I may have missed it somewhere, but surely others have been wondering if Derek Chauvin is related in some way to Nicholas Chauvin whose legendary bigotry gave rise to the word chauvinism? I mean, it does seem a bit of a coincidence doesn’t it?
I have been reading James Walvin’s book The Zong, about the massacre that took place on a slaving ship in 1781. I knew quite a bit about it, but this book filled in gaps and joined dots. It is very well written and readable. Maybe it helped already having some knowledge because many of the names were familiar to me: Granville Sharp, Olaudah Equiano, Lord Mansfield, Peter Peckard, Thomas Clarkson. It inspired me to start another book Black England, Life Before Emancipation by Gretchen Gerzina, which I am also finding fascinating.
I was talking with a friend about these books and she assumed they had come out recently. I can’t remember her exact words, but they were on the lines of there have been lots of books published about black history in the last year. I told her the Walvin book came out in 2011 and the Gerzina one in 1996. The most recent book I have on black history is Black and British, a Forgotten History by David Olusoga (another book I highly recommend) and that was published in 2016.
I’m still filtering and percolating (yes, I do like coffee, how did you guess?) my thoughts about Coronavirus and Black Lives Matter, plus there’s more than a soupçon of anxiety, more like a ruddy great tureen, about Brexit. Celia passed me Charlie’s copy of The Economist as she does most weeks. I have surprised myself by finding it, at least in parts, very readable. Also some starkly shocking stories.
I had never before heard of 1488 as a white supremicist reference. But there was a short piece about an app developed in the US which you can use to identify symbols and insignia and discover if they are to do with the Antifa or Aryan Nations. The 14 refers to the number of words in the slogan, “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”. That is blood chilling enough, but 88 refers to the letter H, the eighth in the alphabet, so 88 translates as HH meaning Heil Hitler. Meaning there are still people about who would happily commit genocide and replicate the worst aspects of the Third Reich. There was a little light relief in the piece when it was explained that the app, VizPol, when tested in London, identified the writers’ children as white supremicists after confusing Peppa Pig, “a cartoon character of unknown political leanings”, with Pepe the Frog, an alt right mascot.
Another piece about the death of Burundi despot Pierre Nkurunziza, possibly from coronavirus, though the official version says heart attack, says few are likely to mourn him. He became president in 2005, but when his term of office came to an end he refused to go. I had a sudden horrible vision of Boris Johnson remaining Prime Minister for the rest of my life. There are so many things, self inflicted disasters, that have occurred in the UK over the past few years which in the sunny days of my youth I would have said could never happen here, that the prospect of Johnson going on and on, blustering and bluffing, lying and obfuscating, siring more and more children, no longer seems completely impossible. Continue reading
I watched the news and there was footage of people queuing outside shops. Not the spread out queues of people in search of groceries we have become used to over the last weeks, but great long snaking queues of people wanting to buy handbags, to browse, maybe buy perfume. I felt like I was watching scenes from another planet. I have never understood the great allure of shopping anyway, but right now I can’t think of anything worse.
So it seems not everyone has (re)discovered a love of nature; not everyone has found themselves reassessing how they have lived their lives pre-pandemic and decided on a new course. I understand that the pressure to return to old habits is huge, but I didn’t think the return would be this fast. Another item on the news was, to me, more positive. It was about how more areas of more towns are to be given over to cyclists and pedestrians, with goods being delivered only between certain hours. That should help lower pollution in our streets.
Another hopeful item was the interview with Patrick Hutchinson and his companions. Hutchinson was photographed carrying a white counter protester, a member of the far right, to safety when things got nasty on Saturday. He is dignified, calm and coherent; a natural spokesman. I’d have preferred it if his companions weren’t all manspreading in their seats, but that was a minor distraction. Maybe we’ll still be living in a society which is crazy about shopping but starts to be more equal. And men will learn to sit with their knees closer together. Continue reading
I am writing this in the morning, so unless I add to it later it will hardly be an account of my day’s doings. The rain has returned, so MasterB and I, having breakfasted, have returned to bed for a lazy lie-in. The water heater is on, and in a while I shall get up, wash and dress.
The internet is again absent, so agin I am writing this on a word processing app, and shall copy paste when I get the opportunity. I can’t read the news online, see what is outraging people on Twitter, and I have never taken watching daytime television so I am nicely out of the immediate loop.
Yesterday there was a lot of talk about removing statues of people who have part of the continuing history of black oppression and exploitation. Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, called for all such statues to be removed, and street names commemorating such people to be changed. I don’t think I agree.
I found myself more in tune with a black academic, whose name I unfortunately did not catch, in Scotland who believes the statues should remain, but with additional information giving a more balanced account of that person’s life. He believes we are in danger of airbrushing inconvenient and unpalatable truths out of our history if we simply remove the evidence that these people were respected and admired. As a white person, educated to think of Admiral Nelson as a great hero, learning he was pro-slavery was a shock. It doesn’t make him a less able naval officer, but it does remind us that all human beings are flawed and have failings, some greater than others. Churchill too falls into the same category. Continue reading