Why is being called ‘racist’ more offensive than racism itself? White fragility silences voices, says advocate
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was booted from the House of Commons Wednesday after calling a Bloc MP a racist. The denial of systemic racism ‘led to the first racialized leader of the NDP being expelled for daring to challenge the status quo,’ says Elsa Kaka. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)
hite feelings don’t matter more than Black and Indigenous lives,’ says human rights advocate. The worst thing you can call a white person is “racist.”
This past week, I’ve opened up Instagram to see white people excited to embark on their new-found quest of becoming actively anti-racist; working it into their Instagram bio, encouraging other white people to openly embrace criticisms from people of colour, to listen, to do better. These, however, are the same people who during law school winced and whined at being called out on appropriating Indigenous cultures, who argued that our criminal law classes were no place for discussions about race, who asked why the Black women in class couldn’t be more amicable, instead of forcing people to have difficult conversations about race. Imagine my dismay when I realized that law school was not full of people who wanted to use the law to dismantle systems that oppressed the marginalized. Instead, people would silence the voices of those who brought up difficult issues, because their white fragility could not handle it. But white fragility is nothing new.
NDP MLA Oscar Lathlin, seen here in a 2004 file photo, refused to withdraw statements he made in the legislature in 1995 when he called government policies ‘racist.’ (Joe Bryksa/Winnipeg Free Press/ The Canadian Press)
On Nov. 1, 1995, the word “racist” was codified by the Speaker of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly as “unparliamentary language.” This was done in response to Oscar Lathlin, member for The Pas, stating that the system that had dehumanized him and had erased his Cree mother tongue was racist. Gary Filmon, then premier of Manitoba, responded by characterizing his use of the word “racist” as “discriminatory, inflammatory and irresponsible.”
Gary Filmon’s characterization of the word as “discriminatory” is not only ridiculous, but insidious in the way that it juxtaposes racist actions against anti-racist speech, thereby removing any blame or accountability from the people who perpetuate systemic racism. Instead, it asks those fighting for liberation to dilute their message. The same thing can be said of the decision to expel Jagmeet Singh from the House of Commons. If the Bloc Quebecois could shift their outrage of one of their members being called a “racist” toward actually addressing racism, then perhaps we could start taking actions to address the racism that millions of Canadians face. But Jagmeet Singh’s “unparliamentary language” was too much of an insult.
Twenty-five years later, little has changed.
‘Insurmountable evidence’ of systemic racism On Wednesday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was ordered to leave the House of Commons after calling Bloc Quebecois MP Alain Therrien “racist” for opposing a New Democrat motion meant to address systemic racism within the RCMP.
Blanchet demands Singh apologize for calling one of his MPs a racist
Senator calls on RCMP commissioner to resign after comments on systemic racism
Instead, our government is invested in the performance of a racism-free Canada, thereby supporting those who deny the existence of systemic racism, despite the insurmountable evidence to the contrary. Systemic racism refers to exclusionary policies and practices that are entrenched in our institutions. Therefore, it is not necessary that every single person in the RCMP is racist, for there to be systemic racism in the RCMP. It does not go unnoticed that the House of Commons’ commitment to a script that diminishes the presence of racism in Canada led to the first racialized leader of the NDP being expelled for daring to challenge the status quo. But why is “racist” such a dirty word? The way that many people react to it would make one think that being called a “racist” is worse than actually being subjected to racism.
‘I don’t care about whether you have hate in your heart or how much you sympathize with my plight,’ says Kaka. ‘What I do care about is if you turn a blind eye to the systems that hurt me.’ (Submitted by Elsa Kaka
Change relies on action, not sympathy Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet came to Alain Therrien’s defence, stating that Therrien is not racist and the “he loves everyone,” as if the love in his heart will eliminate racism.
I care about the actions you take against systemic racism. Being a non-racist person may soothe the ego of some, but it does little to advance us toward an anti-racist society. I care about dismantling a system that maims and murders Black and Indigenous people — a system that renders us powerless.
I have always found that people overestimate how much I care about their approval of me and my approval of them.
Creating meaningful change means centring the voices of Black and Indigenous people who have already been doing the work.
I don’t care about whether you have hate in your heart or how much you sympathize with my plight. I don’t care if you like me.
It means redirecting funds to services that address inequality, and it means voting for people who want to eradicate systemic racism, rather than uphold it.
What I do care about is if you turn a blind eye to the systems that hurt me.
I care about dismantling a system that maims and murders Black and Indigenous people — a system that renders us powerless.” - Elsa Kaka
Somehow, the recent deaths of Black and Indigenous people at the hands of police and the fact that more than one-third of people shot by the RCMP in the past decade were Indigenous aren’t enough to convince the Bloc Quebecois that systemic racism exists.
None of this is possible if our government does not recognize that white feelings don’t matter more than Black and Indigenous lives.
Black Lives Matter ABOUT #BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s murderer. Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.
We are expansive. We are a collective of liberators who believe in an inclusive and spacious movement. We also believe that in order to win and bring as many people with us along the way, we must move beyond the narrow nationalism that is all too prevalent in Black communities. We must ensure we are building a movement that brings all of us to the front. We affirm the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, undocumented folks, folks with records, women, and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. Our network centers those who have been marginalized within Black liberation movements. We are working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise. We affirm our humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression. The call for Black lives to matter is a rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation
WHAT WE BELIEVE Four years ago, what is now known as the Black Lives Matter Global Network began to organize. It started out as a chapter-based, memberled organization whose mission was to build local power and to intervene when violence was inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. In the years since, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve committed to struggling together and to imagining and creating a world free of anti-Blackness, where every Black person has the social, economic, and political power to thrive.
