A Journal of the Plague Year Day 81

Monday 8th June 2020

We moved to the UK when I was 5, coming from a nice middle class family, as is common with many immigrants who can afford the costs to emigrate. Dad told us that on the plane you could open the window and touch the clouds, which were like cotton wool. There’d be snow: I imagined digging myself out and tunneling my way to school. In retrospect he knew.

He’d studied here in London, law I hear, but blew it all, gave money to a friend in need, argued too much with the colonial professors. But left with a penchant to liberate his kids should he ever have any, to a more free life. Without the ethnic politics of Malaysia, where to this day we’d be barred from university choices and jobs due to our race. As ethnic Chinese, we were known as the ‘Jews of Asia’, for the way we monopolised wealth despite starting out as poor WWII refugees. In Indonesia, where affirmative action is non-existent Chinese made up only 7% of the population yet 90% of the wealth. When the Asian Financial Crisis hit in 1997, inflamed by multinational hedge funds, one of the side-effects was half a million children succumbing to malnutrition. Race riots took over by May of the next year, and almost 12,000 were killed, mostly ethnic Chinese, with 100,000 fleeing the country. In Malaysia the historic slanting of the Chinese after 600 years in business was balanced out when they introduced affirmative action for the varied ‘Bumiputra’ (sons of the soil) populations, mostly Malays, long indentured and an underclass in their own country. A rebalancing followed, opening up opportunity to many of the poor, whilst teaching racial harmony in the schools -but over the years the Chinese who made up nearly half the population at one stage, dwindled to 23%, as many moved abroad for better prospects.

Mum remembers the race riots during the Communist insurgency of the late 1960s, how as a young teacher they watched the fires crowd out the horizon, then had to try and shuttle the children home safely. Britain would be a better life.

Fast forward to 1980s Thatcherite Britain. I remember it cold, a sensation I’d never felt before, and grey. October. We moved from our tropical beach house into a little rent in Windsor, picked for the royal associations and guaranteeing a hallowed education just in name: Clewer Green, Trevelyan, The Windsor Boys’ School, The Windsor Girls’ School, The Berkshire School of Art. The flat was small but beautiful, opposite the library, where my sister R aged six, would sneak into the Adults section to get her books, and where I learned English stuttering over the long names in Asterix. They bought me a tiny desk, with little drawers -trumped up as a big reveal but remember thinking it a bit shit. There were no other kids, and the walk to school was crap, a mile and a half. Though in hindsight, we should’ve stayed there.

A few months later we bought a horrible house on a council estate -one of the few that were privately owned. Mum went from a departmental head at her high school to a cleaner, for which she gave up her pension. Dad, a landowner and academic but one without degrees, went straight into factory work and abject poverty for the rest of their lives. We were too poor to have furniture for a while. Unbeknownst the area was the most racially divided boroughs in the London area: Slough with the highest minority-majority wards in the country (97% Pakistani) to Windsor winningly White and native, an affluent tourist town surrounded by army estates. We’d landed right into one that later got notorious, including the odd riot.

On the first day at school, my sisters got straight into fights -a running meme for the rest of their tenure. R was a born tomboy, always loud, belligerent, brave, and climbing trees, building forts and taking anyone on. She’d tie her little anorak around her shoulders then zoom round the playground shouting ‘Supergirl!’ at the bullies, and generally doing Supergirl things, such as punching them in the face. They learned to stay away. But H, the eldest got it worst, where the kids were old enough to see the difference, and read into it. At first just as belligerent as R, as the years went on she started to quieten. I remember the first dark-skinned pupil joined by Class 3  -a Sri Lankan boy who’d moved house because the last place was too racist -subsequently the entire hundred+ school chasing him round the playground while the dinner ladies watched and the teachers pretended not to. It went on for days, at every break.

By middle school (Trevelyan) H was being badly bullied every day, not just the open insults -getting drinks poured down her, fights, punches, playgrounds throwing her into the air like giving the bumps, then letting her fall, and her name Chinky or Ching Chong day in day out. One gang of girls merciless. She used to stay behind class to avoid rec, much to the annoyance of the teachers just as complicit; when she finally told them she was being bullied, years later, they said ‘oh you’ll make friends soon’. One teacher, as a lesson, took her to the playground, and to demonstrate her small size, picked her up and stood her in a bin for the rest of the class to watch. By then H barely spoke. I think of these people now and want to rip their shitty little earrings out.

R continued to fight. Some of the boys in the neighbourhood wouldn’t believe she was a girl, so ready was she to take them all on and oblivious to any assault. Even when she was dragged out of a tree aged six, she stood up bleeding to the 14 year old skinheads. For it was a skinhead estate, we found out pretty soon. Every day for weeks the entire neighbourhood’s kids mobbing as a wall of flesh on the back gate to scream racist abuse, spit, throw projectiles, while their parents ushered them in every night and gave us evils from high windows. We couldn’t go out, and if we ever did we’d have to try and avoid Sean and his gang, and put up with everyone else, though one little girl, Dana, did start to play with us. They started calling her ‘nigger-lover’. Chrissakes folks, at least get it right.

Next door lived a teacher and her middle class family. A bit cold but civil, who would offer a lift to my sister occasionally (until she overheard the mother’s nickname for her). At some stage next door made their feelings more overt. One night their kids dancing idiotically in a ring and singing outside our house. Night after night we were getting new projectiles -no longer stones or sticks, but soggy clumps of tissue, that rarely made a noise but would dry like concrete; it didn’t take long to spot it was them, and know no one could be trusted.

