In the last few days there's been a lot of incisive, searing writing about George Floyd, the protests about his murder and the murders of so many other black people, and what it means for us in the UK.
If you've already read Chris Lambert's A Letter To My White Friends, here's where to go next. We'll be keeping this updated with new pieces over the next few weeks.
Nesrine Malik, the Guardian
"This mass global support cannot be separated from American cultural hegemony, from its power as exporter of its story. From its glamour. Hip-hop, the popular culture of African American distress – one that came into being to come to terms with death and dispossession – has been merely entertainment for everyone else. When the real thing happens, consumers treat it like just more celluloid, sharing it as an aesthetic and artistic arms-length experience, rather than the visceral expression of anguish that it is."
E Alex Jung, Vulture
"In the past few years, corporations have increasingly embraced various heritage celebrations, like Black History Month and Pride, as a form of rhetorical cover. This weekend, as protests against police brutality triggered disproportionate responses from law enforcement that only seemed to prove the point of the movement, the platitudinous word soup deployed from various brands online felt even more at odds with reality than usual."
Melz Owusu, the Independent
"It is believed that Tony [McDade] was under great threat – he was reportedly being targeted with violence by five cisgender men on account of his being trans and his death is thought to be the result of trying to defend himself against these brutal hate crimes. Clifford Butler, an eyewitness of the incident, told a local newspaper: “I never heard ‘Get down, freeze, I’m an officer’ – nothing. I just heard gunshots.”
"But even after being murdered, Tony was routinely misgendered in the press in what can only be described as a further plunging in of the sharp bullet that took his life. Had social media not rallied behind Tony, the erasure of his transness would have gone unnoticed. I often wonder how many of my trans siblings are denied their humanity and identity just as much in death, as they are in life."
Olivia Blair, Elle
"‘I was mad as hell,' Marcia describes to me over video call. 'Mad as hell, because I saw that officer murder him in broad daylight for the world to see. Had that not been recorded by a member of the public, we would probably never have known.'
"‘When I saw that [form of] restraint, all I could think about was Sean, because that’s exactly what they did to him. The officer, kneeling on his neck as if it was nothing. He watched him die. Is that what they did to Sean?'"
Gary Younge, New Statesman
"Washington was the first person to die that Benoit knew. But before long a few others – elders who used to come and “big him up” while he ran courses for the young; a couple of guys who were security guards – also fell. “I remember thinking, hang on a minute. Something’s going on here.” Today he can count 28 people – all black – he knows of who have perished, of whom five or six were close friends. That’s about two a week. The youngest was only 42.
"Statisticians and data journalists were soon able to quantify this lived experience. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), adjusting for age, black people are more than four times more likely to die from Covid-19 than white people. Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are more than three times as likely, and Indians more than twice as likely. BAME people account for 13.4 per cent of the population and 34 per cent of the patients admitted to intensive care units."
"I dropped to the ground. I was still holding my camera, but my glasses fell off and someone stepped on them. I got up and started running so I wouldn’t get trampled. I was holding my leg and limping. I remember thinking, What if I get shot in the eyes and I’m blind? What if I get shot in my chest? What if it stops my heart? They’re not aiming. They’re just shooting."
"'At first, I was angry,' said Ms. Islam, 18. 'This is my family’s main source of income.'
"But then she overheard her father, Ruhel Islam, speaking to a friend on the phone. 'Let my building burn,' he said. 'Justice needs to be served.'
"On Friday afternoon, after the fire stopped smoldering and the family came together, he repeated his support for the protests that had closed his restaurant. 'We can rebuild a building, but we cannot rebuild a human,' said Mr. Islam, 42. 'The community is still here, and we can work together to rebuild.'"
Bryan Washington, the New Yorker
"Not very long ago, a well-meaning white acquaintance asked me how it felt to incessantly think about living, in the United States, in the shadow of total police impunity. I answered, after blinking at him, by saying that I didn’t incessantly think about it. Nor did I not incessantly think about it. It’s just the same way that you (and you know who you are) don’t think about putting one foot in front of the other. We have to go about our lives; at the same time, there is this thing right here, which is to say everywhere in this country, that might end it at any time. We still play in the park, and we might be shot and killed for that. We still snack in our living rooms, and we might be shot and killed for that. We still read in our cars, and we might be shot and killed for that. We still blast our favorite music, and we might be shot and killed for that. We still pull into the grocery-store parking lot, and we might be shot and killed for that. We still babysit, and we might be shot and killed for that. We still ring in the New Year, and we might be shot and killed for that. We still drive home from dinner with our partners, and we might be shot and killed for that."
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