Black Lives Matter began as a call to action in response to state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism. Our intention from the very beginning was to connect Black people from all over the world who have a shared desire for justice to act together in their communities. The impetus for that commitment was, and still is, the rampant and deliberate violence inflicted on us by the state. Enraged by the death of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman, and inspired by the 31day takeover of the Florida State Capitol by POWER U and the Dream Defenders, we took to the streets. A year later, we set out together on the Black Lives Matter Freedom Ride to Ferguson, in search of justice for Mike Brown and all of those who have been torn apart by state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism. Forever changed, we returned home and began building the infrastructure for the Black Lives Matter Global Network, which, even in its infancy, has become a political home for many. Ferguson helped to catalyze a movement to which we’ve all helped give life. Organizers who call this network home have ousted antiBlack politicians, won critical legislation to benefit Black lives, and changed the terms of the debate on Blackness around the world. Through movement and relationship building, we have also helped catalyze other movements and shifted culture with an eye toward the dangerous impacts of antiBlackness. These are the results of our collective efforts. The Black Lives Matter Global Network is as powerful as it is because of our membership, our partners, our supporters, our staff, and you. Our continued commitment to liberation for all Black people means we are continuing the work of our ancestors and fighting for our collective freedom because it is our duty. Every day, we recommit to healing ourselves and each other, and to co-creating alongside comrades, allies, and family a culture where each person feels seen, heard, and supported. We acknowledge, respect, and celebrate differences and commonalities. We work vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension, all people. We intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.
We are unapologetically Black in our positioning. In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a prerequisite for wanting the same for others. We see ourselves as part of the global Black family, and we are aware of the different ways we are impacted or privileged as Black people who exist in different parts of the world. We are guided by the fact that all Black lives matter, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status, or location. We make space for transgender brothers and sisters to participate and lead. We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence. We build a space that affirms Black women and is free from sexism, misogyny, and environments in which men are centered. We practice empathy. We engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts. We make our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We dismantle the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” so that they can mother in private even as they participate in public justice work. We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable. We foster a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise). We cultivate an intergenerational and communal network free from ageism. We believe that all people, regardless of age, show up with the capacity to lead and learn. We embody and practice justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another.
6 YEARS STRONG On July 13, 2013 we disrupted business as usual and impacted the world. Thank you to our organizers, our supporters, and our allies. Thank you to every person who used the hashtag, every person who donated, and every person who courageously stood up for Black people
6 YEARS LATER AND BLACK ACTIVISTS ARE STILL FIGHTING A Letter from Black Lives Matter Global Network Co-Founder and Strategic Advisor Patrisse Khan-Cullors As human beings we usually fight for the things that move us out of complacency. We fight for clarity and truth telling. We fight for a world that we want our children to live in. A world we want our communities to thrive in. I’ve always fought for my family. My community. For Black poor people. That’s why when Trayvon Martin was murdered and in 2013 when George Zimmerman was acquitted my body and spirit was moved into action. I couldn’t imagine how in 2013 a white passing person could kill a young boy and not be held accountable. I didn’t want George Zimmerman to be the period to the story. I didn’t want his name to be the name held up over and over again by the media, by his fellow white supremacists. That’s why when I saw the phrase Black Lives Matter spelled out by Alicia Garza in a love letter towards Black people – I decided to put a hashtag on it. Alicia, Opal, and I created #BlackLivesMatter as an online community to help combat anti-Black racism across the globe. We firmly believed our movement, which would later become an organization, needed to be a contributing voice for Black folks and our allies to support changing the material conditions for Black people. For more than 500 years Black people have been fighting for our freedom. We have fought back against slavery, Black codes, Jim Crow laws, policing, incarceration, some of the highest unemployment rates, consistent homelessness, dying while giving birth, being
murdered for being trans or non-binary. We have been the consistent moral compass in a country that has thrived on harming the most vulnerable of its population. Every Black person who has fought for our dignity deserves the deepest bow of gratitude. Six years later and Black activists and organizers are moving forward towards justice, towards visions, towards a world where our families and communities are no longer the sacrifice for a better America, for a better world. We are doing that through our continued fight against elected officials, be it Democrat or Republican, who don’t share a vision that is radical and intersectional. We are building grassroots power with Black communities who have been left out the political process. We are building new spaces and places that tell Black stories and remind the world our everlasting contributions. In the last six years many of us faced down tanks, rubber bullets, were forced to do jail and prison sentences, have been surveilled, lied on, called terrorists, been given false labels by the FBI, and some of us have lost our lives. These six years have been the most profound six years of my life and the most traumatic and destabilizing six years of my life. I know I can speak for most of us. We have fought like hell for our freedom and we will continue to fight like hell. Because we deserve more than what we have been given. Because we deserve the healing and the transformation and most importantly we deserve to be free.
HERSTORY In 2013, three radical Black organizers — Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi — created a Black-centered political will and movement building project called #BlackLivesMatter. It was in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman. The project is now a member-led global network of more than 40 chapters. Our members organize and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.
As organizers who work with everyday people, BLM members see and understand significant gaps in movement spaces and leadership. Black liberation movements in this country have created room, space, and leadership mostly for Black heterosexual, cisgender men — leaving women, queer and transgender people, and others either out of the movement or in the background to move the work forward with little or no recognition. As a network, we have always recognized the need to center the leadership of women and queer and trans people. To maximize our movement muscle, and to be intentional about not replicating harmful practices that excluded so many in past movements for liberation, we made a commitment to placing those at the margins closer to the center. As #BlackLivesMatter developed throughout 2013 and 2014, we utilized it as a platform and organizing tool. Other groups, organizations, and individuals used it to amplify anti-Black racism across the country, in all the ways it showed up. Tamir Rice, Tanisha Anderson, Mya Hall, Walter Scott, Sandra Bland — these names are inherently important. The space that #BlackLivesMatter held and continues to hold helped propel the conversation around the state-sanctioned violence they experienced. We particularly highlighted the egregious ways in which Black women, specifically Black trans women, are violated. #BlackLivesMatter was developed in support of all Black lives. In 2014, Mike Brown was murdered by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. It was a guttural response to be with our people, our family — in support of the brave and courageous community of Ferguson and St. Louis as they were being brutalized by law enforcement, criticized by media, tear gassed, and pepper
sprayed night after night. Darnell Moore and Patrisse Cullors organized a national ride during Labor Day weekend that year. We called it the Black Life Matters Ride. In 15 days, we developed a plan of action to head to the occupied territory to support our brothers and sisters. Over 600 people gathered. We made two commitments: to support the team on the ground in St. Louis, and to go back home and do the work there. We understood Ferguson was not an aberration, but in fact, a clear point of reference for what was happening to Black communities everywhere. When it was time for us to leave, inspired by our friends in Ferguson, organizers from 18 different cities went back home and developed Black Lives Matter chapters in their communities and towns — broadening the political will and movement building reach catalyzed by the #BlackLivesMatter project and the work on the ground in Ferguson. It became clear that we needed to continue organizing and building Black power across the country. People were hungry to galvanize their communities to end state-sanctioned violence against Black people, the way Ferguson organizers and allies were doing. Soon we created the Black Lives Matter Global Network infrastructure. It is adaptive and decentralized, with a set of guiding principles. Our goal is to support the development of new Black leaders, as well as create a network where Black people feel empowered to determine our destinies in our communities. The Black Lives Matter Global Network would not be recognized worldwide if it weren’t for the folks in St. Louis and Ferguson who put their bodies on the line day in and day out, and who continue to show up for Black lives.
