My friend and colleague, poet Michelle Scally Clarke responds to a Maya Angelou quote and to police brutality in the poem below. This is posted with her kind permission.
With George Floyd’s murder, the conversation about institutional police racism in the States has gone global. We can no longer unsee the issue, although time and again over the last week I have been amazed at how hard some people have tried to do so.
Michelle’s poem talks about not wanting to be a number. In 2019 there were 1004 fatal police shootings in the USA. Black people are disproportionately affected .
That is to say nothing of racial profiling in police brutality that doesn’t end in death, for which the figures are even worse. As the following report shows:
Use of force by officers in San Francisco police department– defined as any physical restraint causing injury up to shooting a person to death – was alarmingly high. 40% of cases in which force was used involved African Americans, who make up less than 8% of the City’s population.’ (https://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/docs/ngos/usa/USHRN15.pdf, p.15)
‘Conscience is a gift so rare and so old that it opens the windows, the eyes to us all,’ Michelle so beautifully says. But how do we use that conscience in a constructive way? When I am struck by the enormity of various types of inequality, I often find myself freezing. That is when I try to yank myself back to this question. Many of us are asking that question now for the sake of George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor, for the sake of all those who have gone before and with the hope that fewer and fewer will come after.
I don’t pretend to have the answers but have begun to work through the list of suggestions on the Diverse Minds blog, which was written by my friend and lifelong race equality campaigner, Leyla. (Some of the suggestions relate to the Black Lives Matter movement. Others are related to racial inequality in the UK. I hope you find it useful).
Wharf Chambers has provided this list of suggested places people can donate if they are able and willing to:
Network UK (based in Leeds)
Fund for Belly
Emanuel Gomes UK
Emergency Relief & Hardship Fund UK
Legal Support UK
Police Monitoring Project
Help by City US
I hope that as we learn more about the Black Lives Matter movement, with all the strong and challenging feelings that knowledge brings, we are all able to keep coming back to what is important – equality – and do what we can to work towards that goal.