Just home from the Black Lives Matter protest in Dublin, which was held this evening in front of the GPO on O’Connell Street. It was being held in solidarity with the American movement.
It’s a subject I know only a little bit about. A white, middle class Limerick boy can’t really know much about institutional police racism in the US, or racism in general. I understand the concept of prejudice and discrimination and it’s ugly. Being gay is hardly a walk in the park, but the benefit and disadvantage of being gay is that you can oftentimes hide. I don’t wear a Kylie t-shirt on my head – not all the time anyway. There is no pink triangle on my forehead.
So with a bit of care, making sure not to flap my hands too much, and to watch my tone of voice, I can often fly under the radar. Being instantly identifiable as a particular race and having to deal with instant negative consequence for that completely neutral fact is not something in which I have any experience.
I found out about the protest after reading an article about it on The Journal website. What inspired me to go to the event was the comments from the public which followed. They started instantly.
‘All Lives Matter’ the commenters shrieked. Which is the most irritatingly self evident fact imaginable. Of course all lives matter. Has anyone said otherwise? But it would appear that getting targeted for police brutality and incarceration and murder, is far more likely in the US if you are black. Not if you are white.
The ‘all lives matter’ crowd remind me of the ‘Why isn’t there a straight pride day, why are the gays so special?’ cretins. The fact that every day is straight pride day is lost on those numpties.
‘Why are there gender quotas for certain jobs?’ the All Lives Matter people squeal. The fact that women are under-represented and underpaid for the same job is the argument that must not be voiced.
And of course racism in Ireland is present. Certainly more evident than in Holland. How much of that is related to the fact that Dutch society is more adept at hiding its racism is unquantifiable.
Last weekend, for example, I was in the Spar near my house buying milk, when some thirteen year old was told by the shop assistant that he was not going to be served and that he needed to leave immediately. He had been barred for stealing from the shop. The thirteen year old turned to the adult and screamed ‘You f*cking P*k*’.
My jaw dropped and before anything could be said or done about it he was out the door. I looked at the shop assistant, smiled at him and said ‘that little shit’. He didn’t smile back, just served me and carried on. I felt rotten. But what could I have done, I wondered. Chased the brat and give out to him? To what response I wonder? To be greeted by ‘you f*cking faggot’?
So I thought I’d attend the Black Lives Matter protest. Just to be physically there for a while. There was music. There were speakers – of the human kind and who got heard by the audience through the electrical kind of speakers. There were hundreds of people present. There was cheering and every few minutes we’d all shout in unison ‘Black lives matter.’
To be honest I felt a little sheepish and a touch inadequate. There I stand, in my office attire, a financially privileged white Irish guy, protesting against police brutality in a faraway land. Not that the US is so far away. Where America leads, the world follows. And as the speakers said, the situation for black people and other non-white foreigners in this land of saints and scholars, isn’t universally rosy either.
I stood there alone among the crowd, for 45 minutes clapping my hands, chanting ‘Black Lives Matter’ with the other gathered people. Wishing I knew some other people present – I’ve been on a fair number of protests concerning gay rights, and antiwar protests. But always with some friends. It’s more comfortable when you know others.
And then I felt my sugar dropping. So I made my way home. Very happy, that in my own negligible little way, I had expressed my opinion.
Black Lives Matter. Damned straight they do – damned gay they do as well mind.