Black Lives Matter And Black Matters

In June last year, Nancy Pelosi exclaimed that “it is a beautiful sight to behold” commending the courage of Hong Kong protesters to speak out against China when Hong Kong was buckling under months of street demonstrations that eventually turned into violent riots. She may say that she was only referring to the wave of candlelight during one night of protests but on the other hand, it can be argued that it was grossly insensitive and inappropriate for an influential politician to incite civil unrest in a country already in a quagmire. Those people who relished in seeing the civil unrest being played out in the streets of Hong Kong could even be said to be irresponsible and reckless – there was no attempt to disguise their uncivilised despise for China, the hope for the destruction of a successful economy and irreparable damage to its societal standards a spiteful goal to demonstrate the failure of the one country two systems arrangement that China had agreed to. It came as a surprise to me that America itself came under attack by its own citizens so soon after Hong Kong’s riots. But, it was no surprise to witness the hypocrisy of the political leadership in America. The rioters in Hong Kong were often described by the Americans as admirable protesters fighting for their freedom and democratic rights whereas the American citizens protesting against police brutality and demanding that “black lives matter” were “thugs” and opportunistic looters and rioters who should be shot. In America, the citizens are mostly known as Americans or Yanks but black people are still commonly referred to as African-Americans. The colour of their skin is still an inescapable stain in their society. For me, the American DNA is a product of their history – the genocide of the natives, the right to bear arms and their nonchalance about slavery. For hundreds of years, to them, slaves were sub-human and it was alright to treat and trade them like animals, useful as beasts of burden or prey for hunting. There was no other ethnic group in America that was captured and used as slaves except for the black people. Slavery was abolished in 1863 but during that time, unlike European immigrants who arrived voluntarily and were given millions of acres of free land to start their lives in America, the freed slaves, whose African ancestors were hunted like animals and arrived in chains, were given only their freedom as an economic base after having worked as slaves for 244 years. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr, “emancipation for the negro was really only freedom to hunger. It was freedom without food to eat or land to cultivate and therefore it was freedom and famine at the same time.” The American society deliberately made their colour a stigma and something worthless and degrading. People of colour were subjected to forced segregation which kept them separate from white people in housing, education and public facilities including pubs, toilets and buses. It was not until 1964 that the Civil Rights Act finally outlawed discrimination. Desegregation has been a slow process, even today there are examples of “apartheid schools” in the US. This weekend we witnessed global solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement. Although it is illegal to discriminate in America, people of colour will tell you otherwise. The killing of a black man, George Floyd, by a white cop who knelt on the victim’s neck for over eight minutes has reignited this movement.

The world has emerged from a global lockdown to protest against a greater evil. The virus may have by now killed close to 400,000 people but it doesn’t discriminate against black people. Sure, those in lower socioeconomic rungs of society have a higher fatality rate but that discrimination is man-made, not the virus. 1% of Americans in the top echelon of the country apparently own 56% of the sharemarket. You won’t find many black people amongst them, if any. This is why there is this great disconnect between Wall Street and side streets in America. Wall Street has recouped most of the losses since the March sharemarket crash even though COVID-19 has not been eradicated and no vaccine has been found and the jobless rate is over 16% if they include those employed but have no jobs to go back to yet. The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet has magically grown from $4 trillion to over $7 trillion since mid-March. The trillions of dollars of stimulus pumped into their economy were simply created by the Federal Reserve, without any sweat, production or plan to pay for it. It is that easy! There isn’t even the need to print money. So the Americans have become very much more sophisticated in their slave trade. No need to hunt, chain and drag people from their countries to force them to work. Just add a few zeroes to their bank balance and expect the world to slave away and produce the goods and services for their American masters in exchange for the US dollar which is only backed by nuclear weapons and a highly lethal military.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world in Downunder, there is another black matter that needs our attention. Black lives matter. Black culture matters too. Can we be regarded as human without our culture? Aboriginal artefacts, sacred or otherwise, were looted from the natives when white people came and obliterated them from the land. Admittedly there has been some success in returning some artefacts to the rightful aboriginal owners and some more have been delayed due to COVID-19 lockdowns. Surely an encouraging sign that Western societies have woken up to their crimes against humanity. Yet, there is the matter of a 46,000-year-old archeological site of significant importance to the history of mankind that was recently demolished (detonated) by mining giants Rio Tinto. The Juukan Gorge cave in Western Australia’s Pilbara held sacred texts and significant cultural art which provided real evidence of the early history of mankind on Earth. But it must be black cultural treasure that has no significance for these white people. Remember how western media recoiled with horror and disgust when the Bamiyan Buddhas were detonated by the Taliban? How barbaric? How uncivilised? How unforgivable?! Can we imagine the world’s horror if The Louvre were destroyed by a wealthy Parisian with no regard to the value of art and history? Well, a horde of state ministers, federal ministers and company directors of Rio Tinto should hang their heads in shame. Maybe they deserved to be hanged also, if capital punishment were still lawful in Australia. These nincompoops all feigned misunderstandings and ignorance – ignorance of traditional owners’ concerns, ignorance of the cultural significance of a 46,000-year-old site, and ignorance of a meeting called before the cave was destroyed. Urghhlings, all of them. There are laws in Australia that protect aboriginal heritage, yet there is nothing the law can do to stop the madness of reducing mankind’s history into a pile of iron ore. Black matters don’t matter to them. Only money. They ought to learn it from the Americans, there is no need to build up a sweat, there’s no need to work or destroy major cultural sites. Just add a few zeroes to their bank account. As if that’s all that matters to them.

Aboriginal art at the Juukan Gorge cave since destroyed by Rio Tinto

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