PATRISSE KHAN-CULLORS CO-FOUNDER AND STRATEGIC ADVISOR
Patrisse Khan-Cullors is an artist, organizer, and freedom fighter from Los Angeles, CA. Co-founder of Black Lives Matter, and Founder of Dignity and Power Now she is a New York Times Best Selling Author, Fulbright scholar, popular public speaker, and Sydney Peace Prize awardee. Patrisse recently toured her multimedia performance art piece, “POWER: From the Mouths of the Occupied,” a gripping performance piece highlighting the impact of mass criminalization and state violence in Black communities across the United States
ALICIA GARZA CO-FOUNDER
Alicia Garza is an Oakland-based organizer, writer, public speaker, and freedom dreamer who is currently the Special Projects Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the nation’s leading voice for dignity and fairness for the millions of domestic workers in the United States. Garza, along with Opal Tometi and Patrisse Khan-Cullors, also co-founded Black Lives Matter, a globally recognized organizing project that focuses on combating anti-Black state-sanctioned violence and the oppression of all Black people. Since the rise of the BLM movement, Garza has become a powerful voice in the media. Her articles and interviews have been featured in Time, Mic, The Guardian, Elle.com, Essence, Democracy Now!, and The New York Times. In addition, her work has received numerous recognitions, including being named on The Root’s 2016 list of 100 African American achievers and influencers, the 2016 Glamour Women of the Year Award, the 2016 Marie Claire New Guard Award, and as a Community Change Agent at the 2016 BET’s Black Girls Rock Awards. Most important, as a queer Black woman, Garza’s leadership and work challenge the misconception that only cisgender Black men encounter police and state violence. While the tragic deaths of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown were catalysts for the emergence of the BLM movement, Garza is clear: In order to truly understand how devastating and widespread this type of violence is in Black America, we must view this epidemic through a lens of race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
OPAL TOMETI CO-FOUNDER
Opal Tometi is a New York-based Nigerian-American writer, strategist, and community organizer. Opal is a co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter. The historic political project was launched in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin to explicitly combat implicit bias and anti-Black racism and to protect and affirm the beauty and dignity of all Black lives. Opal is credited with creating the online platforms and initiating the social media strategy during the project’s early days. The campaign has grown into a national network of approximately 40 chapters. In 2016, in recognition of their contribution to human rights, Opal Tometi and the #BlackLivesMatter co-founders received an honorary doctorate degree, BET’s Black Girls Rock Community Change Agent Award, recognition among the world’s fifty greatest leaders by Fortune and POLITICO magazines, and the first ever Social Movement of the Year Award from the Webbys. Opal is currently at the helm of the country’s leading Black organization for immigrant rights, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI). Founded in 2006, BAJI is a national organization that educates and advocates to further immigrant rights and racial justice together with African-American, Afro-Latino, African, and Caribbean immigrant communities. As the Executive Director at BAJI, Opal collaborates with staff and communities in Los Angeles, Phoenix, New York, Oakland, Washington DC, and communities throughout the Southern states. The organization helped win family reunification visas for Haitians displaced by the 2010 earthquake. BAJI is an award-winning organization with recognition by leading institutions across the country. A transnational feminist, Opal supports and helps shape the strategic work of Pan African Network in Defense of Migrant Rights, and the Black Immigration Network (BIN) international and national formations respectively, dedicated to people of African descent. She has presented at the United Nations and participated with the UN’s Global Forum on Migration and Commission on the Status of Women. Opal is being featured in the Smithsonian’s new National Museum for African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) for her historic contributions. Prior to becoming Executive Director, Opal worked as Co-Director and Communications Director at BAJI. Her contributions include leading organizing efforts for the first ever Black-led rally for immigrant justice and the first Congressional briefing on Black immigrants in Washington DC. Additionally, she coordinated BAJI’s work as launch partner with Race Forward’s historic Drop the I-Word campaign, working with the campaign to raise awareness about the importance of respectful language and history through the lens of the Great Migration, the Civil Rights Movement and current migration of the Black diaspora. Opal has been active in social movements for over a decade. She is a student of liberation theology and her practice is in the tradition of Ella Baker, informed by Stuart Hall, bell hooks and Black Feminist thinkers. She has been published in the Oxford Dictionary of African Biographies, was #10 on the 2015 Root 100 list and she was named a “New Civil Rights Leader” by the Los Angeles Times in 2015 and ESSENCE magazine in 2014, for her cutting edge movement building work which bridges immigrant and human rights work to the ever-growing Black liberation movement. She was a lead architect of the Black-Brown Coalition of Arizona and was involved in grassroots organizing against SB 1070 with the Alto Arizona campaign. Opal is a former Case Manager for survivors of domestic violence and still provides community education on the issue. Opal holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and a Masters of Arts degree in Communication and Advocacy. The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, she grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. She currently resides in the Republic of Brooklyn, New York where she loves riding her single speed bike and collecting African art.
CityLab University: A Timeline of U.S. Police Protests THE LATEST PROTESTS AGAINST POLICE VIOLENCE TOWARD AFRICAN AMERICANS DIDN’T APPEAR OUT OF NOWHERE. THEY’RE ROOTED IN GENERATIONS OF INJUSTICE AND SYSTEMIC RACISM.