Windsor, twee little Home Counties town full of tourist lace and Royal tradition, is the most odiously racist place I’ve ever been, permeating every level and class. It’s hard to forget even after so long the looks of sheer, screaming disgust, the hate, the friends that betray. Even when it’s not leaning out of cars to spit at you, or stare 180 as you walk by (to the point you think it normal behaviour for all pedestrians), or throwing bricks, spraying your walls and kicking you in the face in some carpark, it’s insidious even in the acceptably middle class assumptions. Little old ladies asking you to get your proximity away from their seat, tutting if you walked in front of them, always starting off: ‘in this country…’.

During A-Levels, my essays were held up as an example to other classes of a sign of plagiarism, too good was the writing. It happened again in art college, losing final marks because they concluded my lecture notes copied from books. My mate who’d done none and did in fact frantically copy some of mine on the last day, got a higher mark. I questioned the low score out of curiosity, my lecturer fumblingly embarrassed, admitted the accusation; and it would not be changed. This was the most left-wing, open environment you could think off, and an abrupt ending to the first illusion I’d ever entertained as being accepted. To this day if reminded I’m still pissed.

Growing up in Windsor one grows to hate everything that is different, such is the cultural norm, notably yourself. Everything about the way I looked, dressed, smelled was found wanting, even what I ate -after being mocked I would only wolf down packed lunch after getting home, locked in the bathroom. Yet everywhere you looked, you read, you watched and listened you couldn’t help but laugh, cry, fall in love with the White image, and know everything else unworthy. Just watch any 80s flick of the era or older, involving anywhere abroad, from Indiana Jones to Casablanca to Breakfast At Tiffany’s to James Bond. We are the background: bestial, stupid, laughable as foil to White saviours. This on top of the domestic dramas and trauma behind closed doors. No teacher ever asked about the bruises, black on white.

Being proud would never happen for decades. By then R, so headstrong at the start, was a shy and quiet young woman, so ahead of the class yet dropped out of school and jobless. H had become the opposite, up for any fight, strong and persevering; it was as if they’d swapped roles.

It was one night I was home visiting from uni, when another great big stick or brick or something came into the window, can’t quite remember. But that I went berserk, just saw red and chased them over the wall and into the warren of the garage block. Rounding back onto the street empty-handed, then began yelling at the houses like a madman, like come-out-and-fucking-stab-me mad. That for 15 years we’d put up with that shit, that after one generation grew up, another would replace them. That it was the complicit parents to blame, that my father sat dying for years while barricaded, watching them throw their missiles from a bygone age. I think I was out there for half an hour screaming at darkened windows, where in the end Mum and R came out too. It all stopped after that night, proof that bullies are thinly veiled cowards.

To this day there is a part that is still bitter, that will always be bitter so long as I see it, and the world around duplicitous. Racism changes lives, it kills, it denies you jobs and promotions and money and lifeplans we endure, even in subconscious bias. You sweat like a dog year in year out, while watching those hired after and promoted within a year. Leaving in disgust after 5 years of blocked applications. After chatting in common rooms full of cooing colleagues, walking out then overhearing their racist jokes about you. I’ll never fully trust sweet sounding OAPs after that, or anyone who’s ever worked in ‘the forces’.

That it takes 7 years in the next job of more of the same, the very last to leave the bottom payscale by dint of always being peripheral and every word unimportant.

I find it hard to randomly watch, hear, or hear about racism any more, it just ignites too much inside. That I see it underlying so much of media portrayals while the rest just accept, and we face every day. It’s just so fucking draining. One of the first openers to Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race retains the scenario that the complainant understands the argument, fully. They are not simply one-sided, they understand inverse racism is still racism, they know what ‘playing the race card’ is and are wary of it, and that not all White people are to blame, should pay for the sins of their fathers, or to be lumped as one and the same in the exact way racism categorises others. That strawman arguments of not being able to ‘say anything’ anymore or suffering White Mans Burden, or accusations of such, of being over-sensitive or reading too much into things is alien to them. That ethnic minorities can be racist too, and are no angelic civilisations. But all too often our cries beach themselves against the same, listed barrage, imbedded by the sense of authority in these matters despite never having experienced it, and by that constant sense of The Other.

I remember insomnia after five days, waking up dazed and confused. Thinking I had insects in my bed; asking Mum to tell me about her nonexistent childhood in Germany, then looking into the mirror in the dark, and realising I wasn’t White and British, but East Asian. Imagine if you woke up Chinese one day. How fucking alien all that embodies.

The same way ethnic minorities navel-gaze, look upon themselves as lesser, question themselves constantly, and battle their own media-driven assumptions, is the same way they think White people regard them. Even if it is without hate, we fear it is with prejudice. From the news to Hollywood to Netflix to the internet to the voting booths, it takes a toll. Think of someone that got bullied for being different in your school, we can look back on and agree was unjust and cruel. Then think about a society subsequently forming political parties that wanted everyone who looked like that person booted out of the country, and millions voting for it. That for the last 25 years it’s been the main priority for the majority of voters that we stop more of them arriving, regardless of what they stand for, who they are or what they can offer. What message does that publicly announce?

It’s so easy to hate on the White world, to try and wash yourself from everyone you imagine judges you every time they look or interact. To not even come into contact with the possibility, and disregard a society constantly betraying you yet demanding allegiance at every turn and story. That daily life outside is a tiresome, constant minefield of expectation, judgment, acting and giving a damn. But ignoring that is impossible. You work, you have friends, you watch TV and fall in step with the characters, allegiant to sports teams and even proud of your nation when the flag flies exultant, or some other nation tries to trash it. You fall in love, you marry and live your life with them, and will have kids like them.

