By Bill Rah
In the east-end of Glasgow lies a historical and cultural landmark.
In the center of Glasgow Green the Nelson Monument is an obelisk pillar that stands at 144 feet. It dominates the park skyline and is a common place for demonstrations. Anti-War protests were held here in 1914. The Suffragettes marched outside this monument. It was a fitting location to protest against racism and bigotry.
Glasgow is a city littered with the names of slavers. This dark truth casts a shadow over the cities progressive facade. The global movement occurring is a reaction to thousands of years of enslavement and abuse. The Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 is a monumental shift in the geopolitical landscape.
The sun was shining as noon crept closer. The far outreach of the global movement entered Glasgow Green. Crowds gathered, masked waving signs protesting oppression, discrimination and social injustice.
Thousands gathered to stand together against racial prejudice. There were an estimated 8500 people in attendance according to Black Lives Matter member and DJ Barrington James Xavier Reeves. Black Lives Matter Glasgow and Magic City, a collective of hip-hop DJ’s help organise the protest. The collective set up decks and speakers for the keynote speeches.
The atmosphere was peaceful and tranquil as the collective shared their love of music with protestors. There is a deep connection between music and politics. Barrington stood behind the decks as he discussed his aim. “It’s time for reform. We need reform in policing, education and hiring. We want to send a very clear message.”
The time for legislative reform is overdue. If appropriate legislation is applied there is a chance, we could see a decrease in social injustices against minorities. “I think with right reform and right restructuring and addressing the right issues we could see a significant decrease to systematic racism.”
He remains optimistic in his odyssey as an activist. Yet he acknowledged the harsh reality. “I think every ethnic minority in Scotland has suffered racial atrocities. It’s a shocking fact we need to live with.” The reality is Scotland hides behind a progressive facade.
Despite racism having a negative impact on his state of mind Barrington remains tough. “Racism has made me very resilient and aware of things that need to change and other people’s attitudes towards me.” He is hopeful for the future and he has a dream. That one-day future generations won’t have to deal with racism.
Barrington wants to turn this into reality. With reforms in education, health and employment minorities can succeed in a multitude of industries. If the education system is reformed to teach children about colonialism and the genocide committed by the British Empire. Perhaps people wouldn’t grow up so ignorant.
There is so much brutality behind African history. Muslims have been subjected to racial abuse for hundreds of years. We can educate society to try and extinguish the radical right-wing beliefs that are prominent within white social circles. There is so much history that has been overlooked.
He candidly discussed the history behind his name during his key-note speech. “A lot of people say to me Barrington is a posh name.” The Barrington family once owned a plantation where Barrington Reeves family were enslaved.
In a poetic turn of events his family bought the plantation where they were formerly enslaved. They reclaimed the Barrington name after purchasing the plantation. Now it is passed down to the men in the family as a mark of how far they have come. It was a gut-wrenching origin story behind the name of one of Glasgow’s most prominent activists.
The speeches throughout the protest were emotionally devastating, powerful and educational. The experience was touching. Make no mistake this was not a day of celebrations. The atmosphere was remorseful. There were times it felt like a funeral for George Floyd.
Some of the speeches felt like eulogies. It was difficult to remain composed due to the high velocity of racially bigoted anecdotes that speakers shared. Director of Black and Scottish Stewart Kyasimire shared a heartbreaking tale. “My daughter said to me. Daddy. I wish I was white.”
It is hurtful to know a child had this thought. Racially motivated verbal abuse caused her to think like this. One of the keynote speakers, Tatana contemplated that she doesn’t feel comfortable bringing children into a world with such hatred.
Tatana is an Actor and South African woman. Like many she has experienced racism in Glasgow. She demands change. “I come from a history of freedom fighters. We have to use our voices to create change. Our grandparents did the work and we have to carry on their work.”
George Floyd has become a symbolic martyr internationally. His violent death sent millions into mourning. The subject matter cut deep within Tatana’s heart. Her voice crackled as her composure withered. “It’s a pain that I cannot even put into words.”
There must be ground breaking changes in policy and society. “Change has got to come.” As an actor she immerses herself into her research to fully explore and understand her character. With her knowledge she understands that change must address socioeconomic inequalities and injustices
“White people need to educate themselves. There are books to read, podcasts to listen to. Have those awkward conversations with family members and friends. I feel they need to educate their children on racism.” There is a mountain of barbaric history to study.
Godwin, a 3rd year Environmental Management student shared his opinion. “It’s good to get thinking about the past and acknowledging the history of slavery and colonialism.” Godwin accepts the racism he has experienced has not been as cruel as previous generations.
“I feel in Britain it’s more subtle and polite racism, growing up you do notice it and it does shape your views.” He has an optimistic outlook on the future although he remains uncertain. He discussed if racism could be vanquished. “I want to be hopeful and say yes but I’m unsure.”
