violence and at the extreme end of the spectrum, kill the diverse, those that are different, other, including Trans people just because they are Trans, I realise the level of fear I ignore and shut down every time I go about my day. The steps I take to minimise risk and mitigate the fear.

It is time to look at the truth and be honest about ourselves, What lies do you hold in your head about me, a Trans person? What lies do I hold in my head about others? It is time to abandon privilege and see that the lives of all matter, for inclusion of diversity and to create equal opportunity for all.

Life is precious yet fragile, It can be taken from any of one of us in an instant. In this time of unrest I finish with a quote from a black American woman from Minneapolis “Am I next?’

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