I remember a British drama on the box, about a British Pakistani brother and sister. The young woman recruited into terrorism, whilst her twin accepted into the anti-terrorism force. They question him for his allegiance -he a former soldier, thankful to Britain for taking him and his family in, thankful to Britain for giving him the freedom of society and speech, proud of his adopted nation and very off-the-cuff about it all too. He’s hired on the spot. We, as ethnic minorities scoff at that portrayal, no doubt written with White assumption. How many native White people thank Britain? Actually take the time out, pause and thank the country for bringing them up, for taking them on, for accepting them against all the odds. The answer is they don’t -they are that country they love, that they do not have to prove themselves to, and not in a job interview either. Walk down the street after that charming interaction at the supermarket, and thank Britain for not kicking you out.

So here’s the secret: we are British. We do not look at it through the lens of us and them, we do not look at it as some foreign country that accepted us and continues to do so. We are this country in the same way any native White Briton feels, and who doesn’t question why they are standing in it, or having to thank some abstract ideal or the general White populace for being there. I close my eyes and I am British, more British than anyone under the age of 37. I’ve had more experience of living in this country, eating the food, living the lifestyle, reading the news, going to the same schools, pubs, clubs, restaurants, cinemas, supermarkets, and everywhere else, seeing from the same eyes as an idiot abroad, and I’m sure I’d take anyone ‘native’ on in knowing more of the history, language, customs or geography. Just I don’t look like it and will never, ever fit into the narrative. One colleague once mentioned, with a knowing glint in her eye: ‘the question is would you die for this country?’. She of course assumed we wouldn’t, that the question needn’t even be answered. I asked her back, why would I, even if I wanted to?

If that BBC drama knew in any way what they were even talking about, the police would have asked what they felt about allegiance and merited him on honesty, not which side he was on and if he ticked sufficiently their prerequisite boxes.

When we look at ‘White’ people and culture, no matter how one could try and extract themselves from the immersion, or hate back, we cannot but help to have been formulated in it, to have laughed and cried alongside every media portrayal from Pretty Woman to Titanic to Avatar to the fucking Little Mermaid. The same cannot be said from the other side. Whenever China gets bad news, sure plenty of people say they hate the regime not the Chinese people, but just look how quickly that translated to open racism during the pandemic. How many people have cried for Gong Li in Farewell My Concubine, or laughed with Sing from Kung Fu Hustle, fallen in love with Teacher Luo in Under the Hawthorn? Or ever even watched a documentary where Chinese actually talk amongst themselves, thus displaying more than one personality type? And that’s for China, the most out-there country right now emblazoned on many a headline for years -what about any given ‘shithole’ country? They are not just indentured refugees, poverty-mired underclass or corruption-riddled nouveau riches. They are like you and me, and just as multitudinous, just as understanding and ignorant in equal measure. A telling sign are the headlines. It’s not America that is imprisoning refugee kids, but Trump. Whilst it is China imprisoning Uighurs, not Xi.

In short we ask – no, we demand – the way one sees their own race, their own community or family or class as multitudinous, and not compatible with categorisation, has to extend that view to all others.

So what has become of Windsor? In the noughties people tried to convert part of the Windsor Dairy, which had been functioning as a makeshift mosque for the small, local community. Residents were so averse to ‘increasing the traffic’ they took up arms and assaulted anyone they deemed looked Muslim on their street, while worshippers barricaded the dairy. The mosque never did get consent due to ‘increasing the traffic’. The town’s since had a Black MP, though racist leaflets were distributed to every pub and local institution on the eve of his election, urging people that we couldn’t ever let this happen -the same betrayal across the river in Slough. Our street is now affably middle class, despite everything being ugly postwar terraces the property prices are legion. The town is staunchly Conservative and voted Brexit. I’m sure it’s nowhere as bad as it was before -notably a friend who was brought up after says there is little open hate anymore.

I always look back when I talk or write about racism with embarrassment, there’s always so much to say, too many incidents to recount from too bitter a well. I don’t think about race every day, as I’m sure most people don’t. But then reminded, and especially right now, when one sweeps it under a rug, and doesn’t learn from history, you’re doomed to repeat it. Our experiences, our histories need to stand testament, and publicly.

Sorry to have gone on for so much, but then again no, I’m not fucking sorry.

 

Yesterday

Tomorrow

 

A Journal of the Plague Year Day 79

Saturday 6th June 2020

For the last week the protests round the world have become increasingly large despite the lockdowns, and proliferating.

London

It started 2 days after George Floyd’s death – a small march through Peckham by an association affiliated to BLM (though BLM UK discouraged participation due to social distancing and C-19 risk). There was also a small gaggle of people outside the US Embassy.

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The next day it grew immeasurably as the weekend hit, with a march from Trafalgar Square crossing the river into Vauxhall for the embassy.

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The next day more of the same, with a few hundred in Hyde Park too. Scuffles broke out in Downing St, the Prime Minister’s residence. It had all come midway through his leadership scandal.

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Wednesday’s Hyde Park gathering, organised by the splinter group #BLMLondon was the biggest yet.

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John Boyega made emotional speeches outside Parliament and in the park. “Black men: it starts with you..”

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When police took a knee outside Downing Street, the crowd roared their approval

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Arrests were made in scuffles in the evening there, after end of the march.

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The protests have continued throughout the week, and now larger than in American cities:

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Every day making their way to the barricaded US Embassy.

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A policewoman was injured after a line of mounted police charged the crowd in Whitehall (she hit a traffic light).

