Equality has been and still is one of the single most important, yet difficult, things to achieve globally as a species, especially in the West where we like to think of ourselves as modern and liberal.
I’ll highlight the USA just because of both its historical and current inflammatory infamy. With all of the recent police murders of unarmed black men and women (Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling and the list tragically goes on) with no obvious attempt to solve this issue. Juries continue to acquit; sometimes they don’t even indict the criminals! It must be said that clearly not all police are bad/corrupt but the bad eggs need to be dealt with so the virus doesn’t spread throughout the organisation and faith isn’t lost in the badge.
It’s not the fact that there are unbefitting, corrupt officers polluting the force that caused the movement of Black Lives Matter, merely the complete and utter failure in the justice system’s ability to defend and protect the minorities in America (ironically the very job of law enforcement) and suddenly the label awarded to the LAPD by NWA as the biggest gang in the world seems to ring true.
What is worse, is that any hope of a solution is getting further and further from reality.
Colin Kaepernick bravely put his reputation and a large amount of his livelihood at stake in order to draw attention to the issue and protest in solidarity with BLM when he took a knee during the national anthem during NFL games creating national debate on the subject; he has subsequently been cut by his team during the off-season and during the second week of free agency has had to watch others get signed ahead of him. For those arguing it’s due to ability, he has been to a Superbowl whereas Geno Smith (signed last week by the Giants) has been to the bench over and over again.
Likewise, the rise of Trump has only added fuel to the fire of racism in the States. In what must surely be attributed to the increase in the alt-Right, there has been a surge in anti-Semitic attacks. Bomb threats were made to Jewish Community Centres in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia. On top of that 500 graves were defaced in Philadelphia only a week after a wave of vandalism of headstones in St Louis cemeteries.
To cap it all off, as recently as yesterday, the Confederate flag was flying high at a March Madness game in South Carolina; the state that ceremoniously lowered it at its state house following the church massacre in Charleston. I would point out that Dylann Roof, the ‘man’ who committed this treacherous hate crime, was peacefully arrested without a scratch as opposed to Eric Garner who may or may not have been LOITERING.
To get back to my point, these are where the true issues lie; what I have mentioned above is what needs to be solved in order to achieve equality. The problem with succeeding in that aspect is that the issues are drowned out and the moral contents of the cause are watered down and lose credibility.
In terms of being drowned out, Colin Kaepernick, the man who made such noise last season, can no longer get a job offer with a team. He’s effectively had the volume of his voice decreased without such a strong platform on which to speak upon anymore. Equally as he loses his voice, the fascists gain theirs. Donald Trump draws all headlines to himself (and away from the important issues) with every ridiculous statement he makes be it through Sean Spicer or Twitter and as he continues to refuse to outright denounce the alt-right, they will continue to be heard louder and louder. This change in the balance could be fatal and so it is so important that these brave people continue to ensure they bellow from the mountaintops so they are heard for certain.
Regarding my second point, the credibility is lost by those who aren’t really concerned in full equality as the end game but are instead using it as a tool for their own gain. Now I understand there may be skepticism; A white man maybe shouldn’t comment on what is/isn’t equality but please bear with me.
Equality, by definition, is the state of being equal in status, rights or opportunities in particular. Now instantly that is something of an impossibility because unfortunately the way the world works is that some people are born into wealth [you only need look at the Hiltons or entire ‘cast’ of Made in Chelsea] and positions such as the British Royal Family.
So realistically what we mean when we coin the term is to be:
- Afforded the same rights as anyone should be, regardless of race/sex/gender or status.
- Given the same opportunities – technically again this is a bit of an oversight because any rational person knows opportunities are unfairly swayed by who you know.
- Treated equally by others – rulings in a court of law, employment and pay, safety from discrimination and oppression etc
Those are a very basic summary of what I believe people are seeking, Black Lives Matter aren’t seeking to gain anything, but merely asking for the same treatment afforded to those in the majority of the population; their rights as human beings and citizens.
Based off that, some of the declarations made by celebrities in the name of equality are quite frankly ludicrous. By potentially furthering their individual causes, they are detracting from the importance of these protests.
On New York’s Radio Hot 97 morning show with Ebro, Samuel L Jackson recently complained about during the interview about Black British actors getting more opportunities/roles in film citing that they are cheaper to hire. He’s not waging a war at those in power such as the movie studios, those funding the project or even directors but at other people in a similar boat. These aren’t actors with reduced abilities nor are they recasting the roles to white people; they are simply taking British actors over American.
If it’s a pricing thing I say that’s more fool them for allowing themselves to be undercut. If they aren’t prepared to sacrifice for the career advancing opportunities they don’t deserve them; it is identical to people in this country complaining of immigrants stealing their jobs when realistically they take the roles we scoff and turn our noses up at.