Maxi, a London born African woman expressed her goals. “For the government to hear our voices and start implementing punishment for police that cause harm to black people.” When pressed on if racism would end, she was remorseful. “Sad but I don’t think it can.”
The presence of George Floyd and countless others was felt among the peaceful protestors. One protestor who wished to remain anonymous shared his pain. “It’s been a long time coming.” He grew up in Africa before moving to Glasgow and has suffered through physical and emotional abuse.
“I was born, and I had a knee on my neck. I was raised and I had a knee on my neck. I went to school and I had a knee on my neck. I still have a knee on my neck.” It was hard for him to contain his anger. Despite this he remained strong and demonstrated the mental fortitude and intelligence that ignorant racist people lack.
“I have to show my anger. People need to listen. We can end it through our actions and the way we lead our society. No one is superior.” He is right. People need to listen to the protestors who are risking their lives to fight for what is right. Government officials should start listening if people are willing to breach lockdown protocol.
We must bring forth societal changes in institutional and systemic racism. Africa must be given reparations for having their countries wealth plundered by the British Empire. The British Empire, one of the most murderous civilizations in global history looted Africa. The reason the continent isn’t as advanced is due to past oppression.
Agatha runs a charity that focuses on the mental health of the black community. Her charity also supports single mothers and children in Africa. “My message to black people is we need to unite and come together and support each other.” Giving back to her community is her mission in life.
She moved to the U.K when she was 9 years old. “I didn’t know about racism until I came to the UK. It is something we are not taught in Africa. We don’t experience it.” Throughout her childhood she was subjected to micro aggressions. Polite subtle British racism that is embedded in our society.
She has acknowledged that people are taking advantage of social media. “I don’t want this to be another hashtag or trend.” Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. We have looked at the data and the results were striking. There is a glaring discrepancy in the number of individuals sharing Instagram posts and those who have signed the Justice for George Floyd petition.
Over 17M have signed the petition on Change.org. However there has been 29M Instagram posts with the hashtag #blackouttuesday. Furthermore, the hashtag #blacklivesmatter has 21.5M Instagram posts. There is a clear correlation that indicates people are posting for social media clout and perception.
The statistical information presented to you does not add up. Why is that? Well it’s because there is a segment of society which feels social pressure. They care more about how they are perceived but that black square won’t change anything.
There are millions of people who care more about perception from their peers than the reality of racism. When you overlook racism, you are guilty. Because you shared something on social media doesn’t absolve you. Ignorant white people need to understand our skin color is not a crime.
“My question for everybody is what happens after this trend of BLM is over. What are you going to do as an individual to make sure you’re helping your fellow humans?” Agatha has every right to be concerned for the future of the movement. People need to support Black Lives Matter until the day they die.
A sea of protestors knelt in honor of George Floyd and every African who was brutally slaughtered by the hands of white oppressors. Thousands kneeling in solidarity. It was magnificent to see society this united.
This isn’t a nice story. A man who was brutally murdered. A race subjected to centuries of oppression. A revolution has started. All around the world minorities are coming together. When you call for solidarity Glasgow will answer. The city despite being littered with street names dedicated to slavers will stand together. As a city we will fight social injustice.
“I can’t breathe” The last words uttered by George Floyd. The same last words of Eric Garner. The words have echoed across the world. The two men suffered horrific deaths by cruel and calculated racist bloodthirsty police officers. Millions of African American’s and minorities have been butchered by slavers, white supremacists and law enforcement. Enough is enough.
Social changes are critical towards policy shifts to limit police power. There needs to be new policy enforced with rigorous background checks and vetting for Police Officers. In the US, UK and around the world. Studying to become a police officer should be as difficult as becoming a lawyer or doctor.
In this world where police brutality is common, White privilege is powerful, influential and dangerous. White people in positions of authority have abused their power from law enforcement to the music industry.
Police killed 1,099 people in 2019 in the US. In the UK Police have killed 23 minorities in the last decade. This isn’t as bad as the US however in the UK progress must clearly be made. In 2017 the Lammy Review showed that black people comprise of 3% of the overall population in England and Wales. They make up 12% of it’s prison population. 48% of under-18s in custody are ethnic minorities.
According to the Home Office. In 2018-19, black people were more than nine times as likely to be stopped and searched by police as white people. They were over three times as likely to be arrested as white people. They were more than five times as likely to have force used against them by police as white people.
The last time a police officer was prosecuted in the UK concerning the death of somebody in custody was in 1969. In 2015 in Scotland there was a disturbing incident.9 police officers restrained Sheku Bayoh in Kirkcaldy. He died in custody after he was restrained by up to nine police officers using pepper spray and batons.
There are millions of cases in which white people have unlawfully murdered and abused minorities. The day of reckoning is coming for those who have committed racial crimes.
For eternity black lives matter. Black voices matter.
We can pay homage to George Floyd by supporting his daughter’s go-fund me