Across the country the same has been happening.

Manchester

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Birmingham

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Glasgow

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Edinburgh

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Cardiff (one of the world’s first protests)

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Leeds

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Sheffield

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Belfast

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Bristolians tore down a statue of a notorious art patron, responsible for 80,000 trafficked into slavery. Taken from the city square and dumped into a local canal:

Even in small cities and towns, from Oxford to Oxon.

This is Shrewsbury

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In Watford heavyweight boxing champ Anthony Joshua was spotted in his local rally

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Cities across the nation lit their public buildings in purple as a sign of solidarity to the cause:

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Including police stations

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In 1993 a Public Enquiry found the UK police force ‘institutionally racist’ after they botched the investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence (a racist killing by a far right gang), which allowed his killers to walk free.

The Lammy Enquiry in 2017 found Black people are a whopping 9x more likely to be stopped and searched, 3x more likely to be arrested and 5x more likely to have force used against them. The Angiolini Review on the police in the same year found:

“The stereotyping of young black men as ‘dangerous, violent and volatile’ is a longstanding trope that is ingrained in the mind of many in our society. “

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There were no less than 200 demonstrations across the country in the weekend alone.

Other cities round the world have been doing the same.

Amsterdam

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Berlin (also one of the first cities to protest after Minneapolis)

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Frankfurt

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Cologne

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Tokyo was the first city to march, the very morning after Floyd’s death

APTOPIX America Protests Global Japan

Osaka

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Istanbul

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Tel Aviv

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Even in Iran makeshift street shrines have appeared and university students have rallied on their campuses.

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Cape Town

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Seoul

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Athens

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Lausanne, Switzerland

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Brasilia

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Krakow, Poland

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Warsaw

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Prague

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Rome

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Milan

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Turin

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Madrid

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Barcelona

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Paris, predictably, is burning.

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Copenhagen

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Stockholm

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Oslo

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Auckland, New Zealand

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In Australia BLM has particular resonance with a history of police brutality against the Aboriginal and Torres Strait population

Sydney

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Melbourne

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Brisbane

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Even in Khartoum, Sudan

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And the tiny Pacific island of Saipan in the Northern Marianas

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After people joined a one woman protest

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A one man protest in Wellington, Florida too.

He had the police called on him:

Yesterday

Tomorrow

A Journal of the Plague Year Day 77

Thursday 4th June 2020

I think humans are fundamentally, intrinsically flawed with biases. We project, we create patterns, we try and predict, we assume -inbuilt as an animal survival instinct. A lot of our ‘logic’ stems not from personal experience but media, sometimes imprinted from years ago or as a child, from beauty ideals to childhood divisions to stranger danger, to whatever we deemed worthy of bullying in the schoolyard (notably difference, that invited destruction). All this then backed up as adults with a complicit ‘free’ media, peddling the correlation with crime levels (rather than income), alien customs, “shithole countries”, and continuously pushing the concept of The Other. This applied a lot to the upbringing of older generations than the current Millennial flock.

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In the UK race doesn’t have as long or as imbedded a painful history as the US (or perhaps we just hide it under the rug more *cough* Empire /*cough*), which helps, but it is very much about the longstanding, subtle class war regardless of race. For example Asians earn up to 30% more than White natives on one strata, 15% less on another, Blacks only 8% less overall but dependent on the latest migration, whilst in some strata/ years they earn more -so all in all there’s less of a distinction if you’re trying to base a notion on race. Still a problem – a national scandal when the government report came out in 2018 -but nowhere near the levels abroad.

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In the US for example it’s far more pronounced. Blacks and non-White Latinos average 30-40% less than Whites even after 400 years.

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Thus I feel in the US race more correlates with class over there, in a vicious cycle that’s entrenched -a lot of the racism against Black Americans persay can be construed in a brute way to how UK people perceive the working class, where we have far more of a prejudice problem than Stateside (for example the popularity of the term ‘chav’ -Council Housed And Violent). In short the class war in the UK and the racial war in the US are similar to an extent, but directed at different groups of people. In the UK, one of the few things you’re still allowed to bully and legally be chauvinist to is accent, the strength of which can easily denote one’s class.

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This is not to compare the struggle of Black people in the US as the class struggle here, that would be offensive to both sides and entirely missing the nuances, not to mention obvious differences in history, attitude, scale and victims (for example no one’s still going to shoot a working class man for jogging in their middle income neighbourhood, or have political parties dedicated to kicking out the working poor from the country, with millions voting for them). But it does have certain parallels, notably in how so-called respectable people judge, while claiming themselves neutral, that helps perpetuate the problem.

Going back to our errant human natures, stupified by emotion, everyone knows the 70-20-10% rule. -That 70% of our impression of someone is based on their looks, 20% on the sound of their voice and 10% on what they actually say. Yet I see it time and time again my peers and myself acting upon this prejudice, from my fellow interviewers to the way our staff deal with customers, to the way I process the same request from two people.

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I’ve caught myself being prejudiced this way -one person we picked as outstanding I realised later was because her work was not actually that brilliant, but that her interaction and delivery was always with a winning, slightly posh accent.

A ‘problematic’ working class employee who says “nohh, don’t like it innit” is saying the same thing as the posh, ‘astute’ one politely affirming “I’m sorry, I do not like it. That’s just the way it is for me.” Even though the first reply is actually opening itself to negotiation and the second one isn’t, it sounds worse.