When a white police officer knelt on George Floyd’s neck during an arrest on May 25, eventually killing him, the incident followed a longstanding pattern of unchecked police brutality toward African Americans. The civil unrest that has erupted in city after city is not unlike the protests that came after other high-profile police killings of African Americans such as Tamir Rice and Michael Brown in 2014, Freddie Gray in 2015, and Philando Castile in 2016 — as well as the brutal beating of Rodney King in 1991. The following year, 1992, marked a turning point in calls for police reform, triggered by violent riots that came after the acquittal of the Los Angeles policemen responsible for severely injuring King. In the years since, however, change has been incremental. And as with the most recent demonstrations that began on May 26 in Minneapolis, past peaceful protests often gave rise to violence as police responded with brute force.
“WHAT PROTESTS HAVE BEEN EFFECTIVE IN DOING IS RAISING THE PUBLIC CONSCIOUSNESS ABOUT THE LEVEL OF PUBLIC VIOLENCE THAT COMMUNITIES EXPERIENCE,” SAID MARCIA CHATELAIN, A PROFESSOR OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AT GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY. “THEY HAVE ALSO EXPOSED THE AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT HAS BEEN SPENT ON POLICE FORCES AND WEAPONS, AND HAVE HELPED EXPOSE THE LEVEL OF BRUTALITY.”
The 1960s marked the beginning of an increased militarization of police forces, according to Chatelain. The U.S. government’s War on Drugs campaign was also used as a justification for increased policing, as was terrorism after the attacks of 9/11, she said. But the widespread use of mobile-phone cameras and social media now allows the public to witness more abuses firsthand.
Rodney King in Los Angeles, California, in April 2012, in front of the Eso Won bookstore, where he was signing his new memoir.
Los Angeles, California Rodney King (25 years old — died 20 years later) — March 3, 1991 Events: Rodney King was driving away from police officers who were trying to arrest him (King was allegedly under the influence). When they finally did get him in handcuffs, the officers proceeded to beat him with their batons more than 50 times, leaving him with permanent brain damage, among other health problems. The beating was filmed by a bystander. The four officers involved were acquitted in 1992. King survived and died in 2012, at the age of 47 years old. Protests: The footage of the beating sparked protests in Los Angeles, but after the officers were acquitted , they turned more violent. Over the six days of riots, more than 50 people were killed, 6,000 arrested, and thousands wounded. The violence of the protests fed upon the deep racial inequalities entrenched in the city, and the National Guard, U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps were summoned. Aftermath: Two of the policemen who bludgeoned King were later jailed after federal prosecutors filed their own charges. President George Bush, who had called the actions of the officers “sickening,” opposed the riots that unfolded and called the actions of the protesters “revolting.” In the wake of the beating, the Christopher Commission (also known as the Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department), was created to examine the methods of the LAPD, including recruitment, training and the use of force. However, the impacts of the commission on LAPD operations were limited. Its most important achievement was perhaps that it ended lifetime terms for police chiefs — and Daryl Gates, the police chief during that period, resigned.
Largely peaceful protests against police brutality march on WASHINGTON - Massive protests against police brutality nationwide capped a week that began in chaos but ended with largely peaceful expressions that organizers hope will sustain their movement. Saturday’s marches featured few reports of problems in scenes that were more often festive than tense. Authorities were not quick to release crowd size estimates, but it was clear tens of thousands of people -- and perhaps hundreds of thousands -- turned out nationally. Wearing masks and urging fundamental change, protesters gathered in dozens of places from coast to coast while mourners in North Carolina waited for hours to glimpse the golden coffin carrying the body of native son George Floyd, the black man whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police has galvanized the expanding movement. Collectively, it was perhaps the largest one-day mobilization since Floyd died May 25 and came as many cities lifted curfews imposed following initial spasms of arson, assaults and smashand-grab raids on businesses. Authorities have softened restrictions as the number of arrests plummeted. Demonstrations also reached four other continents, ending in clashes in London and Marseille, France. In the U.S., Seattle police used flash bang devices and pepper spray to disperse protesters hurling rocks, bottles and what authorities said were “improvised explosives” that had injured officers, just a day after city leaders temporarily banned one kind of tear gas. Around midnight in Portland, a firework was thrown over the fence at the Justice Center, injuring a Multnomah County deputy, Portland police Lt. Tina Jones said. Smith said police had declare an unlawful assembly and were making arrests. The largest U.S. demonstration appeared to be in Washington, where protesters flooded streets closed to traffic. On a hot, humid day, they gathered at the Capitol, on the National Mall and in neighbourhoods. Some turned intersections into dance floors. Tents offered snacks and water. Pamela Reynolds said she came seeking greater police accountability. “The laws are protecting them,” said the 37-yearold African American teacher. The changes she wants include a federal ban on police chokeholds and a requirement that officers wear body cameras. At the White House, which was fortified with new fencing and extra security measures, chants and cheers were heard in waves. President Donald Trump, who has urged authorities to crack down on unrest, downplayed the demonstration, tweeting: “Much smaller crowd in D.C. than anticipated.”
Elsewhere, the backdrops included some of the nation’s most famous landmarks. Peaceful marchers mingled with motorists as they crossed the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Cars had been cleared from the Brooklyn Bridge as protesters streamed into Manhattan on a day that New York police relaxed enforcement of a curfew that has led to confrontations. They walked the boulevards of Hollywood and a Nashville, Tennessee, street famous for country music-themed bars and restaurants. Many protesters wore masks -- a reminder of the danger that the protests could exacerbate the spread of the coronavirus.
birthplace, people lined up outside a Free Will Baptist church, waiting to enter in small groups. At a private memorial service, mourners sang along with a choir. A large photo of Floyd and a portrait of him adorned with an angel’s wings and halo were displayed at the front of the chapel. “It could have been me. It could have been my brother, my father, any of my friends who are black,” said Erik Carlos of nearby Fayetteville. “It made me feel very vulnerable at first.” Floyd’s body will go to Houston, where he lived before Minneapolis, for another memorial in the coming days.
Roderick Sweeney, who is black, said the large turnout of white protesters waving signs that said “Black Lives Matter” in San Francisco sent a powerful message.
Protesters and their supporters in public office say they’re determined to turn the outpouring into change, notably overhauling policing policies. Many marchers urged officials to “defund the police.”
