Today marks the start of Pride Month, normally a cause for celebration and all about me. This year, Pride is overshadowed by anger and it’s about other people: notably, but not only, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
Before I moved to the US four years ago, I was aware of racism here. I’d seen plays, films and documentaries. It seemed distant in time and place; something that happened In the Heat of the Night. Only when I moved here did I realise how dealing with racism is deeply embedded in the lives of very ordinary people living right beside me, how individual and institutional racism is a thing of here and now. A black friend told me a year ago that she doesn’t let her son exercise outside in the neighbourhood for fear that he’ll be seen as a burglar, a horrible premonition of Arbery. My husband doesn’t want to drive while black. These would have been mystifying reactions to me until I moved here.
The impact on those near and dear is one cause for anger. Another is the seemingly unending nature of these affronts. We watched Eric Garner choke to death in 2014 in New York. We watched George Floyd choke to death in Minneapolis in May. What happened to Amadou Diallo 20 years ago in New York repeated itself in March in Louisville, KY. The savage killing of Emmett Till in 1955 replayed in Satilla Shores in February. Why does nothing change?
What is certain is that there will be much more anger before anything does change. Pride was born in anger: Stonewall was not a march, it was a riot.
We can debate the form of protest but when attacking the injustice of the justice system, being present alone is a form of confrontation. The system is not inert – it will defend itself: many people have and will be arrested just for being there.That is why, this year, both for my birthday and all the other good reasons to celebrate June, I am asking you to support the Bail Project. They pay the bail bonds of those who would otherwise be incarcerated simply for being angry.