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My workplace, a worldly instutution that shall not be (overtly) named, still has a racial bias on top, I’ve rarely seen elsewhere in the city. In London, non-White ethnic minorities -especially skewed to our youthful age range -should account for 40% at the very least. They are also more liable to have degrees and more liable to be in our scientific fields. However we still have the ‘old guard’ to dispel, and something I’ve had to talk to the top end about as a representative. That the institution neatly scores itself satisfactorily on the diversity spectrum (although positive action was made illegal in the UK -as it’s just another form of discrimination, diversity needs to be measured by law) but on any obvious diversity it falls flat. That the very lowest rung of the payscales -the cleaners -are overtly diverse and forming their large majority, while those customer-facing it’s less than a quarter, but slightly better at showing London’s 40% mix. However, once you hit any rung higher it falls to 15% or lower. Higher management is almost blanketly White, with maybe one or two exceptions.

Although we are a staunchly left wing and feelsy organisation, it’s obvious the subconscious bias still applies, and we’re still dealing with the neolithic. It permeates on every level.

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The way our media, even written by left wingers, push through assumptions and cater to audience safety (read: institutionalised bias) helps make it a constant peddler of categorising people, and reinforcing the status quo. Heroes are more successful if they’re male White saviour memes, not dumpy frontline nurses. We get less annoyed or bored, more invested and sympathetic looking at beautiful faces doing the talking. We like our preconceptions not to be challenged but set ever further into stone. Iran has to look like how we imagine Iran to look, Black people have to speak ghetto regardless of their class, people outside our own circle of comfort must be different, and thus need to ring it true at all times -preferably on town crier levels of advertisement.

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Some people argue that in an individualistic society we should only be concerned about our own paths regardless of the rest, after laying the white picket fence around the yard in an age of capitalism. That the prejudice suffered by Black people in America is for them to sort out. Sure but then look at the same prejudice in differing angles, let’s randomly say the glass ceiling for women, a full half of the world, who score the same as men in IQ and actually get higher grades, but suffer -at the very best levels ever -still 18% difference in pay, for no good reason. The BBC, so-called champion for equality despite appointing 17 male White Director Generals in a row, was recently exposed when the female stars and presenters colluded to discover they were being paid significantly less than their male counterparts, despite pulling in higher viewerships or sharing the same job.

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Look at the bamboo ceiling (I myself endure); East Asians have the highest average grades, IQ scores and qualifications, which gift them into higher entry levels once in the job market. This has resulted in the highest average pay too, more so than any other strata, and the moniker of a ‘model minority’. So far, so rosy.

However look closer, and East Asians are also the least likely to be promoted into any form of management, less so than Blacks or Latinos, more than doubly less so than Whites. They have to send out 70% more applications to get call back if their name is amended to show they’re East Asian. They are nearing 6% of the US population yet only 0.3% of corporate office populations. And in fields where they are overtly represented, they are still heavily under-represented in management. For example, even if 22% of scientists are East Asian, only 5% are lab directors.

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And all that is just talking about jobs, just one uncontrollable aspect that affects our lives. Look at everything else, the threat assessment every woman has to take when meeting any man, the fact the majority of women have been harassed or assaulted, that one quarter of women in this country will suffer domestic abuse at some stage, and that the same overlapping amount sexual abuse and rape. That up to 97% of rapes here may be ending in no conviction, due to low reportage and one of the few systems that favour the criminal. The fact East Asians don’t just suffer the institutional prejudice but the highest rates of violence upon the person thanks to hate crime. All this goes largely unreported, we look at people and think everything is all right. Ask your female friends in confidence what their experience of sexual harrasment, assault or violence has been, and see how many have had none.

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It’s not that society should be riven with fear, and that everyone is sexist and racist, but that even subconscious bias still damages horrendously on top of that shit, that it disregards individual performance. I agree with the law that positive discrimination is still another form of discrimination, and directly undermines the cause also. But I think the best way forward is educating employers and general populace alike as to what to watch out for in themselves -and not just the one-off training module, but instilling a culture based on psychology.

The riots in the US, and protests in solidarity around the world are a sign a generation is fed up of it, we are not going to stand for it any longer. But to take a knee, a push, a shove, a punch, a strike, a rubber bullet. They say the pen is mightier than the sword, but look at how little we’ve progressed, notably when the quills on both sides of the war are still helping to write the same script  -has it been mightier, after all these years? For too long silence is violence, and the only way to enact change appears is to show it in numbers, in taking to the streets.

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Yesterday

Tomorrow

A Journal of the Plague Year Week 12

Sunday 31st May 2020

As American cities burn under protests (25 have declared curfews) other cities round the world are also holding protests in sympathy for George Floyd. Today London held a march between Trafalgar Square, down Whitehall and crossing over to the US Embassy in Vauxhall, where it was stopped from reaching by the police (cmawn, they’ve got a moat). It ended peacefully, but the numbers were impressive, spread by social media and disowned by the Black Lives Matter UK movement (who’d prefer to enforce social distancing). A sister #BLMLondon took the reins after trending:

Black Lives Matter protest

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Sister demos were held in Manchester and Cardiff too

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Not to mention abroad.

Copenhagen

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Berlin

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Tokyo held theirs yesterday

In the US scenes of violence across the nation are getting ever more lurid in the news and on social media. Agitators from both far right and far left appear to blame, with the Minneapolis mayor putting an estimate of those fighting overnight at 80% from outside the city (and confirmed today when St Paul mayor announced every single person arrested last night had come from out of state).

When even Salt Lake City or Fargo are seeing violence one knows the shit’s hit the fan.