“We’ve had discussions in our family and among friends that nothing is going to change until our white brothers and sisters voice their opinion,” said Sweeney, 49.
Theresa Bland, 68, a retired teacher and real estate agent protesting at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, envisioned a broader agenda.
A large crowd of Seattle medical workers, many in lab coats and scrubs, marched to City Hall, holding signs reading, “Police violence and racism are a public health emergency” and “Nurses kneel with you, not on you” -- a reference to how a white officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes. Atop a parking garage in downtown Atlanta, a group of black college band alumni serenaded protesters with a tuba-heavy mix of tunes. Standing within earshot, business owner Leah Aforkor Quaye said it was her first time hitting the streets. “This makes people so uncomfortable, but the only way things are happening is if we make people uncomfortable,” said Quaye, who is black. In Raeford, North Carolina, a town near Floyd’s
“I’m looking at affordable housing, political justice, prison reform,” she said. Congressional Democrats are preparing a sweeping package of police reforms, which is expected to include changes to immunity provisions and creating a database of useof-force incidents. Revamped training requirements are planned, too -- among them, a ban on chokeholds. The prospects of reforms clearing a divided Congress are unclear. Back in North Carolina, the Rev. Christopher Stackhouse recounted the circumstances of Floyd’s death for the congregation. “It took 8 minutes and 46 seconds for him to die,” Stackhouse said at the memorial service. “But it took 401 years to put the system in place so nothing would happen.”
CELEBRITIES on Black Lives Matter Protest And Against Racism
The celebrities who are doing anti-racism right
n the weeks since George Floyd’s death sparked worldwide protests, we have seen a lot of disappointing reactions on social media. Like when Fetty Wap tweeted that all lives matter before realizing what the hashtag meant, deleting his comment and apologizing for it. Heather Morris of Glee fame created a two-minute interpretive dance titled George Floyd, to express her “inner dialogue” – half of which consisted of her crying directly into the camera, the other half which looked like it was inspired by the video for ‘NSync’s Bye Bye Bye. On Friday, the celebs were out in force again, with yet another uncalled for video montage, in which they “took responsibility” for racism; but not for their inability to think of new ideas.
If we are being generous, these posts show that it is easy to be tone deaf, ill-informed, and to spread misinformation on social media if you choose not to be quiet when simply Googling a hashtag would have done. But some celebrities are giving us reason to be faithful again. Take Selena Gomez, who this week has used her platform to shine a spotlight on scholars, activists and historical events important within the anti-racism movement. She joins celebrities like Cardi B (who perhaps is only less notable because she has been getting it right for some time) in showcasing the voices of people with smaller platforms and bigger expertise than herself during these times. On Sunday Ruby Bridges, the first black child to integrate in an all-white elementary school
in Louisiana in the 1960s, took over Gomez’s Instagram for a day, educating Gomez’s 180 million followers about the history of integration and the huge backlash it received at the time. Trans writer and activist Raquel Willis also used Gomez’s Instagram this weekend to speak on the history of the Stonewall uprisings, and to explain the importance of black trans activism right now. Gomez has also elevated the voice of Ibram X Kendi, the award-winning author of How to be an Antiracist ; and actor Kendrick Sampson, who used Gomez’s Instagram to speak on the intersections of race and mental health. In short, Gomez has one of the largest Instagram followings in the world and has offered it up to experts who can speak to all of the myriad ways
in which different injustices intersect, interact and compound. That seems almost a world away from the times when Gomez’s activism consisted of calling out other famous women for not being feminist enough when they criticized her; or appearing in a Taylor Swift music video alongside a cast of mostly white, wealthy, ablebodied women dressed in bondage to promote some warped vision of “girl power”. On that point – Swift too has come leaps and bounds with regards to her activism recently. In recent weeks, Swift spoke up against Donald Trump, accusing him of “stoking the fires of white supremacy and racism” when he threatened protesters with violence – while urging people to vote against him.
Jamie Foxx, Ariana Grande, and more celebrities join protests after George Floyd’s death Protests have spread across the country this week, with people turning out in droves in following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a white police officer. Celebrities such as Tessa Thompson, Ariana Grande, Timothée Chalamet, and more have shown up to protests in Los Angeles, New York, and other U.S. cities, in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and other organizations. Additionally, public figures like Chrissy Teigen and Janelle Monáe have shown their support by making donations to go toward bailing out those arrested for protesting.
Tessa Thompson Through her Twitter and Instagram Story accounts, the Westworld star documented her experience at the Los Angeles Black Lives Matter protest on Saturday. She shared a video of those in the streets kneeling and also shared that the event was peaceful until the LAPD “arrived and escalated it.” “@MayorOfLA are you seeing this? Also, where was the robust media coverage then?” the actress tweeted.
Ariana Grande Grande also attended the protest and fought back against media coverage of the demonstration.
On Saturday, Swift posted a four-part set of slides to her Instagram, explaining the histories behind individuals such as Edward Carmack and Nathan Bedford Forrest, whose monuments have been targeted as part of the protests. As people in Tennessee fight over whether their statues should remain, Swift has spoken out against continuing a “cycle of hurt” by keeping them in place – arguing “you can’t change history, but you can change this.” It marks a move away from the times that Swift feared speaking out against Trump, and stayed silent for fear of alienating her base. Constantly attacked for taking the incorrect stance, she spent a long time unsure over exactly how much she should say, and ultimately whether her words would be used for good or bad. But now both stars are using their massive platforms to ensure that authors, activists and histories which are currently absent from many school curriculums become mainstream. Bravo.
“hours and miles of peaceful protesting yesterday that got little to no coverage. all throughout beverly hills and west hollywood we chanted, people beeped and cheered along,” the pop star tweeted. “we were passionate, we were loud, we were loving. cover this too please. #BLACKLIVESMATTER hours and miles of peaceful protesting yesterday that got little to no coverage. all throughout beverly hills and west hollywood we chanted, people beeped and cheered along. we were passionate, we were loud, we were loving. cover this too please. #BLACKLIVESMATTER https://t.co/vD90CEtF94 pic.twitter.com/ GZ6uKDfPM7 — Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) May 31, 2020 Fans celebrated Grande for using her power to raise awareness for important issues. “Ariana Grande is one of the biggest artists in the world,” one fan tweeted, along with a photo of the singer at the protest. “Not only did she use her platform to express her anger and pain towards what’s going on she also participated in the streets with the rest of the protesters.” Ariana Grande is one of the biggest artists in the world. Not only did she use her platform to express her anger and pain towards what’s going on she also participated in the streets with the rest of the protesters
Nick Cannon The Masked Singer host and rapper Nick Cannon shared numerous photos of himself protesting in Minneapolis. He donned a shirt reading “Please I can’t breathe,” which echoed Floyd’s words in the video of his arrest. “BUT THEY GON HEAR US LOUD AND CLEAR!!!” Cannon captured one post.
