I am a universalist and atheist citizen of the 5th French Republic. I was born and raised in a country which official Constitution clearly states that All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Religion, skin color, age, gender, job, political opinion, nothing can legally justify any kind of discrimination, positive or negative, based on one or more of these criteria. Let me now tell you why I’m pissed.
Today, as I was geeking around on my new Raspberry Pi 3B+, I came across this on the official website for NodeJS:
Racism: a definition
If you believe your skin color is a key factor in your life, then you should read Karl Marx.TME520, September 2020
Racism is the belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. It used to be considered as a science, long ago during the 19th century. It has been completely out of fashion since the end of World War II, at least in the Western world.
Guy Debord to the rescue
Calling another French guy to help now: Guy Debord, Marxist theorist, philosopher, filmmaker, member of the Letterist International, founder of a Letterist faction, and founding member of the Situationist International (SI).
In 1967 he got a book titled The Society of the Spectacle published. It’s popular enough that you can still buy it in book shops today. One of the main points of this text is that humans nowadays experience life and the world through mediations rather than directly. News, TV shows, movies, video games are the windows through which we look at reality.
Most of our time is now spent in front of a screen that acts as a gateway to the world. All that time spent looking at moving images and listening to comments written by others is not spent interacting with people face-to-face. Most of what we know has been delivered to us via a screen.
As a consequence of this praxis, constantly fed as we are with ideas and opinions produced by professionals somewhere else, we stopped producing our own thoughts and got accustomed to picking something from the TV.
Mainstream media became our Uber Eats for thoughts.
Now that it is established our opinions are heavily influenced by mainstream media, let’s see what kind of ideas they promote. Is Netflix streaming racist anti-Black movies ? Is your local movie theater running any anti-Black reel ? Is ABC News, 7 News or any other mainstream media outlet promoting anti-Black racism ? Is there any popular artist producing anti-Black music ?
In fact, is anti-Black racism being promoted in the mainstream media ?
It means that most people are not encouraged to be racist against Black people.
If most of our thoughts, opinions and behaviors are heavily influenced by mainstream medias and if these medias don’t promote anti-Black racism, then society considered globally cannot be racist against Blacks.TME520, September 2020
Back to Marx: the lumpenproletariat
The term lumpenproletariat refers – primarily in Marxist theory – to the underclass devoid of class consciousness, usually people at the very bottom of the pyramid, the outcasts, the jobless, the kind that might be tempted to break the law simply to pay rent.
Before the Industrial Revolution, these types of people were living in the woods, stealing from the wealthy whatever they needed to survive. Later in History, they became working poor, regularly unemployed, sometimes getting in trouble with police.
The frustrations and the anger associated with unemployment and being on welfare are compounded by the lack of such fundamental necessities as food, clothing, and shelter among some of the disreputable poor. It would seem self-evident that such an environment of absolute deprivation may be the breeding grounds for discontent and violence.David Brownfield, 1986
Who are the poor today ?
The US Census declared that in 2014 14.8% of the general population lived in poverty:
- 10.1% of all white non-Hispanic persons
- 12.0% of all Asian persons
- 23.6% of all Hispanic persons (of any race)
- 26.2% of all African American persons
- 28.3% of Native Americans / Alaska Natives
Based on Marx’s findings and on the statistics above, we can expect Hispanics, Africans, Native Americans and Alaska Natives to be more generally represented in the lumpenproletariat. In extenso, these demographics are more likely to get in trouble with police.
Human beings live
Human beings live, that’s what they do. They don’t need to justify themselves for being alive and breathing, they just happen, like trees, flowers and apple pie. Our species is really good at surviving and has an instinctive strong drive to do whatever is required to see the sun rise tomorrow.
In a society in which your entire destiny is based on a single metric, in the present case, money, people tend to put all their spirit and energy into accumulating coins, knowing that if they don’t stack enough of them, they will eventually loose their lifestyle, going down at least one floor in the pyramid.
People that are already living on the lower floors are more exposed to being simply kicked out of society completely, hitting the streets hard. They would then have to resort to jobs nobody dreams of when they are 5 years old: drug dealer, gang member, prostitute, hitman, blogger…
Violent society, violent police
Dabbling in borderline or openly criminal activities exposes you to unsavory encounters with law enforcement forces. For white collar criminals, it usually means spending some time in a tribunal after a rather uneventful arrest, or no arrest at all if you simply received a letter.
For the unfortunate lumpenproletariat criminals, operating not from air-conditioned offices in CBD, but directly on the streets, things tend to be way more action-packed as they get physically in contact with armed police officers.
In the US, the country of origin of the Black Lives Matter movement, 3 factors are at play: the militarization of police training, a police culture that amplifies tales of downed officers, and the proliferation of guns among civilians. Let’s be clear: criminals are never nice to deal with, be it in France, in Australia or in the US, but the fact it’s so easy to buy lethal weapons in America surely doesn’t help in creating a safe environment.
Add a lack of proper public health insurance (underfunded public schools in the US are a myth, the United States spends more per student on education than any other country) to widespread guns ownership and you just give one more reason for poor people to be desperate. And as we know, desperate humans have the same will to live as wealthier humans, which implies they might do desperate things to get through.
Now, guess what happens to desperate humans doing desperate things with guns ? They either shoot themselves, or someone else. The later often leads to police violence.
Affordable, available guns mixed with hardcore you-lose-your-teeth, no-treatment-for-your-cancer poverty is a highway to violence, both from criminals and police.TME520, September 2020
So, yes, a violent society needs a violent police. That’s the price we pay collectively when we don’t want to help the less fortunate pay for dentist.
Is 2020 better than 1789 ?
Have a look at this, a good long look and ask yourself a question: is 2020 better than 1789 ?
I know, it’s in French, don’t blame me, blame History. Nowadays, we go by this one, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from the United Nations.
Please do me a favor, I’m kindly asking you to do this with me now: let’s read the first 4 articles of the UDHR together. Do it, once in your life, please:
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
Human Rights are the way to go
Humans are multidimensional; their skin color is just data, that we can turn into information based on statistics, averages, estimations, approximations. Grouping people based on their skin color doesn’t account for the wide variety of cultural backgrounds that exist among humans. It’s as lazy and inaccurate as pretending all black cars have battery issues or all white cars go faster. What about the brand, the model, the production year ?
I don’t want to hear about your color, I simply want to know about you, the person you are, what you like, what you fear, what are your hopes.
We won’t achieve anything likely to sustain the trial of time if we remain divided. The only way to go forward is: together.
Raising awareness on societal issues under the prism of race is racism.TME520, September 2020
Race doesn’t matter. Skin color doesn’t matter. And in the public space, religion doesn’t matter (it’s a private thing). Anyone trying to mobilize crowds on the base of race is wrong.
I would have thought the story of Adolf Hitler and the Jews were enough of a lesson for this world, that we collectively should be wise enough to not do the same mistakes than in the 1920s, but it looks like I was underestimating the power of evil.
Humans uber alles
Be kind, don’t call to violence, don’t point fingers to people of any given color, don’t pretend to be a victim when you’re not, don’t blame others for things they can’t control.
This world could be heaven for everyone, let’s make this happen.