In more hopeful scenes, many peaceful protests, and dissolution of violence have also been filmed, from the Mennonite supporters (similar to the Amish):

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to the protesters protecting a riot cop in Louisville separated from his team:

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to the Flint, Michigan Sheriff, who put down his baton and helmet, and asked the crowd what they wanted. They asked him to march with them, and he did:

As did the Camden police chief:

Protesters protected a Target Store (cross country the massive chain has closed, bummer of a name right now):

To a more strained relationship at times between the Black Lives Matter groups (BLM) and the Anti Fascist League (Antifa), who were appropriating the BLM acronym in their grafitti:

The protests appear to have caught a zeitgeist for much of the young. Too long lumbered with the politics of old, and the sins of their fathers from racial division to sexism, homophobia to inequality, corruption to populism, student debt to never owning a home, a gig economy to ecological disaster. To not just one crisis of a generation but two in quick succession -the 2008 Financial Crisis, and now the 2020 Pandemic, with the Great Depression to come, not to mention global warming. This is a world they have inherited, and too long powerless to change. So depressed (and for so long) was Greta Thunberg at seeing her future wrecked, with the adults unconcerned all around her, she took up protesting.

Comparisons have been drawn to the summer of 1968, an equally volatile year that saw in riots and call for rights across the world, enshadowed by the Vietnam War, the Cold War and threat of dictatorship on one hand and nuclear war on the other. People who lived through it are saying this is worse. To the new generations, an apology is owed.

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Yesterday

Tomorrow

A Journal of the Plague Year Day 72

Saturday 30th May 2020

 

America is burning. Over 30 cities are now seeing protests, and 25 are calling curfews. LA has declared a state of emergency along with the National Guard deployed, as have a handful of others. Worst hit still remains Minneapolis, and its coming fifth night of violence.

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The Minneapolis Riots map shows several main streets heavily affected by damage and fire, the city centre, and spreading to its sister city centre (known as the Twin Cities), St Paul:

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zoomed in:

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To appreciate a scale of the destruction, here is a list of the businesses damaged or destroyed:

FIRE DAMAGE

7 Mile Fashion
United States Post Office
Affordable Housing Development
Arby’s
Atlas Staffing
AutoZone Auto Parts
AutoZone Auto Parts
Bismillah Grocery & Coffee
Bling-Bling Beauty Supply
Chicago Furniture Warehouse
Citi Trends
CFSC New Money Express
Cricket Wireless
El Sabor Chuchi
Family Dollar
Fatima African Hair Braiding
GM Tobacco & Super Vapor
H&R Block
Hexagon Bar
Holiday
Home Choice Stores
Hop Wong
Lake Street Tobacco
Lloyd’s Pharmacy
maX it PAWN
Metro by T-Mobile
Minnehaha Lake Wine & Spirits
Mirasol Express
MoneyGram
NAPA Auto Parts – Genuine Parts Company
Nguyen Architects, Inc.
Physicians Group
O’Reilly Auto Parts
Quality Tobacco
Uncle Hugo’s / Uncle Edgar’s Bookstore
Shell / Tobacco Shop
Speedway
Town Talk Diner & Gastropub
U 2 Nails
Wendy’s
Residential Home Columbus Ave
21st Ave S Vehicle Fire x2
2932 Park Ave Minneapolis
35W North at Washington
7-Sigma Inc.
ACE Cash Express
Addis Ababa Restaurant
Big Top Wines & Spirits
Bole Ethiopian Cuisine
Boost Mobile
Chicago Ave Vehicle Fire
Cub Foods
Dakota County Western Service Center – Apple Valley
Dollar General
Dollar General
Du Nord Craft Spirits
El Nuevo Rodeo
Enterprise Rent-A-Car
Fade Factory
Family Dollar
Foot Locker
Foot Locker
Furniture Barn
GameStop
Gandhi Mahal Restaurant
Great Clips
HD Laundry
Holiday Station
Integrated Staffing Solutions
Iron Door Pub
Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct
Little Caesars Pizza
LV’s Barbershop
maX it PAWN
maX it PAWN
Metro PCS
Midori’s Floating World Cafe
Midtown Corner Low Income Housing
Migizi Communications
O’Reilly Auto Parts
O’Reilly Auto Parts
O’Reilly Auto Parts
Olympic Cafe
Popeyes
Laddatude Tattoo
Neighbors One Stop Inc. Gas Station
Rongo’s Auto Service
Sabri Properties
Schooner Tavern
Sol Travel
Speedway
Speedway
Speedway
Sports Dome
Springboard for the Arts
Stop N Shop
T.J. Maxx
Target
Teppanyaki Grill and Supreme Buffet
Total Wireless
TwinCare Dental
U.S. Bank Branch
U.S. Bank Branch
Walgreens
Walgreens
Winner Gas Station
Wells Fargo Bank
Wells Fargo Bank