All The Celebrities Protesting In Solidarity With Black Lives Matter As protests against systemic racism and police brutality continue around the world, crowds of protestors are continuously turning out in droves to protest the unjust killing of George Floyd by a white police officer. With thousands of protestors flooding the streets, celebrities have taken to their platforms and used their influence to speak to call for action. While some famous faces like Chrissy Teigen and Lady Gaga have been matching donations to bail funds, others have been spotted marching alongside others in the fight for justice, spreading important messages along the way. From Tessa Thompson to Ariana Grande, below are the celebrities who are marching in solidarity, along with their messages of support, to show their followers how vital it is that we mean what we say and fight for justice
SOPHIE TURNER AND JOE JONAS
that needs to be heard, I want to highlight some of those we should listen to - @rachel. cargle, @nowhitesaviours, @indyamoore, @taranajaneen, @munroebergdorf, @ tamikadmallory, @the_yvesdropper, @ kaepernick7, @emmadabiri, @thekingcentre, @ thegreatunlearn, @ibramxk #blacklivesmatter” While both shared moments of the event, Turner decided to keep her comments enabled. Responding to some, Turner addressed a question as to why she was still protesting after the four officers responsible for George Floyd’s death were charged.
On June 7, Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas joined friends in a peaceful protest in Los Angeles to support the Black Lives Matter movement. The couple have remained vocal on their support for the movement, with both posting everything from images to speeches from the rallies. Reaching out to their large social media following, Turner shared an Instagram post last week to announce the advocates that she stands in solidarity with, saying: “My heart is heavy. I stand in solidarity with those speaking out against racism and fighting for justice and equality. Silence is not an option. While my voice is not one
Replying the comment, Turner wrote: “This isn’t just about those 4 cops, this is about Breonna Taylor, this is about Trayvon Martin, this is about Eric Garner, this is about the systemic racism that black people have faced for hundreds and hundreds of years. This is about changing the system. Justice will be done when society reflects our beliefs that we are all equal. Until then, there should be no peace.”
ARIANA GRANDE Ariana Grande was spotted amidst the George Floyd protests in Los Angeles. When speaking of her time marching, Grande fought back against media coverage at the demonstration, or lack there of, saying: “hours and miles of peaceful protesting yesterday that got little to no coverage. all
throughout beverly hills and west hollywood we chanted, people beeped and cheered along,” the pop star tweeted. “we were passionate, we were loud, we were loving. cover this too please. #BLACKLIVESMATTER”. However, this isn’t the first we’ve heard from Grande about the racial injustice occurring in the United States. On her Instagram account, the singer posted a photo with a list of the many victims of police brutality and unjust death, with a lengthy caption that read: “again, i ask my followers to please keep signing these petitions, making donations if u are able to, continue having conversations w family and friends about racism (overt and covert) and the senseless acts of murder that happen in this country far too often, please keep reading up, following accounts on here (i will recommend some!) to keep u updated and learning and sharing links and resources.. our black friends need us to show up and to be better and to be vocal. now more than ever. online. offline even more so. this is more than a post. we have to show up. there is work that needs to be done and it is absolutely on us to do it. #blacklivesmatter here are some accounts i’ve followed that have helped me understand more about my privilege and how to use it to help others. @privtoprog @rachel. cargle @thegreatunlearn @blklivesmatter please feel free to recommend some more as well in my comments.”
HARRY STYLES Harry Styles was spotted by multiple fans showing his solidarity for the movement, when joining a Los Angeles protest on June 3. Wearing a mask and sunglasses, Styles attended the protest with friends. The “Watermelon Sugar” singer previously took to social media, with a statement marking his thoughts on Black Lives Matter. The statement read: “I do things every day without fear, because I am privileged, and I am privileged every day because I am white. Being not racist is not enough, we must be anti racist. Social change is enacted when a society mobilizes. I stand in solidarity with all of those protesting. I’m donating to help post bail for arrested organizers. Look inwards, educate yourself and others. LISTEN, READ, SHARE, DONATE and VOTE. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. BLACK LIVES MATTER.”
experience at the Los Angeles Black Lives Matter protests on May 30. The Westworld star shared a video of protestors in the streets kneeling, and also shared that the event was peaceful until the LAPD “arrived and escalated it.” In a statement on her Instagram, Thompson spoke directly to those too afraid to make the changes or to say the wrong thing and offers them guidance and resources. Her statement reads: “Some of you may feel that silence is safer, for fear of saying the wrong thing. I’ve sometimes struggled with that too. But now is the time to lean in and engage. Fear not! We all have learning to do. To dismantle any system we must understand it— and build community. Link in bio to the most extensive list of resources I’ve seen for how to engage. Additionally you can go to @chelseakaywright ‘s page for a wonderful guide for to how to get involved from home. Lots of ways to say #blacklivesmatter”
Posting a carousel of images from her march in a protest in Pan Pacific Park, Los Angeles, Ratajkowski has taken to her Instagram to share her words on how looting relates to the cause, saying: “Is destroying an empty cop car or looting a Target “violent” compared to police beating people with batons, firing rubber bullets feet from protestors and using tear gas? (not to mention the violence police get away with every day. This is supposed to be a FREE country, one that allows protest. People are protesting injustice and the power structures (like the police) that have allowed for those injustices but citizens are being met with a militarized police force. Rioting is the language of the unheard. Let’s try listening.” She has also posted an IGTV video, where she speaks with Tamika D. Mallory, an advocate for charity Until Freedom, about the history of systemic racism within law enforcement, capitalism, and what the next actionable steps are for the Black Lives Matter movement.