It is also a claim that is probably falling on deaf ears with the huge successes generated from Moonlight, Hidden Figures, Fences and even TV shows like The Get Down and Luke Cage.
Again, recently following the release of Drake’s ‘playlist’ More Life, Lily Allen tweeted to complain that in 22 songs there was only one female feature [conveniently forgetting there was an entire interlude named after that solitary feature]. I plan on going into more depth about the disillusion of Hollywood and the real struggles humanity faces but it’s these statements that water down the all important true struggles. There’s no reason for Drake to have a female producer. They aren’t entitled to be on his work any more so than a man should be in Beyonce’s works. Artists should work with who they please and who they are comfortable with regardless of sex/gender/race which is as mentioned what equality looks like. I may be misconstruing what Allen meant by this vague and short tweet – in which case she should elaborate rather than leaving cryptic messages on an open medium – but if a difference is truly to be made there can’t be these false and petty complaints. As I mentioned, I will go into more depth about this element of the issue in a future post, but for now hopefully they will provide explanatory examples of the latter part of my two pronged point.
The problem is quite simply, as a survival trait, people are by nature selfish. These complaints they make as mentioned above are most likely for personal gain. In the case of Samuel L Jackson it’s maybe to further his career whilst with Lily Allen it’s more likely to be for publicity. As a result, these petty cases that tend to saturate the limits of human empathy whilst discrediting the true courses will cease to end.
My predominant topic for this post was how equality will never come to fruition, even in this ‘liberal and free’ part of the world. If this is too hard to believe think of it this way: In the last year in office for President Obama – the nation’s first ever black president there was yet another spike in headline grabbing police shootings and subsequent acquittals. This led to the Kaepernick protest mentioned above, speeches at the ESPYs and marches/riots around the country; merely an illusion of progress.
The result; USA voted the most hate riddled president of all time, nothing was done to solve the policing issues and now hate crimes are on the rise. Similarly in the UK and other countries in Europe, Far Right parties are finding success in the polls/elections/referendums simply because of a hatred of minorities seeking refuge within them; because of trouble in the Middle East caused by the meddling of the very countries turning away the innocents fleeing such brutality.
The reason for this is because equality does not suit the only people with the power to change things. Those born into wealth, who have easy lives filled with riches and none of the troubles suffered by those who are different; so why would they try to level the playing field? Similarly, the powerful men who continue to remain in charge of these countries as lobbyists, politicians and tycoons (media and oil primarily) would see their hold on power lessened.
In ways no different to the dictators clutching onto power via military oppression and using starvation/poverty to keep their people weak and feeble, politicians in ‘democratic’ countries do the same. It is no coincidence that the House of Commons/Lords are filled almost in entirety with Eton and Oxbridge schooled alumni; often passed down to offspring. In fact you only need look to the states to see that the Bush and Clinton family have spent years running or at least demonstrating serious influence in the country’s politics.
Realistically the only way equality could ever be reached would be to start again be it an all out revolution in order to hit the reset button, OR if we could start again on another planet and leave those in power to fight it out for this one. I say realistically in an offhand way because it’s something that would neither be beneficial or probable. Evolution is the key to survival so a restart theoretically would be catastrophic.
In summary, as I mentioned initially equality is but a lovable but untenable Utopian fantasy. Those voted to power don’t run the country, merely act as puppet heads for the unelected corporations who fund campaigns for favours. People can continue to protest as they have done for years but very few of these issues can truly be solved with fixed legislation which is why protests haven’t been successful since the Civil Rights Movements. Police brutality has been protested since before the Rodney King incident in the 1990s and it’s not a dissimilar story for gun crime. Understandably it’s a negative outlook but there hasn’t even been a mention, politically, of how to resolve police brutality and we all know about the infamous rebuffed attempts to limit gun possession.
The issues people care so much about wont be resolved until they become beneficial to those with the power to bring about change. Currently Trump is deporting Hispanic minorities who only came to the US for freedom and hope and doing his best to stop Muslims getting there in the first place. The Islamic ban is getting all different kinds of resistance and it wouldn’t surprise me if it had something to do with the huge monetary incentives not to sever ties with countries in the oil rich Middle East. However, there is no such opposition to the hundreds of Hispanics being ripped from their families to be removed from the country in true Nazi fashion. No doubt because Hispanic countries of origin for the people affected lack the same influence.
So in conclusion, as I mentioned before, there is an order to society that has long been put in place. It has firm foundations in order to withstand opposition and because of these equality is and always will be unfeasible. I strongly believe we should continue to strive to push to get as close as possible to equality as the end goal through peaceful methods, I’m merely trying to lessen the expectations and explain why there is such a small chance of making any significant changes.