DAMAGE

1 Life CBD Products
J Klips
SoPHI Apartments
Fifth Street Towers
365 Nicollet
Valerie’s Taqueria Inc
Hennepin Lake Liquor Store
ICC Wireless
Jackson Hewitt Tax Service
Pineda Tacos
Subway
Piff
Como Tap
Penn Gas Stop
The Fremont Restaurant & Bar
Broadway Liquor Outlet
Skol Liquors
ALDI Grocery
Dollar Tree
Hi Lake Liquors
CSL Plasma
Speedway
East Lake Library
Precision Tune Auto Care
Dairy Queen
Sabri Commons
Papa Murphy’s | Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza
Planet Fitness
Holiday
Domino’s Pizza
Walgreens
LA Skin Care & Spa
Urban Forage Winery and Cider House
Car-X Tire & Auto
Galactic Pizza
Frattallone’s Ace Hardware
Minnesota Transitions Charter School
See Eyewear
Laundromax LLC
Soderberg’s Floral & Gift
Hennepin Healthcare East Lake Clinic
Seward Pharmacy
Electra Tune Tire & Auto
Walgreens
Elevated Beer Wine & Spirits
Seward Community Co-op – Franklin Store
Midtown Global Market
Briva Health
BMO Harris Bank – Only Drive-Up Open
TCF Bank ATM
Studiiyo23
DTLR
Zipps Liquors
Uptown Pawn
Target
Chicago Lake Liquors
East Lake Liquor Store
Ingebretsen’s Scandinavian Gifts & Foods
Hamdi Restaurant
Freewheel Bike Midtown Bike Center
Hudson Hardware
Birchwood Cafe
CVS Uptown
Timberland
Sunny’s Hair & Wigs
Thurston’s Jewelers
Banadir Pharmacy
SEPHORA
GameStop Uptown
Indulge & Bloom Uptown
H&M Uptown
Apple Uptown
Urban Outfitters Uptown
Smokeless – Vape and CBD
AutoZone Auto Parts
Buzz Mart
Noodles and Company
The Vitamin Shoppe Hamline
Sprint Store
Midway Tobacco and Vapor
T-Mobile
Leeann Chin
America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses
BP
Discount Tire
TCF Bank
Lululemon
Ananya Dance Theatre
7 Miles Sportwear
Fire ‘N’ Ice
Liquor Barrel
R.F. Moeller Jeweler
The Fixery
Target
CVS Pharmacy
Boost Mobile
Advance Auto Parts
Speedway
Park Nicollet Clinic Minneapolis
Penzeys Spices
Walgreens
McDonald’s
Walgreens
First Grand Avenue Liquor Store
To New York
Peking Garden
Five Guys
Holiday
Honda Town
Tires Plus
Walgreens
MPS Center for Adult Learning
Cutz Too Barber Shop
El Pollo de los Santos
Degan Childcare Center
Cadillac Pawn & Jewelry
Electronics for Less
Valvoline Instant Oil Change
Lake Plaza
Holiday Station
Gold’n Treasures
Holiday Stationstores
GameStop – Brooklyn Center
Walmart Supercenter – Brooklyn Center
T-Mobile – Brooklyn Center
Family Dollar – Brooklyn Center
Walgreens – Brooklyn Center
Ax-Man Surplus
Park & Lake Car Wash
Sew Simple
Juxtaposition Arts
Walgreens
Untitled
Northtown Mall – Blaine
Hawthorne Crossings
Cub Foods – Sun Ray Shopping Center Maplewood
Cub Liquor – Sun Ray Shopping Center Maplewood
Best Buy – Roseville
Target – Roseville
Walmart Supercenter – Roseville
Rosedale Center – Roseville
Ombibulous
Tobacco & Mas
Nowak’s Liquor & Wine – West St. Paul
Famous Footwear – West St. Paul
Speedway
Metro by T-Mobile – West St. Paul
Boost Mobile – West St. Paul
Foot Locker
Broadway Clinic
Speedway
The Jewelers
A-1 Lock Service by Kee Wee
Walgreens
McDonald’s
A Auto Mall
Turf Club
Gordon Parks High School
Trader Joe’s
Speedway
Holiday Station
Birthright
Kmart
Minneapolis Central Library
Cork Dork Wine Co
Minneapolis Carbone’s Pizza & Pub
Casablanca Foods
Speedway
B-Squad
Pat’s Tap
Great Health Nutrition
The Hub Bike Co-op
Walgreens
MGM Wine & Spirits
Walgreens – White Bear Lake
Walfoort Liquor Store
Sun Foods
Trend Bar
Taco Bell
Vig Guitars
Pawn America – Roseville
Goodwill – St. Paul
Verizon
Target
Speedway
Marathon Gas
Tibet Store
Familia Skateshop
Ken & Norm’s Liquor
Walgreens
Landmark’s Uptown Theatre
CB2
Palm Beach Tan
Mucci’s Italian
Lyndale Tobacco
Walgreens
Hennepin County WIC Office
MTS Secondary
Aldi
Master Collision – Minneapolis
White Castle
Pantry Food Market
E And L Supermarket And Deli
Subway
Matt’s Bar and Grill
Holiday Station
Everett’s Foods & Meats
Paper Source
USA Smoke Shop
Nokomis Shoe Shop
Speedway
First Cherokee Bank
CVS
Target
Starbucks
4Marq Apartments
Cub Foods
White Castle
Speedway
Hyatt Regency Minneapolis
Origami Restaurant
Mississippi Market Natural Foods Co-op
Sprint Store
Office Depot
Sprint Store
BMO Harris Bank
Boost Mobile
Speedway
15th St East Minneapolis
Williams Uptown Pub & Peanut Bar
Whittier Clinic & Pharmacy
Dollar Tree
Yuan Yuan Chinese Restaurant
Xcel Energy
Whiskey Junction
The Nic on Fifth
Sanaag Restaurant and Coffee
Salon Levante
Sally Beauty
Running Room
Ribnick Luxury Outerwear
Ragstock
Phenom
Parkway Pizza
Office Depot
Merwin Liquors Minneapolis
Martin Patrick 3
John Fluevog Shoes
Infinite Vapor Uptown
Giordano’s
Giant Wash Coin Laundry
Firefly Credit Union
El Chuchi Market
Dogwood Coffee Bar – Uptown
Cal Surf
Bondesque
AT&T Store
Anthony’s Pipe & Cigar Lounge
Walgreens Pharmacy
Frattallone’s Ace Hardware
Hook Fish & Chicken
H&R Block
Pearle Vision
Kyle’s Market
Metro by T-Mobile
Kitchen Window
T-Mobile
Walgreens
Brite Dental Center
Extreme Noise Records
Hibachi Buffet
Urban Tails Pet Supply
Chris Kvale Cycles
El Nuevo Miramar
Yusuf Center
International Bazaar
Cost Cutters
Little Caesar’s
African Development Center
Annex by Opitz Outlet
North End Hardware & Rental
All Washed Up
Union Liquors
Family Dollar
Sabri Properties
Pizza Hut
Dream Haven Books & Comics