JOHN BOYEGA On June 3, Star Wars actor John Boyega attended a Black Lives Matter Protest in London, where his speech on systemic racism and police brutality inspired thousands in the crowd. Following his empowering speech, Hollywood’s most influential directors, writers and producers have flooded to Twitter to show their support. Speaking in London’s Hyde Park, Boyega said: “Black lives have always mattered. We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded regardless. And now is the time. I ain’t waiting,”
Halsey also looked to be protesting at a rally in Los Angeles, posting to her Twitter describing her experience. The singer spoke of the horrific situation, explaining “fired rubber bullets at us. we did not breach the line. hands were up. unmoving. and they gassed and fired.”
SHAWN MENDES AND CAMILA CABELLO Musician couple Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes, have also taken to the streets in downtown Miami, at two ‘Justice For George Floyd’ protests, to march in solidarity for Black Lives Matter. Posting to her Instagram, Cabello has also shared an image featuring petitions that supporters can sign. In a lengthy caption, Cabello writes: “I’ve been trying to find the right words to say after I saw the video where George Floyd’s life is being taken from him with impunity... I am so sorry to George Floyd’s family and Ahmaud Arbery’s family, And Breonna Taylor’s family and to the countless other black families that have their children and parents being taken away from them. I stand with you in outrage and I have called Minnesota Governor Walz, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison , and Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, their numbers and what to say is on the ACLU website, and I urge you to please call, please sign the petitions, and let’s stand together for justice. We need a change, we can’t afford to be silent, and we can’t afford a society that’s indifferent to others pain. #BlackLivesMatter #WeCantBreathe”
In a video posted to her Instagram, the sounds of bullets being fired can be heard, as well as images of Halsey aiding an injured protestor. In the caption, her singer then encouraged her followers to donate to bail funds for those who were taken into police custody.
TESSA THOMPSON Posting to her Twitter and Instagram accounts, actress Tessa Thompson documented her
Anonymous Returns To Support Black Lives Matter & Speaks Out About Jeffrey Epstein Case
ou probably are wondering who Anonymous is. Well, nobody knows. But the group of activists made a shocking return to social media after George Floyd’s death to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Anonymous posted a video saying they would expose celebrities and world leaders if there was no justice for Floyd’s death. It’s been three years since the group made any waves on social media. In the past, this group has spoken about police brutality after the deaths of Michael Brown and in support of the Ferguson protests.
Anonymous Took Down Several Law Enforcement Websites In a Facebook video, Anonymous accused the Minneapolis police of having a “horrific track record of violence and corruption.” This led to the group taking down the Minneapolis Police Departement website over the weekend. Floyd’s killer Derek Chauvin was a part of this police department which sparked national outrage after he was not immediately arrested for murder. Not to mention, Anonymous also took down the Chicago PD website after videos surfaced of protests in Chicago turning violent.
Along with this they also hacked into Chicago police scanners so that the song “F*ck the Police” by NWA continued to play on loop. The group also threatened to take down any other website of any government organization that served as a threat to protesters.
The Hacktivist Group Allegedly Has Information On The Epstein Case One thing that Anonymous talked a lot about over the weekend is the Jeffrey Epstein child trafficking network. The man in the mask alleges that celebrities like Naomi Campbell, Ivanka and Ivana Trump, Will Smith, Mick Jagger, and hundreds of others had involvement in this operation. The group alleges that these celebrities all attended parties thrown by Epstein to recruit children for the trafficking network. In a series of now-deleted tweets, the Anonymous Twitter page posted about this suspected celebrity involvement along with several private documents. The group also had some choice words for President Donald Trump. It released documents that claim he was involved in several rape lawsuits and affidavits with underaged people.
As per anonymous, the President has several criminal cases that were swept under the rug, but are the reason why he is being blackmailed by Russia. In one tweet, Anonymous says that Trump had Epstein killed to hide these crimes. But that’s not all. When one Twitter user asked the account to expose Princess Diana’s death, the account tweeted that she was killed by her royal in-laws. Anonymous said Diana knew all about the Epstein child trafficking ring and was recording testimonies to expose it eventually. The group maintains that there is a tape out there of a victim giving their testimony that was last in possession of Diana’s former butler. The group continues to retweet videos from protests taking place all over the country to raise awareness for police brutality plaguing the black community. One recent video retweeted by the page shows police officers destroying a stash of water that was left for protesters. But as the group continues to tweet, several of the tweets seem to disappear or get deleted. This has been raising a lot of eyebrows over the past few days.
Coronavirus: What’s happening around the world on Saturday Pandemic becomes a patchwork of small successes and setbacks, with 8.7 million cases worldwide. Authorities in China appeared to be winning their battle against an outbreak of coronavirus in Beijing on Saturday, but in parts of the Americas the pandemic raged unabated. Brazil surpassed 1 million confirmed infections, second only to the United States. Europe, in contrast, continued to emerge warily from lockdown, with hard-hit Britain considering easing social distancing rules to make it easier for restaurants, pubs and schools to reopen. In Italy, once the pandemic’s European epicentre, Pope Francis told medics that their heroic efforts during the outbreak would help the country forge a future of hope and solidarity. The head of the World Health Organization warned Friday that the pandemic is “accelerating” and that more than 150,000 cases were reported the day before — the highest single-day number so far. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva that nearly half of the newly reported cases were from the Americas, with significant numbers from South Asia and the Middle East. The novel coronavirus has infected more than 8.7 million people worldwide and killed more than 463,000, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The actual number is thought to be much higher because many cases are asymptomatic or go untested. The global battle against COVID-19 is a patchwork of successes and setbacks at this point in the pandemic, quantified by the trajectory of the coronavirus in different countries. largest 24-hour increase in about three weeks. Most of them come from the densely populated Seoul area, where about half of the country’s 51 million people reside. Many cases have been linked to exposure in nightlife outlets.
In China, where the virus was first identified and where authorities hoped it had been vanquished, Beijing recorded a further drop in cases amid tightened containment measures. Officials reported 22 new cases in Beijing along with five others elsewhere in China. There were no new deaths and 308 people remained hospitalized for treatment.