 

Violence as left and right wing clash is pronounced:

 

 

As with the police, alongside footage of them pepper spraying /shooting news crews and people in their homes or standing on their porch.

 

 

These two students were singled out, beaten and tasered, and charged with breaking curfew, the cars in front and all around notably ignored.

And meanwhile the looting continues:

 

 

It appears POTUS, increasingly embattled in the White House as protesters chant outside, is picking sides. He didn’t even mention the protests or George Floyd till two briefings later, where he announced he had spoken to the family, the best. The brother of Floyd mentioned they hadn’t even been allowed to speak.

 

 

As night falls, and the running battles take the streets, America searches for its soul

 

 

x

Yesterday

Tomorrow

 

A Journal of the Plague Year Day 71

Friday 29th May 2020

 

Okay after the uproarious events of the last few days I promised a day off. I mean, how much news can one get? Like a UV drip through every media, either ongoing outside distantly, or swept in full force through a screen.

Two stories have appeared just too delicious. One is the mass protests now occupying America, with over 20 cities seeing in reports of violence, looting and burning of buildings following the killing of George Floyd. CNN is currently holed up in its Atlanta offices with live coverage of a crowd attacking it’s very building, that it shares with a police precinct.

Some of the pictures emerging from ground zero in Minneapolis are horrifying, where two police precincts and several blocks have been burned out.

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APTOPIX Minneapolis Police Death

All the largest cities, from NYC, to Chicago have seen ‘dozens’ of protests each, including freeway intersections in LA and Oakland, near San Francisco and 200 arrested in Houston alone. The White House at one point was put under lockdown as protests took outside it. By day the protesters appear peaceful albeit disruptive, by night it worsens.

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US-POLITICS-POLICE-JUSTICE-RACE-DEMONSTRATION-RACISM

200 have been arrested in Houston alone

Minneapolis, now approaching its fourth night of riots, has called in the National Guard and imposed a curfew and state of emergency (as has Portland), a man has been shot dead in Detroit, though it’s still under investigation if this had to do with the protesting. In Lousiville ongoing protests merged with those for Breonna Taylor, an unarmed emergency medic shot 8x just days before, killed in her bed after it was mistakenly stormed in a drugs/money raid (the police were plain-clothed, burst in with a “no-knock warrant” and didn’t announce themselves -her boyfriend put out a warning shot, and the 911 transcript showed he still didn’t know they were police when he called for help). No drugs or drugs money was ever found at her flat, and the suspect they were looking for was found in an entirely different address.

The city also saw a night of violence, with 7 people shot and injured.

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The 33 cities so far affected by mass protests (both peaceful and violent) are Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Sacramento, San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco, Denver, Atlanta, Chicago, Des Moines, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Louisville, Bowling Green,  New Orleans, Lincoln, New York City, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Portland, Dallas, Houston, Columbus, Cincinnati, Canton, Richmond, Seattle, Milwaukee and Washington DC.

Early harrowing footage of a disabled woman in a wheelchair being assaulted (punched in the head and a fire extinguisher let off in her face) in a Target Store and doing the rounds across social media appears more than the snapshots used. On closer inspection the full videos show her trying to stab Black looters (and allowing White ones to pass, perhaps randomly perhaps because of race) beforehand, and a later one of her walking about. Mental illness surely?

 

The other storm appears to be Trump’s handling of the unfolding crisis. His Tweet to match ‘when the looting starts the shooting starts’ has been widely condemned that the President of the US is condoning the shooting of its citizens, not to mention the quote was taken from notorious Miami Police Chief Walter Headley who uttered it in a 1967 speech outlining his department’s efforts to “combat young hoodlums who have taken advantage of the civil rights campaign.”

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Twitter, hot on the heels of its earlier fact-check warning slapped on his latest falsehood, now hid the text due to inciting violence, another of its rules. As reminder, shooting looters is unconstitutional, even if they are dangerously dark-skinned and TV-holding, or even walking down the street, and despite the long tradition to do so following any disaster.

You literally couldn’t make it up. The Great Orange Dolphin has gone apoplectic; his lifeline to insults, power and obnoxiousness appears to be fighting him. He’s subsequently started the day with all barrels blazing, drawing a gunfight with China with a long list of accusations, from C-19 cover up to stealing tech, while attempting to align the ‘left wing forces’ as supporting them. His announcement of unprecedented action, including the suspension of special treatment for Hong Kong, will ratchet up the trade wars when the world needs it least, with China now waiting to take retaliation. It’s noted this very much looks like his reelection platform, piqueing a hatred of China, of C-19 and lockdown on top of the culmination of White American demographic embattlement. It marries with his announcement alongside that the US is fully leaving the World Health Organisation for claiming it in league with China to “mislead the world”, and withdrawing all funds at a time it needs it most.

Donald Trump

It appears he’s having a bad day. And some people just want to see the world burn.

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