South Korea which has won global praise for its handling of the coronavirus, recorded 67 new cases, the
Health Ministry said the total number of cases had risen by more than 50,000 from the previous day, to more than a million. President Jair Bolsonaro still downplays the risks of the virus after nearly 50,000 fatalities in three months, saying the impact of social isolation on Brazil’s economy could be more deadly.
South Africa continues to loosen lockdown measures under economic pressure, despite reporting nearly 4,000 more COVID-19 cases on Saturday. Casinos, beauty salons and sit-down restaurant service are among the latest permitted activities as the country eases one of the world’s strictest lockdowns. South Africa has about 30 per cent of the virus cases on the African continent, or
more than 87,000. South Africa and Ethiopia both said they are recommending the limited use of the commonly available steroid dexamethasone for all COVID-19 patients on ventilators or supplementary oxygen. In a British trial, the drug was shown to significantly improve survival chances for the most seriously ill. South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said “this breakthrough is excellent news for us and we are especially fortunate that it came as we are preparing for our upcoming surge” in cases.
when family members were prevented from visiting. The northern region counted half of Italy’s 34,500 COVID-19 deaths. Meanwhile, Germany reported the country’s highest daily increase in virus cases in a month after managing to contain its outbreak better than comparable large European nations. Many areas of Europe are dealing with new localized outbreaks, with some of the largest centred around meat-processing plants. German officials said Saturday that the number of workers infected at a slaughterhouse in the northwest of the country had risen to 1,029 but there was no evidence of “significant” spread beyond the workforce into the community.
Britain lowered its coronavirus threat level one notch, becoming the latest country to claim it’s getting a national outbreak under control. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government said it would announce next week whether it will ease social distancing rules that say people should remain two metres apart. Business groups are lobbying for the distance to be cut to one metre to make it easier to restart the U.K.’s economy. While many stores in Britain have reopened, pubs, hotels and restaurants won’t be allowed to resume serving customers until July 4 at the soonest. Proposals to allow them to reopen safely include pubs having people order pints using phone apps rather than going to the bar. The U.K. has Europe’s highest and the world’s third-highest official death toll from the pandemic, with more than 42,500 virus-related fatalities reported as of Saturday.
French authorities were keeping a close eye on signs of an accelerating spread of the coronavirus in Normandy, a region that’s until now been spared the worst of the outbreak that has hit Paris and the east of France particularly hard.
What’s happening in Canada As of 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 101,019 confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, with 63,488 of the cases considered recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial information, regional health data and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,455.
Italy, which for a time this spring had the most coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, continued receiving confirmation that the worst had receded. Pope Francis welcomed doctors and nurses from the Lombardy region, Italy’s financial and industrial capital and the center of its outbreak, to the Vatican on Saturday to thank them for their work and sacrifice. Francis said Lombardy’s medics “gave witness to God’s proximity to those who suffer” and became literal “angels,” helping the sick recover or accompanying them to their deaths
Quebec and Ontario continue to lead other provinces and territories for having the highest daily counts of confirmed infections. Ontario added 206 new cases on Saturday for a total of more than 33,300. Quebec recorded 124 cases, bringing the province’s total to more than 54,600. All regions of Ontario except for Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex entered Stage 2 of the province’s phased reopening plan on Friday. The second stage includes restaurant patios, hair salons and swimming pools. Child-care centres across Ontario can also reopen. Quebec’s finance minister says the pandemic has hit the province hard. Eric Girard delivered an economic update Friday, showing a return to multibillion-dollar deficits. Just three months ago, he delivered a balanced budget, thanks to a stronger economy and better employment numbers than Quebec had seen in a generation. Now, gone is his $1.9-billion surplus, spent on measures to keep the economy and private businesses afloat.
Life in a post-coronavirus world: will it feel so very different?
as there ever been an easier time to be a futurist? I’m distrustful of the profession at the best of times, since it involves making pronouncements about a time that hasn’t arrived – and not being held to account for your errors when it does arrive, because then it’s no longer the future, and thus no concern of the futurists. But these days, as the world staggers uncertainly out of lockdown, it’s even easier. All you need to say is that in life in general, or in whatever field you’re supposedly expert, everything’s going to change. Education, the economy, travel, work, dating, sport, the advertising industry, the world of aluminium can manufacturing: recent stories have promised massive transformation in them all. Or as a great sage (on the groundbreaking satire The Day Today) put it a quarter of a century ago: “If you’ve got a history book at home, take it out, throw it in the bin – it’s worthless.”
My objection isn’t that any of this is necessarily false. (Although taken literally, it is, because history never unfolds in absolutes: for example, it’s always jarring to be reminded that most people spent the Great Depression in work, not unemployed.) Rather, it’s the implication that life, in years to come, is going to feel very different indeed. And one of the few things we can be pretty sure of is that it won’t. For most of us, most of the time, it’ll feel normal. Part of the reason is “hedonic adaptation”, our tendency to swiftly adapt emotionally to positive or negative changes in our circumstances, drifting back towards our baseline levels of curmudgeonliness or cheer. Another is the “focusing illusion”, whereby we overestimate the impact that any given change will have on our lives. The cumulative result is that any future change in your situation – like never shaking hands again, wearing a mask in public, or even something huge, like losing your job – is likely to make less of a difference than you think. After the attacks of September 11, we were told the world would never be the same again, and it wasn’t. But for all except those most directly affected – bereaved by war, imprisoned in Guantánamo – it soon felt
normal. And so it goes, through history: each time a huge event disrupts a civilisation’s ordinary way of life, the “ordinary way of life” it’s disrupting is what people formerly thought of as the terrible climate ushered in by the last huge event. The miracle cure for life’s problems? More of what you’re already doing None of this means things will be fine. They may well be worse: a world with less human contact, or more joblessness, is surely objectively worse, however normal it feels. But it does mean that if you found life generally meaningful in the post-9/11 world, or the postfinancial-crisis world, the chances are you’ll do so in the post-coronavirus world as well. In any case, as the political scientist Mark Lilla pointed out in a recent essay, even to ask a question such as “How different will the future be?” is to assume an oddly passive stance towards it. The future doesn’t exist – so “we should ask only what we want to happen, and how to make it happen, given the constraints of the moment”. We’re never really waiting to see how the future unfolds. We’re creating it as we go.